01 Mar 2022

Kangaroo Point's Dockside Marina businesses given eviction notice by Queensland government

Up to 12 businesses and 400 jobs could be lost after commercial businesses at a popular Kangaroo Point marina were given 28 days to find new moorings.  

Tourism and hospitality businesses such as Prawnster, Brisbane Jet Skis, GoBoat and Yot Club have until March 4 to find a new location to operate from or risk having to close after two of the most difficult years for Brisbane small businesses.

The frustrating news comes after many operators claimed the Department of Resources and Brisbane City Council directed them to moor at Dockside Marina in the absence of another suitable inner-city marina.

However, this month's eviction notices to businesses were clearly from the state government department, which is responsible for seabed leases.

Brisvegas Cruises owner Barrie Coonan was one of the owners looking for a new home and said a group of disgruntled building managers from the Dockside Apartments precinct had pooled resources to employ lawyers and force the state government to remove the commercial businesses.

Mr Coonan said he was sent to Dockside Marina by the state government during the North Quay development and was told the new premises were only temporary. He also admitted the terms of the marina lease did not include commercial operations.

The owner of seafood restaurant Prawnster, Martin Brennan, started his business in 2020 and received similar advice.

He said, despite promises from state and local government encouraging more activities along the river and indicating there would be a new commercial marina built, nothing has happened.

"I've gone to the state government and told them I'm happy to comply but just tell me where I can go. There was just silence," Mr Brennan said.

"I said, 'You know all the mooring options better than I do, there's nowhere to go. You've directed us to come and moor there, other operators have moored there, some have been paid to be there'. This notice doesn't make any sense.

"Fix the lease, or provide us an alternative."

Mr Brennan said up to 400 jobs could be lost and those facing unemployment were "very, very anxious and worried".

A Department of Resources spokesperson said work was "underway across government to help businesses operating from the marina identify alternative mooring for the vessels" but did not address claims it had directed businesses to moor at Dockside.

"The marina lease has been very close to a residential area. There have been numerous complaints from residents as well as other tenants," a statement from the department read.

"The department has been pursuing these issues with the Dockside Marina lessee for some time and notified the lessee last week he has 28 days to stop all commercial operations at the marina.

"The lessee is allowing commercial operations at Dockside, which is against the conditions of its lease.

"The government recognises the contribution these businesses make to Brisbane and its visitor and night-time economy, however lessees are required to meet the conditions on their leases."

Close by, operator Matt McKinley has a similar story and an identical fear.

He left a profitable water sports business in Fiji to return home at the start of the pandemic after five years overseas.

For the past 18 months he has operated Brisbane Jet Skis out of Dockside Marina and said he faced a revolving door of staff at state and local government level who were ultimately unable to help him find a permanent home.

"I've got such a small footprint on the Brisbane River and apparently it's creating a problem," Mr McKinley said.

"Everyone on the river has been duckshoved all over the river over the years. This is a real kick in the guts."

The only other marina the businesses could move to is Rivergate at Murrarie but its distance from the CBD and size meant it was not a viable option for Mr Brennan or Mr McKinley who rely on tourists and visitors staying in city hotels and accommodation.

"Rivergate isn't central, they can't hold everyone, they can't take on another 10 to 15 operators," Mr McKinley said.

"It's one of those places that is out of sight, out of mind, and if I'm 20km away from the hotels, it's too far."

Mr McKinley said the straight stretch of the river between Milton and West End would be an ideal new location for river-based businesses but no opportunities existed there.

ABC had not been able to contact a representative of Dockside Apartments at the time of publishing.

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-17/brisbane-dockside-marina-business-eviction-state-government/100840718

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