Business leader stunned by council's island resort decision
ONE of the leaders of Central Queensland's business community has spoken of her disappointment with a Gladstone Regional Council decision to knock back a potentially massive new tourism project.
The council voted on Tuesday to reject a development application from Pacificus Tourism to build a $1.2billion island resort on Hummock Hill island, about 30km south of Gladstone.
The decision was made by a five-to-four majority after council staff issued a report which identified 17 grounds for the project's refusal, including environmental concerns.
Mayor Matt Burnett said the application had been refused on planning grounds as it did not meet the planning scheme "by any stretch of the imagination".
Patrice Brown, the founder and director of CQG Consulting, tweeted after the decision that she was "stunned and concerned" as the owner of a local business in Gladstone.
CQG provided occasional strategic advice to the developers over the past five years.
Ms Brown told The Observer she was especially disappointed as the vote had ended up so close and the decision came down to the mayor's final vote.
"I know (the developers) have already spent in excess of $15 million going through very rigorous environmental and economic assessment processes with the federal and state governments," she said.
"Tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Queensland and has been particularly important during the resources downturn ... it is time for Gladstone to embrace more diversity such as tourism, in addition to coal, heavy industry and gas - for the future of this region.
"CQG has offices throughout Queensland and Gladstone is my toughest market."
The final decision on the project now rests in the hands of the Coordinator General, who was last year given the power to overturn any decision made by the council when the resort was declared to be a "prescribed project".
A representative for State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the State Government was aware of the council's decision.
"The Palaszczuk Government supports the development of sustainable tourism infrastructure in the Gladstone region," the representative said.
"The government is liaising with the project proponent for the Hummock Hill proposal as it considers the implications of the decision and its options."
Ms Brown said it would be "really timely" for the State Government to "step up and make a call", and work with the council and the developers to address any issues with the project.