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Sunshine Coast residents warned to be alert to mirages in Federal candidate election commitments

As Australia moves into the final fortnight of the Federal election campaign, Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson has warned residents to look closely at the substance of what local candidates are committing to, prior to casting their votes.

Mayor Jamieson said the Sunshine Coast had a long list of infrastructure needs which were well known to all parties, so it was important to look to see where candidates were making clear commitments backed up by money and time frames.

“What the Sunshine Coast doesn’t need is grand election “visions” from candidates who are not backed by their party and other contributors with funding and a clear delivery timeframe,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“We have had too much of that in the past and the Sunshine Coast is sick and tired of being treated as second rate.

“The recent promotion of a new Entertainment Centre in Maroochydore to host Olympic basketball is a case in point.

“What is being sold to the Sunshine Coast residents is little short of a mirage.”

Mayor Jamieson said the Sunshine Coast community should be aware of the following when considering the entertainment centre vision that had recently been promoted.

  1. There is no commitment to host Olympic basketball in the Maroochydore City Centre.  The only commitment is to examine the viability of two potential locations – the Kawana Sports Precinct (the logical home for Olympic sporting facilities) and Maroochydore.
  1. Based on council’s previous work, the Entertainment Centre with all of the functionality that has been proposed, is likely to cost at least $300 million.  The existing funding commitment from the State and Federal governments for an Olympic basketball centre is $85.2 million.  This is well short of delivering the type of facility that has been promoted in recent times.  Council will not be making up the difference and the $5 million that has purportedly been raised through private contributions won’t plug the gap either.
  1. None of the major parties – Liberal National Party or Labor – in either the Federal or State Parliaments have ever committed any funding to deliver an entertainment centre or a convention and exhibition centre in Maroochydore.  That remains the case today.
  1. There has been no business case developed for the entertainment centre that is presently being promoted and none of the parties involved have a site for the facility. 
  1. In 2019, council finalised a business case for a convention and exhibition centre in Maroochydore (at a cost of $1.36 million) and that business case has been with the State and Federal governments since that time.  What is being proposed as the “entertainment centre in Maroochydore is not the facility that is the subject of council’s business case.
  1. The Federal Government has not contributed one cent to the Maroochydore City Centre development.  All of the work on that project has been funded and delivered by council and the private sector.
  1. The current Member for Fairfax, Mr Ted O’Brien, had previously agreed in 2021 to work with council to jointly fund and properly assess the site options for the hosting of Olympic basketball.  This work is not only in line with commitments given to the International Olympic Committee, but it is also essential as council will not be blindly agreeing to any proposal that comes with a hefty and ongoing price tag for council – and thus, our ratepayers.  As always, council will base its decisions on a robust analysis of the options, the viability of the proposed facility and the ongoing financial risk to our ratepayers. 
  1. The suggestion that Olympic basketball has to be staged in the Maroochydore city centre in order to gain a commitment from the State Government to contribute funding to the Beerwah to Maroochydore rail solution, is ridiculous.  The State is unlikely to base its decision on whether to provide a matching commitment to the rail solution on whether basketball is going to be hosted in Maroochydore for 10 days in 2032.  A 10-day event in one location does not provide the justification for a permanent, multi-billion public transport commitment.

“Council has always been an advocate for the development of an appropriate and flexible convention and exhibition centre in Maroochydore,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“It has been part of our planning for the city centre since before council acquired the former Horton Park Golf Course in 2012 and council has done the hard work by investing $1.3 million in the development of an appropriate business case,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Council has always been clear however, that it will only contribute land for that facility, given the ongoing operating and maintenance costs will also need to be borne by the ratepayer and which are forecast to exceed $300 million over the life of the facility.

“Just as has been the case with other major convention and exhibition centres in Queensland, it is council’s expectation that the State and Federal governments fund the capital cost of the centre in Maroochydore.

“If any Federal election candidate wants to do something worthwhile to advance this project, then they should be spending the next two weeks getting a firm financial commitment from their party for council’s proposed convention and exhibition centre in Maroochydore – a project which has a supportive business case.

“This would be of far greater benefit to our community than promoting a mirage based on redirecting a hypothetical $85 million earmarked for a basketball centre – when that funding is seriously insufficient and would not deliver the type of facility needed in the Maroochydore city centre.

“Cherry picking outcomes and promoting mirages that deliver no enduring legacy benefit for sport generally, or basketball in particular, poses a very real risk the event will be moved away from the Sunshine Coast to another location.

“To avoid this risk eventuating, what is genuinely needed are commitments to work collaboratively to do the necessary site assessments and come up with the best outcome for the residents and ratepayers of the Sunshine Coast, no matter where they live.   

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