Mayor Glen Hartwig and Councillor Dan Stewart, council meeting.
Mayor Glen Hartwig and Councillor Dan Stewart, council meeting.

OPINION: New council carries on screen of secrecy

Letter to the editor by Merv Welch:

I WAS disappointed, but not surprised, by the news (The Gympie Times, Thursday, June 11) that the return of question time to Gympie Regional Council meetings has been quashed.

What a farce the recent election was!

It turns out we elected a group of people who will be largely beyond public scrutiny for the next four years.


And it will cost us in the order of $4 million for the privilege.

The stifling of the community’s right to question in the name of “protecting councillors against conflict of interest allegations” is nonsense.

It smacks very much of the screen of secrecy erected by the Morrison government in the name of “national security”.

Gympie Town Hall
Gympie Town Hall

It makes a sham of the notion of democracy —“ government of the people, by the people, for the people”— and openness and transparency a wistful dream of the past.

It is incomprehensible that we have elected a group of people who don’t understand the concept of “conflict of interest” or are incapable of recognising whether or not it applies to them in a particular matter.

If there is a positive side to the move to silence the public it is that it highlights the fact that councils have become an expensive irrelevance.

There are surely alternative models of local government that would be more efficient, less expensive and more immediately accountable to their employers — the ratepayers.

As a community we should explore the possibilities before the next election is due.

Merv Welch, The Palms

Letter to the editor by Ian Petersen:

SO THE state government warns of the risk of reintroducing general business.

Are we to assume then that the state government will discontinue its own equivalent agenda item known as question time? I doubt it.

Ian Petersen.
Ian Petersen.

And neither they should as it is an important part of the democratic process just as is council’s “general business”.

Mr Hayes correctly points out that there is no law preventing general business but emphasises “risk”.

The bureaucracy is very risk averse.

I can remember just after the introduction of new privacy laws when we received an agenda item which was not much more than a black page. It was so heavily redacted that we were being asked to congratulate someone unknown for achieving something unknown at a time and place unknown “due to the new privacy laws”.

Bureaucratic over reach should not be allowed to thwart a genuine attempt to improve openness and accountability.

Ian Petersen, Gympie


Rural ratepayers props

IN THE Gympie Times, Wednesday July 10, it was no surprise to read of a backlash to our council when one considers that the greater part of the Gympie Regional Council is in country areas.

The Cooloola Coast is a much smaller region. One must consider that the rate payers living on the coast derive their income in a completely different manner to ratepayers living in the country areas.

In Widgee and the Mary Valley some farmers are paying rates in excess of $4000 per year and often earning less than their coastal counterparts due to the prevailing drought conditions.

No doubt the previous mayor and his CEO would be extremely popular with coastal ratepayers as it appears they were only interested in often flamboyant projects – why didn’t they build a kiosk along the River Walk where people could stop for a hamburger and coffee?

We haven’t had a flood, I’m amazed that we weren’t asked to provide funds for a new railway bridge over Deep Creek.

The current bridge has no reinforcement in the concrete pillars and was poured in stages and the left hand track going out of town is sagging six inches.

A loaded train toppling off the bridge would really put Gympie on the map.

We have always been a bit pretentious in Gympie, from the time my grandparents lived on Normanby Hill when King Billy and Emma Dunn used to come asking for either tea, milk or flour for their camp on the river bank.

On the southern side of the bridge with Billy wearing his big brass plate and very little else. To the English miners who walked to work dressed in a suit and tie carrying their work clothes in a suitcase and returning home looking just the same as when they went, their wives assuming an air of grandeur even if some couldn’t pay their bills.

What a pity the gold ran out, as they say, all good things come to an end.

Coastal ratepayers live a totally different lifestyle and can thank us country bumpkins for the contribution we have made to it.

After the war the ABC had a ditty which they used to sing

Save, save, save for security

And watch your troubles go rolling along

Save, save, save for security

And you’ll find that you can’t go wrong

This has become

Spend, spend, spend for publicity

Time payment will buy all you need

Car, ranch, pool and boat for publicity

St Vinnies will give you a feed

G Johns, Gympie

Dingoes deserve better

I WAS horrified to see the recent shocking photo in The Gympie Times (Tuesday, June 9) of a dingo on Fraser Island with a large tracking collar on its neck.

How this could be allowed is beyond my comprehension and I fail to see how this could be in any way beneficial for either the animal or for “research” to improve dingo safety by Queensland Parks and Wildlife.

I sympathise that a family could well and truly have lost their 14 month old baby when dragged from a camper van by a dingo.

A truly shocking scenario which no one would want!

But, in reality, what were the parents thinking to take such a young baby to Fraser Island given there is no hospital close by, there are sandflies, snakes, dingoes, and many other hazards there?

Also, how much longer do businesses in Rainbow Beach think they can keep continuing to earn their livelihoods from the unrelenting barrage of tourists camping and driving up and down in four wheel drives along the beach, eroding the sand to get to Fraser Isl and all it has to offer, with no consideration for the future negative impacts of this on the environment?

Why should beautiful wild animals like dingoes be made to suffer – such as this one – for simply existing on the island, as they have done for many years?

When one looks at how tourism in Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, is handled by comparison, it seems that here it is all take – but absolutely no give.

Pauline Petrus, Monkland

Children miss out

IT HAS been reported that some councils have had a request from parents to have some streets closed to traffic so children could play in the street.

Sadly this is a direct result from pure unadulterated greed.

Greed by developers to get as many blocks of land out of a single acre.

Greed by councils as they allowed these small allotments to be permitted because of the extra council rates they would acquire.

Greed by the State Government for the extra land taxes they would collect.

We are currently building ghettos to be brought into fruition in twenty or thirty years’ time.

It is about time that these practices are brought to a conclusion so that our children, grandchildren can play safely in their own homes.

L. Pethick, Gympie

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