Archive for the 'Media comment' Category

Dingoes Debate. What I really said….

July 9th, 2011

While recent media reports, both on Ch 9 and within the Chronicle, do reflect SOME of what I have actually said there are some errors and a need for clarification. During General Business at the Council meeting last Wednesday I explained to my fellow Councillors what I had learned during my recent weekend on Fraser Island. I met with several scientists and DERM management staff, rangers, a consultant and other community members and this is what I told my colleagues about what I learned.

I explained that the current research being undertaken, using collars on approx 20 dingoes, will provide information not previously known about dingo behaviour. I explained that I thought the collars while cumbersome were not impeding the dingoes natural behaviour and that the evidence shows that the dingoes quickly become used to the collars. If this wasn’t the case the research would be useless. I believe that the collars are the best ones for the job and have been adapted to best meet the needs of this research on this particular animal. The collars will come off automatically after 8 months but are transmitting a signal every 2 hours. The antennas allow for GPS and radio tracking. If there is no movement of a collar over a period of time the collars allow DERM staff to locate the animal, or the collar if it has come off the animal. Being able to remotely track the dingoes without having to physically observe them should produce much better knowledge about their movements.

I have been saying for a long time now that we need to know more about our dingo population on Fraser Island so I welcome this research. It appears, to me, to be the best research undertaken on the island dingoes so far. I hope we learn enough to be able to make better decisions about dingo management and to be more convinced that the dingo population is a healthy and viable one. I also mentioned that evidence of feral cats has been discovered and that the dingo, as top predator, is essential in keeping the population of feral animals down. Also dingo scats collected show evidence that some dingoes are healthy and eating only natural prey without evidence of human provided food.

I also explained that I believe there are healthy dingoes on Fraser Island and that NOT ALL dingoes are starving. I have never, ever said that all dingoes on the island are well fed.

So to what I didn’t say. I have never said that the Dingo Management Plan is working or that I support it. I don’t support the plan and I don’t support the dingo fences of Eurong and Happy Valley and I do not support killing dingoes because they are loitering or hanging around humans. If the Ch 9 reporter and the Chronicle reporter think I did say that I support the Management Plan I believe they are mistaken and they are confusing my support for the current research with support for the management plan! Please listen again to the TV interview and realise that I say about one sentence and the rest of the report is not my words. Read the Chronicle newspaper report again. The caption under the photo is wrong as is the heading!

I’m sorry if this is confusing but I stand by my beliefs and yes I do visit the island regularly and I believe the information given to me by Mr Bernie Shakeshaft, the tracker working with DERM currently. Please don’t believe word for word anything that is reported in the media. While journalists and reporters endeavour to be accurate they work to very tight schedules and do like to make headlines. I have learned time and time again it is better to get the facts rather than believe what I read or hear second hand!

So to conclude. The collars are large and robust and heavy but they are not as heavy as to make a dingo change its behaviour over the period of time that the collar is being worn. Initially the dingo has to get used to the collar. Dingoes should be able to groom, feed, whelp and feed young while wearing the collar. If a dingo wearing a collar appears to be caught (stuck on something via the collar) or behaving in an abnormal manner (limited range of movement for example) the dingo can be located and the collar removed. The only dingoes being collared are adult and sub adult dingoes not young dingoes. I worry that there does not seem to be many identified as ”adult”  dingoes being found…  The collars are waterproof so if a dingo leaves the island it will be tracked.

While the research is not going to provide all the answers it will greatly assist us in understanding the dingoes. I want to know the answers to questions such as how many dingoes can Fraser Island comfortably support with the dingoes eating natural foods? What happens to the young pups as they grow? Do any leave the island as nature would ensure more pups are born that the island can sustain? Do they starve to death or are they killed by other dingoes?

Yes there are photos of, and I have seen first hand, unhealthy looking dingoes. Are these dingoes surplus to what the island can sustain? Are these dingoes more likely to frequent people and thereby be more readily photographed? Can we ensure that juvenile dingoes learn by being raised by wild adult dingoes? Can we ensure that an enquisitive dingo is not killed simply because he or she is learning and is interested in these two legged humans that are now found all over the island?

So to those of you who believe I support the current management of dingoes on Fraser Island…. I don’t! Do I believe all dingoes on the island are healthy.. no I don’t but I also believe nature works to ensure some dingoes will not naturally survive and grow to old age. Do I want the Fraser Island dingoes preserved? Yes! Do I believe the collars are uncomfortable… yes. But I believe the dingoes adapt and that the research will benefit the species and the discomfort outweighs the avantage to the population as a whole. Will I continue to communicate what I learn..? Yes I will. Thanks, Sue

Some good links…  This photo gallery is interesting and shows healthy looking dingoes. Sadly we don’t see these photos via the media. If you want to use them just remember they are copyright..

This is the company that has been used to develop the dingo collars.

Tried to post a pic of the collar… Will find out why it disn’t work.. Ta, Sue

Foreshore Front Page – and the Chronicle poll!

November 7th, 2010

The Esplanade and Foreshore made the font page yesterday with yours truly and the Chronicle Editor featured on the front page. We were both trying to keep the rain out of our eyes at the time that this photo was taken Friday morning (directly opposite Delfinos just up from Denman Camp Rd). I didn’t expect Peter to front up so that was a surprise.

The story goes on to argue that some areas of our foreshore need a good clean up and the weeds and dead branches etc need removing. I agree about the weeds but some dead wood and natural undergrowth should be left alone depending on where it is located.

Inside The Chronicle I am portrayed as wanting the Foreshore ‘left alone’. I have never said I want it totally left alone and I have worked hard to find a way to better resource our Council staff so that increased weeding regimes can occur. I recently posted a story about how the community can become involved and help Council in this regard. Also this week in Council I was informed that the highly anticipated Foreshore Plan actions review report will be ready the first week of December.

So to the poll. The Chronicle is asking us to vote and there are two questions. Either we ask for a ‘major clean up’ of the foreshore or we don’t!  The questions are designed to be either one or the other and don’t, in my mind, properly articulate what is needed.

However I will be voting no as I believe the foreshore only needs a minor clean up in specific areas and as The Chronicle hasn’t properly defined what it actually means by  ‘a major clean up’ I am not confident that the results of the poll will be worth much anyway. But there is a poll and already there have been global emails being circulated by UDIA and the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce asking their members to vote ‘as this is your chance to clean up The Esplanade’. So from business and the development industry we have a big clean up push. Maybe I will just cross out the word ‘major’ on the form and insert ‘just remove weeds’ instead!

So it is over to the readers of The Chronicle to have their say. To participate in the poll either use the coupon printed in The Chronicle on Saturday or email The Chronicle at

[email protected]

You must attach your name and suburb for your vote to be recognised and it is probably best to use the words Foreshore Poll in the subject line.

I will be interested in the results. Cheers, Sue

PS Can’t finish without thanking Tess Patterson for her wonderful letter. She has a lovely way of putting into words what our foreshore means to many of us. Thanks Tess.

Thanks Scott and Stephen

February 12th, 2010

I was pleased to read the editorial in the Hervey Bay Independent this morning. Great to see someone from the media world speaking out about the potential problems when a newspaper editor decides to try and influence elected members. Scott Rowe has hit the nail on the head with a hard hammer and I think his comments are well justified and thought provoking.

It has always bothered me that keeping on ‘good terms’ with the local newspaper editors is seen as an essential ingredient by politicians around the country. If a politician does not build a positive relationship with an editor they run the risk of receiving negative coverage in the newspaper. This is even more pronounced when political party allegiance enters into the equation.

All politicians should be given equal and unbiased and uncensored tretament as should all members of our community. I often wonder what it is about the human animal that makes us so quickly attracted to the sensationalist headlines and trivail pre occupations with who said what that invariably increases sales and brings in more dollars for the media entity.

So thank you Scott for your well written editorial this week and also a special thank you to Stephen O’Grady for his coverage of this weeks Council Meeting. Stephen took the time to peruse our agenda and wrote a very accurate account of development related information that was printed yesterday in The Chronicle. Thank you Stephen.

Chronicle commentary

January 23rd, 2010

Interesting focus on development issues dominating the paper these days. The education city focus highlighted today for Hervey Bay is an old and existing strategy that has been around since the days when USQ decided to build an actual campus on the Fraser Coast. It is a very worthwhile and well supported strategy but I do believe that many younger people will always want to leave the city where they have gron up, to test the waters elsewhere. Yes we need to provide opportunities for our youth to stay here but we must also try and attract youth from elsewhere to come here to learn. Then we need a good range of employment opportunities including professions to retain a younger workforce. Hence the need for sensible well planned development that isn’t development at any cost everywhere! Let’s not destroy what most of us have come here to enjoy! I am so looking forward to our 2031 Land Use strategy public consultation which will give everyone the chance to have your say on what you want and where you want it.

The Chronicle has also run a series of Councillor interviews and Mayor Mick has had a bit to say. I’m never ever going to crow about ‘my achievements’ as I am but one cog in a big organisation and turning an idea or request into a reality takes more than just my say so. Also different Portfolios are less or greatly public so measuring or assessing any Councillor by how many times we appear within the media is unfair to say the least. I enjoyed reading about us all but must admit it is quite confrontational and sobering to read some of the comments about Councillors being posted onto the Chronicle Blog.  It is a dilemma I face with this blog when people anonymously decide to personally target an individual…. So please feel free to let me know if you ever wish this blog to be more strictly censored or not? So far I rarely intervene and comments are posted as they arrive but I do ask that comments are focussed on issues not personalities when ever possible. Constructive criticism is the way to go not personal attacks I believe.

Anyhow I’m not sure how you find the Chronicle blog Councillor topic but here is a link.. Seems I am not doing my job well according to several readers. I wish however there was a better understanding of what we actually do. Perceptions are incorrect in several cases I believe.

I spent a few days this week in Brissy visiting family and appreciated the numerous parks and gardens dotted everywhere. Brisbane suburbs are leafy and green and I hope they remain that way. My daughter rarely visits the CBD and it was nice to spend time in ‘suburbia’ including walking the household dog up a large naturally vegetated hill just up the road. A great haven in a busy city.

Peter Chapman reads this blog!

September 18th, 2009

Dear Peter, a very warm welcome to the Fraser Coast. Although I agree with you that not many people read this blog I’m glad that you take the time to peruse it. I enjoy the ability to communicate directly with the public and although my readership is very much less than that of the daily Chronicle it is wonderful to be able to express my thoughts freely and openly without being censored. It is also a great way to communicate directly with the community and I am glad that some people take the time to read and debate ‘online’.

I will be taking up your kind offer of ringing you directly and appreciate you giving out your phone number to enable people to contact you directly. I suppose I was feeling a bit cranky with you the other day however, as I personally emailed you over 2 weeks ago now on a non Council related matter and am still awaiting a response. I try very hard to respond to all the emails and calls I receive and although I am sure some people slip through the cracks from time to time the fact that I had not yet received a response from you regarding my email has made me feel a bit annoyed with you.

In the past I have emailed the Deputy Editor also on both Council related and non Council related issues and have also received nothing but the sounds of silence so maybe my emails are just totally boring and not worthy of a response. At least the Dep. Ed. has publicly stated that email is his very least preferred method of communication….. Many other Chronicle journalists do respond promptly to email communication and I wish to thank them as ignoring someone is really a good way to make someone feel powerless. I’m also aware of the difference in gaining newspaper inches as a means of personal self promotion rather than simply to educate or inform the community about Council related issues and try always to focus on the latter not the former.

I am glad Peter, that you want to learn more about Council so I look forward to seeing you at the odd Council meeting in the weeks to come. Some more extensive reporting of what occurs at Council meetings would be a great way to ensure the wider community gets to know more about Council and how it operates.

You and I have something in common as I also detest people making constant excuses for non performance and I very much detest bureaucratic red tape that ties everyone in knots. However much of the ‘red tape’ surrounding Council is foisted upon us by those above us. Maybe if we all work together we can make inroads in reducing the ever growing knots of red tape so I look forward to hearing about how best to do this.

I really do hope that you enjoy your time on the Fraser Coast and in particular Hervey Bay and that the Chronicle under your leadership, provides our community with balanced reporting that truthfully informs us all about the issues that impact on all of us. I abhor sensationalism. Now do you work Sat mornings for that phone chat and will you be responding to my earlier email or should I try again? See you soon, Sue

Nancy knows best!

February 22nd, 2009

As someone who has spent most of her life in Victoria I was quite saddened to read the FCC Editorial of Wednesday 18/2/09 written by the Editor Nancy Bates

The Victorian climate and vegetation is markedly different from much of the Queensland vegetation and fires ‘down South’ have always claimed more lives and destroyed more property than areas more Northerly. Victorian summers are dry, hot and windy whereas Queensland summers are more likely to be humid and wet and windy. Grass around Hervey Bay spends far less time dry and yellow than the grasses down South do. When I first arrived in Bundaberg from Victoria I lived on acreage at the edge of town and well remember the day a fire started up near by. I ran around my house like a mad thing wondering if I had enough tennis balls to block up my down pipes etc, checking hoses and becoming quite frantic till I realised all my neighbours calmly going about their daily routine. Some time later the fire truck turned up and quickly put out the blaze. An experience so different to everything I had ever experienced growing up in Victoria that it got me thinking about the different threats fire bring to different areas of our countryside. A one size fits all approach is not the answer.

So back to the editorial. Ms Bates says that “the green madness has ‘nature lovers’ building thousands of lifestyle homes in the bush, delighting in the trees cuddling their homes and the birds and animals that were their friends. They have now been incinerated.”  The editorial concludes by stating that relatives of victims should not blame arsonists or power companies but that they should “look at the over powerful greenies threaded through bureaucracies, the environmentally concerned councillors and the weak politicians who created holocusts in a beautiful bush they never understood.”  There is also a statement that says ” ..the policy makers and leading greenies who have prevented controlled burning in rural Victoria should be considered accessories to manslaughter”

Very emotive and strong language which I would expect after a disaster of this proportion. I struggled with giving these words web space and further exposure but I think that to let them go unchallenged would distress me more. Victoria does have regular burning off activities. In fact property owners are required to keep their properties free of fire fuel. Please refer to 

or the Victorian Dept of Sustainability and Environment (if this link does not work). The restrictions to burning are primarily in relation to weather conditions as Victoria often has days called Total Fire Ban days where no one is allowed to light a fire in the open anywhere as the risk of fire is so great. When I part owned earth moving machinery we could not work the machines either on these days in case they caused a fire! So while burning off is an accepted practice in many areas it can only be done ‘when conditions allow’ otherwise burning off can create the fire situation that you are trying to prevent. You can’t burn during much of winter as it is usually too cold and wet and once the undergrowth grows there is only a small window of opportunity before summer sets in and burning anything anywhere is a madness.

Many people living in areas like Kinglake are not  necessarily ‘nature lovers’ but hard working urban dwellers with young kids and jobs and reside in these outlying areas more due to affordability than a love of nature. When viewing film of the devastation after the fires many burned houses were still surrounded by trees carrying green leaves! Usually however wind is the enemy. Fires travel at speeds unbelievable and are carried in the tree tops. The undergrowth and houses burn while the fire front is still racing ahead.

Environmentally concerned citizens and bureacrats and politicians don’t like to see humanity or wildlife or habitat destroyed. Fire destroys most everything  in its path. Fires aren’t choosy. As a result many of the ‘fire management plans’ now introduced are the work of environmentalists. You see a wild fire kills everything so why would a ‘greenie’ ever want to create an environment that endangered life?

I don’t like ‘burning off’ everywhere and all the time. I worry that soils are depleted and fragile life forms extinguished when fire is the constant visitor, but I also believe very strongly that to live close by the Aussie bush can only be done safely if the bush is managed carefully in the surrounding area. I also thought that in 1939 when many people died on Black Friday, there were no restrictions at all on ‘burning off’. In fact this article seems to blame burning off for causing fires.

I simply cannot believe that building restrictions have not been made tougher so that every dwelling has a fire proof cellar, shed or bunker. Green lawns need to be a part of the landscape around a house or other non flammable plants. A secure water supply not dependant on mains power should also be mandated. I could go on….

I’m sad. I’m sad for the families who have lost those dearest to them. I’m sad for the people who have survived but lost everything that they own. I am sad for the destruction of businesses and of livelihoods. I am sad for the wildlife and vegetation that has been destroyed. I am sad that for the rest of his life my son will mourn lives lost on what should be a happy day, his birthday. But most of all I am sad that some people are using their energies to cast blame and to point hurtful fingers at those who are not to blame. We do not yet know that any amount of burning off would have prevented this awful loss of life.

Let us use our energy to help the people left behind and let every bureaucrat, politician, ‘greenie’ and media reporter work together to ensure that lives are protected when fire happens. The one thing I know with all certainty is that if we want to share our planet with our ‘Aussie bush’ we have to learn to live with fire. I cannot see a day when fires will cease to be a threat.

Headlines designed to undermine Council?

December 18th, 2008

David King works tirelessly for this Council and I think it is irresponsible to cast him in such a negative light as is done via the front page of our daily. I personally have never felt that ‘my house is under threat’ due to any decision I have ever made during my time as a Councillor and cannot believe that the Chronicle sees fit to publish such stories. David King provides legal advice to Council (not to individual Councillors) as that is his job. It is my experience that if a Councillor requires his or her own personal legal advice then Mr King advises us to seek independant legal advice.

A letter writer also seems to think that staff providing advice to Councillors somehow constitutes poor meeting procedure. Staff are employed to give professional advice to Councillors and thank goodness that this advice is available to us. No Councillor, in my experience, is an expert at every aspect of Council operations. As a Councillor I appreciate the advice given to me. if I disagree with it I can do so. I am not bound to accept the advice provided to me but I hasten to add that in the vast majority of cases I do agree with staff recommendations. This ability to shift through the professional advice given to us and make decisions in the best interest of the community is, in my opinion, the chief role of a Councillor. In other words it is what a Councillor does day in day out.

Lastly I did not ask Cr Nioa to ‘be quiet’ as I recall. When a Councillor is speaking then he/she ‘has the floor’ and should not be interrupted other than by the chairperson or another Councillor calling a ‘point of order’. At the meeting in question neither of these things occurred. I simply asked Cr Nioa if she wanted to contribute as I thought she was making hand gestures out of my line of sight while I was speaking about my reasons to not support the water park development application. My recollection is that Cr Nioa was simply trying to call the attention of the Mayor so that she could speak next. I simply thanked her. I did not ask her ‘to be quiet’ as she had not made any noise! What a ridiculous amount of good newspaper space taken up by such trivial matters. A big fuss out of nothing which does nothing more than undermine the public confidence in this Council.

Spits and spats, I don’t think so.

December 13th, 2008

I think I am nearly immune to sensationalist Chronicle headlines but then I awoke to the front page effort last Thursday. Cr Nioa and I actually exchanged early morning emails to see if we had been at the same meeting! There was no spat. Each of us spoke up about our views on the development application for the water park. I was against it because of the sensative nature of the site and the number of trees destined for the chop. I wanted the park located further East. Cr Nioa spoke for the current proposal. I was the only no vote.

There was no antagonism, no nasty name calling and indeed each Councillor who wanted to speak for or against the motion did so in a clear and articulate manner. I thank Ms R. Skinner who wrote a letter that was published on Friday for also questioning the highly emotive and ridiculous front page headline. Our Council meetings generally run smoothly with an adherence to manners and protocol. If anyone takes the time to read Hansard I can assure you that your local Councillors don’t lower themselves to the spiteful name calling and unnecessary personal attacks that is heard within the halls of our State Government leaders!

I don’t want to even try to guess the motives behind such media reporting so I ask that residents please don’t believe these headlines. There was no spat. These headlines do nothing to promote a sense of community spirit and confidence in our Council. No we are not perfect and yes these times have been turbulent and frequently unsettling but on the whole I think everyone has achieved well under the circumstances.

To use an analogy. When a blended family comes together, for example, two parents and their respective children from previous relationships, there is an adjustment period. Even when two people start living together under the one roof there is an adjustment period which entails learning about each other and deciding on the best way to accomodate each others needs. This is an ongoing process of learning, adjustment and compromise. We have joined 4 Councils together and are going through this very same process. I think we are well on the way to the needed adjustments and compromises and, to quote a song line, ‘times will only get better’.

So I ask our local print media to please provide some accurate and balanced reporting. Our community deserves it and the opposite does nothing to instill pride and confidence and a sense of rolling up our sleeves and working together. Let us be free to express our differing points of view, but at the end of the day, we must compromise, stick to the issues and respect each other. I think we are doing this very well and I am sad that the media does not see the need to assist this process but rather seems focussed on dividing our cities and causing undue hurt to some very good and hard working people.

Dingo forum

December 10th, 2008

Media release.

Councillor Sue Brooks is concerned that Fraser Coast mainland residents want to attend the Dingo forum on FI. She says “The Dingo forum being organised by the RSPCA at Eurong on Monday, is designed so that the RSPCA can hear first hand from Fraser Island residents. The RSPCA is concerned that, despite the public reaction after recent photographs showing a dingo with ribs protruding was published, they have received no specific information from locals which could assist their investigation”.

 Cr Brooks is very concerned that many people she talks to tell her that in years gone by dingos on Fraser Island weren’t ‘skinny’. She says “While I don’t have the personal experience about the dogs on Fraser Island, time after time, people tell me that in the not too distant past no one ever saw a skinny dingo. I want to see an independent enquiry to properly assess the condition of the dingos on FI”.

 Cr Brooks says “The RSPCA do excellent work throughout our community and I am sad that some people are blaming them for not protecting the dingos. The RSPCA is not responsible for this situation and has been working closely with the EPA and QPW to have any welfare concerns addressed. I am very pleased that they continue to listen and investigate the community concerns by conducting this forum’.

 Cr Brooks asks that residents await further information from the RSPCA after the forum. “Please don’t try to get across to the island to attend the forum unless you have first hand experience of the dogs on Fraser Island”. While we all have opinions and believe we know what is best for the dogs the RSPCA is compiling factual details about the condition of the dogs. Let’s support them and provide them with factual information that they can use. You can email the RSPCA at [email protected]  or write via RSPCA Qld Inc, PO Box 6177, Fairfield Gardens QLD 4103

 If necessary I will ask for a forum on the mainland but lets wait and see what outcomes we receive from the Monday FI forum.

Facebook etc

July 28th, 2008

Just to set the record straight I spoke to no one last night or yesterday from the media re my Internet site or Facebook account etc. Interesting how I am quoted on the front page of todays local Chronicle. Total surprise to me but yes I like the Internet and enjoy the online world and the way in which it allows us all to interact quickly and accurately with everyone.

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