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Brisbane Region Environment Council


Gateway to Disaster

The Gateway Ports Plan and Port Land Use Strategy includes proposals such as the full duplication of the Gateway Arterial road. A new freight rail line running in parallel to it; and at least an extra 1000ha of general, noxious and hazardous industry. To do this they will have to fill the lands around the Brisbane River mouth to a depth of at least 2.5m.

Other plans include a fly -in, fly -out free trade zone bringing in a huge amount of freight, increasing road and rail traffic, which will cause increasing pollution. The plans have also failed to identify and protect vulnerable salt marshes, other plant communities or sites of cultural significance in and around the Port. The plans have largely ignored both the interests of the local communities and the indigenous Turrbal people.

On July 24th of this year the Port of Brisbane announced in the Financial Review that the Gateways Ports was open for development. In this advertisement they then when on to trumpet that they 6000 ha of land including waterways to "develop". This land will be developed for noxious and hazardous industries, freight industries and other general industry. The port itself is also currently trying to extend itself for more than a kilometre out into the Bay with a massive dredging operation. These proposals represent a grave threat to Moreton Bay, the Brisbane River delta and are also an attack on the rights of the people of Brisbane.

The Gateway Ports Plan and the Port Land Use Strategy have failed to properly consider the full environmental and social impacts of this project. In callous economic rationalist (E-Rat) speak they talk about "engineering a 'soft landing' for the communities of Pinkenba and Hemmant", which they plan to carve up with transport corridors and surround with industry.

Documents obtained by FOI in 1997 revealed that the gateway Ports stakeholders considered the Port and the Brisbane Airport the best vehicles for the Gateway Ports because they had a "competitive advantage" by having no public notification and appeals. The FOI documents also revealed that they knew native title interests could affect their plans so the then State Government proceeded to alienate land as quickly as possible to head this off.

Currently the State Government is "reviewing" the Gateway Ports Strategy. But the Port of Brisbane Corporation Board has approved the Port Land Use Strategy that tries to lock in this massive industrial expansion. We believe that the Port will try and turn this strategy into its approved and gazetted Land Use Plan sometime next year 1999. This means that all the areas in that new Land Use Plan will be exempt from the Integrated Planning Act apart from building standards.

Does this mean we could end up with a Gateway Ports Private City Council? Being exempt from everything in IPA except building standards we will have a private "local government". This "government" will have no voting, no freedom of information, no public notification, no public rights to object or appeal and of course the Port will have to assess its own environmental impacts ("What conflict of interest?" as one old Qld Minister used to say)

As a fall back if this attempt fails they will try and become their own assessment manager within the Integrated Planning Act. If the port is its own assessment manager and its area of influence is extended we will have the first fully corporatised "local government".

Public input on the plans current flaws has largely been ignored. The Port and some in the Gateway Ports Network seem to believe that industrial real estate speculation, in the hope of jobs, is more important than nature or the health and amenity of Brisbane people.

If the State Government and the Port don't amend their plans we will end up with more oil spills and other accidents, more traffic, more air and water pollution, more damage to the river, more dredging, more freeways for trucks and even less rights.

Visit the Port Home Page and look at their Land Use Strategy


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