THE $100-million cableway project has been derailed by the State Government but Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens says proponents will simply wait for a change of government.
Environment Minister Steven Miles has brushed off a push for the Gold Coast Skyride, saying the idea was “inappropriate” and would likely be dismissed.
Mr Stevens has lashed out in response, saying the project had become a political issue which would never be fairly assessed on its merits.
“My advice to the consortium would be not to submit an official application for the cableway because the green-controlled Labor Government will not review it fairly,” he said.
“When we proposed something similar they knocked it back for ridiculous reason like it being a bushfire risk, or that we simply couldn’t build it on the slopes of the mountain.
“It defies logic that they think we would operate the ride in a bushfire and let the passengers barbecue and they wouldn’t even let our engineers look at the land to assess how to do it.
“This project would create 1200 jobs during construction and around 580 to the area after and they won’t even assess it, based on its merits.”
On the Coast to promote visitation to National Parks, Mr Miles didn’t sound impressed with the Skyride idea.
“There isn’t a proposal at the moment for a cableway or anything like that,” he said.
“Our view would probably be that that’s inappropriate but it would be up to proponents to come forward and we’d assess it.”
“We’ve revisited the framework by which we assess eco-tourism proposals and we really do want to see new facilities in our national parks, more reasons for people to visit because we want people to have those experiences.
“But they have to be sensitive and appropriate to the location and to the conservation values of the location.”
The Labor Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament aimed at repealing amendments to the Nature Conservation Act made by the LNP and voted for by Mr Stevens.
The LNP changed the object of the Act from focusing solely on conserving nature to allowing indigenous management of protected areas in which they have an interest; the use of protected areas by the community; and the social, cultural and commercial use of protected areas in a way consistent with the natural and cultural and other values of the areas.
Controversial Hinterland cableway project to be buried if Labor forms government
The proposed Gold Coast Skyride cableway, like this one in Cairns, will be buried if Labor manages to form government.
THE controversial $100 million cableway project will be buried if Labor manages to form government.
Gold Coast Skyride chairman Terry Jackman said the Springbrook project was dead without government support.
Labor MPs were virulently opposed to the cableway project and the LNP government failed to approve it before the election.
“I always believed the cableway would be a terrific addition to Gold Coast tourism — but it does require government approval,” Mr Jackman said.
“Principally, State Government approval.
“It is quite simple, if the government doesn’t want it we will not proceed but we need to wait to see who forms government.”
Gold Coast Skyride chairman Terry Jackman admits the Springbrook project is dead without government support.
Area councillor Glenn Tozer said Gold Coast Skyride was one of several high-profile projects unlikely to go ahead if Labor formed government.
“If the government does change, then it definitely could be in doubt along with other projects across the Coast,” he said.
“We will have to work out what the city priorities are in the context of the new government and what the likelihood is of seeing them funded.”
The ALP were strong critics of the cableway project when Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens revealed plans to State parliament in October.
In 2007, the Labor Government spent $40 million buying 705ha on Springbrook Mountain to protect the area from development.
The weekend’s massive election swing has also put a cloud over the State Government’s sale of Springbrook Manor which sits on 10ha of prime mountain real estate.
Harcourts sales agent Julie Andrews, who secured two tenders for the property, said she was devastated about results from the election.
“We have to wait and see what happens because a Labor government could potentially cancel the sale, even though we have buyers lined up,” she said.
Springbrook Manor was a significant tourism boon for the mountain until it went bust early last year.
Mr Jackman said stakeholders needed to build more tourism infrastructure to compete with markets in Singapore and Dubai, “because you can’t just sit on your hands and say we have good weather and good beach”.
“Places like Singapore and Dubai are doing some incredible things and we need to be ready to compete with them.
“The Skyride board will meet soon and we will make a decision on whether to progress after we know who is in power. It has been a very interesting six months.”
The Cableway No Way (CWNW) protestors will be ‘up with the chickens’ on Tuesday morning, looking for answers from Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens about his interests in the proposed “Skyride” through Springbrook National Park.
CWNW spokesperson Ceris Ash said that Mr Stevens had been “walking on eggshells”, since announcing his role as investor and advisor in the reported $100million” cableway project, trying to keep out of the limelight and avoid journalists’ questions.
“He made the news last week when he performed a “chicken dance” in an attempt to avoid a journalist’s question about a conflict of interest and why he hadn’t released advice from the Integrity Commissioner,” Ms Ash said. “So we’ll be visiting Nobby Beach, down from the polling booth, “clucking” about our concerns.”
Mr Stevens – a Member of Parliament, Assistant Minister and Manager of Government Business in the LNP Government – announced his involvement as the sole shareholder to the project in Parliament late last year, citing support from the Integrity Commissioner that there was no conflict of interest.
The CWNW group wants answers about why Mr Stevens, who is “scratching out a living” of at least $185,000 per year as an MP, can moonlight on project that needs the approval of his parliamentary colleagues.
This isn’t just any project either – the project will cut right through the middle of the internationally significant, world heritage listed Springbrook National Park,” Ms Ash said, “made possible by changes to legislation he voted on to make commercial use a primary purpose of our national parks.”
“How is that not a conflict of interest?”
“Talk about ruffling feathers,” Ms Ash said. “The last thing for the Springbrook community and for our tourism industry is another Queensland world heritage area in danger”. “It’s a “bird-brain” idea, to put such a development on state owned land, through the middle of a small world heritage area, with more than 60 threatened species, high fire danger and at the head of the Gold Coast water supply, where there is no sewage treatment.”
The CWNW group has been holding a series of pop up protests around the coast in an effort to get answers and inform the public about this threat to the “green behind the gold” at Springbrook.
We’re tired of the “hard boiled” attitude of the LNP towards our precious environment, and of “playing chicken” with constituents who want answers. If there is a report from the Integrity Commissioner, then release it and stop all this speculation,” Ms Ash said. “But if it’s a “cock and bull” story, then there are more questions Mr Stevens will need to answer.”
“Hopefully, he won’t “chicken out” again.
Join us at a “chicken little” event, Tuesday 27 January, 2015, 8:45am. Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach.
Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens still refuses to answer cableway questions but claims he is “accountable and transparent”
MERMAID Beach MP Ray Stevens has refused for the 86th day to answer questions about his links to Gold Coast Skyride but claims he is “accountable and transparent”.
After months of questioning, Mr Stevens finally invited the Bulletin to his Mermaid Beach office to talk yesterday.
But the “interview” quickly descended into a farce as he again refused to explain his connection to the project.
Instead Mr Stevens trotted out another version of the same tired lines he delivered to State Parliament in October.
“I have had clear direction with my dealings from the integrity commissioner in terms of public comment which could be seen as lobbying,” he said.
“In terms of my statement to the parliament it was cleared by the integrity commissioner before I made that statement to the parliament.
“All matters from the commissioner’s point of view have been dealt with appropriately and there is no project before the government at this current time.
“I have been on the front foot, accountable, transparent before an election and so there are no surprises after the election.”
Mr Stevens declined to take any questions on the matter, including 10 key queries the Bulletin has been putting to him for months.
These include whether he used advance knowledge of new laws opening up national parks to commercial development to set up his Gold Coast Skyride Company.
He also will not release the integrity commissioner’s report.
The Newman Government has blocked attempts by the The Bulletin to obtain the report.
Mr Stevens is the sole director of a member company of the $100 million Gold Coast Skyride proposal.
The former mayor was captured on camera reacting bizarrely earlier this week when asked about the project.
The video, which has been viewed more than 57,000 times shows him standing toe-to-toe with the journalist, waving his arms and dancing side-to-side like a bird before making a quacking duck beak with his hand and swatting at the reporter like a fly.
Mr Stevens yesterday said the viral video should not tarnish the work his has done since he was first elected in 2006.
“In terms of the video footage, the 10 seconds of footage does not represent eight years of hard work I have done for the residents of Mermaid Beach,” he said.
“I hope to continue that hard work and achieve great results like the bike gang and the party house laws.
“It has been a hard slog and I have never stopped working.”
While Premier Campbell Newman laughed off the encounter, a goldcoastbulletin.com.au poll found 72 per cent of respondents did not think his response was appropriate for the state’s leader.
Here we Joh again! Mermaid Ray versus Cableway No Way
After Gold Coast MP Ray Stevens’ outrageous behaviour this week to avoid questions about his conflict of interest in the Gold Coast Skyride development, fellow Mermaid Beach candidate Gary Pead (ALP) recounts his long opposition to the cableway and its massive problems.
Talking, laughing and the chinking of glasses could be heard at the Courtyard Café after the 2001 election of the Beattie Government in Queensland. Then Environment Minister Rod Welford had joined us at our celebration, confirming that the proposed Springbrook cableway would not go ahead.
Everybody was ecstatic at the announcement, but also overwhelmingly relieved after the months and years of hard work by the Cableway No Way campaign workers. Finally we could get on with our lives knowing that Springbrook National Park was in safe hands.
Our café, which we purchased in Mudgeeraba when we moved to the Gold Coast in early 1998, quickly became the meeting place of the Cable Way No Way campaigners. We organised protests, campaigners lobbied minsters; we worked hard, for years to try and put this issue to bed.
The local counsellor of the time, Peter Armstrong was felt by the campaign workers to be vacillating in his support of the Naturelink project (the cableway). So, my wife Jill ran against him in 2000 as an independent, with a clear undertaking that if she were elected to council she would not support the cableway.
As it happened, an independent affiliated with the LNP, Ted Sheppard, did agree to back the project if elected and won his bid to become division 9 councillor, with the obvious support of Ray Stevens, who had a personal financial interest in the Naturelink Cableway project.
Fast-forward 15 years and here we go again — only this time, Ray Stevens is using his almost unassailable position as the MP for Mermaid Beach to guarantee the success of this Skyride project, in which he has a major financial interest. To ensure the project’s success, he voted in parliament to change legislation that would allow commercial developments in national parks. Additionally, he voted to weaken the Crime and Corruption Commission’s ability to investigate the dealings of members of parliament. This is a clear breach of the trust that his electorate has placed in him to act with integrity and honesty, and to act in their best interests, not his own.
In a presentation at our café, well before the “reconciliation actions”, we learned from esteemed local Aboriginal elder, the Reverend Graham Dillon. It was the country of Graham’s grandmother’s Dreamtime stories. We learned the correct pronunciation for the area was “Ma-ji-ri-bah” not “Mud-ger-ra-ba” and was reputed to mean “a place where lies were told”. This is because of an alleged aboriginal massacre by settlers in the area of today’s Somerset College.
The lies, though perhaps not the bloodshed, appear to have continued to the present day.
The cable project was rejected 16 years ago due to a list of reasons – financial, environmental and safety – as long as my arm.
In terms of the environment, unlike that of the Skyrail Kuranda Rainforest Cableway in tropical Cairns – to which the Natureline project was often wrongly compared – was inappropriate for development. At the time, I was involved in an array of community committees and groups, including the volunteer local Rural Fire Brigade. From my time with them, I have the most vivid memories standing amongst the dry, blazing brush in Springbrook at 2am, fighting intensely hot bushfires right on the site of the proposed cableway. Springbrook has the second highest average rainfall in Queensland, meaning the project would not be viable in the wet season, with the poor visibility in the mountains and likely frequent cable car stoppages. In addition to this was the Indigenous significance and uniqueness of the ecology informed our protests. We were supported by the local community, as well as personalities such as gardener Don Burke and singer John Williamson, who also stood with us in solidarity.
Financially, the cableway was found inappropriate because the completed project was allegedly to be sold immediately to an overseas company so that the developers could make a windfall profit but not have to battle the suspect viability and ecological impact. I suspect this is the end goal of the latest version of this project also. Furthermore, it was likely the local businesses would not be served either, with buses of tourists driving straight past them to and from holiday accommodation on the coast.
The arguments against this plan have not changed and are equally valid after 16 years. This venture lacked imagination then as it does now and is generated by those with vested interests rather than holistic, sustainable approaches to tourism projects across the entire Gold Coast area that better serve the community’s prosperity.
With this snap election, we (me, my wife, the rest of the anti-cableway movement, and frankly the entire electorate) find ourselves in a powerless position. After careful manoeuvring, Ray Stevens’ stars have finally aligned and, if he is successful at this election, the fate of this project could be sealed without any consultation with the community. It seems a travesty of justice that all our hard work over so many years may go up in smoke — perhaps literally.
I am standing as the Labor candidate for Mermaid Beach because, morally and ethically, I cannot allow Ray Stevens’ actions to go unchallenged — on this issue and a dozen others, if not more.
The electorate of Mermaid Beach has been poorly served by Mr Stevens. Issues of spiralling costs of living, youth unemployment, seniors unemployment, the lack of sustainable job creation and the potential sale of assets – which is likely to include the sale of valuable land, including Miami State High and Broadbeach State School – have not been addressed in any way by him. He does not care about his constituents, only the money they can make him.
I implore the Mermaid Beach electorate to put LNP last on the ballot paper next week. The LNP and Ray Stevens will denigrate our society and our environment. We must vote them out to stop the Skyride in Springbrook. We must get rid of Ray Stevens.
Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens facing threat of investigation into proposed cable car project after public ‘meltdown’
Mermaid Beach MP’s epic on-camera meltdown
IA editor David Donovan attempted to interview Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens.
GOLD Coast MP Ray Stevens is facing the threat of an investigation into his proposed cable car development as tension about the project explodes at public meetings and polling booths.
Mr Stevens has been filmed at a Coast polling booth arguing with a Chevron Island website editor who questioned his role in the $100 million project.
But Premier Campbell Newman has continued to back the under-fire MP.
The heated encounter which shows Mr Stevens dancing like a bird and refusing to answer questions was posted on YouTube and the clip went viral late yesterday.
Mermaid MP Ray Stevens did not take kindly to questions about a proposed cableway from IA editor David Donovan.
Independent Australia editor David Donovan had asked Mr Stevens why he was refusing to release correspondence with the Integrity Commissioner about his involvement in Gold Coast Skyride.
The Commission cleared Mr Stevens of a conflict of interest over his role in the project. [CNW note: “allegedly” – he won’t release the advice]
The Gold Coast Bulletin has been questioning Mr Stevens about his involvement with Gold Coast Skyride for 84 days, without success.
“He lost the plot and I guess he did not realise he was being filmed. I was totally stunned because I thought I was asking polite and normal questions,” Mr Donovan said late yesterday.
Premier Campbell Newman backed Mr Stevens after seeing the video.
“Ray Stevens is a great bloke, he’s worked very hard and has continued to work hard for the local community,” Mr Newman said.
“It’s pretty funny though, I’ve got to say, a bit odd and perhaps a lot of people out there will set the video to some music.
“I do say people should get behind him, he should get re-elected as the local member and people get to make that choice in a few days’ time.”
Ceris Ash and opponents of the cableway project staged a pop up rally outside the MP Ray Steven’s office this week. Picture: JERAD WILLIAMS
The row on Monday followed a peak hour morning protest by No Way Cableway members outside the MP’s Mermaid Beach office.
The cable car issue was reignited on Tuesday night at a Pacific Pines Residents Group meeting where residents asked political candidates what they knew about Mr Stevens and his role in the development.
Gaven independent Alex Douglas, who welcomed the Bulletin’s campaign to provide details about the project, said more information should be provided about the discussions between Mr Stevens, the Integrity Commissioner and the Government.
“If Mr Stevens cannot explain himself, he should withdraw from the Parliament. If he doesn’t, he should be investigated,” Dr Douglas told residents.
MP Ray Stevens has refused to answer questions about the project for some time.
“You elect me and I will investigate him.”
Mr Stevens did not return telephone calls yesterday and since announcing the project in late October has declined numerous requests from the Bulletin to provide letters from the Commissioner.
LNP Gaven candidate Sid Cramp told the forum he was not aware that a formal proposal had been presented to the Government on the cableway.
“Nothing is on my desk to say there is a cableway. For me, I haven’t been provided that information,” he said.
Oh dear! Ray Stevens, the MP who is under pressure about a perceived conflict of interest has had an unfortunate meltdown.
The full story:
Embattled LNP Assistant Minister Ray Stevens gets aggro while being questioned by IA editor David Donovan outside a pre-polling booth on the Gold Coast today.
It would be almost funny if it wasn’t so disgraceful — the conduct of LNP Assistant Minister Ray Stevens outside the Mermaid Beach pre-polling booth on the Gold Coast this morning (21/1/15).
I had just interviewed fellow Mermaid Beach candidates Alex Caraco (PUP) and Gary Pead (ALP) when I approached ‘Mermaid’ Ray to talk to him about the controversial project in which he stands to gain millions after a “fortuitous” Newman Government law change.
Of course, readers of IA would know that there are serious questions to be answered by Stevens about this project, especially about Stevens serious alleged conflict of interest and possible deceptive conduct regarding the Integrity Commission. Readers would also know I have been endeavouring to speak to him about this matter for months, but he has been avoiding me — just like he has been avoiding all other journalists.
He was sitting in a comfortable chair under a marquee outside the booth and after introducing myself and holding out my hand ‒ which he refused to take ‒ I asked Stevens if he would talk to me about the project.
He declined and directed me to his office. I told him, truthfully, that I had been trying through his office for a long time and had no success. He dismissed this out of hand.
As politely as I could, I then began to ask him some of the pertinent questions, starting with
“Mr Stevens, why won’t you release the Integrity Commissioner’s advice.”
Upon hearing this, Stevens leapt to his feet and chased after a young bearded man walking past, apparently to hand him a how to vote card. I followed Stevens continuing to ask him questions:
“Mr Stevens, do you have something to hide?
“Shouldn’t the voters of Mermaid beach know about your involvement, Mr Stevens?”
It was then, after walking back inside his tent, while I stood outside, that Mermaid Ray really lost the plot — but without saying a word. I can only surmise that he didn’t realise the exchange was being filmed, since I was only holding my miniature digital audio recorder towards him.
You can see why he thought he could be disgracefully (sic), because by saying nothing there was little of substance from the audio.
Here is the audio (I apologise for its poor quality) of the exchange:
Stevens then quickly darted to stand just inside the marquee, with me just outside.
He held his hands out wide, as inviting me to do something. Come inside? Have a go? Who knows.
I continued asking questions:
“How much money do you expect to make from the cablecar development?”
He leaned over towards me and, still silent, started waving his arms up and down as I repeated the question a few times.
“You’re not saying anything, Mr Stevens,” I said, suddenly reminded of another famous meltdown.
He started doing a dance and gyrating around — this is a Minister of the Crown, we’re talking about, let me remind you.)
“You’re not saying anything Mr Stevens,” I said again and he started making little duck beaks with his hands inches from my face.
As I asked belligerent Mermaid Ray
“Is this the way you treat your electors, Mr Stevens?”
he made slapping motions in the air close to my face, then turned and walked away.
“Why are you avoiding the media over the cableway,” I asked him and he came back and made shooing motions near me.
The whole incident was over in a couple of minutes, but any residual respect I may have had for this local MP had evaporated long before I walked away.
Stevens may have thought his aggressive, juvenile behaviour would never be seen, however sadly for him, the entire exchange was being videotaped on phone by a booth volunteer. This young gentleman was allegedly confronted by Stevens soon after, with the MP allegedly trying to intimidate into not releasing the video.
Luckily for us ‒ and the voters of Mermaid Beach ‒ the volunteer was made of sterner stuff.
Here is the video of the volunteer, which has been overdubbed with my audio:
Irrespective of the probity of Stevens’ actions over the Skyride, about which he obviously refuses to talk, it is clear that he is not a fit candidate for any public office whatsoever. In fact, wouldn’t let him walk my dog, who is far more courteous and polite than Ray Stevens.
Ray Stevens should be disendorsed by the LNP.
This probably won’t happen, however I urge you to share this story amongst everyone in Mermaid Beach. This man ‒ and I use that term reluctantly ‒ deserves to be punished on October 31 by the voters of Mermaid, because he clearly holds them in utter contempt.
If you are voting in Queensland this month, put the LNP last — as shown by today’s events, that’s where they’ve put you.
Hinterland residents mount ‘pop-up’ Cableway protest outside MP Ray Stevens’ office
Opponents of the cableway project stage a pop-up rally outside the electorate office of Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens. Picture: Jerad Williams
MORE than a dozen hinterland residents opposed to the cableway have begun staging a pop-up protest outside the electorate office of Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens.
Residents began gathering outside the MP’s office on the Gold Coast Highway just before 7.30am and plan to continue their protest during the morning.
Mr Stevens and his staffers had yet to arrive but the protest sparked support from pedestrians and the attention of motorists driving north to Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise in the peak hour traffic.
Opponents of the cableway project protest outside the office of Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens. Picture: Jerad Williams
“Where is Ray,” a local resident on a morning walk asked the protest group which immediately sparked a chant from the cableway opponents.
They were holding placards with various slogans including “Don’t let Ray take you for a ride” and “trees not towers”.
Cableway No Way group spokesman Ceris Ash said the pop-protest was organised to alert voters in the Mermaid Beach electorate about the hinterland proposal by their MP.
Mr Stevens told Parliament in late October last year that he was part of a consortium which planned a $100 million cableway on a 9km route to Springbrook.
Despite numerous requests from the Bulletin, the Leader of the House has refused to provide details of correspondence between himself and the Integrity Commissioner about the project.
Opponents raise signs in opposition to the Hinterland cableway project outside the office of Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens. Picture: Jerad Williams
Cableway No Way spokesman Ceris Ash said opponents would continue to ask Mr Stevens to release details of the letters.
“The majority of proposed route is on State-owned land including the World Heritage listed Springbrook National Park and the Hinze and Little Nerang dams,” Ms Ash said.
“Ray is the face of Skyrail. We’ve decided to come down to his electorate. This would seem to a huge conflict of interest yet he will not release the advice form the Integrity Commissioner. Why is he hiding.”