Noosa residents sitting on the fence over Palmer’s next big thing
JUST as the economic tide is turning in Noosa, with the Queensland Sunshine Coast township welcoming back long-lost tourists, along comes billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer with a grand plan to redevelop his Coolum resort into a $2.5 billion mega-complex employing 9000 staff.
Reaction from Noosa residents to the plan — which includes a high-rollers casino, monorail, international airport, 5000-seat convention centre, amusement park, aviary, aquarium, an ocean-going hovercraft service to Brisbane and beachfront hotel — is mixed.
While Noosa’s real estate agents and resort owners are backing Palmer, long-time Noosa resident Bob Ansett sounds a cautionary note.
‘‘I am not particularly concerned with what happens at Coolum,’’ Ansett says.
He has other things on his mind. Ansett and Tourism Noosa are fighting for Noosa to break away from the outsized Sunshine Coast Council, which took control about five years ago when Noosa was caught up in sweeping council amalgamation reforms driven by Queensland’s former Labor government.
More than 9000 local residents have since signed a petition calling for Noosa Council’s reinstatement as a stand-alone entity.
‘‘From a Noosa perspective, [the Clive Palmer project] is good because it just reinforces our stand on why Noosa needs to be separate from the Sunshine Coast Council in terms of the management and direction that it takes. It has to be separate otherwise we will get caught up in this massive development,’’ Ansett says.
‘‘[The Palmer project] just emphasises why we have fought so hard to get our council back. Right now we have no control over the future of Noosa. [But] what is happening in Coolum is quite capable of happening at Noosa if we don’t control development and planning.’’
But Denise Platt and Alex Gilmour, resort managers of the popular Nautilus Noosa Holiday Resort, are backing Palmer’s plan. Gilmour says it will create much-needed employment on the Sunshine Coast. ‘‘The Sunshine Coast needs it,’’ Platt adds.
Richardson & Wrench Noosa principal Jennifer Carr also wants the Palmer project to proceed. ‘‘He has sufficient funds [and] it will add to the coast’s attractions,’’ she says. ‘‘Something likes this is great for the economy of our coast.’’
Tom Offermann of Tom Offermann Real Estate, with branches on Hastings Street and at Noosa Sound, reckons it would provide a great stimulus for the local economy. ‘‘But,’’ he adds, ‘‘ I don’t know how much of that would spin off into Noosa.’’