‘Co­cho’ slams pol­lies: You’re bor­ing ev­ery­one to death

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY COCHRANE

OUT­SPO­KEN Bul­letin columnist, Gold Coast Suns chair­man and en­ter­tain­ment guru Tony Cochrane has bluntly told South­port’s state MP and coun­cil­lor they are bor­ing, seat warm­ers and “do­ing an or­di­nary job’’.

In a fiery com­ment piece on the Bul­letin’s Satur­day Soap­box pages to­day, Cochrane says con­sid­er­a­tion should be given to lo­cat­ing a new in­te­grated re­sort on the west­ern side of the Broad­wa­ter, “as close as pos­si­ble to South­port’’.

He ar­gues that with the light rail in place and the coun­cil push­ing to have a ferry ser­vice op­er­at­ing by this time next year, much needed pub­lic trans­port con­nec­tions would be in place for a mega tourism de­vel­op­ment, pos­si­bly in Carey Park, which would in turn be a cat­a­lyst for de­vel­op­ment of a precinct con­tain­ing a Supreme Court, and lo­cal and state gov­ern­ment com­plexes.

Cochrane then drops his bomb­shell. Declar­ing South­port needs strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion and vi­sion, he tells the CBD’s elected MP and city coun­cil­lor “you’re bor­ing ev­ery­one to death while you keep the seat warm’’ and urges them to “va­cate or get crack­ing’’.

THE prospect of a fully in­te­grated re­sort on the Gold Coast has again been raised in the me­dia. This has come about rather re­gret­tably by The Star raising the pos­si­bil­ity it will with­draw or di­min­ish its on­go­ing in­volve­ment in Queens­land if the State Gov­ern­ment al­lows a com­peti­tor to op­er­ate on the Gold Coast.

This is based on the as­sump­tion, not un­rea­son­ably, that the po­ten­tial in­te­grated re­sort would in­clude a casino com­po­nent.

Well I’ve gone from be­ing ag­nos­tic, as I wrote a cou­ple of months back on this is­sue, to be­ing an­tag­o­nis­tic!

I don’t be­lieve it is ei­ther ap­pro­pri­ate or ac­cept­able to have the de­bate con­ducted in this man­ner with the Gov­ern­ment (and there­fore the greater com­mu­nity) on such an im­por­tant piece of ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture.

As our vi­sion­ary Mayor Tom Tate says, the only place mo­nop­oly works is in a board game. He’s right. The Gold Coast com­mu­nity needs to con­sider all the pos­si­bil­i­ties with re­gard to an in­te­grated re­sort. Of course, Star – with a mas­sive vested in­ter­est – can have a say, but it is one opin­ion among many.

But it ex­poses the whole de­bate here on the pro­posed in­te­grated re­sort.

So al­low me to wade in. I refuse to let our com­mu­nity be chan­nelled into one point of view. Bug­ger that.

Af­ter the fail­ure/re­moval of the orig­i­nal Broad­wa­ter AFP pro­ject and its pre­de­ces­sors, Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk an­nounced the Gold Coast was guar­an­teed to get an in­te­grated re­sort li­cence.

Other re­gions of Queens­land were also granted these IR zones. This was an­nounced and wellar­tic­u­lated be­fore the last State elec­tion, so it was well known and cer­tainly not a se­cret to ei­ther Star or any­one else.

Since that time, other Cab­i­net min­is­ters have re­ferred to it and dis­cussed pub­licly the po­ten­tial con­cepts and ideas that could flow. This is es­pe­cially true of Tourism Minister Kate Jones.

It is no se­cret Ms Jones is a strong ad­vo­cate for tourism in Queens­land and strongly backs Gold Coast projects and ini­tia­tives in this area. It re­mains one of the key rea­sons why she is so pop­u­lar on the GC. Oth­ers, down here, could learn from her lead­er­ship.

In sim­ple terms this IR li­cence was in­tended to be noth­ing more than a re­view, for want of a bet­ter word, to test the mar­ket. It was not an au­to­matic go-ahead on what was put for­ward. This would be fully tested and would need to meet all the nec­es­sary plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment stages from not only the State Gov­ern­ment, but im­por­tantly the Gold Coast City Coun­cil as well. So, if you like, it was the start of a process to fully test the mar­ket for an in­te­grated re­sort to see what was put for­ward.

Hope­fully our city would re­ceive stun­ning con­cept plans from in­ter­ested par­ties from all over the world. That works – great idea, what’s there not to like about that, folks?

Via this process, we as a com­mu­nity, along with the State Gov­ern­ment and the city coun­cil, can see what great ideas can be pre­sented.

Re­mem­ber, we are talk­ing a mas­sive ma­jor GC pro­ject – it could be any­where be­tween $2-$3 bil­lion, a once-in-agen­er­a­tion, new pro­ject for our city. They don’t come along very of­ten (they are like rock­ing horse poo) and for the growth of our city, and in par­tic­u­lar for the growth of on­go­ing tourism in our city, we need this large-scale think­ing and trans­for­ma­tional pro­ject.

Again, un­less you don’t be­lieve our city has a bright fu­ture based around tourism, this is a ter­rific op­por­tu­nity for all, if han­dled cor­rectly. Only a dill would be against it (or a mas­sive self-in­ter­est per­haps).

Re­gret­tably, be­fore we have even seen the Gov­ern­ment’s terms of ref­er­ence for test­ing the mar­ket with an IR li­cence, the de­bate is be­ing hi­jacked into a dis­cus­sion on noth­ing but a casino.

OK, I dare say that most, but maybe not all, in­ter­ested par­ties in es­tab­lish­ing a new IR on the Gold Coast will want a casino com­po­nent.

But let’s get the de­bate into some clear air and some ra­tio­nal think­ing, please. Mis­lead­ing polls only sti­fle op­por­tu­nity and de­bate. We are smarter than that, surely.

A mod­ern day, lat­est and great­est, in­te­grated re­sort fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional trends will fea­ture ma­jor shop­ping, new and global restau­rants, mas­sive en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties, bril­liant re­sort fa­cil­i­ties from pools to ex­pe­ri­ences, and of course a ma­jor ho­tel com­po­nent in the five-star genre.

Clearly it would both need and have a huge new en­ter­tain­ment ex­pe­ri­ence of some de­scrip­tion. And yes, a casino, per­haps.

But these new fa­cil­i­ties, and Star is build­ing one in Bris­bane, only have typ­i­cally be­tween 6-8 per cent of the en­tire site these days as ded­i­cated gam­bling ar­eas. Clearly that leaves at least 92 per cent to all the var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties de­scribed above. That is now true in Sin­ga­pore, Ma­cau, Las Ve­gas and any new fa­cil­ity of this type on a world per­spec­tive.

I should know, I have worked at and vis­ited a lot of them.

So let’s not throw the baby out with the bath wa­ter. Let’s have an open mind and see what is put for­ward.

Gam­bling is not a big com­po­nent of what would be a mas­sive site.

Dare I say, if it was a mas­sive com­po­nent then we would col­lec­tively re­ject it. No one wants or de­sires a mas­sive casino – we need a mas­sive in­te­grated re­sort!

Nat­u­rally, for some clubs op­er­at­ing on the Gold Coast the “casino” com­po­nent is of con­cern. That is more than rea­son­able. These clubs do great work in our com­mu­nity and we need to make sure they are sud­denly not dis­ad­van­taged by such a pro­posal.

Ms Jones put for­ward a sim­ple but very ef­fec­tive idea in this area – en­shrine the oper­a­tor of the new in­te­grated re­sort to only pur­chase those ma­chines from lo­cal clubs. There­fore, give the lo­cal clubs the abil­ity – if they have too many ma­chines or they want to raise some cap­i­tal – the chance to cash out at a pre­mium.

Then I would add to this. Limit the new IR to no more than say 500 to 650 poker ma­chines in to­tal. This would be a dou­ble win, be­cause it would not in­crease the to­tal num­ber of poker ma­chines op­er­at­ing on the Gold Coast.

How­ever, all the above, for me, is not the ex­cit­ing big pic­ture or vi­sion.

In TC speak, it’s the side salad! An ex­pen­sive salad, but side salad nev­er­the­less.

You see, this is a bona fide, mas­sive and rare op­por­tu­nity for our city.

I would hope all our politi­cians, from both sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, would jump into this and en­cour­age this once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity.

Folks, it’s vi­sion­ary time. This piece of in­fra­struc­ture could change the face of our city and in par­tic­u­lar the tired and run­down heart of South­port. I don’t care what my crit­ics say – it is in sad need of a ma­jor, ma­jor lift.

Let’s grasp this op­por­tu­nity to be the cat­a­lyst.

If we are to have a new in­te­grated re­sort, we must give strong con­sid­er­a­tion to its lo­ca­tion be­ing on the west­ern side of the Broad­wa­ter and as close as pos­si­ble to South­port.

With a mas­sive and suc­cess­ful in­jec­tion of the light-rail pro­ject, this area is now well ser­viced by pub­lic trans­port. Fur­ther, the coun­cil looks likely to get up a new ferry ser­vice, which will again bring new and much-needed pub­lic con­nec­tions to South­port.

With a mas­sive new de­vel­op­ment, we have a unique op­por­tu­nity to have huge un­der­ground car park­ing so that ar­eas like Carey Park can be shifted and re­turned to be­ing parks, not car parks. Eighty per cent of Carey park

is not a green­field park. It is cov­ered in bi­tu­men.

Let’s fix it.

The in­te­grated re­sort can then work as a cat­a­lyst to trans­form the South­port CBD. It can pave the way for an ex­cit­ing in­te­grated mas­ter plan for the area, bring­ing a new Supreme Court precinct (yes, Aus­tralia’s sixth largest city needs a Supreme Court, that’s a no-brainer), a new lo­cal gov­ern­ment com­plex and a much-needed new State Gov­ern­ment com­plex, the lat­ter hope­fully hous­ing the Depart­ment of Tourism for our state (please, Premier).

South­port does have at least one hard-work­ing oper­a­tor in its midst. John Howe is the chair­man of the Com­mit­tee for South­port.

John is a more ef­fec­tive and stronger ad­vo­cate for sort­ing out the fu­ture of South­port than the elected state or coun­cil representatives. Sorry, but you’re both do­ing an or­di­nary job.

The area needs strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion and vi­sion for its fu­ture. You’re bor­ing ev­ery­one to death while you keep the seat warm. Time to va­cate or get crack­ing.

John has been push­ing and con­tin­ues to push for a ma­jor ur­ban trans­for­ma­tion of the South­port CBD. I bet John jumps at this op­por­tu­nity to bring sig­nif­i­cant change for the bet­ter and for our kids’ fu­ture. John, we’re count­ing on you.

Now I’m an av­er­age thinker. I never fin­ished high school – but I can en­vis­age a stun­ning new in­te­grated re­sort on the west­ern side of the Broad­wa­ter, a new South­bankstyle board­walk with beau­ti­ful parks and gar­dens to bring this tired old sec­tion of our city to life.

Please, tell me I’m not alone. Let’s get cre­ative, let’s get some enor­mous vi­sion go­ing, let’s crank up. Our kids are go­ing to be de­pen­dent on lots of new jobs in our city if we want to grow and keep them liv­ing here. So, it’s up to us.

Sir Bruce Small built his dream for the Gold Coast on a tremen­dous vi­sion. He spoke of it as an en­trepreneurial city. Oth­ers have fol­lowed, and we have grown with that spirit.

It’s why I am an unashamed sup­porter of our cur­rent Mayor – he does have a vi­sion, he does have a fair-dinkum go and he al­most man­dates that the city suc­ceeds.

This is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity. Let’s not let self­in­ter­est get in our way, let’s be open to what this in­te­grated re­sort could present.

For the sake of our kids, don’t let the mar­ginal mi­nor­ity control the de­bate. Give it a try. Let’s test our IR li­cence, please Premier.

The Gold Coast is ready and wait­ing.

Tony Cochrane.

An in­te­grated re­sort in South­port could al­low Carey Park re­turned to a green zone.

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