The Queensland boating community has welcomed the commitment from LNP leader, Campbell Newman to return control of the Broadwater to the Gold Coast City Council if elected premier, but Marine Queensland has cautioned that analysis and broader explanation are necessary so that 'a new series of problems is not created'.
In his presentation, which was mostly political, made at an address to the Gold Coast Media Club last week, 'Can Do' Newman suggested the creation of a Gold Coast Waterways Authority which would return control of the Broadwater to the Coast which he said would 'fulfil its potential as a major local and national asset'.
Keith Douglas from Marine Action Group said the news would be welcomed across the Coast but he was concerned as to the source of funding to make it happen.
'It should have happened years ago but the most important thing now is figuring out how it will be funded because there is no use having the authority without the funds,' he said, adding that the marine industry and boating are both important parts of the Gold Coast economy and it will be great for them to get the assistance they deserve.
Don Jones, general manager of Marine Queensland said he interpreted the LNP proposal of handing back to Council responsibility for the Gold Coast waterways to Council as 'presumably being limited to its day to day operation and maintenance and exclude aspects like policing and State approval authorities'.
'As Marine Queensland understands it, this process may be able to be achieved without the need for new legislation,' said Jones.
'The proposal has merit in that it could result in increased efficiency of the operational management of the waterways, as long as the funding flows to Council with the delegated responsibility. At present there are approximately five Agencies with a day-to-day interest in the waterways and facing lands. The proposal is however unlikely to change State involvement in aspects such as major project approvals or major capital works.
'It also raises some further questions on how issues will be managed at the Council borders with Logan and Redlands. These waters in conjunction with the Gold Coast City facing waters are of equal significance so care would need to be taken to ensure that a new series of problems is not created.'
As Jones explained, for a broader change such as the declaration of a Port status with increased powers over the planning, operation and management of the waterways, this would need the backing of legislative powers.
'In addition if the proposal did occur this would also be a further catalyst to change the way Council has traditionally operated in its highly Divisional structure. The waterways are a whole of City asset and it needs to be managed holistically not on the basis of Divisions fronting the water.'
According to Jones, at present Gold Coast Waterways are managed with the advice and input of the Gold Coast Waterways Steering Committee. 'This comprises of DERM (Environment and Lands), DEEDI, Transport, Fisheries, Council and Marine Queensland. It has been in operation for just over 12 months and has introduced a number of significant efficiency improvements to the management of the waterways, significantly increased spending on maintenance works in the Broadwater and increased levels of planning for the area.
'Given that this will continue to be a high growth area with increasing levels of congestion, increasing levels of demand for high quality facilities and infrastructure, it makes sense to seek to streamline the operation and maintenance processes for the waterways and continue to evolve it into Port status in the future. However in the short term the proposal does make sense provided careful consideration is given the the aspects above.'