Queensland’s popular Dreamworld theme park has spent nearly $3 million in taxpayer funds originally earmarked for a koala research center on a new roller coaster.
Dreamworld’s $2.7 million in 2019 was used to fund a new state-of-the-art koala research center to address problems in local animals, including high rates of chlamydia.
However, it has been successfully proven that the money is better spent on the new Steel Taipan roller coaster.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliff said the new attraction has been approved by the Queensland government.
“Due to the Lab of the Future project being put on hold, the Queensland Government has approved the redirection of funding previously approved for the research center to support the construction of a new attraction, given the immediate impact of the pandemic and the attractiveness of the new tourism offerings likely to attract returning local visitors and foreign tourists when the borders reopen,” Mr. Hinchliffe said.
The theme park said the new roller coaster benefited the state.
“Steel Taipan (is) a landmark offering huge benefits for the recovery of the tourism industry and employment in Queensland,” said a Dreamworld spokesperson.
Gold Coast City Council member Herman Forster said the decision would anger taxpayers and impact koalas.
“The taxpayer was duped, and unfortunately the koalas were duped too,” Mr. Forster said.
“Koalas need our help yesterday, they need our help today, and they will always need our help tomorrow.”
The research center would be needed to help endangered species that are predicted to disappear by 2050.
Dreamworld said that despite funding the new attraction, the theme park is committed to helping endangered species through the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation.
Originally published as Taxpayer money for koala research helps build new theme park ride