Farmer: I'd rather go to jail than pay the council fine

DEFIANT: Kenilworth dairy farmer Shane Paulger also runs a camping ground on his property but faces closure due to council regulations.
DEFIANT: Kenilworth dairy farmer Shane Paulger also runs a camping ground on his property but faces closure due to council regulations. Warren Lynam

THE Mary Valley dairy farmer who made international headlines after the council threatened him with more than $180,000 in fines says he is willing to go to prison over the issue.

Shane Paulger has run a campground on his Kenilworth dairy farm for years to help make ends meet.

In June, Sunshine Coast Council issued the Paulger family a notice to comply or desist - pay almost $300,000 to formalise the campground under council by laws, or cough up $184,000 in fines.

Mr Paulger met with council on Monday, saying it seemed unwilling to to budge on the hefty fees.

"They're sticking to their guns about the huge costs,” he said.

"I've been forced to do this because of the terrible state of the industry.

"We're hurting nobody.”

The council advised the Paulger family that the estimated infrastructure charges for the camping ground were $257,713.

The Paulger family have until next Friday to submit a development application for the campground.

"We haven't made a final decision whether we continue on, start the process, or say 'it's too hard',” Mr Paulger said.

Documents submitted to council by a consultant representing the Paulger family show that the charges would take more than 17 years to pay back.

"With (the camp site running at) an annual net profit of $14,894, the payment of the proposed infrastructure charges of $257,713 would take over 17 years of operation to see a payback profit in the development,” the letter reads.

"The inclusions of small scale camping grounds under the current Planning Scheme and the application of these charges precludes this type of small scale tourism opportunity within this region, especially for those who use camping and farm stay to subsidise their farming incomes to stay afloat.”

Mr Paulger said paying the $257,000 fee was impossible.

"We won't be getting the $257,000 - there's no way,” he said.

"The bank wouldn't give us that money, and we're not paying a $180,000 fine.

"If it comes to that I'll just go to jail.

"We're not happy to go underground but if they force our hand that may be our only option and we'll play it out in the courts.”

The Sunshine Coast Council has been approached for comment.

Gympie Times

Topics:  dairy farmer mary valley shane paulger sunshine coast council

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