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ABC’s old site in Toowong to become a park?

In 2006 ABC staff at Toowong were moved to Mt Cootha after a cancer scare at Toowong. However epidemiological studies conducted Qld Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) were equivocal about a cancer cluster on the site.

What has happened to old ABC site at Toowong?

The People versus Developers

A recent survey conducted by Michael Berkman (Member for Maiwar) shows overwhleming support for a pedestrian/cycle bridge and parkland at the old ABC site in Toowong, Brisbane.

According to The Australian, Gold Coast developer, Sunland, paid $20m for the old ABC TV site in 2013. In March 2019 more than 2,500 people participated in a community vote organised by Michael Berkman MP for Maiwar, with 88% supporting buying back the ABC site to create a park, and 90% supporting the Greens’ plan for a walking and cycling bridge to West End. An Artist’s impression for the proposal was developed.

Parkland/Bridge Proposal

Some time after the Greens put forward their proposal, Brisbane City Council announced they supported the plan for a green bridge from Toowong to West End. Council hinted they would start negotiations with the owner of the ABC site, private developer Sunland, to buy back a small section as a landing point for the bridge. 

Artists impression of Parkland
Artists impression of joining Kurilpa to Toowong via a pedestrian bridge/cycle way

The Sunland group has a competing vision for the area.

Grace on Coronationlooking curiously like a clone of recently completed Jewel project at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. The ‘three flutes’ development was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2018.

Philanthropy, cheaper than paying tax
Sunland bears some scrutiny. Sunland’s founder, Soheil Abedian, is a high wealth individual who has sponsored students at Griffith Uni and has an architecture school named after him at Bond Uni also on the Coast.

But does he pay tax?

Well the Sundland Group does claim to have paid $7M in tax in 2019. However it issues dividends through fully franked shares. The group has completed a large share buy-back. The major beneficiaries are the owners of the shares which of course are Abedian’s family. Abedian’s family gets tax credits thus reducing their personal income tax liability.  All legal of course, if the correct amounts are declared. Thus Abedian and his family pay little or no tax. Nothing new there.

The LNP dominated council has been friends with big developers like Soleil Abedian for many years. A former Labor lord mayor recently said that they ‘had managed to keep the developers out of Kurilpa before Campbell Newman got in’. Now it is hard to tell the difference between Kurilpa’s Jackie Trad and the LNP’s Adrian Schrinner. Both are opportunists looking for the money path regardless of community.

Perhaps Greens Michael Berkman (Maiwar) and Jonathan Sri (Gabba Ward) will have their greatest test in 2020 when council elections will put wards on both sides of the river up for grabs. There are already many apartment blocks on both sides with more to come. Will that change the vote against the Greens? Then perhaps a rezoning of the old ABC TV site for parkland may become a reality? I am thinking it does have heritage value being for many years the only mainstream media voice to challenge Bjelke-Petersen (eg ABC TV’s 7.30 report).

Joining Old ABC site at Toowong with Kurilpa

Are we to go down the Corbyn road and find ourselves on the scrapheap of history with big developers winning out.

It is so hard to get good people elected!

Ian Curr
19 Dec 2019

References
“There will be no more!”: the legacy of the Toowong breast cancer cluster

Sunland buys ABC site

Old ABC site in Toowong, Brisbane

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