The Queensland government says that it should not be in the business of running low cost accommodation like caravan parks. Yet the Monte Carlo Caravan Park is more affordable housing than any other, more affordable than units nearby or privately run caravan parks — or it was until the public trustee outsourced the management of the park to Australian Tourist Park Management a private firm that runs and owns many such parks in Australia.
In May 2012 Minister for Housing and Public Works, Bruce Flegg (through his departmental representative) made a statement about low cost housing for residents of Monte Carlo Caravan Park at Cannon Hill in Brisbane where nearly 300 people live. There are about 28,000 people who live in similar accommodation statewide. About 30% of Queensland’s housing is provided by rental accommodation.
“To ensure caravan parks continue to play an important role in providing long-term, low-cost accommodation, the Department of Communities has funded over $5.8 million in upgrade works over the last three years … the Caravan Park Accommodation Program had also saved the potential closure of Woombye and Harvey Bay caravan parks, meaning the long-term residents would not need to relocate from their low-cost housing.” — Fresh outlook for Monte Carlo Caravan Park residents
In 2010 Department of Public Works contracted for an Upgrade to Monte Carlo Caravan Park for a cost of $3,346,200. This was a fixed price contract. The contractor was Dickinson Construction. The tender document can be viewed here
According to aerial photographs construction of the roads by Dickinson Construction was begun sometime in May 2010 and completed by March 2011.
This is what Minister, Bruce Flegg had to say last night (1 Aug 2012):
“It’s a business that the Government shouldn’t be in, it’s going to be run much more effectively by the private sector,” he said. —Courier Mail
This means that the Minister is attempting to gift public money spent on the upgrade to private enterprise, plus the land. This is a fraud by liquidation – the minister is driving down the price of the land before it is sold. Sources in government say that residents have already received eviction notices — people in the park took legalistic notices about the sale as an intention to evict.
Meanwhile another Minister cut the entire funding of the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service previously funded by the Queensland Government and the Residential Tenancies Authority out of interest paid on bond money. That means 90 people lose their jobs statewide and the tenants and residents in caravan parks lose a free information, advice and advocacy service to help them to better understand their rights and responsibilities regarding Queensland’s residential tenancy and rooming accommodation laws and related legislation.
All current or potential tenants and residents covered by the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 in Queensland, and other persons seeking tenancy or residency related information, were eligible for assistance. As of 31 October 2012 that service will be gone. Will the government meet all the contractual obligations with the 23 community and local government organisations that receive assistance from Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service?
Who owns the land?
Local state MP Tom Burns organised a trust for the residents – when and in whose hands was it placed? The Public Trustee?
The Public Trustee’s 2010-2011 annual report states:
“the Public Trustee has responsibility for the control and management of clients’ assets such as property and investments which, being held in specie, do not form part of the Common Fund. Those clients include … the Monte Carlo, Lazy Acres and Woombye Gardens Caravan Parks.”
The Public Trustee has $495M invested in Qld Investment Corporation Investment funds. It was these investments that led to increased Government debt during recent crises in the global financial market.
One source stated that the previous government set up a qango to manage the park. He claimed that ‘Day to day management was placed in the hands of the public trustee’. Then a few years ago the Public Trustee outsourced the management of the park to a private company, Australian Tourist Park Management, that also manages the Woombye Park. ‘There is a four member board appointed from government ranks. One of these is from the Public Trustee’s Office and three from the Department of (Public Works and) Housing’.
‘There are three others who are supposed to be residents’ he said. ‘No one from the caravan park know any of these people. These (3) board members (who are supposed to represent the interests of the residents have addresses far away from the (Monte Carlo) caravan park.
Who is stealing the land?
Put another way: “Which developer(s)?? At this stage the most likely bid will be from Australian Tourist Park Management (ATPM) who currently are the managers of two of the three being sold. In December 2011 the Public Trustee challenged one of his elderly clients to leave the Public Trustee’s training room. When friends of the client said that they would not leave the Public Trustee’s training room until they had an answer to why his client’s property was being sold by the bank the Public Trustee said: “How would you like it if I came into your house?” This was ironic because it was the bank that had come into the house of the elderly client and had thrown him off his own property. It was the Public Trustee who let Australian Tourist (sic) Park Management [ATPM] into the homes of residents at Monte Carlo and Lazy Acres caravan parks. And now the Public Trustee has not only relinquished management but has allowed the government to sell the land from under his clients. Workers built these homes, one of the residents I spoke to last night had built and installed every fitting, from the sweat of his own brow. The Public Trustee does not own the PTO training rooms in his offices in Queen (sic) Street, workers built and paid for these premises with their taxes and through their fees that the PTO charges when it manages our assets.
What is the response to this?
One of the ‘hard working people’ that Campbell Newman spoke of in his victory election speech on 24 March 2012 lives at Monte Carlo Caravan park. He told me that the residents pay their site fees and feel they are paying their way. Campbell Newman spoke of Queenslanders walking tall while he cuts down their organisations, public sector jobs, and now the residents of Monte Carlo Caravan park. Think again those people behind this latest news.
2 Aug 2012