Community group says universities are not interested in Commonwealth land at Birkdale

HIDDEN HERITAGE: The heritage building nominated for heritage listing at the Birkdale site which is about half cleared. The bush is now reclaiming the area, with a mix of native and pest species.

HIDDEN HERITAGE: The heritage building nominated for heritage listing at the Birkdale site which is about half cleared. The bush is now reclaiming the area, with a mix of native and pest species.

A BIRKDALE residents’ group has questioned whether Bowman MP Andrew Laming’s plans for a university on an 80 hectare block of Commnowealth land at Birkdale are fair dinkum.

Birkdale Progress Association president Pam Spence said a university for the site was hardly an option when three major Brisbane universities were preferring on-line studies.

“Therefore, is he thinking of a private university for overseas students, with accommodation – another name for housing?” she said. “...Where is the public interest in that? Whose interests is he serving?”

Mr Laming said opportunities for the land were entirely a matter for council.

“I have received approaches from American and Chinese educators at various times who are willing to wait until the land is decommissioned and people like (Capalaba MP) Don Brown have not ripped the land away from public use,” he said.

Ms Spence said the community valued green spaces and koalas which were found on the block.

She said it was doubtful koalas would be protected under a development option, especially with the loss of trees at Ormiston and further losses looming for the Toondah Harbour redevelopment.

“Can the community trust that this healthy, koala habitat will be protected and not destroyed, degraded nor fragmented?” Ms Spence said.

Mr Laming said 52 per cent of mainland Redlands and three quarters of the Birkdale block were protected.

He said discussion about the site related specifically to about 20 hectares of cleared area in the centre of the block. The treed area would remain protected, only the former grazing land was at issue.

“I am confident that locals and their elected councillors are mature enough to debate options that benefit the community,” Mr Laming said.

Ms Spence said the site had Quandamooka cultural heritage and European cultural heritage values in middens, the US radio receiving station and Willard’s farm house.

”Andrew, why are you lobbying for a university on Commonwealth land? You’ve stated that the councillors will decide, yet, you’re the spokesman,” she said.

“...Lobby for the Commonwealth land to be given to the people as a national park. After all it is owned by the people.

“That would be an excellent legacy for when you’ve left office.”

Mr Laming said heritage elements could be incorporated into a final design.

“None of the koala habitat will be touched under clearly visible zonings,” he said.

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