Petersen defends his hard line

GYMPIE has won significant positive benefits from allegedly negative comments on State Government planning laws, a councillor claimed yesterday.

Gympie Regional Council planning and development committee chairman Ian Petersen yesterday hit back at criticism from his councillor colleague Graham Engeman about concerns that government red tape hads stifled Gympie and prevented much-needed employment generating industry development.

Cr Engeman called for the council to be more positive about the region’s future and its relationship with the State Government, accusing Gympie and the former Cooloola Shire councils of not doing enough to plan and prepare for the future.

“What’s done is done,” he said, referring to Cr Petersen’s criticism of Mayor Ron Dyne’s unilateral decision to rope Gympie into early inclusion in the government’s Wide Bay-Burnett regional plan.

Cr Engeman claimed there was nothing planned in the council’s existing 2005 plan and council would be better off getting “on with it”.

Cr Petersen denied the “inaction” claim and said the council would have been in a better position to make progress if it had been allowed to finalise this year’s town plan review prior to being “constricted” by a government plan which prevented progress and stopped council from responding to rezoning applications, particularly for industrial land.

“I agree we need to be positive but that does not mean being subservient and copping what is dished up to us,” Cr Petersen said yesterday.

“Being positive is about taking action to correct legislative elements which are detrimental to our community.

“Next week I will be attending a meeting with officers from the government’s Population Information Forecasting Unit and Department of Infrastructure and Planning to discuss the draft statutory regional plan.

“This meeting would not have occurred if I had not raised concerns at a recent regional planning meeting in Gayndah.

“The legislation was drifting along completely unchallenged until I outlined what I see as serious shortcomings.

“The meeting is a result of some positive action and I will be attending in a very positive frame of mind seeking change for the better.

“Being positive involves considering issues carefully and analytically, listening to concerns from the community, using local knowledge and taking action to negotiate better outcomes.

“We are not here to rubber stamp decisions made in the ivory towers of Brisbane or Canberra.

“Realising the need for more industry, the former Cooloola Shire Council allocated $20,000, matched by the Department of State Development, to undertake an industrial land need study.

“That study identified a need for 143 to 190ha by 2026, and the draft regional plan suggested a need for only 63ha by 2031. We challenged that and have received an assurance that our study will be transferred to the regional plan.
“That is positive action,” Cr Petersen said.

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