Kirra Beach caravan park retirees hope to stay as Minister questions council’s ‘financial motivation’
Residents committee members Rodney Pilling and Ray Bischoff hope to stay at the park. (ABC News: Michelle Rafferty)
Secret development plans could be behind the eviction of about 80 permanent residents living at a Gold Coast caravan park, Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni says.
The Gold Coast City Council has told residents — some of whom have lived at the park for 30 years — that they would have to move to make room for more tourists at Kirra Beach Tourist Park.
However, Mr de Brenni is not convinced.
“It looks like there is actually more income derived from these permanent residents than there is from the peak holiday periods,” he said.
“The question I think Council needs to answer is it a financial motivation or is there some other motivation?
“Is this about developing this land into something different — do they have plans for a shopping centre or something else.”
Mr de Brenni visited the park on Monday, spending an hour talking to impacted residents.
“There is a sense of widespread anxiety amongst the residents there,” he said.
“All of them are elderly, all of them are pensioners who are desperately worried about where they are going to live into the future.”
He said many had invested their life savings in their caravan or permanent home and could not afford to move elsewhere.
“I met Mal, who was a Vietnam chopper crewman — his wife is extremely ill — he has lived there for 27 years,” Mr de Brenni said.
“He doesn’t think his wife would survive a move.”
Council denies development plans
Kirra Beach Tourist Park residents committee member Rodney Pilling said his neighbour’s spirits had been lifted by Mr de Brenni’s visit.
“He [Mr de Brenni] was very proactive and showed a genuine interest in the people here and how they felt,” Mr Pilling said.
“You could see from his body language he could see what was going on here and he didn’t like it — he felt what was happening here was a bit unjust.”
Mr de Brenni will now write to the Gold Coast City Council asking for it to let the residents live out their remaining years at the park.
The Gold Coast City Council has denied to plans to develop the site for anything more than tourism.
In a statement to the ABC, the council said it planned to return the site back to what its names implies — a tourist park.
The council says it will take into account individual circumstances of residents. (ABC News: Michelle Rafferty)