Tuesday, June 14, 2011


P.O. BOX 258, MUDGEERABA, QLD., 4213

12TH  JUNE 2011

P.O. BOX 5042,



The Association has serious concerns with the Draft Visioning Plan for Springbrook. Having perused the document, it is clear that it is not based on the singular issue of prime importance: the World Heritage (WH)-listing of Springbrook National Park. This matter is of such significance that it must form the basis of every decision made for the future of this area. The WH listing is not for the promotion of the tourism potential of this scenic and picturesque place. The listing is specifically for the recognition and protection of the rich and unique biodiversity of this region’s flora and fauna that makes it, not only one of the most important places in south-east Queensland and Australia, but also a core place of consequence for the world: hence its WH listing. All authorities - Local, State and Federal - have an obligation to co-ordinate care for this region and manage it appropriately and with sensitivity.

It needs to be understood that these qualities that have attracted this WH listing do not stop at the National Park boundaries. They involve the whole ecosystem of the region including the National Park and all other land holdings in this very small but very special area. To ignore the implications of this listing would be negligent and irresponsible. The Draft Visioning Plan for Springbrook needs to be re-written once thorough, objective and independent research has been undertaken and completed in order to establish a clear understanding of all likely impacts for all possible scenarios. Without this, the Vision remains a misguided fantasy - a blind guess - that responds only to personal preconceptions, individual ambitions and private preferences. One needs to know everything about the impact of these and other possibilities on the WH characteristics - the exceptional biodiversity of the environment of this region of our country - before any plan can be put into place. Impacts cannot be just carelessly assumed to be non-existent or minimal.

Rare and endangered species - and new species - of both flora and fauna are being discovered at Springbrook to this very day. The structuring of a vision based on presumptions and ad hoc aspirations driven by predetermined objectives puts the future of WH Springbrook at risk. No one can know what the impact might be on this WH biodiversity when so little is known about the details - about the rare and endangered species and those species yet to be discovered. The precautionary principle must be applied here. These are matters that require specific knowledge and understanding in order to be able to properly interpret the implications. They are not typical Council issues that a group of Councillors can decide on without expert, objective advice. It cannot be assumed that Springbrook needs to be developed with tourist attractions and facilities just because it has some existing attractions and businesses, or merely because it is seen as a green, mountain retreat. That tourists might choose to come to Springbrook in ever-increasing numbers establishes no necessary evidence for any future directions. Thorough research must be undertaken.

Rigour is required, not just grander visions of more of the same. No one knows if even the existing circumstances at Springbrook are having a detrimental impact on its’ ecosystem. Caution is required and rigorous research, not just colourful re-interpretations of things seen at other places, at other times. Springbrook is not just a place that has to accumulate all of the types of paraphernalia seen in other tourist destinations and resorts around the world. Springbrook is not like any other place in the world. It has been listed because of this. The risk is that the very qualities that have generated this listing – biodiversity, not scenery - will be threatened by ill-considered visions based on expectations taken from other places and other experiences. One of the first matters that has to be determined in concert with all other research, is the carrying capacity of this plateau. There can be no responsible vision without real and objective information.

Springbrook is ‘world class’ and is uniquely attractive; but it is the ‘world class’ quality of the ecosystem – its astonishing biodiversity – that makes it unique. It must be this issue alone that drives every decision that is made for this region. Developing roads, parking areas, tourist attractions, coffee shops, restaurants, play areas, walking tracks, themed rides and other distractions and facilities for what is assumed to be an ever-growing number of visitors has no rationale for being required at Springbrook other than this is what has been provided in other places. The matter of the legality of the funding of such facilities using the ratepayer-raised Open Space Preservation Levy funds is another matter that needs separate review. Springbrook should not become an over-decorated, crowded theme park in an effort to make it attractive for more and more tourists. This is a simplistic and crass model for any future of any place, let alone that of WH Springbrook.

The real danger here is that, five years ago, the Gold Coast City Council, at a meeting with local environmental groups, made it clear that its plan for Springbrook was to develop and promote the region for the tourist economy, irrespective of the environmental impacts. This Draft Springbrook Visioning Plan seems to be the next step to implement this strategy. Any future for Springbrook must involve all authorities with WH obligations. It is not just a Gold Coast City Council concern. It must involve the State Government because of the National Park areas, and the Federal Government for its WH responsibilities. Co-ordination is required in all aspects of this region given its WH-listed sensitivity. Having various bodies randomly envisaging futures for various parts of Springbrook is not a useful method of achieving results; neither is it a rational strategy for attaining any reasonable or sensible outcomes, even in locations where the impacts on the ecosystem are not so critical.

The Association does not plan to deconstruct and comment on the whole of this Draft Springbrook Visioning document. The strategies and principles behind the plan are the most important issues to determine. There are numerous matters that the Association would like to comment on in this Draft, but these are so varied that such a response would produce a sizeable document that would very likely never be read by Councillors. Such a specific and detailed commentary would also carry the danger of letting Council assume that the issues not commented upon might be acceptable, when in principle things could be otherwise. A detailed commentary also leaves itself open to the response that assumes that, if each point is attended to in some way, then the objection can be overcome – that the ‘problems’ could be solved. In a similar manner, our current cryptic objection can be manipulated to assume approval in part or whole. The Association’s concerns are more subtle and cohesively integral and organic than this. Springbrook’s future needs to be based on clearly documented, coherent principles and strategies developed from rigorously applied meticulous research. The complexity of the approach must be equal to, and based on the complexity of its WH characteristics. Guessing futures to be implemented is a silly, naive game with schematic outcomes based on ignorance and misunderstandings. Springbrook deserves and must have better than this – it is the WH obligation that it carries.

Managing public opinion is yet another concern here. WH cannot be addressed through public opinion or diagrammatic notions. Questionnaires have been left too open to manipulation. Propositions have been put without identifying any proportional impact. Telephone questions have been structured in an ambiguous and misleading or leading manner, encouraging simplistic and ill-considered responses. True objective research is required in order to properly gauge public opinion, just as it is essential in order to get a proper understanding of the ecosystem. Information for decision-making must be collected in a systematic, comprehensive, objective and transparent manner that can be openly reviewed, tested and assessed.

Council must reject this Draft Springbrook Visioning Plan and ensure that ecological sustainability is the sole foundation of all decisions for the development of National Parks, Council properties, roads, roadsides, open spaces, and residential, tourist, and commercial properties and facilities on the Springbrook Plateau, as demanded and required by its WH mandate. Without this, the future of these unique characteristics of this environment is in doubt. Biodiversity is not a matter to be used randomly as a themed park for tourist attraction or distraction.




  • Springbrook’s listing as a World Heritage (WH) Area should be the basis for all decisions made on the future of Springbrook.
  • Springbrook is not a city or tourist park to be ‘themed’ or promoted: it is WH-listed for it’s unique ecological significance – biodiversity, not superficial scenic qualities.
  • Locals at Springbrook are still discovering rare and endangered species and new species of flora and fauna even today.
  • Rigorous, detailed and transparent research should form the basis of all decisions made for Springbrook. World Heritage should not be managed by public or personal opinion. WH involves matters that cannot be subjected to standard Council processes. Specific and detailed knowledge and understanding are required.
  • It is critical that the carrying capacity for Springbrook – residents and visitors – be determined prior to any further development of any plan for Springbrook. This Vision seeks to encourage and accommodate more visitors without knowing any limits or impacts.
  • The future of Springbrook needs to be co-ordinated with all relevant departments and government bodies, not be randomly ad hoc, piecemeal or cavalier. Ecosystems know no boundaries or authority. Springbrook is not a village in a natural area. It is an interspersed and fragmented collection of private holdings, Council land and National Park areas.
  • Open space preservation does not include the funding of the construction of roads, parking, play equipment, picnic shelters and public toilets using ratepayer monies collected through the Open Space Preservation Levy (OPSL).
  • Community consultation has to be comprehensive, objective, carefully structured and thoroughly supervised to avoid leading questions, predetermined outcomes and manipulation.
  • The existing facilities at Springbrook need to be reassessed in light of the proposed new research. There are too many inaccurate assumptions used for Springbrook statistics to prove ‘required’ outcomes.
  •  There is a need to remove signs at Springbrook, not to add more. There are far too many now that rudely intrude into the experience of the natural environment.
  • It is important that proposed strategies, outcomes and ambitions are more than ‘sexy’ words in a report. Proofs of all impacts must be transparent and relate to  detailed research. Motherhood statements must be avoided. There is no proof that this sort of visionary development will have no/minimal impact on World Heritage values.
  • Springbrook is unique. Developments like the ones suggested are available throughout Gold Coast City, throughout the various States, and around the rest of the world. Springbrook is World Heritage and should not be managed/promoted as a tourist destination like everywhere else.
  • Springbrook Road is critical to the experience of Springbrook. It is not a motorway and should never become a road like everywhere else. Flora and fauna need priority when considering roads and speeds.
  • The Vision lacks an objectively defined direction.
  • All proper processes and procedures for all authorities need to be complied with – with transparency and commitment to a clearly defined cause.

  • The Draft Springbrook Vision Plan cannot and should not be supported in its present form.

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