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Northern Australia Story – The stadium of economic hope and hyper corporatocracy

Northern Australia's North Queensland Stadium concept illustration on the banks of Ross River in the Waterfront Priority Development Area of Townsville City

Northern Australia pioneered as leaders turn a sod of sacred soil in the nominal coliseum of the “Capital of North Queensland”

The federal, state and local intergovernmental leaders moved on Townsville bearing the greatest gift to the local people in decades, a “shovel turning” media event to mark the beginning of the construction phase of the North Queensland Stadium.

Coined during a Regionalisation Summit in Northern Australia, the media throng was on hand with three levels of Australia’s government to announce the start of construction of the new 25,000 seat North Queensland Stadium, and new North Queensland Cowboys home ground.

Although the event may seem insignificant to the contemporary observer looking back at the context of the colossal impacts of colonial settlement of Australia, in the context of Australia’s industrial, commercial and social pioneering ventures, the stadium is literally groundbreaking!

Leaders have been presiding over the past ten years of investments. So this event marks to the people the return of hope, of much-needed jobs and business stimulation. And to the representatives in attire turning the chrome-plated shovel, it is the beginning of beneficial trust created by design thanks to their political forebearers.

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Commercial Property Report

Bring the cash flowing again!

Most publicly and poignant to the politicians, is the taking and staking of their immortality whilst claiming for their respective parties, the credit and spoils as the pioneers of Northern Australia’s future capital city district in Townsville.

Yet the idea of capital cities based on population and exclusive geography of a constitutionally recognised state or territory brings no credence for a political culture erring and wearing in light of the symbolic, cultural and socially equal and fair identity of minority rights.

In the name of a federal government inspired innovation in the Smart City Deal (SCD) and State government inspired capital of North Queensland proposal symbolising sustainable growth infrastructure in the CBD Revitalisation and Waterfront Priority Development Area (WPDA), the jobs-creating and confidence-boosting stadium project was announced with the fanfare it warranted.

Never mind about the 129 contributors out of 273 individuals and organisations in the Townsville community that had overwhelmingly supported an integrated cultural and entertainment solution in the form of an integrated stadium and entertainment centre, including convention centre for Townsville’s waterfront.

Instead, the mass media; television appeal and influence of the National Rugby League (NRL), who contributed $10 million to the project, coupled with the unyielding belief and sunken finances of the largest patriot investor in the CBD and leader of the NRL franchise in Townsville, it was seemingly inevitable that the lower economic impact stadium option for the City was chosen.

Moreover, representation of the local hard working community leaders, most of whom were absent from the sod turning ceremony, were in the majority of cases not acknowledged or unnoticed.

Thanks to the example of the actual immortal great leaders in history, this oversight of self-actualisation leadership cannot be understated. Because an observable measure of one’s effective leadership today is benchmarked. Getting things done without too much fuss or bravado, and where recognition is warranted, the team is usually credited with the honor and recognition first and foremost.

Yet in this instance, the team are intergovernmental politicians; the Mayor, Premier’s representative and Prime Minister’s representative with principal contractors on hand for comment. But hang on, where was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, or Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk and the ceremonial head of state, Governor General Peter Cosgrove?

After all, this symbolic region of Northern Australia is the capital of the “Townsvillean” territory and patriotic domain of the North Queenslander and NRL Premiership winning team of the North Queensland Cowboys.

So the only way to promote the achievements of political policy and decision making is to make sure every funding gift to the electorate counts, making all the hard work worthwhile and hopefully bringing about enough communication coverage to cause voters and consumers to bring repeat business or reelection.

Well, this will happen at the opening of course, but the pioneers are the ones remembered in the history books long after the grand opening, especially as the opening will be about sport not about the few pioneers who turned the original stone.  

But what, when and by whom has the hard work being done to get the stadium job-stimulation project to the “sod turning” stage? Because none of the original pioneers of the capital of Northern Australia and the stadium investments were part of the sod turning dignitaries of the stadium project on the 20th August 2017.

As a long time NQ Cowboys fan and supporter, I stood loud and proud cheering in the grandstand at Olympic Park in Sydney when the boys won the 2015 grand final. It was one of the best days of my sporting experiences. I like the Cowboys. They are my team.

It would be fair for me to say, that Johnathan Thurston’s (JT) speech and his direct appeal for the stadium funding from the federal government was the greatest leadership moment that sealed the remaining $100 million funding deal. The hard work of the premiership team at the Cowboys that year was a major contributor. The power of winners, sport, the media and digital technology was an awesome combination.

Considering the broader community appeal of JT clearly documented in the recent Pure Projects Strategic Review, the stadium funding speech was just as influential as the Premiership itself. Not the least because of the mass attention it brought to North Queensland. But also for the fact the people have said JT is the “most inspirational leader” they know in Townsville.

Afterall, JT is a great leader with a humble, dignified, self-accountable and never quit persona in the community and he yielded the Prime Minister’s commitment for the remaining $100 million.

Also, the long standing Chairman of the Cowboys, Lawrence Lancini must take the greatest credit for the successful funding campaign being involved at nearly every strategic stage of community leadership.

It was sad that Mr. Thurston was not present at the “sod turning” event, even though the Cowboys administration including the Chairman Mr. Lancini was represented. The other major contributor, not present was Anna Bligh, former Premier of Queensland and current CEO of the Australian Banker’s Association.

But the day was all about the intergovernmental initiative. Individual politicians representing their claim to the higher moral ground. Whilst the federal and local government continued to sell an innovation policy in the form of the Smart City Deal. The state government forwarded their campaign for infrastructure and sustainable economic growth policy across local government and planning, headlined by “more jobs, more contracts”.

Is this really what our political leaders are doing and does this reflect the desires and the active will of Townsville and North Queensland population?

Interestingly, the Queensland Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning reported on 28th September 2015 in its Public Notification Submission Review Report into the WPDA that infrastructure and sustainability ranked as the two lowest priorities, while innovation didn’t rank anywhere.

Major Projects Feasibility Ranking: $22 Billion Investments in Townsville North Queensland

So in the most robust and rigorous consultation undertaken in recent years of Townsville’s key strategies for economic growth, Transport, Culture & Entertainment and Vision were the top three subjects for priority consideration by the collective community leadership of Townsville in 2015.

And furthermore, the highly regarded Pure Projects Strategy Review in 2017, recommended both the CBD Revitalisation and Waterfront PDA was too narrow in scope and that the Strand, Radical Bay, Rowes Bay and Castle Hill should be included in the capital of northern Australia master plans.

Yet the inter-governmental representatives identified the stadium as a jobs growth generator due to the Smart City Deal and critical infrastructure, sustainability, local government and planning initiatives of the State government.

How can all levels of government in spite of the active and overwhelming majority of individuals and organisational leaders in Townsville, including local government, find themselves so far apart on priority and orderly economic stimulation and infrastructure developments?

The North Queensland stadium has been regarded as the signature project of the City. It defines the biggest amount of government expenditure on an individual project in local history. Equivalent to the funding announced for the duplication of the water pipeline to Ross River Dam from the Haughton River, which was committed to by the current Premier even before the Taskforce interim report was produced.  

As the North Queensland stadium takes shape, property investors will contemplate various certainties and uncertainties in the overall property market and economy of Townsville.

Unlike the macro economic factors such as cash interest rates, commodity prices, employment and business confidence, for which there is plenty of commentary already, TREN’s local network of investors and experts will lay out a series of articles on the context and cases of management and leadership that are impacting and causing sustainable growth.

Effective investors would agree, the management of governance as with the governance of corporations is the first and last line of defense against risk and first and the last opportunity for returns.

TREN will articulate the triggers and situations that have shaped the priorities for Townsville’s growth and recession, misjudgement and brilliance in recent history and describe how the current and future crop of “disadvantage or victim leadership” presents unfavourable certainty in striving for the sustainable property market of the future.

Northern Australia - Local, State and Federal Government Ministers and Stakeholders stand ready to turn the first sod of soil on the new $250 million North Queensland Stadium
Image: Local, State and Federal Government Ministers and Stakeholders stand ready to turn the first sod of soil on the new $250 million North Queensland Stadium Photo: State government

Becoming a technology driven global economic player is what Townsville is poised for but the intelligence and sensitivities of cultural identity leadership are by and large being imported or being cycled out through a rotating academic and political pipeline.

The concept of spatial experience could be illustrated this way. The economy is represented by a modern roller coaster going up and down, at speed, providing thrills in the good times and fear in the bad times, driven by free market conditions and technologies.

Meanwhile, the political leadership of the city and state, still riding a turn of the century carousel, is experiencing a less volatile environment. Still in motion but has an unrealistic feel of the gravity effect and unexpected twists and turns of an economy capable of more. But it is constrained by a mechanical instrument of a “central pivot” or “south-east Queensland-centric” power source.

Queensland and Townsville’s leaders are likely to repeat the cycle of scarcity thinking and quick returns based on election schedules, and an express mentality by leaders of self actualisation inspired more by social status and empowered by social infrastructure investment. It’s better to be lead the believed then it is to humbly lead the aggrieved.

As the 13th largest City in Australia, Townsville is one city that has a “boom and bust” story in its current generation. It resides in a developed democratic nation that has not experienced a recession in 25 years.

North Queensland pioneering a new territory, it is being dominated by a formula of progressive management of state and local governance, an addictive federal and state social infrastructure investment economy, and an authoritative academia leading the latest generation of corporatocracy organisations.

The apparatus of which is Townsville’s own unique brand of the corporatocracy, which is seeking to justify derivatives revenue independent from taxpayers, thereby attracting increasingly disruptive and even hostile influences to the eco-system of political power, profiteering and strategic advantage.

But the public connection and relationship between local incubators and leadership academies are being stifled by “groupthink” structures and command and control systems. The governance climate is cultivated by a low hanging fruit appetite of “wait and see, take what we can get” attitude now driving the “capital of Northern Australia” brand.

The Townsville City Council has recently restructured its organisation and is acquiring its senior executive capabilities under the leadership of CEO Adel Young, who is presiding over the largest reform of the local government authority. Two hundred management and support staff have exited the local government authority. However, the planned restructure and public announcement estimated 144 positions will be made redundant, impacting heavily on the compliance associated processes across it community engagement and infrastructure departments.

With a line of sight of leadership influence over the past decade, and a recalibrated local government administration slowly taking place that must operate under the reforms of the progressive Labor-centric local government reforms, this Story of Northern Australia – The Stadium of Economic Hope and Hyper Corportacy series should bring an insightful perspective on the Townsville property market, and perhaps, bring to light some of the factors that are constrained by the scarcity economics model.

More broadly, the economy, organisational and social structures impacting the dynamics of the market will come into sight, aiming with fortuitous intention to stimulate and build discussion from a unique insight of the atmosphere of the challenges and opportunities being faced by the “capital of Northern Australia”.

Of course, the intention is not to mask the positive outcomes that have been achieved across Townsville and North Queensland, nor to purposefully draw attention to negative perceptions as might be a factor of vested investors or operators in the property supply chain. Instead, the series aims to deliver candid, transparent and honest observations to the critical tenants of the collective interests in the region.

Be sure to subscribe to TREN eMagazine to get your TREN exclusive copy of “The Story of Northern Australia – The Stadium of Economic Hope and Hyper Corporatocracy”.

TREN will seek to publish further chapters over the coming months.

Subscribe here for your exclusive free copy and to take this opportunity to add to our research and share your own observations.

Further reading:

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Commercial property in Townsville found gasping for owner-occupiers

Hotel managers slam Townsville Council over Double Tree exclusive

Agricultural and water security boost for North Queensland; Hells Gayte Dam $2.2 million feasibility study 

Magnetic Island – Top Price Property Winner of the Week – 3-5 Endeavour Road – $520,000

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Aaron M, Editior
Aaron is the founder and editor of TREN eMagazine with 15 years experience in the real estate industry investing and helping investors seek value, leverage value and capitalise on value, developing professional and technical skills and capabilities that have enabled his success in business from startups, adoption, asset growth, management and community leadership projects. Aaron also loves travelling, sports, his partner Jodie and helping people discover their "why" and find their few "what's" in life that realise the "wows. The " www" in www.townsvillerealestatenews.com.au is one of his why, what and wow's that strive to add valuable content and analysis for readers to participate and win.
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