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The Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council plan to allow developers to turn Queensland's historic Yungaba immigration hostel into yet another luxury gated residential housing development against the overwhelming objections of local residents.
Included below is a letter from Delend Cuddihy of the Yungaba Action Group.
This was originally published on this site on 15 Jun 08.
The Queensland Government have entered into a contract with a private developer, Australand, to sell them the magnificent Yungaba building and grounds for around $10 millions. Australand have had their development application approved to construct 180 units on the site. They will construct 10 residential units within the main Yungaba building, retaining the exterior façade but shutting it away in a gated community. They will construct a theatre for multicultural use in the car park.
Brisbane City Council Approval
Australand's Development Application 964931 (see www.brisbane.qld.gov.au) was approved, subject to conditions, on 14th December. Australand have made representations to BCC about the Approval conditions and negotiations are in progress. These may be completed shortly. Groups and individuals who made submissions on the DA will then be invited to submit an appeal within 20 days.
Yungaba Action Group
In July 2007 we made a submission on the DA (along with some 80 other objectors) and are preparing to appeal when the invitation arrives from BCC. We have retained a legal team who have kindly reduced their fees pro bono. We are fundraising for the legal action and have held a Yungaba Immigration Museum evening at City Hall on May 25th and are holding a Yungaba Concert on June 14th. We plan a fund-raising river cruise stopping at Yungaba on August 23rd.
Our correspondence with the Queensland Government continues to be blocked by bureaucratic regulations that can be applied (but are not applied in similar situations that have their approval). We are proposing that Yungaba is restored and operated as a vibrant museum with the visitor standing in the shoes of an immigrant around 1890. The building would operate much as it was designed for, with groups arriving, being welcomed and briefly accommodated in the dormitories for theatrical re-enactment. The Department of Works is blocking this proposal by invoking the Building Code (which is normally relaxed for historical buildings).
When appeals were being heard to Australand's first DA, the application was ‘called-in’ by the government. Subsequently, Australand put in the current DA, removing a building and adding a theatre but has been successful in proposing a swimming pool in the grounds and significantly more units.
Yungaba was the first building listed on the Heritage Register but the Heritage Council has not seen fit to protect it from being gutted. The interior is unique, with separate dormitories for single men and women, and with separate family quarters. It is the only surviving purpose-built nineteenth century immigrant reception centre in Australia. Our information is that members of the Heritage Council wanted to protect it but the council's decision was made to conform with government wishes
Yungaba Action Group was incorporated in 2007 to keep Yungaba and its grounds for the people.
Yungaba Action Group, PO Box 5564, West End, 4101.
Treasurer: Guido Cifaly
President: Delene Cuddihy, mobile 040 259 7259
All donations would be gratefully received
#WhatYouCanDo" id="WhatYouCanDo">Appendix: Yungaba Action Group asks you to nominate Yungaba as a site worth retaining
Dear Yungaba supporters and community representatives,
Many thanks for your support for the Yungaba cause - it is very much appreciated & Yungaba has not yet been handed over to the developer - so there is still hope. We held a very successful fundraising concert last Saturday (thanks to all who came) and are rejuvenated to continue the fight!
The Brisbane Courier Mail ran an article yesterday on pages 24 and 25 called "Brisbane's story told by its landmarks: but we're losing our heritage".
Unfortunately the article didn't even mention the loss of Yungaba. However, we have a chance to remind them of it in a big way -
By Yungaba supporters and community members nominating Yungaba as a site worth retaining on the Courier Mail feedback form - go to
For those of you who submitted your story, or a comment on our website, it would be great if you could submit something similar on the Courier Mail feedback form. They might use some of these for their letters to the editor. And it will remind them of Yungaba. It's unbelievable how a building with links to at least one in ten Queensland families is completely ignored by the Courier Mail.
Hoping you can help us - it would be great if you could also send this on to a few of your friends - even if only to two, it will help us generate the groundswell that is needed to bring this to the attention of the media and the government.
Del Cuddihy, 22 Jun 08
President, Yungaba Action Group
Greater Brisbane — Darren Godwell BHMS MHK currently serves as an Advisor to the World Bank on community development and lives in South Brisbane. For the first time in history, the majority of the world's population is living in cities. The challenges of city living have been with us for thousands of years but obviously we’re finding ways to deal with them.
In 1924 the Queensland parliament amalgamated the cities of Brisbane and South Brisbane plus a slew of other towns and shires to create the City of Greater Brisbane. Brisbane has usually been behind the eight ball when confronted with the pressures of population growth. In its first decades Council couldn't find enough money to pave streets, source sufficient water or sewer our suburbs. Clem Jones' election in 1961 came with a promise of the city's first town plan, paving the roads & laying sewers.
Today, the pressures of population growth again push the City of Greater Brisbane. How are the city's residents and ratepayers responding this time around? Unlike the 1960s, Brisbane is awash with plans. Politicians crafted the SEQ Regional Plan with its prescriptive Local Growth Management Plans. Every year City Hall employs hundreds of staff and spends millions of dollars to draft, consult, engage, write and implement plans. However, the modern City of Greater Brisbane demands more than bitumen and flushing toilets. People only choose to live in cities when they offer something better. Last century's civic preoccupation with roads, rates and rubbish was required but its not sufficient for our future.
Greater Brisbane will have to harbour a resilient city economy, protect a unique Brisbane lifestyle and sustain lives that are better for living in this city versus Barcelona, or any other city that competes to retain the most talented, creative, hard-working residents. This competition to offer something better is the civic challenge of the today.
Our new circumstances demand new ways of seeing the challenges of living in cities. Traffic congestion isn't a problem, the failure to have regular, reliable commuter solutions is our problem. The drought isn't a problem, the failure to have water management that befits the planet's driest continent is the problem. The skyrocketing price of petrol isn't a problem, the failure to unhitch our city economy from car dependency is the problem. Increased population density is not a problem. The problems come when we ignore the principle of local leadership over local development.
The closer to people's immediate lives we can empower residents the better off our streets, neighbourhoods and Greater Brisbane will be. The evolution of Brisbane's civic development will take us out of city hall redtape and towards greater responsibility for local development initiated by locals. Vibrant neighbourhoods and safe streets are created by ordinary people living their lives in the homes they love. Everything we do as a city must make these lives better for being lived in Brisbane.
It’s time to take the next steps towards making the city of Brisbane greater.
Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper recently posed the question "Have these been the most boring elections?". This triggered an exchange of e-mails which began when Independent Mayoral candidate James Sinnamon wrote an open letter to the Courier Mail's City Hall reporter.
In the televised debate amongst three of Brisbane's Lord Mayoral candidates Greg Rowell, Jo-Anne Bragg and Campbell Newman, on Thursday 6 March Newman stated his wish that Brisbane eventually be like Vancouver on Canada's West coast. Vancouver also has a reputation amongst public transport advocates of being a highly livable city.
James Sinnamon, a grass-roots environmental activist has nominated to stand for Lord Mayor of Brisbane.
James is standing because of his growing alarm at the way the political leaders who wield the levers of power on our behalf have fallen abysmally short of the task before them. Instead of acting to prevent the terrible looming environmental catastrophe threatening us all, they are making the problem worse.
Liberal Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's Brisbane City Council administration is about as bad as they come. He pays lip service to lofty goals of sustainable, but in fact undermines the achievement of this goal.
His most harmful policies include:
- A massive program of the most inappropriate infrastructure imaginable given the looming threat of Peak Oil, namely the construction of a virtual parallel underground road transport network at an astronomical cost to Brisbane's ratepayers and road users.
- The encouragement of continued rapid population growth in spite of the obvious serious problems caused by past population growth.
Sadly the Labor 'opposition' is little better than Newman. In 2006, after making pretences of opposition to Newman's North South Bypass project, they caved in and voted for them, in the case of the NSBT even before the residents of Brisbane were able to see a contract that, according to David Hinchliffe penalty clauses that would make Brisbane ratepayers liable for millions of dollars should they have not wished to proceed with the agreement.
Whilst the Greens should be the obvious alternative to these two dismal choices, they have proved unwilling to initiate the kind of broad grass-roots coalition that would be necessary to defeat the Labor and Liberal Councillors.
At best the Greens can hope to hold the balance of power on a new Brisbane City Hall. This could be a start towards something better, but still, a long way short of what James Sinnamon believes should have been possible.
If he doesn't win on this occasion, James Sinnamon hopes to use the occasion to give prominence to the issues he sees as important and to encourage the formation of a grass roots political movement that he hopes will in the not-too-disant future make it possible for ordinary Brisbane residents to take City Hall out of the hinds of the stooges of property developers and corporate interests.
If you would like to help, please get in touch.
For further information on the campaign, please visit the related web site candobetter.wikispaces.com.
Independent Mayoral candidate calls for root cause of housing unaffordability to be tackled
Media release 3 March 2008
by James Sinnamon : Independent Candidate for Mayor of Brisbane>
2008 Brisbane City Council Election
James Sinnamon, an independent candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane, called upon Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to tackle the real cause of housing inflation rather than to apply band-aid measures at the expense of taxpayers.
"When all policy is supposed to be driven by hard economics, it is astonishing that the added demand for housing caused by record high immigration is barely discussed," said Mr Sinnamon.
"Back in 2004 when profits from property investments momentarily slumped, the property sector demanded, and got, from Prime Minister John Howard, record high immigration. As a result, Australia's population has risen by a further 1.2 million in just four years, housing costs have hit the stratosphere, and housing repossessions have reached 800 per week with a further 300,000 households at risk with the latest threatened interest rate rise."
"Property investors have got their wish," said Mr Sinnamon, "and the rest of us are paying the price."
"Mr Rudd needs to decide whether he will continue to serve the interests of the property sector or whether he will provide ordinary Australians with affordable housing, but he cannot do both."
Contact phone 0412 319669
For further media releases, visit candobetter.wikispaces.com/Media
1. "She's one in 21 million as Australia comes of age", Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Jun 07 and Australian Bureau of Statistics population clock.
2. An economist representing the real estate industry on Radio Australia's "Australia Talks back" of Wednesday 20 May 2004 said repeatedly that increasing immigration would fix the claimed woes of property investors.
3. House Flu , The Age 24 Feb 2008
The following letter was posted to the Courier Mail Newspaper in response to its beat-up story (see "Luxury cruise passengers forced to wade through water", editorial: "Unroyal Welcome") about the lac
- one will be filled with wads of cash by named after actual developers who have donated to the Liberal and Labor Parties
- a second will have a giant question mark as to what donations are coming in right now that the public does not know about
Media Release, 24 February 2008
Members of the campaign to scrap the controversial and discredited Hale Street Link toll bridge project are unhappy about some 'misleading' ALP local government election materials which appear to claim credit for outcomes achieved by the campaign.
"Let's be quite clear about this," said Stop the Hale Street Bridge Alliance spokesman David Bratchford, "every hard won concession gained by the campaign has been due to the untiring efforts of the ordinary citizens who contribute their time to it."
"Our elected representatives only responded to the pressure we placed on them, and should not be claiming credit."
"Among our supporters are members or supporters of all political parties, but our campaign is non partisan and beholden to no political party," said Mr Bratchford.
"Nevertheless we feel it's our civic duty to highlight the differences between the political parties on the Hale Street Link toll bridge project."
"This project is highly unpopular in the inner southern suburbs and is shaping as a key election issue in the Gabba ward."
"When electors decide how they'll vote in City Council election on Saturday 15 March we ask them to compare the policies of the candidates and their parties on the HSL project."
"So far only the Greens#hs-fn1">1 have come out against it."
"It's a pet project of Liberal Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and his backers in the engineering and construction industry."
"And despite some political game playing, the Labor majority in council has voted for it and supported it all the way, even if Councillor Abrahams was allowed to vote against it. The ALP's shameful track record in the council chamber speaks for itself. Talk is cheap; actions speak much louder."
"Before they nominated as candidates in the election both Greens candidate for Gabba ward Drew Hutton and Greens Lord Mayoral candidate Jo Bragg were very active in the campaign to stop this unpopular and discredited project."
"HSL is opposed by the overwhelming majority of locals, with over 90% of the several thousand public submissions on the project received from the inner southern suburbs saying it should not be built, " said Mr Bratchford.
"It's not too late to stop this expensive white elephant - send a clear message when you cast your vote in the 15 March election."
For more comment and information:
David Bratchford - 0403 339 777
About the Stop the Hale Street Bridge Alliance
An alliance of residents, parents, business people and community organisations to raise awareness surrounding the proposed CBD toll bridge. The Alliance's city-wide strategy challenges the spin and questions the claimed benefits of the project.
#hs-fn1" id="hs-fn1">1. In fact, James Sinnamon, Independent candidate for Lord Mayor, who helps administer this site, has long been an active opponent of both the Hale Street Bridge and the North South Bypass Tunnel.
Media release by Tristan Peach, Greens Candidate for Hamilton Ward
22 February 2008
Labor and Liberal plans to bulldoze a beautiful stand of mature hoop pines and gums at the eastern end of Kalinga Park are unacceptable and unnecessary, says Green Candidate for Hamilton Ward, Tristan Peach.
The trees are a stunning feature of the area, provide shade for park users, habitat for wildlife and are an excellent carbon sink for North Brisbane. The trees are in the section of park next to the intersection of Sandgate Road and the East-West Arterial.
Mr Peach has previously organised a petition to save the park and helped write a submission on the Airport Link impact statement, both of which were ignored by Council and the State.
“These trees are part of the area’s heritage and are highly valued by the community. I am the only candidate who is working to save them, while the other two candidates support their destruction” said Mr Peach.
“I am promoting a solution for North Brisbane that will address transport issues as well as preserve our valuable natural environment,” said Mr Peach.
The Greens’ transport plan for North Brisbane includes light rail along Lutwyche/Gympie Road, improved cross-city bus services and better cycling and walking options. It was released in September 2007.
“People in Hamilton Ward have a clear choice: they can vote Green for a cost-effective transport solution that won’t destroy the park, or they can vote Liberal/Labor for a transport project that will destroy the park and increase congestion on the East-West Arterial, Stafford Road, Gympie Road, Newmarket Road and various local streets,” said Mr Peach.
Kalinga Park is not the only natural area that will suffer – trees and green space along Kedron Brook (behind Kedron State High School) will also be bulldozed to make way for Airport Link.
Article by Darren Godwell, President, West End Community Association
This article, written on 5 February 2008 and published here on 24 February. It was submitted to the Courier Mail but not published. The Courier Mail Newspaper supported both the Hale Street Bridge and the North South Bypass Tunnel. This article can also be found as a Micro$oft Word document on www.stopthehalestreetbridge.com/media.htm.
The State government's Co-ordinator General report on the inner-city toll-bridge at Hale Street paints a picture of an auction where the price keeps on rising well after you've made the final bid.
"For the HSL to proceed would require an increased project budget above that of the $245 million approved by Council".
At the last council election candidate Newman made a $180 million promise to build a toll-bridge. Today Lord Mayor Newman says it'll cost $450 million.
The report's measured tone rings alarm bells - "it may be necessary for a new financial analysis.to ensure the project is good 'value' and is able to service the cost of project with the toll revenues collected."
The Co-ordinator General's insight tells us City Hall is having difficulty coming to grips with another major project. Sadly, if Newman persists the end result will be either a larger subsidy from the pockets of Brisbane's ratepayers through more rates increase or a top-up from the taxpayers of Queensland. So it's either the pockets of ratepayers or the pockets of taxpayers.
"Most projects of this size in recent times have been subject to significant cost-escalation pressures...It is likely that this project was also finding significant cost pressure and difficulty of remaining within the Council-approved budget."
The Lord Mayor's new alternative is to scale-back the approaches onto the bridge.
Logically, the State government finds that "a reduction in project scope is likely to result in reduced benefits [and] the project business case will need to be revisited to ensure that the 'value' of the project is acceptable"
Here's the rub. To test for "value" and to consider its "acceptability" before the local Council election we'll need to see City Hall's "project modification report". But Council's revised report is not due until the 20th March - five days after the election.
The Co-ordinator General rightly asks are we getting 'good value' from ratepayers' monies. To figure out what's 'good value' we'll also need to know if the project works.
The independent umpire reveals that City Hall made interesting choices from the beginning: "BCC did not seek the assistance of the Coordinator-General. BCC instead undertook a voluntary assessment process. However, a 'voluntary assessment process' may not necessarily be conducted with the same robustness and rigor."
Rigor was never to bother this process. Process became a rude joke when the Mayor's staff solicited big business and interstate relatives to make submissions supporting the proposal.
The latest revelation is City Hall's obligations under the "conditional approval" by the State government. Specifically, filing an acceptable "traffic management plan" for both construction and operational stages. Including a "public transport management plan" to detail impacts on non-car commuters.
We now know City Hall has only assessed a portion of the traffic impacts. Amazingly, the Coordinator General reveals, this project is only half tested. There is no assessment of the traffic impacts on the southern end.
"BCC was not asked to and did not submit a traffic management report for the proposed southside works. I note that Main Roads do not intend to request a traffic management report for these works as, in their opinion, any impact would be on local traffic only in the immediate area."
This finding points to the Labor majority in Council who approved the project without the full information on all of the impacts.
South Brisbane Councillor Helen Abrahams is left out on a limb by not knowing the impacts on local businesses, streets, suburbs and constituents. To a lesser degree, the local State Member, Anna Bligh, is also exposed by this oversight.
The Coordinator General recommends that State government compel City Hall for a traffic management plan for the southern side. This plan is critical to making an accurate assessment. The final report may prove unpalatable reading for the people of the Gabba, Highgate Hill, South Bank, South Brisbane and West End.
Once every four years, people hold their Lord Mayor and local Councillors to account. To do this properly, in the interest of seeing public monies well spent, the people of Brisbane will need to have all the pieces, traffic and financial, on the table before the election.
Published in Westender on 3 February 2008
‘When debating city planning four years ago candidate Campbell Newman declared: “[the community] wants choice. The prescriptive way will lead to bad outcomes” (12 February 2004).
The West End Community Association (WECA) calls on Council & Lord Mayor Newman to: scrap that pitiful draft Kurilpa Plan document and take up the community’s vision.
Public comment on the Brisbane City Council’s draft plan closed on Friday 1 February. The draft structure plan offers City Hall’s view for the future of South Brisbane for the next twenty years.
‘Architects and urban planning experts agree that the document is a flaccid proposal,‘ said WECA President Darren Godwell.
‘City Council proposes to plonk the population equivalent of Gympie (15,000 - 20,000 extra people) into a pocket of South Brisbane,’ said Mr Godwell, ‘with little of the infrastructure needed to maintain a sound quality of life for such a massive increase in population.’
‘City Hall has made no provision for schools, child care centres, civic places, green spaces or parks. There is no commitment to housing key workers, there is no planning for affordable housing and there is no provision within this redevelopment for essential services –ambulance, police, fire.’
‘Nor is there any additional provision of effective, efficient mass transport,’ said Mr Godwell.
“Since 2001 WECA has solicited public & community views on how local leadership should lead local development. This vision for the area formerly known as Peel Street Structure Plan has been presented to City Hall again.”
Its time to get smart about Brisbane’s continued development.
See original article for WECA’s Vision for the Peel Street Precinct
The West End Community Association (WECA) is a non-profit, non-aligned, incorporated association of residents advancing the neighbourhood’s liveability. WECA also sponsors many community initiatives.