Parramatta Light Rail industrial action
Parramatta Light Rail industrial action

‘Cowardly behaviour’: Palm Beach residents fear retribution

MANY Palm Beach business owners and residents are reluctant to voice their opinion about the proposed Stage 4 light rail due to fears of retribution.

The Gold Coast Bulletin asked 70 business owners, residents and staff if they supported the light rail running through Palm Beach on its way to the airport at Coolangatta.

It comes after Mayor Tom Tate last week urged a robust debate between anti-light rail "whingers" and the rest of the city.

Cr Tate said it was important the whole city shared their views on the light rail network, not just a "vocal few in Palm Beach".

The light rail path through Burleigh and Palm Beach as originally proposed in the GCC consultation. PHOTO: Supplied
The light rail path through Burleigh and Palm Beach as originally proposed in the GCC consultation. PHOTO: Supplied

A majority of businesses owners and residents asked about the light rail were not keen to go on the record because they feared backlash if their answer differed to the community.

More than half of the 70 people interviewed declined to comment. Some said they had already faced negativity from the community.

LIGHT RAIL: ALTERNATE PALM BEACH ROUTE DIVIDES READERS

A restaurant owner explained his business partner was reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin supporting the final stage of the light rail and was called out by his customers.

He said some Palm Beach residents were not happy his business partner had endorsed the final stage of light rail because it "didn't support what the community wanted".

Another business owner, who also declined to comment, said customers were both for and against the project and she did not want to upset them by voicing her opinion.

Mayor Tom Tate labelled the anti-light rail movement “whingers”. Picture by Scott Fletcher
Mayor Tom Tate labelled the anti-light rail movement “whingers”. Picture by Scott Fletcher

Cr Tate said now more than ever local businesses needed support.

"This is cowardly behaviour," he said of the alleged threats to business owners and staff. "Right now we need to be supporting local businesses more than ever.

"Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion and it's disturbing to think that business owners are copping it for supporting an infrastructure project that supports the economy and ultimately their livelihood.

ANN WASON MOORE: UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP WITH PALM BEACH 'WHINGER'

"The vocal minority strikes again.

"I would remind this vocal minority that this is a whole-of-Gold-Coast matter. It is not just about Palm Beach.

"Are they going down to Coolangatta and voicing their opinion there or going up to Helensvale? We will consult with the whole of the Gold Coast about this project."

The Gold Coast Bulletin asked Facebook group Palm Beach Locals 4221 if business owners should fear speaking up about the project, but most sidestepped the question.

Nikki Archer wrote that if business owners were certain of the light rail's merits and were "adult enough" to run a business, they could have the conviction of their words in public.

Artist impressions of Gold Coast light rail Stage 3B. Picture: Supplied
Artist impressions of Gold Coast light rail Stage 3B. Picture: Supplied

"It's a little revealing they've not done their market research on this by looking to Stage 2 business precincts like Southport and Surfers. Palmy businesses will be lucky to last through the years of construction. Be it on their own heads to advocate for it.

RETRO REVAMP PLANNED ALONG LIGHT RAIL ROUTE

"If the light rail works, if it will economically and socially benefit the communities they live and work in, then they should have the confidence of their facts.

"(The) issue is there is no community consultation. We have divisive 'leadership' bringing discourse down to throwing tomatoes."

Steve Mackney said if business owners thought the light rail would improve their traffic flow and turnover, "they're delusional".

"If they are relying on it coming through for this to happen they really need to have a good look at their business plan."

 

WHAT PALM BEACH HAD TO SAY

Judy Meir. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Judy Meir. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Judy Meir, Palm Beach resident: I think it's a great idea but I don't where the station is going to be. It'll be good for older people because we can park our cars and ride to wherever we need to go.

Leah Keery. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Leah Keery. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Leah Keary, Vue Optometrist Palm Beach staff member: All they've got now is one-hour parking down the middle of our street. If they put the light rail down here, where is everyone going to park?

Gianfranco Priolo. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Gianfranco Priolo. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Gianfranco Priolo, Priolo Jewellers Owner: I hope everything will be OK with it.

Rick Gabain. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Rick Gabain. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Rick Gabain, Pool Centre Palm Beach owner: There is no room here. My view on what should happen is that it should come down to Burleigh and turn tight at Reedy Creek. The whole thing with light rail though, I've never been on it.

Christina Nichols. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Christina Nichols. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Christina Nichols, Beer Thai Garden staff member: I think it could potentially be really good. It will bring people who don't have as much access to the area down here as well. And it's a bit easier being near the airport for people that travel up this way and then travel back if they need to. I think it'd be a good thing.

Elaine Kidd. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Elaine Kidd. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Elaine Kidd Manning, Dr Michael Tong's Othopaedic Surgeon staff member: For our patients, it will be good because we have a bus stop that stops right at the front here. And if they wanted to catch the light rail that would be great too.

Paige Manzenares. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Paige Manzenares. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Paige Manzenares, Wildernis Cafe and Bar staff member: I'm not keen on it bringing too many people. Palm Beach has always been a nice, peaceful escape for the locals. It's going to change a lot.

Bob Coote. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Bob Coote. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Bob Coote, Palm Beach resident: I don't want it through here. There are enough problems with traffic on the Gold Coast highway already.

Tuan Pham. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Tuan Pham. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Tuan Pham, Palm Bach Cakes and Pies owner: People in Palm Beach nowadays, a lot of people don't like development and change. But young people, I think they love it.

Keely de Klerk. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Keely de Klerk. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Keely De Klerk, Palm Beach Bakery staff member: Yes and no. I think that the areas that they're doing are affecting some of the land and wildlife around it, and potentially they could seek alternatives to that, but it's definitely a good system.

Nicole Hay, Palm Beach local and business owner. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Nicole Hay, Palm Beach local and business owner. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Nicole Hay, Palm Beach local and business owner: No, I don't want it. I want to keep Palm Beach as a small, beachside community and not block up our backstreets with traffic because we have a tram going through the middle.

Richard Twist, Currumbin Waters local.. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Richard Twist, Currumbin Waters local.. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Richard Twist, Currumbin Waters resident: As locals, we'd rather not have it. The overcrowding, parking and traffic problems it would cause. But the Coast is growing and it almost seems inevitable.

Freedom Hub manager Tyrone Smith. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Freedom Hub manager Tyrone Smith. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Tyrone Smith, Freedom Hub manager: I noticed during the construction in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach it was disruptive. And I would like to know how the light rail has benefited businesses in Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise? And what's wrong with the bus system? They seem to be OK.

Shari Jones, Palm Beach property manager. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Shari Jones, Palm Beach property manager. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Shari Jones, Palm Beach property manager: I'm all for the end product.

Georgia Brown, Palm Beach property manager. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Georgia Brown, Palm Beach property manager. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Georgia Brown, Palm Beach property manager: I'm for it. I think it will be great for the area. It will boost business and tourism and will create jobs for locals.

Sarah Ciegel, Palm Beach receptionist. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Sarah Ciegel, Palm Beach receptionist. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Sarah Ciegel, Palm Beach receptionist: No. I think it sounds loud and the construction will be inconvenient.

Gareth Martin, Palm Beach local. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Gareth Martin, Palm Beach local. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Gareth Martin, Palm Beach local: I'm all for it. We need good infrastructure for the area to grow and it will help to ease traffic congestion.

Debbie Kempnich, Palm Beach local for 46 years. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Debbie Kempnich, Palm Beach local for 46 years. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Debbie Kempnich, Palm Beach local: No, I don't want it. We have something really special here and I think it would bring more crime once they're all connected. The buses are running just fine.

Lee Rowe, Palm Beach pharmacy assistant. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Lee Rowe, Palm Beach pharmacy assistant. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Lee Rowe, Palm Beach Pharmacy assistant: For business it will be good and to help people get around. Staff parking here is an issue, so I could use it to travel from home to work.

Palm Beach Furniture owner and local John English. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Palm Beach Furniture owner and local John English. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

John English, Palm Beach Furniture owner and local: Yes. If you're going to have a light rail, do it for the tourists. They want to travel along the beachfront, not out the back on the heavy rail. As a business owner though, I am concerned about the disruption from the construction.

Night Owl Palm Beach owner Michelle Clarke. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Night Owl Palm Beach owner Michelle Clarke. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Michelle Clarke, Night Owl Palm Beach owner: We lost a lot of money while it was being constructed in Surfers Paradise, but I think it will be good for the long term.

Shipwreck Barbers owner Danny Nathan. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Shipwreck Barbers owner Danny Nathan. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Danny Nathan, Shipwreck Barbers owner: No to the light rail because of the traffic congestion and loss of parking and we want to keep Palm Beach community-based.

Mikey Perry, Palm Beach local. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Mikey Perry, Palm Beach local. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Mikey Perry, Palm Beach local: Yes, I'd find it very handy because pre-COVID, I would fly out of the Gold Coast Airport every weekend.

Kayla Wilson, Palm Beach barber. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Kayla Wilson, Palm Beach barber. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Kayla Wilson, Palm Beach barber: The positive for me is it will be easier to go out at night, but I'm worried about the congestion it will create.

Kingswood Park owner Brenton Waller. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Kingswood Park owner Brenton Waller. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Brenton Waller, Kingswood Park owner: Car parking is our biggest issue here. The light rail will take out all the (Gold Coast) highway parking. The construction will disrupt businesses. It had a huge effect on people's livelihoods in Surfers (Paradise) and Broadbeach.

Wildernis Cafe and Bar manager Isaac Burton. Photograph : Jason O'Brien
Wildernis Cafe and Bar manager Isaac Burton. Photograph : Jason O'Brien

Isaac Burton, Wildernis Cafe and Bar manager: It will create more customer traffic for us. It's a short-term pain for a long-term gain.

Surfboard Warehouse salesman Jake Arena. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Surfboard Warehouse salesman Jake Arena. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Jake Arena, Surfboard Warehouse salesman: I think I'm for it. It's just going to be hard on traffic when they're building it. All in all, it seems promising.

Burger Shack manager Anthony Wright. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Burger Shack manager Anthony Wright. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Anthony Wright, Burger Shack manager: No, I don't want it. Due to the impact on traffic, parking and on pedestrians being able to access our restaurant.

Contemporary Chef House owner Jitrauadee Chantawat. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Contemporary Chef House owner Jitrauadee Chantawat. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Jitraudee Chantawat, Contemporary Chef House owner: No. I'm worried about the impact it will have on my businesses. I have one at Burleigh and Palm Beach.

Balboa Italian owner Eddie Uzan. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin
Balboa Italian owner Eddie Uzan. Photo: Gold Coast Bulletin

Eddie Uzan, Balboa Italian owner: If whoever decided we needed a light rail because of increased population, fine, but not if it was to suit some politician on top of the pyramid. Half the buses are empty. It will have a huge impact on the Gold Coast Highway, they need to put it beside the M1.

Originally published as 'Cowardly behaviour': Palm Beach residents fear retribution



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