Update as at 20 December 2021
On Wednesday last week I wrote to the Minister pointing out to him that I had written to him on five separate occasions since August, submitted formal questions in writing, made a speech in the recent parliamentary sittings, and yet still had not heard back from him.
On Friday the Minister finally responded to my five letters. You can read his response in full. This afternoon, just after 4 pm, he finally sent through a response to my formal questions in writing. You can read that response, too.
I would love to hear your thoughts about these responses.
What is the Morrison-Joyce government proposing?
After 8 years of neglect, the Morrison-Joyce Government now has a proposal about the future of the former Red Cross Hall site at Greenslopes.
The federal government, which owns the site, proposes to demolish the buildings, remove hazardous materials and contaminated soil, and sell the property to the LNP-run Brisbane City Council.
The site would not be developed commercially. Instead, it would go towards parkland and other community uses.
Where is the proposal up to?
The environment minister has decided this is a 'controlled action' and that the processes under the environment laws apply to it. These processes can take a substantial amount of time.
New revelations about neglect at the site
To move ahead with their proposal, the federal government quietly released hundreds of pages of documents about the site in August 2021.
The documents revealed scandalous neglect.
When I reviewed those documents, I was shocked by the extent of the neglect. The documents revealed:
- years of reports warning of asbestos, lead, and pesticide risks, and calling on the government to remediate the site;
- increasingly urgent warnings from the asbestos audit firm; and
- a deliberate government decision, back in 2014, to knock back the then Veterans Affairs Minister's request for funding to remediate the site, and to put up fences and signs instead.
As locals know, those fences and signs are still there, many years later.
Since reading the newly-released documents I've written to the Veterans Affairs Minister three times. But, as at mid-October, I have not received a response.
Fresh calls on the Morrison-Joyce government to take action
You can read the urgent letter I sent to the Minister responsible for the site, the Hon. Andrew Gee MP, the Government Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Mr Gee has not responded to my initial urgent letter or my follow up letters. So I have spoken about the issue in the parliament:
The previous environmental law public consultation - now closed
The federal Minister for the Environment sought public comments as required by environmental law. That consultation has now closed.
I wrote to the environment minister, the Hon. Sussan Ley, the Government Minister for the Environment, in that regard.
The environment minister wrote back to me about the process under the environment laws - you can read her letter here.
About the site, and the campaign
The site of the former Red Cross Hall is across from the Greenslopes Private Hospital, at Newdegate Street. The federal government owns the property.
For many years, alongside local community members, Joe Kelly MP and I have been pushing the federal government to fix up the buildings, remove the dangerous asbestos hazard, and return the site to community use.
This is a community asset. It's part of our community's heritage. It served as a wartime recreation hall and an accommodation hostel for WW2 Veterans.
Now that the formal environmental process has commenced, several documents have been made available for the first time. My office and I are working through those documents.
Joe Kelly MP and I believe that:
- the community's views, provided through genuine consultation, must be front and centre during any decision-making;
- the Morrison-Joyce Government must urgently address the risk of asbestos, which still exists at the site, and remove any other hazardous materials, as well as contaminated soils;
- the Morrison-Joyce Government and the Council must be genuinely transparent and make available all the information they are using in considering the future of the site;
- the needs of veterans, their families, and their organisations - including Legacy Queensland - must be properly taken into account.
We have continuously worked with the community to call on the Morrison-Joyce Government to resolve this long-standing problem.
- Labor took a commitment to the last federal election that if we formed government we would put immediate funding into the hall to remediate the dangers, and find a proper use for the hall.
- Terri has spoken in the federal parliament about the issue.
- We have organised petitions.
- We have constantly put pressure on the federal government via the media, to highlight the impact of this badly neglected community asset and space.
You can watch our previous video here:
There is also a petition, calling on the Morrison Government to deal with the risk. You can sign it here: