Make it mandatory; Brisbane voluntary restaurant star system sorta dumb

The Gold Coast is a tourism mecca for the Australian state government of Queensland, but the locals aren’t so impressed.

The beaches are awesome, but tacky development and the influence of the underworld undermine claims to tourism credibility.

So do some of the restaurants.

Paul Weston writes that some of the Gold Coast’s best and award-winning restaurants have been hit with the biggest fines following inspections by Coast City Council environmental health officers.

A Bulletin investigation has uncovered details of 35 restaurants prosecuted in the first five months of this year, along with 93 businesses in 2012.

A Right to Information investigation has revealed the names of the four restaurants which sparked the major prosecutions along with repeat offenders.

The biggest fines were given to Lemongrass Thai (Main Beach), Eddie’s Crazy Fish Sushi Bar (Southport), India@Q Restaurant (Mermaid Waters) and Good Choice Restaurant (Helensvale).

Legal action in the Southport Magistrate’s Court for breaches like filthy work conditions and poor hygiene led to the restaurants being fined almost $50,000.

Lemongrass Thai Restaurant won the Best Thai in the Queensland Restaurant and Catering Awards in 2006 and was a People’s Choice winner at a Gold Coast magazine awards a year earlier.

The other restaurants have been applauded by several reviewers on tourism websites..

The findings come after a public backlash where diners demanded greater transparency from Gold Coast City Council, which refused to release details of prosecuted businesses.

Queensland Health is reviewing the system and pressure is building for all councils to follow Brisbane and introduce an Eat Safe rating system.

But that system is voluntary and completely ineffectual. Having other areas follow a flawed system is not going to do anything to boost tourist confidence.