Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook with director of regional development for the Wide Bay Burnett Scott Rowe at the Boat Club in Hervey Bay overlooking the Urangan Marina which in the future the community hopes to see redeveloped.
Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook with director of regional development for the Wide Bay Burnett Scott Rowe at the Boat Club in Hervey Bay overlooking the Urangan Marina which in the future the community hopes to see redeveloped. Jessica Lamb

BOAT HARBOUR: Candidates warned against naive election spin

EVERY election Hervey Bay business leaders hope the tide may finally turn for the stagnant Urangan harbour redevelopment.

The city's chamber of commerce president, Sandra Holebrook is pleased it's back on campaign agenda but after spending many years familiarising herself with the red tape that's blocked the upgrade for more than a decade, she has a message for candidates.

Do your homework and don't be naive.

She's firm, not because she means to be disparaging but because she's heard many bold promises over the years and understands better than most the true depth of the challenge ahead.

It comes after candidates vying to replace retiring four-term LNP member Ted Sorensen were quizzed on the future of the precinct during the Chronicle's livestreamed debates this week.

 

One Nation candidate Damian Huxham said he would like to see work done in the area to increase jobs and helps the economy bounce back from the pandemic.

Ms Holebrook said although it was great in theory there was much more work to do before progress could be made.

She said one of the biggest stumbling blocks in developing the area over the past 10 years had been fixed purpose tenancies, like those in place for VMR, on prime land.

Urangan boat harbour from the Volunteer Marine Rescue base.
Urangan boat harbour from the Volunteer Marine Rescue base.

Still, she was hopeful that despite the challenges and long scope of the project the new member for Hervey Bay would work with other levels of government and the community to start chipping away at creating change at the harbour.

Independent candidate Stuart Taylor said a key area he would like to see cleaned up was unsigned tenancy agreements, something which Ms Holebrook said had been looked at in recent weeks.

LNP candidate Steve Coleman said the project had been a long time coming and it had been disappointing to see it remaining stagnant in recent years.

"It is looking very tried and if I get elected to Hervey Bay it would be on my hit list to get that happening and yes it could be doubled in size very easily," he said.

Ms Holebrook emphasised there was no quick fix to the issues holding up the redevelopment of the precinct.

"It is something that people are really crying out for and I think that whoever gets elected will have to work hard to sort it out," she said.

"There's a level of naivety going on … what they can say to the public to make it seem they are gung ho for the marina to go ahead.

"It needs to have a fairly strong group of people very focused on getting it fixed it is not a one person solution - it will be levels of government and levels of business that could go in and work together to sort out what is going on.

"It isn't just a political thing it is about sorting out an awful lot of compounding issues.

"They (candidates) certainly can't work alone and a lot of them probably think they can pull the party along but there needs to be a real plan in place and a solid understanding of the issues that are there that preclude it being worked on easily and quickly.

"This is not a one year project it is a five or 10 year project."

She also said suggestions made to expand or double the size of the harbour could be unrealistic.

"There is talk of them pulling the rock wall out further," she said.

"I don't know if that is plausible or not.

"Environmentally they will struggle with that because already the silt deposits caused by the current rock wall have really changed the underwater landscape of the Bay and I'm not sure what will happen when you stretch it further."