Noosa res­i­dents sit­ting on the fence over Palmer’s next big thing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

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.’’

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