Paul Freebody on the site of Adventure Waters more than five years ago. He’s spent a decade trying to get the project up.
Paul Freebody on the site of Adventure Waters more than five years ago. He’s spent a decade trying to get the project up.

Theme park backer slams Labor over inaction

The backer behind Queensland's first new theme park in decades has savaged the Palaszczuk Government, saying it was beholden to bureaucratic inertia and incapable of making decisions on major projects.

Paul Freebody, who has spent a decade trying to build a water-themed park in Cairns, insisted the departmental torpor was damaging the Queensland economy before the COVID-19 crisis and would force the state to endure a longer recession after it is over.

 

An artist's impression of the Adventure Waters Water Park in Cairns.
An artist's impression of the Adventure Waters Water Park in Cairns.

 

"The real concern is an out of touch bureaucracy sitting on guaranteed salaries and unwilling to work across different tiers of governments to achieve a common goal of delivering new much-needed infrastructure for Queensland and the regions," Mr Freebody told The Courier-Mail.

"The Adventure Waters Park Project is a classic example.

"Instead of making things happen, all we experienced from those employed to help the community and business are roadblocks."

The criticisms by Mr Freebody, who fell out with the LNP after exposing the party's brutal vetting process in 2011, come as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Cabinet arrive in Cairns on Monday to spruik their achievements.

The far north Queensland city, which relies heavily on domestic and international tourists, has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, prompting local business leaders to demand greater investment to create jobs.

 

An artist's impression of the $45 million Adventure Waters Water Park in Cairns.
An artist's impression of the $45 million Adventure Waters Water Park in Cairns.

 

The $45 million Adventure Waters theme park, which gained local council approval in 2009, had been hoping to open in 2021 and employ 200 staff.

Mr Freebody said the Federal Government's $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility had given the green light for a loan but the Palaszczuk Government won't provide the necessary support.

"So the Queensland Government virtually has an exclusive on $5 billion fund to get the state's infrastructure happening and won't consider it because of bureaucracy concerns the Federal Government may get some positive media or brownie points," he said.

 

An artist's impression of the $45 million Adventure Waters Water Park in Cairns.
An artist's impression of the $45 million Adventure Waters Water Park in Cairns.

 

However, Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the Palaszczuk Government was eager to work with NAIF and the private sector but projects like Adventure Waters had to stake up.

"Already, we've partnered with more than 70 tourism businesses across Queensland to fast track new tourism infrastructure," Ms Jones said.

"But we must protect taxpayers.

"Proponents must demonstrate that they have the money to ensure taxpayers aren't left out of pocket."

Originally published as Theme park backer slams Labor over inaction


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