Thursday, December 18, 2014
This response to the surprising article published in The Gold Coast Bulletin, (see below), was sent to the Editor on 19 December 2014. Such pieces as these rarely get published, so it is being posted here. One wonders if governments will ever listen. Politicians seem to know no shame.
One has to be alarmed, if not ashamed, when World Heritage regions are perceived merely as ‘prime real estate’ that has financial potential that is being neglected, ‘wasted.’ Would anyone talk about the Taj Mahal, Chartres Cathedral or Uluru in this manner: ‘multi-million dollar, prime real estate’? The article in The Gold Coast Bulletin, ‘Battle over multi-million dollar parcel of land at Springbrook has heated up between government and conservationists,’ unabashedly describes the land that is the subject of the report as ‘Hinterland prime real estate.’ It is land that has been identified as critical for World Heritage protection, has been purchased by the government for the people of Queensland, and is currently being restored by ARCS.
Astonishingly, our brazenly brash politicians, seemingly led by the local MP, Ms Bates, who has had her own problems since coming into power, want to treat World Heritage as meaningless, just as a potential promotion for profit. The concern is that a World Heritage listing places obligations on governments at all levels. It is never a mere given that can be treated with a casual carelessness, as if it meant little more than an abstract, formal title or a commercial branding. The listing generates responsibilities. Our Great Barrier Reef is encountering this problem that governments seem to think can be managed with the usual spinning of cunning words.
If we do not start caring for our World Heritages places, then they will be lost. Governments may not worry, but the world does. It is watching. It is simply not good enough to have a politician rave on about the public being excluded, tracks being closed and feral animals taking over Springbrook while businesses apparently fail, when it is the State that manages the highly fragmented National Park that forms the core area for public access to this World Heritage place. Instead of bleating on with what looks very much like some personal grudge, our politicians might start concentrating on the affairs that they are now neglecting, and start investing in the maintenance, improvement and protection of the National Park areas they presently control.
Is this stance being taken with the hope that private enterprise might come in and take all of this ‘green’ nonsense over and do something ‘useful’ with this quality land in order to boost the State’s coffers? If things to do with our World Heritage can only been seen as involving ‘multi-million dollar, prime real estate’ and highly profitable businesses, then there is little hope that such ignorance will ever envisage matters otherwise. It appears that the only hope is to seek out representatives who do understand and are prepared to fight for futures, not to sell them off to the highest bidder or to lease them out indefinitely.
Rigour and commitment are needed when it comes to environmental care, not snide political games that seem to dredge personal gripes and blame others for government’s failures.
Battle over multi-million dollar parcel of land at Springbrook has heated up between government and conservationists
GOLD COAST BULLETIN
DECEMBER 19, 2014
A MULTI-MILLION dollar battle over Hinterland prime real estate is heating up between the State Government and conservationists.
Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates said the contract for 56ha of Rainforest Conservation Society-controlled Springbrook Mountain land would expire in 2018.
It is understood Parks Minister Steve Dickson has no plans to renew the contracts when they expire in 2018.
The move has angered conservation society boss Aila Keto who says her group has been maintaining the land for more than a decade at no cost to taxpayers.
Dr Keto landed lucrative contracts from the Beattie government in 2005 which gave her group unfettered control of the land.
MP Ros Bates.#
Ms Bates says ARCS environmentalists have been living rent-free in Springbrook, treating the area as a private resort.
Dr Keto, however, says her group has been busily restoring the land in a bid to retain its World Heritage status.
“The State Government does not care about heritage status and they want us to maintain the area but give them all the profits,” she said.
“We use all the profits to continue to restore the area but the State Government just wants to have a steady income stream to put wherever they want, not necessarily back into Springbrook.
“If they take control of the land back, it will lose World Heritage status within years and all our hand work will be lost.”
Ms Bates says the environmentalists had locked the public out of key walking paths and warned ferals cats were on the rise.
“They have shut the gates and local businesses have gone bust,” she said.
“I have heard reports of feral cat populations exploding and we cannot get in there to stop it.
“We need to open the parks up again and bring tourists back to the area before it is too late.”
The Beattie government’s spent more than $40 million buying up key lots in Springbrook in 2005 before giving control to ARCS.
ARCS is contracted to operate Lyrebird Retreat and the Koonjewarra Retreat centre until 2028 and 2020 respectively.
An ARCS member also lives at 2096 Springbrook Rd.
Dr Keto and her husband live at 329 Repeater Station Rd and it is understood her son lives rent-free at 352 Repeater Station Rd.
Mountain Lodge at 317 Repeater Station Rd is also used exclusively as accommodation for ARCS volunteers.
#It is not explained in The Gold Coast Bulletin, but the photograph of Ms Bates shows her surrounded by the pink tags that ARCS has placed to identify rare and endangered plant species. One hopes that she is not sitting on any rare plant species. The question is: would she care?