‘Cocho’ slams pollies: You’re boring everyone to death
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.
An integrated resort in Southport could allow Carey Park returned to a green zone.