Foreshore Frustration

October 10th, 2012

I have signed this petition because I am annoyed. Council, without our consultation, has amended the Foreshore Plan and gone ahead and “cleaned up” the Hervey Bay foreshore. While I commend the removal of weeds and rubbish the clearing of cotton wood trees and other established vegetation has left us with a windswept foreshore totally devoid of protection from winds. Picnicers at Scarness last weekend were struggling to enjoy the view while battling the strong winds. In the past they had a view as well as shade and protection from wind.
Far better to leave patches of vegetation to protect the precious native fauna and flora and give us humans shelter also. Something glimpsed and promised is also often more attractive than something laid bare.
Now I have recently moved to a beach front Dundowran block. Will our foreshore also be “tidied up?” it seems hypocritical at best to target an area of foreshore most highly used while at the same time offering no assistance to residents further from town at Toogoom battling erosion. It seems to me that the business owners, Esplanade residents and property developers have won. Their wishes for views have been acted upon regardless of the wishes of the majority of residents and visitors. A simple Council questionnaire would have solved the problem of community consultation and given all interested persons the chance to have their say.
I await the windy summer with interest. I truly hope that our foreshore doesn’t simply blow across the road!
Plase visit The Chronicle web site or this petition to have your say.

Rates inequity a nasty surprise.

August 30th, 2012

I understand only too well the difficulty that Council has in raising enough funds via rates, to properly fund all the work it is asked to do as well as all the bureacratic work it simply has to do courtesy of higher levels of Government. During my time at Council there was a push to charge business higher rates. I always argued against this as I understand that Fraser Coast businesses do it tough and don’t have any more capacity to pay rates than ordinary householders do. But to impose a rate rise on investment properties is wrong. My daughter had to move to Brisbane to work and rents out her Scarness unit. Why on earth should she be punished for not living in her property? We have recently sold our Eli Waters investment property and this rate rise does not entice us to invest in more local property in the future. This is a discriminatory imposition similar to the unfair valuation based rating system that sees similar properties on either side of a street being rated differently to each other.. Rates need to be as fair as possible with equal charges for equal access to Council services.

Hearty Foods- Lessons to be learned.

August 14th, 2012

Sad to hear that Hearty Foods is leaving the Bay however the comments made via The Chronicle that the ‘previous Council’ were not supportive or helpful are sad to hear. As a previous Councillor I cannot recall learning that Alex was looking for larger premises. If anything is to be learned it is that community members must contact a Councillor or Councillors if they encounter roadblocks with Council. Councillors do care about our community and all want a strong vibrant healthy community. While higher level Government red tape and ridiculous legislation causes frustrations for all, Councillors can only help when they are made aware of a problem. In saying that large commercial kitchens aren’t prevalent or sitting vacant and would be expensive to construct. Good luck Alex I wish you and your family every success for the future.

Sent from my iPad
Sue Brooks
Dundowran Beach
Pet Warriors

Death by stealth. Foreshore under attack?

July 24th, 2012

From the minutes of the most recent Council meeting held 18th July 2012.

Question on Notice Response Report – Lorikeets – Scarness Foreshore RESOLUTION ( Taylor / Truscott )
1. Council note the report on lorikeets and acknowledges:
a) the potential risks placed on users of the Scarness Caravan Park as identified in the report,
b) the hazards that the lorikeets place on people and property in the Scarness Caravan Park as noted in the report,
c) the projected loss of revenue attributed to the influx of lorikeets in the Scarness Caravan Park for the 2012/2013 period being approximately $185,000 as indicated in the report.
2. Council approve the removal of the problem coastal pines and gum trees as identified in the report and that more suitable replacement mature age native tree, eg. Tuckeroos, be replanted within the Caravan Park for each tree removed in an appropriate location.
3. Council investigate a suitable location to establish a lorikeet feeding station along the Esplanade and the potential financial and social benefits to the Fraser Coast Community. That this investigation be conducted in consultation with the affected business community, and
4. on the completion of these works, a report be provided to Council on the outcome of this strategy and its effectiveness as a bird management option.
Carried Unanimously
Ord 10/1108/07/12

For years I fought any attempt to remove trees from our Hervey Bay foreshore and it has taken this new Council less than 3 months to start hacking into our precious foreshore. The Managers of the Scarness Caravan Park previously managed the Burrum Heads Caravan Park. They successfully lobbied the Council to have trees removed in that caravan park the reason being.. You guessed it… Lorrikeets! The community was outraged! I never supported that action!
Now we have the exact same situation at Scarness where Lorikeets have roosted for years and years. I believe the caravan park managers want to remove trees so that more caravan sites can be created. Why do I believe this? Well removing a handful of trees will not solve the Lorrikeet problem. The Lorikeets roost in trees within and without the caravan park. Removing some trees will not reduce the noise that the birds make at all. I am sure caravan park users already know that a tarp will solve the problem of the bird droppings also.
This caravan park has been very profitable for its entire existence but no the trees have to go so that even more money can supposedly be made! At what cost progress?
Do we want a foreshore bereft of trees and thereby bereft of birds, possums, micro bats, lizards and all the other myriad wildlife that abides there?
Our foreshore is the only thing that separates Hervey Bay from any other coastal city. Our foreshore is unique. It is special and it is ours to nurture not to spoil.
Cr George Seymour promised that we would still have a Councillor with an environmental focus. He has already demonstrated that his principles mean nought. He is the one Councillor I would never have imagined would support the removal of perfectly healthy trees, many of them are likely to be over a hundred years old.
My biggest fear is what is yet to come! Please like the recently created Facebook page called Hervey Bay Foreshore Protection Group. We also need to ensure that community consultation occurs in relation to any task force findings or alterations to the adopted foreshore plan!
Your collective voices are needed now. We need to send a strong message to this new Council that our foreshore is precious. That it is unique and that it must be preserved and not vandalised for the benefit of a few and for some supposed financial gain. The financial gains envisaged may in fact be lost together with much more of our tourism income. After all why will anyone come here if we end up with a wind swept manicured trees and lawn style foreshore that can be found every where else?
PS. The Council report was not made available to the public as part of the Council agenda available on the website. It was listed as ‘To be distributed’. This meant no one had access to it prior to the Council meeting. Is this what we want from our promised open Council?

MRI, Grants, Roads, Foreshore and Arkarra etc

July 4th, 2012

It was with much satisfaction that I read about Dr Robert Taylor’s success in obtaining an MRI with Medicare licence. This is something I lobbied strongly for and the previous Council supported by way of direct communication with the relevant Minister at the Federal level. It will be such an excellent asset for Hervey Bay and the entire Fraser Coast.

Roads being upgraded are all consistent with the planned works of the previous Council so no surprises there. I am pleased Div 5 roads already planned to be rebuilt are going ahead as are some major trunk link roads also planned by the previous Council. It is so pleasing to hear that Grant funding applications also done previously have borne fruit with a big windfall coming our way. The monies for affordable housing are welcome and I await with interest to see if this drop of assistance will help revitalise some building activity locally.

I also hope that the new and seemingly secretive Foreshore Taskforce sees sense and doesn’t recommend blindly clearing cotton wood trees and undergrowth. Ask anyone actually using our foreshore rather than those residing opposite it, and a nearly unanimous voice of preservation rings loudly. Our foreshore is much like the Noosa foreshore… but better. Let’s not destroy what many come to enjoy and turn our beach and Esplanade into a manicured wind swept mirror image of every other coastal city! Be careful what you do as it will be nigh to impossible to undo! I am sure no one wants metres upon metres of meshed fencing fronting our beach trying in vain to keep the sand on the beach not on The Esplanade!

Arkarra Tea Gardens go to Auction on the 14th. Come on Council. There is funding available so grab this opportunity to purchase what can quickly become an environmental, economic and tourism money spinner. The lagoons are unique and these facilities will compliment an already hefty financial investment that is now wasting away. Everyone knows we need land based attractions. This one is ours for the taking.

One of my other concerns is in relation to the Council Pound in Hervey Bay. The previous Council had dedicated approx $500k to rebuild the Hervey Bay Pound as it had already funded the upgrade of the Maryborough Pound/Refuge. I have asked each Councillor to commit to retaining the funding for this facility. The plans are already approved and building can start. Currently there are not enough pens to house dogs in particular and the facility is an out of date and terribly inadequate place to work or visit. As for the animals. Totally inadequate housing. Cold and nasty. While the money is a substantial amount it is already budgetted and while the pound is a place often disregarded and rarely visited by many of you, it is a place of safety for many of our pets that accidentally escape and also a place of death where far too many pets never see that friendly face coming to reclaim them! A facility that I simply wish we didn’t even need to have!

Circus = clowns, acrobats and elephants?

June 24th, 2012

It is with a sense of relief that I see Cr George Seymour raising issues that failed to receive support by the previous Council. One such issue was the simple question of allowing Circuses that use exotic animals, access to Council controlled land. Maybe this brand new Council will be braver, bolder and stronger than the previous Council. I certainly hope so.
I believe that a developed intelligent and humane society, such as ours, realises that using animals for human entertainment is just plain wrong. Personally I am always disturbed at the idea that any animal is captured or born, confined and trained just to entertain the human variety of animal. The fact that people make money from exhibiting animals is also abhorrent. If you wish to learn about exotic animals visit a sanctuary or a properly run zoo. While a zoo is still not the best means of caring for animals a good zoo beats a travelling circus in each and every way. Australia Zoo is just down the road after all.
I truly hope that the majority of people who call the Fraser Coast home, agree with George, Stuart and myself and support the call to ban these Circuses from occupying our community land. Please teach your children to appreciate the needs and rights of all wild animals to live naturally in protected areas free from the threat of death or confinement at the hands of the earths top predator… us!

Water Worries

June 21st, 2012

The previous Council also reviewed the necessity of keeping WBWC a separate from Council water entity. It was always very clear and obvious to everyone that a separate entity incurred costs simply to run itself. It’s own CEO, own Board of Directors, own auditor etc, etc. when the previous Council decided to continue on with WBWC I recall being a solitary vote of disagreement.
But since those days the new CEO Peter Scott and a new Board of Directors has breathed new life into a corporation that in my eyes, had grown bloated and wasteful of community resources.
The Fraser Coast does not need a Corporate entity to run our sewerage and water services. It requires a commercial entity run directly under Council. BUT I truly hope that with the change required we can retain Mr Peter Scott as the leader of this arm of Council. Peter is a sensible, honest hardworking and inspirational leader. He can be a great asset to the entire Council not just one section of it. It will be a great shame if he is lost to us.

Budget Blues

June 8th, 2012

This from Council…
6 June 2012

Council has started reviewing its finances and developing the 2012-2013 budget, Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell said.

“We have dedicated the best part of the next two weeks to reviewing our finances,” Cr O’Connell said.

“We understand that ratepayers are asking Council to minimise its rates increases and are feeling cost of living pressures, so we are reviewing every item and service to find ways to cut costs and save ratepayers money.

“At the same time as finding savings, we are facing some pretty significant cost increases such as the carbon tax, increasing electricity charges and construction costs.

“We estimate that the carbon tax will conservatively add 1% to our costs so we have to be able to say how we are going to pay for cost increases while maintaining services and our commitment through the capital budget to build a better region.”

Council is also analysing data from the Local Government Association of Queensland which indicates construction costs may rise by 7.5% as a result of the flood restoration works which will have a direct impact on Council costs.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Road and Bridge Index for Queensland also indicates a 3.6% increase in costs for 2012.

Cr O’Connell hoped residents did not confuse CPI increases, which measures increases in food and grocery items, with road and bridge construction costs.

“Construction costs are rising faster than grocery items, pushed on by demand from the resource sector and reconstruction sector as well as increases in carbon tax and electricity charges.”

Now I just can’t help myself. The old Council which the Mayor was a part of, did everything in its power to cut costs and reduce unneccessary services to keep rates down. I don’t expect it will be possible for this Council to not increase rates. In a world where all costs are always rising something has to give. But election promises were made so I am very interested to see what eventuates..

And already the Mayor has highlighted the likelihood that rate rises are inevitable. I can’t help but think… Well of all the Councillors newly elected Cr O’Connell already knew the state of play. Election promises… How much are they really worth!

Farewell to Council

April 29th, 2012

Well it is as  obvious as ever that when times are tough politicians are held responsible. Can I thank all my supporters from the bottom of my heart. It has been an honour working for this wonderful community and I wish the new Councillors the very best. Please take good care of our region, our cities and our towns. Look after this magical place I call home. Care for it well please because it is unique and it is a very special place. I look forward to a new more relaxing life. My dogs will be utterly pleased to have me home more and I am so looking forward to a rest and some time off now. Writing is high on my agenda and it will be a very pleasant change to become a constituent again rather than a candidate. See you soon, Sue

MRI… Still hoping

April 13th, 2012

An update on this issue…

At the very last Council meeting for the FCRC Cr Sue Brooks advised of the recent letter she had received from Mr Warren Truss regarding the possibility of an MRI being located here on the Fraser Coast. The Honourable Mr Truss advises that we need to communicate with the Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek. It seems that the Federal Government will be granting Medicare eligibility to 12 MRI units between 2012 and 2015.

Cr Brooks believes it is essential that the Fraser Coast is at the very top of Ms Plibersek’s list to receive one of these permits. “In this day and age it is absolutely unacceptable that our residents, many of whom are elderly, frail or have life threatening health issues, are required to travel to Bundaberg or the Sunshine Coast to access an MRI. Trying to get an urgent booking for an MRI scan is not easy either and it must be very frustrating for our doctors to not have easier access to this essential and lifesaving technology.

One local Doctor already has a facility and is ready to purchase an MRI machine, all he needs is the Medicare eligibility.

Mayor Mick was pleased to receive this news and promised that he would write to Ms Plibersek immediately.

“I  hope that we don’t have to wait till 2015 or even longer to receive the good news that the Fraser Coast will have its very own MRI. It is time that the Fraser Coast received the health services that it deserves. But our community can help. A petition and media campaigning will help to put us on the map and ensure that our needs are highlighted.” Cr Brooks is urging residents to also write to the Minister. “People power is a strong and worthwhile tool. Tell the Minister that we require this medical equipment sooner rather than later”.


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