Hinchinbrook dream in ruin Call for governments to fix ‘ mess’
THREE liquidators, more than 100 trapped residents, huge debts, sewage overflows, bankrupt developers and broken down property in and adjacent to World Heritage Hinchinbrook Island.
This is the nightmare that was to be the international resort of Port Hinchinbrook at Cardwell and former awardwinning Cape Richards resort on Hinchinbrook Island.
The tragic circumstances in what should be a tourism drawcard have led to calls for government intervention.
“Quite frankly, it’s a mess,” said liquidator Michael Brennan of Offermans Partners, who has just assumed the role over the latest casualty, developer The Passage Holdings.
“I think at some stage there needs to be intervention by at least state and local authorities to tidy up that development.”
Townsville lawyer Clive Scott of Connolly Suthers, who has acted for many residents of Port Hinchinbrook, agrees.
Mr Scott said governments allowed the original developer to undertake dredging of the marina, the construction and maintenance of roads and the operation of a sewerage treatment plant without the proper securities or provisions in place if things went wrong.
“Governments’ position is that property owners purchased land in the development and should have identified these risks ( but) that argument does not stand up to even casual scrutiny,” he said.
“The problem is that the privately owned infrastructure systems permitted at Port Hinchinbrook … is and has been dysfunctional for years and will never fix itself without government intervention.”
There are claims the property’s sewerage plant has been spilling sewage regularly since at least 2013 and that roads, including to a public boat ramp, have not been dedicated as was required amid disputes the payment of levies.
Liquidator to previous developer Williams Corporation, Joanne Dunn of FTI Consulting, said it was not her role to comment on what should happen to Port Hinchinbrook.
Another liquidator, Moira Carter of BRI Ferrier, who controls Port Hinchinbrook Services, the entity which is supposed to collect levies, said she felt sympathy for pensioners who had bought into the scheme and now could not get out but she did not agree with government intervention.
People had made a bad investment and it was not up to government to bail them out, she said. Ms Carter believed the key issue was that developers underestimated the cost to maintain the marina which continually silted up. As to what should happen, she said: “I can’t see a way out of it.”
A State Government spokesman said: “The state has no intention of using public funds to resolve private development matters.” over