What most non-Queenslanders, including other Australians, might not be aware of is that the Gold Coast shines brightly today only because over the years it has managed to overcome – and outgrow – a huge majority of the critical issues facing this island.
The Gold Coast started becoming a popular beach destination in the 1960s, and by the 1980s was enveloped in a whirlwind of nigh-unregulated breakneck development. To build the city, local officials overlooked enforcing regulations, reining in only the worst-case examples. Much of those were brought to light only through the local press.
Drugs became a serious problem and as for corrupt police, Queensland had that too. So bad was the situation – far beyond the public not trusting the police to be involved in anything except emergencies – that it took a national inquiry and a mass turnover of ‘voluntary resignations’ to clear out the stables.
On the corruption front, Queensland even had state ministers involved in selling national park land near the Gold Coast to a foreign corporation. It took many years, but that land was finally returned to the government.
As for pollution, right now major hotel and condo high rises line the shores of Surfers Paradise like a mini-Miami, while the beaches and the beach water remain pristine for visitors, local residents and tourists alike.
As for lifeguards, Phuket has the opportunity to learn directly from some of the best in the world.
Also, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate himself is half-Thai, and surely understands the considerations to take into account for any positive change to be effected here.
But as Australia points out in its annual report for 2017, 43% of the revenue generated in an area stays in that area, so that profits directly benefit the community. That just does not happen here.
Phuket could be a world class destination. Phuket should be a world class destination. It just isn’t. We beg our local officials to learn from their new-found friends. They have much to offer. Not just pithy speeches, but experience to show us the way to Phuket becoming what they keep saying it is.