Boat Club president George Duck and general manager Ed Gibson hope a freehold agreement can be reached.
Boat Club president George Duck and general manager Ed Gibson hope a freehold agreement can be reached. Daniel Tweed

Boat clubs $6m Govt land offer

HERVEY Bay Boat Club president George Duck has literally tapped Premier Anna Bligh on the shoulder in an attempt to secure the future of the Fraser Coast landmark.

Mr Duck seized the opportunity to plead the case for the Boat Club when Ms Bligh was in Hervey Bay at the weekend.

A 200 per cent increase in rent during the past 18 months has left the club financially stretched, after annual payments leaped from $205,000 in July 2008 to more than $600,000 now.

Boat Club representatives entered into discussions with the Department of Transport about freeholding the long-term leases on the property but their concerns have been spiked after talks appeared to stall at the end of September.

Mr Duck estimated a freehold could be secured for between $5 million and $6 million. He estimated Boat Club assets to be worth about $30 million.

“You can’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” he said.

“She said she was aware of the leases.

“I told her we had a problem trying to get the transport minister to discuss freeholding the leases.

“If she wants money why doesn’t she go up and down the coast, freeholding the harbours?”

Describing the rent as exorbitant, the Boat Club’s general manager Ed Gibson pointed to the premier’s present inclination towards selling off state assets.

“The Department of Transport has indicated they are open to negotiations but we need a yes or a no.

“We had promises made regarding responses and appropriate information and we had a timeline to the end of September but they have not fulfilled the promises.

“It’s all lip service as far as I’m concerned.

“From a community point of view it would be a great asset for the club to move forward.”

The Department of Transport informed Mr Gibson in an email that a strategic review of state boat harbours was under way “to ascertain asset management best practice and undertake master-planning exercises across all harbours”.

The email, dated November 25 but which was received on Monday, said the opportunity to freehold some long-term leases was an option under consideration.

The Chronicle contacted the premier’s office and the Department of Transport yesterday but no comment was available.

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