Hinch­in­brook dream in ruin Call for gov­ern­ments to fix ‘ mess’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

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

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