Next Wednesday, the Cairns Regional Council is being asked to consider opening up the Barron River Delta to development.
It's a monumental change in land use for the flood-prone and vulnerable land that stretched from the Freshwater, and North to Caravonica.
The discussion on CairnsBlog over recent months about the proposed water park, is not in objection to it. It is however in objection to the use of the Barron River delta for commercial development. The evidence is substancial and compelling to not use this land for this type of development.
It's clear that many Councillors have been lobbied over recent weeks and been hoodwinked over a fake Facebook page that appears to have thousands supporting the venture only days after it was set up.
Here's a few further comments in addition to last week's article that we cheekily called The Official Under Waterworld Unfeasibility Study.
Government Gestapo Tax, commonly known as GST, could impact either entry prices or profitability to Paul Freebody's waterpark. If it has to be added on top of the gate prices, as mentioned in Thursday's article, it would increase them by 10%, making going for a visit even less affordable. If it is included in the prices, it will reduce the gross income.
One eleventh of the entry price will be the GST payable, less input costs, of course. Items such as wages, compulsory superannuation contributions, workers compensation and payroll tax, which added up to some $3,081,550 in the guesstimate, do not include GST, so they are not included in input costs.
If Paul Freebody's operating costs were $5.4 million per anum, around $3 million of this amount would not include GST, thus leaving around $2.4 million, including GST. One eleventh of $2.4 million is around $218,000 to be offset against GST payable. If Paul only achieves annual sales of $5.4 million (inclusive of GST) then the GST collected would be around $490,000, leaving GST payable of around $272,000. So, if the operating costs were $5.4 million, he will still be liable to pay around 5% of gross sales in GST, even when the total of those sales is merely equal to the operating costs, thus resulting in a trading loss. One of the insidious effects of GST is that businesses can still have to pay it even in situations when where they are trading unprofitably.
Another factor, which may also affect Mr Freebody and his One-Man Excavator Attraction, is the interest if he is borrowing heavily to fund the project. A major expense will be advertising and promotion if he wants to seriously compete with the 500+ other local tourism and entertainment venues, many of which are constantly in the media.
If he plans to attract a large number of tourists, he will also need to promote his venue in local hotels and accommodation houses. Any local operator will tell you how difficult, and costly this is. It entails producing and printing clever glossy, full-colour brochures, which are then placed by Morgan Freeman Promotions, or Tour Dex in their display stands alongside brochures of hundreds of other offers. This is a charged service.
Furthermore, when the hotel’s tour desk arrange bookings for their guests, they receive a commission that can be as high as 30%. The operator has to absorb this cost, something that many local tourism businesses have asked Tourism Tropical North Queensland to intervene on, but never have. In fact, they don't even have a policy on it.
Now all this talk of entry prices and how it could affect anyone who wants to go to the flooded amusement park, may not interest the Council as they deliberate tomorrow, but it may well interest potential investors and bankers. Although Paul Freebody denies he will want to flog off the land with any Council-approval, there's a possibility he would do that to recoup his costs to date.
This whole torrid saga reminds me of a story told many years ago about how EPT won the massive contract to build the East Coast microwave network for PMG, the forerunner of Telstra and Australia Post. The story goes that EPT was the front runner for the contract, even though they had not carried out any major contracts in Australia, but had to provide proof of their ability to carry out such an enormous project.
They signed an option on an undeveloped 10 acre block of industrial land in Sydney and hired a D8 dozer for half a day. The machine was levelling the site when executives visited, and were suitably impressed. When the contract was awarded, they went to see the big bosses in Italy to secure the funding, and the rest, as they say, is history.
A classic example of who dares wins. Can history repeat itself at Dillon Road?
Another snippet from history from a CairnsBlog reader comes to mind. During one of the major floods in the early 70's, some wag placed a sign supported by the old timber handrails of the pedestrian crossing on the north side of a drain opposite the youth centre on Mulgrave Road. That area of Mulgrave was completely inundated with the flooding and locals were travelling around the CBD in boats. There was even an article in the Cairns Post regarding someone catching a Barramundi in Shields Street. Dave De Jarlais was the mayor of Cairns at the time. A sign appeared and read "Lake De Jarlais: A Cairns City Council Project". A photo of the sign was published in the Cairns Post, along with the response of the mayor and the Council, who were furious.
Should Paul Freebody's waterpark be approved by Cairns Regional Council, and when the site is flooded during the upcoming wet season, I will have my own sign ready for installation at the Dillon Road site: "Lake Freebody: A Cairns Regional Council Project".
During a Council election some years back, someone installed a sign near St Mary's, thanking then Councillor Freebody for the slip lane. I don't think he paid for it himself. Of course it was some simple self-promotion.
Here's a personal tour from local environmentalist, Terry Spackman, of the waterworld site at Dillon Road. It also shows the waterway system that Paul Freebody is interfering with and how the proposed 'Bund Wall' will simply block it off and disrupt neighbouring properties.