Minister liquidates low cost housing

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?
ne 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.

Ian Curr
2 Aug 2012

15 thoughts on “Minister liquidates low cost housing

  1. Debbi Jones says:

    I don’t know anyone within Occupy Brisbane who could access the required information. I am certainly on board with any campaigning though.

  2. Interview with Campbell Newman says:

    Thursday 2 August, 2012

    Subjects: Sale of Caravan Parks

    There’s been a lot of talk today about this decision by the State Government to change the nature of these caravan parks. One not far from us here at Cannon Hill but there are others around the state as well – one at Woombye, one at Lazy Acres Caravan Park. And it’s fair to say we’ve had a huge response. Some have been in favour of what the Premier’s doing. I also think it’s fair to say though that the majority has been very much against it. I’m not sure if that’s the policy itself or the way it was explained by the responsible Minister Mr Flegg a little earlier. The Premier’s had a busy morning in Parliament but comes out to spend a few minutes with us. Premier, thanks for doing that. Good morning.
    G’day Greg, thanks for having me.
    Yeah, there’s been a big negative response to all this. Does that surprise you? Can you understand that?
    Oh look, I think we probably need to do a bit more work on getting our message out and perhaps if I may just explain to you and your listeners exactly what’s going on. The Government, as you just said, owns three caravan parks at the locations that you said. Should governments be in the business of running caravan parks? I don’t believe we should and I’ll explain what we’re going to do with any money we’re going to get from the sale of these caravan parks in a moment, but, the first thing is, the Government has made a decision to sell the caravan parks. By selling the caravan parks it does not mean, as some of our political opponents are putting out and scaring people, they’ll no longer be caravan parks. They’re simply being sold. We believe the private sector can better run them anyway and government shouldn’t be in that business. Now in relation to what might happen, for 18 months after any sale, they cannot be changed in terms of being caravan parks. After that, it really depends on what the new owners choose to do. They would have to go and, I imagine, if they wanted to change their use from being a caravan park and again, that’s just pure supposition, but let’s deal with the hypothetical. They would have to go through a town planning process, their local council and actually convince the council of a change in use which may or may not be permitted. But I’ll say this upfront this morning Greg and maybe this hasn’t come through clearly enough. If these end up not being caravan parks down the track, the commitment is to every one of these 300 current residents – we will look after them. We’re committed to help them find either private accommodation or public housing. And that’s exactly where we are. So, what’s this all about though? Why is Dr Flegg sort of putting this on the table in the first place? And this is the problem. This year, we’ll see a $54 million dollar deficit running public housing. And there are over 30,000 families in Queensland who are on the waiting list. And what Dr Flegg wants to do is he wants to sell the caravan parks, he’s going to take the money from that. It will all go back into building public housing. And he is working very hard to try and find ways that we can partner with the private sector to deliver thousands of new homes across Queensland for the disadvantaged. That’s what he’s trying to do.
    So public housing is not being neglected?
    Well it was neglected by the previous administration. Let me give you a feel. In the last full financial year, 2011-2012, have a guess how many new units of public housing were built in Queensland? Less than a hundred. About 97-98. In one year. Now I just want to assure listeners that one of the reasons I love doing this job is that I get to help people who are disadvantaged and I am totally committed with Dr Flegg working there, to actually sort the mess out. We want to actually create a whole lot of new public housing. There are many ways we can do it. The Government’s got land all over Queensland and these caravan parks are examples of that.
    And you’re committed to doing that?
    We’re absolutely committed to do that.
    But you see Premier, if Mr Flegg had said that, when Peter and Mary on our station spoke with him earlier this morning, gave that rock solid guarantee that you’ve just given, I don’t think there would’ve been the negative response that we’ve seen since then. Because there was no rock solid guarantee. There was the talk of the 18 months no changes can be made, but there was no guarantee about these sometimes very vulnerable people being taken care of after that 18 months. And as you say they may not be able to change the status of the caravan park but they may well also be able to change it. So I think people, understandably, and you’ll understand this, they were very concerned about those folks.
    Oh look, I appreciate that and I’m just going to continue to impress on various people about the need to make sure people are looked after. By the way though, if people want to go and have a look at Dr Flegg’s press release, it’s on the Government website. It is quite clear that people will be given the assistance I just said so he was very, very clear of it upfront. I actually didn’t hear his interview.
    Yeah, but as you know most people don’t read press releases and then, as you also know, because you need to deal with every day, when you do then confront questions from the media, you’ve got to be able to be across them and explain them in such a way that you not only explain your policy but people understand the policy.
    I certainly agree and I guess that’s why I thought I’d come on this morning.
    I appreciate it.
    I want people to know that there is a real crisis in delivering public housing in Queensland. The stock’s been run down. No new stock has been built to any significant degree. I just gave you the figure before. That’s why we need to get on. So we’ve got this land across Queensland, not just these caravan parks. We’ll be putting this on the table. For example, there are pieces of land owned by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. They’re on major public transport corridors, near bus stations and railway station, and Dr Flegg as Housing Minister and Scott Emerson as Transport Minister will work together with Jeff Seeney as Planning Minister and local councils to actually put that on the market and say to the private sector, ‘Here’s this government land. We’re calling tenders for you to provide new housing opportunities there because they’re near the public transport nodes. So we don’t have money because of the financial mess we’ve been given but we’ve got the land and we’ve got it at strategic locations. With the co-operation of councils we can create a whole lot of affordable housing and public housing. And that’s the vision and I assure Queenslanders who know my track record as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, when I say I’m going to do something like that, I assure people we’re going to do it. I want to see a lot of public housing being built in the next few years.

    Premier, Kevin from Chermside rang in. He wants to know if you can extend that caveat from 18 months to, I don’t know a couple of years. Or five years?
    In terms of the no on-sell?
    That’s it.
    Look, I’m reasonable. I’m prepared to take a look at that and talk to Dr Flegg. Certainly, another six months probably wouldn’t be a problem at all. But again, I just stress, people are worried about things that may never come to pass because right now there is a guarantee of an 18-month no change of use thing. And after that it really depends on what a new owner may choose to do. And they might very well choose to continue to run them as caravan parks.
    You and I were talking last week when you were in the studio about the challenges of leadership. Still relatively new days for you as the State’s Premier. I guess when you’re proposing and affecting so much change, there’s a very thin line you’re walking here. We understand the legacy you were left by the previous government. Did we learn out of this that all Ministers need to be really careful about how they get these messages across?
    I think there’s a fair lesson there for all Ministers about the need to explain things very, very carefully. But, just remember, we have political opponents whose job is to try and confuse the issue. To scare people.
    They didn’t do that today, though. The Minister did that.
    Ah, there’s been a bit of that going on though, I can assure you of that in the background there, Greg. I’ll give you another example in the housing space. Dr Flegg wrote to public housing tenants a few weeks ago. He made a number of points about the things we’re trying to do. Right now, for example, we have people living by themselves in houses that, say, have three bedrooms. Meantime, we have people who, I’ve said before this earlier in this conversation, there’s 30,000 people, families, who are on the waiting list. They need a large house where we’ve got people occupying public housing with all this space. Public Housing is a safety net. It is not something that people should rely on to be there’s forever. I think it’s fair and reasonable that people be asked, if they are by themselves in a property to be… I think it’s fair and reasonable that the Government would consider asking them to move to a new one or two bedroom apartment so that a family can get a home. And that’s the sort of thing again that Dr Flegg is trying to do. So, we have a system that accommodates as many people as economically as possible. And yet, that’s one where our opponents, our political opponents, are trying to scare people. There was a recent story in one of the papers saying a lady would be forced out of her home. And that wasn’t the case. It was never the case. It was put out that she was going to be evicted and that was clearly not the case.
    Well just because we’re nearly out of time and I know you have other things you need to be doing. You raised the point last week when I raised the issue of Fanfare with you… I just thought symbolically it was a bad move at the start of a new government to lose something that affected a lot of people who were working really, really hard. You made the point that there needs to be a role for private enterprise in all these things.
    Yep. And we’ve achieved it.
    I was going to make that point to you because Harvey Lister, great bloke and very successful businessman – one of our most successful businessmen, has stepped in. Would you be encouraging others to see Harvey as a bit of an example and more philanthropic behaviour from some of our leading businesses?
    Well, I’d like to thank Harvey Lister and AEG Ogden as well for stepping in in that way. I do make the point because, again, it probably hasn’t been reported particularly carefully in some sections of the media, the reason it happened was the Minister sought those sorts of sponsorship expressions of interest and so I really thank them for coming in and doing that. But, it just shows you that a situation before, a competition much loved, that the taxpayers were paying for. But all the while, over all these years, there was indeed the opportunity for private sector sponsorship. A win-win for both, I imagine the company concerned and the taxpayers who are funding one less thing. And there are lots of things like that. I came in for some criticism for cutting the literary awards. I’m very happy to have literary awards. The Premier’s Literary Awards. And there was a lot of screaming and shouting about that, but clearly there would have been people who were there prepared to step up and be part of sponsoring that.
    And there is a responsibility too. And to be fair, I was one of those who was a bit critical at the time, but I can understand that there is also a responsibility of those in the industry, whether they’re publishers or whomever they might be, book stores or major chains, who also have a vested interest in those book awards. I can see where you’re going. Not everyone is going to agree, of course. They never do. But, I can see where that kicks in.
    Look, Greg, at the end of the day, this is the agenda of the government. To sort out the mess. To get the State back on track. We’re going to get the economy going. We’ve been doing lots of things over the last four months to end red tape, or to reduce it. To actually help get construction and tourism, mining and agriculture going in this State. So, we’ve been doing that. On the public sector finance side of it, the Government’s finances, who pays all the bills? Who pays for public servants? Who pays for all these awards or competitions or whatever? We do as taxpayers. If we wanted to close the budget deficit this financial year. And I’ve said this figure before, it’s at least a thousand dollars extra tax per man, woman, and child. Last year it was around $600-$700. The deficit is actually bigger this year.
    Okay. Premier, with respect…
    …keep putting their hand in your pocket. The Government is trying to sort it out and ease the pain on people’s cost of living.
    There’s a lot of other issues to talk about on that, but now I don’t really have time to. And I know you are… So I appreciate you ringing in. Thank you.
    Thanks for having me Greg. Cheers.


  3. Claims from Dept. of Housing and Public Works says:

    The Director General has fallen into line with the thinking of government claiming that the department will use proceeds of sale of caravan parks for low cost affordable housing. One caravan park alone houses 300 people at 136 park sites.

    Department of Housing and Public Works

    I am writing to you about the Queensland Government’s plans for the three government-owned caravan parks, including Monte Carlo Caravan Park.

    The Minister for Housing and Public Works, the Honourable Dr Bruce Flegg MP, is having to make some hard decisions to tackle serious financial problems in the public housing system.

    Monte Carlo Caravan Park was purchased by the Queensland Government in 1991 with the aim of preserving permanent accommodation sites at the caravan park.

    While current and recent residents have benefited from this measure, buying caravan parks has proved a costly strategy. In addition to the initial purchase price, there has been a need to expend nearly $7 million to upgrade this caravan park to a serviceable standard, which has diverted funding from the social housing program. In addition, current administrative arrangements are incurring further significant costs on the government.

    [Editor’s note: 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]

    The Minister wants to ensure that the limited resources for housing are used in a way that maximises assistance to people in housing need. In this way, he has directed the department to rein in costs and find funds for building additional social housing.

    Therefore, the Minister has decided it is not in the best interests of the government and community to continue to own caravan parks, including Monte Carlo Caravan Park. He has requested that the department commences a process to sell Monte Carlo Caravan Park.

    This process is expected to take several month, and the Minister has directed that a restriction be placed when Monte Carlo Caravan Park is sold that will protect the tenure of current residents for a period of 18 months, provided residents comply with the terms of their residency. The rights and responsibilities of both residents and any new park owner will otherwise continue to be governed by the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 and the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003.

    This means that current residents whose tenancies are governed by the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act would not be at risk of having to immediately leave the caravan park but be able to stay for up the 18 months. This would provide some time for residents to make arrangements for alternative accommodation, should the new owner want to make significant changes.

    For those residents who own their own manufactured homes, their residency will continue to
    be governed by the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act.

    The money raised from the sale of Monte Carlo Caravan Park, and two other caravan parks owned by the government, will be invested in additional social and affordable housing.

    The department will keep you informed of progress in the sale process through regular bulletins.

    If you have any questions, please contact Ms Robin Zakharov, Director, Private Housing Programs, Housing Services, Department of Housing and Public Works on telephone 07 3227 6223.

    Yours faithfully
    Natalie Mac Donald
    Department of Housing and Public Works

  4. Another caravan park gone says:

    Notice from Australian Tourist Park Managementto residents at Monte Carlo Caravan Park.
    All residents of Monte Carlo Caravan Park should have received a letter this week’ from the Director-General; Department of housing and Public Works, advising that the Minister for Housing and Public Works, the Honourable Dr Bruce Flegg, has directed the department to commence a process to sell the Monte Carlo Caravan Park.

    If you have not received this letter, please see the park manager who can provide you with a copy.

    This bulletin has been prepared to provide you with more information about this decision.

    Why is this caravan park being sold?
    The Minister for Housing and Public Works has decided that high costs involved in upgrading and
    operating three caravan parks owned by Government is not the best way to use scarce funds for
    housing programs.

    All three caravan parks are to be sold to raise funds to build new public and community housing.
    Why is this caravan park now being sold when the department previously stated this would not occur?

    The current Government has made the decision to sell the caravan parks because of the need to
    reduce costs and raise funds to address problems in the public housing system. It is acknowledged
    that this is a major change in policy from the previous Government.

    When will this caravan park be sold?
    It is not possible, at this stage, to provide a date when the sale will occur. The department is at an
    early stage of a process to sell the caravan park and this process will take several months. However the sale is expected to take place sometime before June 2013.

    Residents will be given updates on the process of selling Monte Carlo Caravan Park through
    regular bulletins.

    Will I have to leave the caravan park when it is sold?

    The department is working on a special requirement on the sale of the caravan park which enables any permanent resident living at the caravan park to stay for 18 months from the date of the transfer of the caravan park from the Government to the new owner.

    Residents will need to continue to meet the terms of their residency under the Residential Tenancies Rooming Accommodation Act or the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act.

    The Minister has directed the department to set up this special requirement to ensure current residents have a period of secure tenure after the Monte Carlo Caravan Park has been sold.

    Will my site tariff increase?

    The department reviews tariffs annually, generally at the end of each financial year. Should the tariff for your site require an increase, the department will provide adequate notice in line with relevant legislation.

    The new owner will be responsible for setting site tariffs after the Monte Carlo Caravan Park is sold.

    Can the department assist me if I have to leave the caravan park?

    Your nearest Housing Service Centre can assist you with information about applying for housing assistance you may be eligible for. This includes assistance to find accommodation in the private rental market or an application for social housing.

    Your nearest Housing Service Centre is located at Capalaba ph. 3362 9100 or Buranda ph. 3405 5300.

  5. Murarrie Progress Association says:

    Dear Monte Carlo Community residents,

    Following on from your request yesterday for a meeting with people who may be able to provide answers to your questions, I have spoken to Aaron Dillaway MP regarding a suitable date and time for this to take place.

    The most suitable for Mr Dillaway and for the use of the Progress Association Hall is Monday 13th August 2012 at 6pm. Mr Dillaway is to confirm this early next week.

    In the interim Mr Dillaway has agreed to contact politicians from all levels of Government who represent your area and ask them to attend also. These are Cllr Ryan Murphy and Federal MP Ross Vasta. In addition to these people Mr Dillaway is also going to speak to the Department of Housing and Public Works to try to secure the attendance of a representative from that Department.

    Mr Dillaway has also offered to try to include any other relevant people who may be able to contribute to the meeting.

    Once I have confirmation of the date and time I will send a further email to you. In the meantime please pass the contents of this email to anyone in the Community who may not have received it.

    With regards to the ‘pro forma’ letter, we are currently working on tailoring this to your situation. I hope to be able to have a copy with you by early next week.

    If you have any further enquiries or if any of your friends and neighbours wish to be added to this distribution list please email me at

    Yours sincerely

    Robert Stansfield
    Murarrie Progress Association Inc.

    Postal Address: P.O.Box 146, CANNON HILL, QLD 4170

  6. Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust says:

    Originally near Cannon Hill there were three caravan parks, there was a big one at Carina on Creek Road (where the bus depot is now). In the 19th century the land was Porter’s Farm – a 640 acre property believed to have been called “Mooraree”. Later on, in the 20 th century, Porter’s dairy farm was often in trouble with the Department of Health for watering down his milk.

    Farmer Porter (a son of the original) had his own plane which he used to fly around the district.

    Before the Porters’, the farm was aboriginal land never ceded to farmer Porter. A brief history of the area states:

    With the advent of authoritarian state legislation in the Aboriginal Protection Act of 1897 having the intent of containment of the indigenous population of Queensland, remnants of those people surviving in the catchment were probably (sic) rounded up over the next thirty years and removed to reserves at Stradbroke Island, Purga, Deebing Creek and Barambah.

    Now Monte Carlo Caravan Park is owned by the Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust, and Monte Carlo Caravan Park Pty Ltd, as sole beneficiary.

    Monte Carlo Caravan Park Pty Ltd has two shareholders – the Department of Public Works and Housing (previously, Housing) and the Public Trustee, who jointly appoint directors of the company.

    The creation of both the Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust and Monte Carlo Caravan Park Pty Ltd was approved by the then Deputy Premier Tom Burns, who at the time had Ministerial responsibility for Housing.

    Monte Carlo Caravan Park Pty Ltd was incorporated under the Corporations Act 1989 on 9 April 1991.

    The trust deed was signed by the Honourable Tom Burns as settlor and by Monte Carlo Caravan Park Pty Ltd as trustee.

    The principal activity of the Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust is to own and oversee the operations of the Monte Carlo Caravan Park.

    The Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust was set up to provide secure tenancy for residents of the caravan park, as well as for independent caravan owners who were displaced from a neighbouring park(s) [Carina and Cannon Hill] due to redevelopment of its site.

    The financial and operating polices of the caravan park are determined by the department.

    The Public Trustee managed the parks on behalf of the department until it outsourced management to Australian Tourist Park Management which added to the cost of running the park. All the
    tenancy, property and media issues are delegated to the Department of Communities by the PTO. Under the trust deed the park residents have a say in the management of the park.

    Sale of the park may breach the terms of the trust deed. This needs to be accessed ASAP.

    The caravan park was intended to provide affordable long term housing to permanent park residents.

    Each of the controlled entities prepares its own annual financial statements that are audited by the Queensland Audit Office. According to the results of audits as at 31 October 2011 The Monte Carlo Caravan
    Park Trust the financial statements and opinion of the auditor general were not completed as at October 2011.

    At this stage there is an argument that, for the government to sell the land to a private enterprise, may be a breach of the conditions of the trust and therefore unlawful.

    Ian Curr
    BSc (UQ) Grad Dip ATAX (UNSW)
    [NB: I am not a lawyer]
    4 Aug 2012

  7. Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust says:

    [Please note that I am not a lawyer, I have studied contract law and have qualifications in accounting and tax law but I am not a lawyer].


    Monte Carlo Caravan Park is held ‘in trust’.
    [A trust is an ancient legal concept that dates back to the Crusades (sic). When a Crusader, usually a feudal lord, went to Palestine to fight Islam and extend the British Empire this feudal lord would leave his land in trust to a ‘friend’ (another feudal lord who acted as trustee, managed the property, ripped off the peasants and paid taxes to the King). Needless to say, on the Crusader’s return, the ‘trustee’ would refuse to give back the feudal lands and the peasants back to the control of the knight Crusader. Eventually the matter was referred to the Lord Chancellor who would nearly always return the land to the Crusader. The idea is that property held in trust has an owner with legal title (the Crusader’s mate, a feudal Lord) and an owner with an equitable interest (the Crusader). Women rarely figured in this equation (until Maid Marian and Robin Hood, that is).]

    The idea is to have a manager or trustee who operates the place, collects rents and pays rates and an owner who is the beneficiary. A trust therefore is a relationship (of trustee and beneficiary) that holds property. In the example of the Crusades, the Lord Chancellor decided the equity in this relationship.

    In Queensland it is the Supreme Court (the judiciary) that has the final say on ‘equity’ not the Qld government (the executive). In this case the trustee is the Public Trustee of Queensland (currently, Peter Carne).

    In May 2010 the Dept of Housing began an upgrade of the Monte Carlo Caravan Park in Cannon Hill. At the time, a community notice was issued to the residents of the park stating that this did not mean that the park was going to be sold. In the law of contract this represents a promise or offer.

    Much has been bandied around concerning the cost of the upgrade. The Director General [DG] of Housing said it cost $7M, the minister says that it cost $5.8M. The Dept’s own documents indicate that the major works cost $3.6M. Whatever the price, when the upgrade was complete the new residents were charged more rent than the older tenants as part of a new lease agreement. In contract law this is consideration for the promise of keeping the park open. Residents were asked to complete and sign a questionnaire about the upgrade and were promised that the park would not be sold.

    When residents moved into the park, lessor and tenant sign a contract or lease.
    Section 6 of that lease states says that a fixed term agreement will continue under the following conditions (s 70 of the Act):

    (a) this agreement is a fixed term agreement; and (b) none of the following notices are given, or agreements or applications made before the day the term ends (the end day) – (i) a notice to leave;
    (iil a notice of intention to leave; (iiii an abandonment termination notice; (iv) a notice, agreement or application relating to the death of a sole tenant under section 277(7); (v) a written agreement between the lessor and tenant to end the agreement. (2) This agreement, other than a term about this agreement’s term, continues to apply after the end day on the basis that the tenant is holding over under a periodiC agreement.

    My reading of this clause of the contract is that a resident cannot be told to leave by park management before the end date* of the lease. The end date of the lease is when agreement between tenant and lessor ends. *This is an agreement by both parties (lessor and tenant)*. Attempts by the Minister for Public Works and Housing to do otherwise may be a breach of contract and therefore unlawful.

    What I am saying is the lessor (be it government, ATPM or a new owner) can’t unilaterally kick fixed term residents out of the park. The lessor has to come to an agreement with tenants i.e. if the residents don’t agree, it is unlawful for management to kick people out, so long as they pay their rent and observe the usual rules about living in the park.

    Relocation — The lessor or the lessor’s agent must not take any action to enforce the tenant’s relocation under a notice to relocate unless the tenant agrees or a tribunal orders the tenant to relocate to the site mentioned in the notice. This is self explanatory, the lessor (government or its agent or new owner) can’t ask people to move their van or dwelling without agreement of the tenant.

    Upgrade to the park
    There are various claims from the Department of Public works and Housing about the cost of upgrade to Monte Carlo Caravan Park. The DG says that $7M was spent while the Minister states that $5.8M was spent. The actual contract price was $3,346,200. Details are below:

    CANNON HILL, 1189 Wynnum Road, Upgrade to Monte Carlo Caravan Park. PQC Level 2 gency Department of Public Works Total Value of the Contract = $3,346,200 (Fixed Price) Award Date: 8 Apr, 2010 Final Expiry Date: 8 Sep, 2011 Number of Submissions 5. Contractors 1)Dickinson Constructions Pty Ltd, 14 Jordan Terrace, Bowen Hills, QLD, Australia, 4006 Price: $ 3,346,200.00 View Contract details at

    I strongly advise people who live in the park not to sign any document with ATPM or government without first seeking the advice of a person qualified to interpret the document that you are asked to sign.

    People can ring me on 0407 687 016 and I will endeavour to find out the answer to any legal questions.

    Ian Curr
    BSc (UQ) Grad. Dip. ATAX (UNSW)
    5 Aug 2012

  8. Here is my equally unqualified bush lawyer opinion.

    There is no basis for action in tenancy law once a lease runs out.

    The legal foothold may be in semi-permanent dwellings such as manufactured homes or caravans with permanent annexes and carports etc. built on.

    Land rent agreements for manufactured homes were put into legislation about a decade ago to protect the interests of long term residents. There are many real estate developments, especially retirement villages set up to provide land security through long term rent in order to build a permanent (but movable) dwelling. These are attractive options it provides long term security with resale option but, because land is not bought, can be owned for half the price of a comparable freehold purchase.

    The owner of a manufactured (movable) home or the owner of a caravan with permanent building attached to it (under certain circumstances – see section 10 of the Act below) are not tenants but home owners and have rights beyond what tenants have.

    If land agreements were entered into for manufactured homes and permanent caravan annexes with an assurance of longevity – then it is a different ballgame to a tenancy dispute.

    Manufactured Homes Act

  9. You Can't Trust the Public Trustee! says:

    Prior to the March State election 2012 the LNP was reported to have drawn up a hit list of Department heads to be sacked after the election. The Public Trustee, Peter Carne was reported to be at the top of their list. Many DGs have had their contracts terminated. Peter Carne is still the Public Trustee. The Public Trustee Office is not funded by the state government, it is funded by charging fees for services provided to manage people’s assets.

    “On 31 March 2011, the directors of Monte Carlo Caravan Park Pty Ltd as trustee for the Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust resolved to transfer all property and assets held on behalf of the Trust to the Public Trustee of Queensland. At balance date, the transfer had yet to be affected. The Public Trustee manages (sic) the caravan parks on behalf of the department (of housing). The parks provide affordable long term housing to permanent park residents” — Notes to and forming part of the financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2011, Department of Communities Annual report.

    If the document above is correct it is the Public Trustee who may have final say over the ownership of Monte Carlo Caravan park.

  10. Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust is not a 'purpose' trust says:

    I have now read the Monte Carlo Caravan Park trust deed closely.

    It is a business trust for the management of the park. The park is defined in the trust deed at Lot 6 however this is incorrect. The Monte Carlo Caravan Park (Residential) Park includes lots 6 & 7. Lot 1 is Dominoes Pizza. Brisbane City Council also have offices there on Lot 1.

    It is not a purpose trust i.e for the provision of low cost housing (as claimed previously).

    Please note I am not a lawyer.

    Legal advice should be sought about the implications of this.

    In the circumstances the lawyer should be encouraged to give their advice ‘pro bono’.

    The trust deed entitles residents a say in the running of the park.

    The relevant deed and associated documents are at


    Ian Curr
    8 Aug 2012

  11. I’m not a lawyer and I might be talking shit, but it seems to me that a lawyer could have many footholds to launch legal action. There is no light in tenancy law – which is where the Public Trustee will try and contain the issues to, but there are many other options.

    While the trust deed does not mention a purpose of the park, the trust is bound to represent the beneficiary – the government.

    The government has publicly stated the purpose of the caravan park. All site agreements and residents’ personal investments in their site (buildings) were made with an explicit understanding that –

    “The Monte Carlo Caravan Park Trust is a Queensland Government housing initiative, originally instigated to offer secure tenancy for existing residents of the caravan park, as well as for independent caravan owners who were displaced from a neighbouring park due to redevelopment of its site.”

    So, as I see it, there are contractual/tort issues here by way of the government’s (owner/beneficiary) public proclamations about the purpose of the park prior to the signing of contracts or investment of building money by residents.

    There are also fiduciary issues – as the government has itself claimed to take responsibility for the secure housing of park residents – within its departmental objectives, it has an obligation to provide it. A change of government does not extinguish legal obligations of the previous government.

    Flegg is saying the sale money will go to public housing – this is because the money has to be used within the stated departmental objectives. However Flegg has (probably deliberately) overlooked the fact that in the case of Monte Carlo there are specific residents to whom the department is obliged, not just the general mass of homeless people.

    Fiduciary responsibility is deeply hidden in the Public Trustee mode of managing money, either public funds or its private clients. In this case, the government has fiduciary obligations to park residents (clients of the govt). However the government is represented by the Public Trustee, who represents the interests of its client, not it’s client’s clients. The Public Trustee is represented by the Public Trustee Official Solicitor that represents the interests of its client – the public Trustee, not the PT’s clients (govt) or the PT’s client’s clients (residents).

    As such, there are no agents in the process with a responsibility to represent or ensure the fiduciary responsibilities of the government. In fact all agents have an interest in repressing such factors. But an independent lawyer for residents could raise these issues..

    The “Manufactured Homes Act” was designed to stop shonky operators putting caravans full of old people onto land until such time as the land can be redeveloped and they are all evicted. It seems to me the government’s proposed action is exactly what the Act was designed to prohibit. Looking at the timing of the Manufactured Homes Act and the state purchase of the caravan parks, it seems they are both elements of the one policy responding to the one issue.

    JT (whose legal opinion should be taken with a grain of salt but I hope my thoughts might encourage residents and their lawyers to look for legal options outside of tenancy law)

  12. Can the government sell Monte Carlo Caravan Park? says:

    Hello John,

    You wouldn’t think that the Minister can sell what the government does not own — part of Monte Carlo Caravan Park (MCCP) is owned by the Brisbane City Council and the rest by the Public Trustee under the MCCP Trust.

    But that is what Minister Flegg is proposing — and not a single word from the Brisbane City Council nor from the Public Trustee.

    I do not think you can rely upon the separation of powers between parliament and courts in this case i.e. it is likely the judges will do what the Minister decrees.

    Ian Curr
    21 August 2012

  13. Hello Ian,

    The state government owns the Public Trustee and the council so it can do what it wants. I suspect the property will be sold for re-development, not as a going concern, and will be subdivided anyway.

    I am not as cynical as you about the judiciary, or rather I am cynical for different reasons. I suspect there would be a number of judges appointed by Labore governments who are concerned about the tack of neo-Joh and won’t necessarily fall in line. A good lawyer knows the tricks to make sure the right judge is hearing the case – its all part of the job.

    As I see it, the primary rigging of the court system is the systematic denial of the poor to access lawyers and courts. e.g. The simple solution to the over representation of Aboriginal people in gaol would be to provide lawyers to advocate not-guilty pleas, properly researched defenses and properly researched bail and sentencing submissions – just like what rich people get when they go to court. As racist as the court system is, it is the denial of proper access and representation to the courts that is the biggest racism. It is the routine guilty pleas by duty lawyers and the incentive of Murri court to plead guilty, thus legitimising any racist thuggish reason that a cop might choose to throw someone into a cell, that is the real issue, not simply the bias of the judiciary.

    With regards to the park, the present abomination is only possible because the park residents have no rights or advocates in the real power process – they are not represented at the decision making table at all (as I previously mentioned).

    A court action, (such as an injunction to preserve the status-quo until fiduciary matters are resolved or anything else that a clever lawyer can concoct) would provide a political focus where the residents are at the centre of what is going on – rather than lurking on the fringes waving placards and whinging about what the decision makers are deciding, as per contemporary socialist manifestation.

    The park will only be saved by a political process, not a legal process. The political process involves a change of government, not changing the government’s mind. The problem is the foundations of the new units will be laid by the time of the next election. There must be some immediate strategy to preserve the status-quo until at least the next election. Preserving the status-quo is a more achievable goal than radical social transformation and such a limited goal would, I suggest, be the purpose of a court action. There are of course no guarantees and the odds are stacked solidly against the residents, but even in political strategic terms, there is much more likelihood of achieving something with a court action than without it.

    Its the same as Ahimsa house. Without a legal stick to throw in the Public Trustee’s spokes, any political support is irrelevant, just background noise and of no consequence. The last wave of tragedy of that story is that there was both a grounds of challenge and an avenue of challenge but the logic of fighting the issue politically and not legally eliminated the possibility of achieving goals.

  14. Better organsation ...? says:

    Hello John,

    You are right this is not a legal fight, it is political; some legal points may be scored along the way, but the residents need access and control over the caravan parks.

    The point is residents need support from people who will work with them and do what is necessary to prevent the sale, for example a sit-in when the authorities attempt to evict the residents. They need people who are organised and know how to combat evictions of residents from parks, houses and caravans. Residents have spoken about running the park themselves but that requires knowledge and organisation. It can be learnt but it does take time.

    Currently we lack that kind of organisation.

    On a brighter note, the people who were evicted and arrested at the Sovereign Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park on 16 May 2012 had all their charges ‘discharged’ or dropped this morning (22 Aug 2012) in the Brisbane Magistrates Court..

    The struggle continues…

    in solidarity,

  15. Media Release by Brisbane City Council Leader of the Opposition says:

    MEDIA RELEASE: Lord Mayor refuses to save caravan park homes

    Brisbane City Council Leader of the Opposition Milton Dick has today slammed the Lord Mayor saying his attitude isn’t good enough after it was revealed Brisbane City Council owns a quarter of the Monte Carlo Caravan Park site.

    Councillor Dick said the Newman State Government has controversially indicated that they want to sell off the Monte Carlo Caravan Park but the Lord Mayor has been suspiciously silent on the issue until today.

    Today during Council when questioned about the Lord Mayor’s intentions with this land he replied with “well I don’t know what the future holds”.

    “I say to the Lord Mayor, figure it out because while he goes home each night to his home, residents of this caravan park sit in limbo land waiting for him to make a decision about their future.

    “This caravan park houses many elderly and pensioner residents, most of whom have lived there for years. These residents deserve better than the Lord Mayors assurance that he hasn’t made up his mind.

    “He should come clean and stop playing with his lives.

    “The Lord Mayor shouldn’t roll over to the State Government’s demands to sell it off to the highest bidder just because the Premier wants to make a quick buck.

    “Opposition Councillors do not support selling this land out from underneath those long term residents which is why we moved an urgency motion to this effect.

    “It’s disappointing that the Lord Mayor won’t rule out selling Council’s stake in the Monte Carlo Caravan park or to up-zoning the land to allow higher density housing in the area.

    “The River Gateway Neighbourhood Plan is currently under review and I call on the Lord Mayor to ensure that the Monte Carlo Caravan Park land won’t be up-zoned to allow for high density dwellings – which will bring the State a higher purchase price.

    “Council owns part of this land and should have a say in what happens to it,” Councillor Dick said.

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