MONEY from the sale of Sunshine Coast Council land will be reserved to help bring a convention and exhibition centre to the new Maroochydore CBD.
A new facility is expected to cost about $200 million and the council commitment is intended to encourage state and federal contributions.
The commitment was made in a confidential session of the most recent council meeting after a motion moved by Cr Jason O’Pray was successful with seven votes for and three against.
Mayor Mark Jamieson, Cr Tim Dwyer and Cr Peter Cox opposed the motion.
Cr O’Pray could not release details of the yet-to-be-sold property or how much money would be raised but said he thought making the financial commitment, on top of providing the land, was a positive step in achieving a suitable facility.
He said he took advice from council officers in making the plan.
“I had tossed and turned about this for quite some time when I knew we were selling land in Maroochydore,” Cr O’Pray said.
“My main reasoning for quarantining this money was because I’m absolutely certain we will need state and federal backing on this.
“It is really important to me to see the CBD has its own convention centre.”
He said securing a private backer would be “even better” than relying on government funding for the project.
“Council can clearly not afford that (cost) on its own.”
Cr Jamieson was contacted for comment but declined to publicly detail his reasons for opposing the motion, with a council spokesman saying the mayor did not disclose matters discussed in confidential session.
The spokesman said the council would contribute to a convention and exhibition facility by providing the land on which it was developed and in all likelihood, having to cover the ongoing annual maintenance and other costs.
“The ratepayers of many other regions across Queensland have not been required to contribute towards the cost of developing their convention and exhibition centres,” the spokesman said.
“The cost to construct such facilities in many of these locations has been borne by the State Government.”
He said a new functional brief and specifications for a new convention and exhibition centre had been completed.
Consulting firm PG International was engaged by the council in March last year to complete the work.
“The functional brief and specifications will inform the development of a business case and preliminary design, which will be done if and when, funding becomes available.”
A Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning spokesman said the department didn’t currently have any funding allocated for a convention and exhibition centre on the Coast.
However, he said the minister for the department and the former director-general wrote to all local governments on March 12 inviting submissions for the Maturing the Infrastructure Pipeline Program.
He said the grant program was available to all local governments through a competitive process to undertake strategic planning for infrastructure and develop business cases and detailed design.
Submissions close on April 9.
“Sunshine Coast Council could make a submission for potential assistance in developing its business case for this project,” the spokesman said.
Infrastructure Australia Approves $2bn in Queensland Upgrades
More than $2 billion worth of planned upgrades has been given the green light by Infrastructure Australia, after the business cases for three Queensland projects were approved.
Infrastructure Australia, the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor, added the Queensland projects to the priority list, which is the pipeline of nationally-significant proposals for governments at all levels to choose from.
The three new priority projects:
- The Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor. Stage 3: Edmonton to Gordonvale.
- M1 Pacific Motorway (Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill) and;
- M1 Pacific Motorway (Varsity Lakes to Tugun).
“Being included as a Priority Project on the Infrastructure Priority List shows that a proposal has undergone a rigorous business case assessment and been proven to have significant benefits for the community,” Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said.
“[The] Priority List identifies close to $4 billion worth of nationally-significant projects for Queensland, which are critical to improving both productivity and quality of life,” Madew said.
Bruce Highway upgrade
The Bruce Highway proposal would create a four-lane highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale.
A portion of the road that has recorded high crash rates.
“Between 2007 and 2012, 79 crashes were reported along this section, almost double the rate reported on similar roads across Queensland,” Madew said.
M1 Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill upgrade
Up to 150,000 vehicles travel daily on this section of the M1, and due to southeast Queensland’s growing population, this figure is forecast to grow to more than 200,000 by 2041.
The proposal would widen an 8.5 kilometre section of the motorway, improve local busways which Madew says would relieve congestion in the area for the next 15–20 years.
“The project also supports active transport through the provision of an extended cycleway,” she said.
M1 Varsity Lakes to Tugun project
This proposal aims to improve a congested section of the motorway that connects northern NSW and the Gold Coast.
“Increased traffic volumes are causing a high number of accidents and worsening travel times, impacting on local residents travelling to work as well as tourists, tour operators and freight vehicles,” Madew said.
“Widening the motorway in both directions will reduce congestion along this vital corridor, and support the Gold Coast’s economic development.”
Madew said that being included on the Infrastructure Priority List supports better project selection.
“By ensuring Australia’s governments are presented with the best available evidence when making funding decisions,” she said.
Government Signs Off on $5.4bn Cross River Rail
A multi-billion dollar construction contract has officially been signed for Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, guaranteeing the delivery of the south east Queensland major infrastructure project.
Pulse Consortium signed the contract with the Queensland government in an agreement that will deliver tunnelling works, the project’s new underground stations and ongoing maintenance for the infrastructure project.
The Pulse Consortium, selected as the preferred proponents in April, is made up of ASX-listed CIMIC Group, Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors, and UGL with international partners including DIF, BAM, and Ghella Investments & Partnerships.
Major construction will kick off later this year as scheduled, beginning with the demolition of the Roma Street Transit Centre.
CIMIC Group chief executive Michael Wright said they would use an integrated approach on the $5.4 billion project.
“We will finance, design, construct and maintain the new tunnels and rail stations, in partnership with the state government,” Wright said.
The engineering giant, CIMIC Group, announced it will see approximately $2.73 billion in revenue from the project.
“CIMIC Group has led the development of the project’s proposal, with lead sponsor Pacific Partnerships providing 49 per cent of the equity finance, with the remaining 51 per cent to be provided by DIF, BAM PPP PGGM and Ghella Investments & Partnerships.”
CPB Contractors will deliver the design and construction in a joint venture with Ghella, BAM International and UGL.
UGL will also provide maintenance services on the project across 24 years.
Queensland Deputy premier Jackie Trad described the move to lock in the companies as a “key milestone”.
“Our commitment to this project will see tunnelling construction kick off next year too,” Trad said.
By 2036, state government anticipates south east Queensland will be home to nearly five million people.
Currently, Brisbane’s network includes a single rail river crossing with all lines running through the same four city centre stations.
Trad said the infrastructure project, which is without federal funding following the re-election of the Coalition government, will “unlock this bottleneck”.
Plans for Cross River Rail include the delivery of four new underground stations at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street, with upgrades to Dutton Park and Exhibition stations.
The project is forecast to create 7,700 jobs during construction and with plans to be in operation by 2024.
Queensland Plans New Underwater Hotel
An eco-tourism experience will see visitors sleep three metres beneath the ocean’s surface in a new sustainable “floating” hotel planned for the Great Barrier Reef.
A new three-level pontoon on Lady Musgrave Island has been announced, which will feature an observatory and underwater hotel.
Plans for the project include an underwater observatory with UV lighting, for visitors to experience the reef at night, bedrooms will have 360-degree underwater views of the reef, as well as upper decks to cater for diving, snorkelling and environmental data collection.
Underwater hotels around the world include the delayed Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental in Shanghai, still under construction.
While the Mantra Resort in Zanzibar in Tanzania will set visitors back $1500 a night (lead image), and the ultra-luxury Conrad Rangali Island underwater hotel in the Maldives, which sits five metres below the surface, costs its guests up to $11,710 a night.
Underwater plans for the southern area of the Great Barrier Reef’s new hotel take a smaller and environmental approach.
The pontoon is planned to be 36 metres by 12 metres and offer accommodation for up to 24 people, expected to cost visitors up to $550 a night.
“All the decking on the pontoon is made from recycled materials and every lineal metre of our decking has 50 recycled milk bottles in it,” Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey said.
“So there’s great longevity of our lagoon and for our Pontoon design.”
The state government said it will provide $1 million toward the project through its $36 million tourism infrastructure fund, announcing it would partner with Lady Musgrave Experience to deliver the pontoon.
“We know that tourism is now worth more than a billion dollars to the southern great Barrier Reef, and we want to see this continue to grow because it means jobs locally,” tourism minister Kate Jones said.
Jones said the development would attract an extra 160,000 visitors to the region each year.
“And drive more than $1.8 million in visitor expenditure.”.
Construction is expected to commence in August with plans to open to the public in April 2020.
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