- Friday 06 April 2018
In recent months, there have been numerous statements made by certain State and Federal Members of Parliament and promoted through the local media that the Sunshine Coast Council has plans for a casino in the Maroochydore City Centre.
I am on the record since 2013 that I believe an integrated resort development would be a great addition to our tourism offering and could provide the means to fund a much-needed convention and exhibition centre in the Maroochydore CBD.
But as I have repeatedly said in public forums and in a range of media responses over the last few months there is no proposal to establish a casino in the Maroochydore City Centre.
I have also repeatedly made it clear that neither Council nor SunCentral Maroochydore Pty Ltd can introduce, establish or approve the development and operation of a casino in the Maroochydore City Centre.
The State Government approves casino licences and the State Government is the approval authority for all development in the Maroochydore City Centre – not Council.
Furthermore, the State Government is only allocating two casino licences and these have been committed to the Gold Coast and Cairns.
Notwithstanding this, I continue to see statements from certain Sunshine Coast-based Members of Parliament which seek to deliberately mislead our community by promoting the notion that Council is looking to establish a casino in the Maroochydore City Centre.
As recently as the last two days, there have been two media statements from the Member for Maroochydore, Fiona Simpson, referring to Council’s plans to establish a casino as part of our efforts to see a convention and exhibition centre developed in Maroochydore.
This is despite the fact that I have written to Ms Simpson on at least two occasions in the last six weeks rejecting her suggestions in this regard.
Furthermore, this week the Federal Member for Fisher has circulated a brochure to my fellow Councillors encouraging them to attend his “Say No to Council’s Casino” forum on 17 April 2018.
Understandably, some of my Councillor colleagues are asking the question – what is it with these people that they continue to deliberately mislead the community?
Their efforts are clearly designed to cover up their own inability to provide critical community infrastructure and discredit myself and the Council I lead. They seek to undermine the work Council have done as a team over the last six years to transform the region’s economy, build confidence, encourage investment in new businesses and infrastructure, generate jobs, improve community facilities and protect our natural assets.
Quite simply, their motivation is purely and blatantly political.
Our community deserves better from the people that they elect to represent them.
And most importantly, our community has every right to expect that they will told the truth by their members of Parliament.
I am therefore today releasing the most recent letter I have received from the Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, the Honourable Kate Jones, verifying there is no casino licence available for any part of the Sunshine Coast.
The words are there in black and white, without qualification.
They reflect a discussion I had with her on 7 March 2018.
I am not ordinarily in the habit of releasing the correspondence we have with Ministers.
However, I cannot sit back and allow others to continually mislead our community.
There is no casino licence available for any part of the Sunshine Coast.
That is what I have been saying for some time. It is what I have repeatedly told the media and our community.
And it is what the Minister has confirmed in her most recent correspondence to me on this matter.
What this also means is that we now look to Ms Simpson and her colleagues to outline their plans for how the Sunshine Coast can secure government funding for a convention and exhibition centre.
This might seem odd, but I have to ask the question, isn’t that what we elect them to do?
As your State member of Parliament Ms Simpson and her colleagues are responsible for spending 15 cents in every dollar of tax you pay.
By Comparison Council spends 3 cents and in addition to all it’s responsibilities it also manages 25% of the region’s infrastructure.
The Federal Government is responsible for spending the remaining 82 cents of your tax dollars.
Not surprisingly, we have seen no plans from Ms Simpson - no plans in the 25 years that she has represented her electorate of Maroochydore.
Her only “plan” – if you can call it that – is that Council must contribute to the cost of building a convention and exhibition centre.
Well Council is already contributing – by providing the land, developing the specifications, progressing the business case and, in all likelihood, having to carry the ongoing capital and maintenance costs of the facility – which will not be insignificant.
This has not been expected of a number of other Councils around Queensland.
Yet Ms Simpson, who represents residents of the Sunshine Coast, is more than happy to insist that our ratepayers foot the bill when she and her colleagues have not insisted on the same elsewhere.
We are eager to see her plan for funding this facility – and what she will do as the elected State representative to secure government funding for a convention and exhibition centre.