New legal light shed on lighthouse lease
THE decade-long controversy over a Noosa environmental group's lease on the Double Island Point lighthouse took a new turn this week when the findings of an independent legal report were handed to the State Government.
The Noosa Parks Association secured a five-year lease to manage the lighthouse and its surrounds in 2001.
National Parks Minister Steve Dickson indicated this week he was considering his options after the report found a lack of accountability in projects run by the association.
Member for Gympie David Gibson said law firm Minter Ellison had been engaged to examine the procurement processes for the Double Island Point lighthouse lease by the NPA as well as a lease at Springbrook on the Gold Coast.
NPA stalwart Noel Playford, running for mayor at the upcoming Noosa council election, came out swinging against the people of Rainbow Beach, Mr Gibson and Mr Dickson yesterday.
He said Mr Gibson had been trying for years to get Noosa Parks out of Double Island Point.
"He's been pressured for years by his constituents at Rainbow Beach who think they own it," Mr Playford said.
"And Steve Dickson is a former Maroochy councillor, and we all know how he loves Noosa.
"Between them, they are involved in an ill-conceived campaign that attacks both the volunteers and the values of Noosa.
"I've seen this type of grubby campaign before, and I can tell all of them that the Noosa community will reject it as they have before."
Mr Gibson wasn't shying away from his position.
"It's certainly no secret that I've been calling for a fair go on this issue for many years," he said.
"Internal departmental documentation shows very clearly that the NPA was not the preferred tender for the Double Island Point lighthouse.
"What's very clear from the report is that the tender process failed the people of Queensland in obtaining value for money. Serious questions are raised about the actions of the Noosa Parks Association executive which must be answered by them."
The NPA has about 1000 members, including former Noosa mayor and mayoral candidate for the upcoming Noosa Council election, Noel Playford, and Member for Noosa Glen Elmes.
"Again and again, people have registered their alarm about political threats being made by Noosa Parks Association officials to get the lease and I am on the public record expressing my continued concerns regarding the process used in awarding the lease," Mr Gibson said yesterday.
"The difference is now we have a grown-up government; one not cosied up with extreme green preference deals, willing to listen."
Mr Playford said the NPA and its 50-year history of protecting the natural and built environment of Noosa was a major reason Noosa residents enjoyed a lifestyle others envied.
"And people know it. That's why like hundreds of others, including local member Glen Elmes, I'm proud to be an NPA member and volunteer."