STATE GOVT: Jewel development could still fall through
THE State Government hasn't ruled out calling in the controversial Bargara Jewel development, citing its potential impact on Mon Repos and its "highly unusual” deemed approval.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick yesterday said he had been approached with concerns about the project.
"It is highly unusual for a development of this nature to receive a deemed approval,” Mr Dick said.
"The deemed approval process is designed to encourage councils to make timely development assessment decisions.
"There are processes to manage conflicts of interest that, if followed, allow councils to make decisions appropriately and within a timely manner.”
Mr Dick has the power to call in the application and overrule the council's decision if state interests are affected.
State interests include biodiversity and the environment, as well as an efficient, effective, accountable and transparent planning system.
"The subject development may potentially impact on the Mon Repos turtle rookery, which may raise a matter of both state and national significance,” Mr Dick said.
"I have asked my department to closely look at this development proposal and provide me with advice on an appropriate course of action.”
Mr Dick has until November 15 to determine whether or not to call it in.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said he wrote to Mr Dick last week to provide background information and the council's conditions.
"I welcome the State Government's interest in the Jewel development,” Cr Dempsey said.
"It shows the significance of this project for the future economic development of the Bundaberg region.
"(The) council will assist the department and the minister's office if they have any inquiries.”
Resident George Martin said he and opponents hoped the minister would call in the development but had received limited contact from the Mr Dick's office in response.
"We're walking on eggshells,” Mr Martin said.
"We've had nothing to make us overly optimistic but they tell me the issue is definitely on the radar of both his office and the department.
"We live in hope and we're waiting with interest, but we're fairly disappointed in (the) council's non-performance in this situation.”
The debate attracted state-wide attention on Saturday after Courier Mail columnist Des Houghton addressed Bargara in his weekly opinion piece.