Protestors outside Gympie Town Hall before the council met on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.
Protestors outside Gympie Town Hall before the council met on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

Why democracy is alive and well in Gympie

Letter to the Editor

The good news arising from last week’s protest at the Town Hall is that democracy is alive and well in Gympie. The right to protest is an important plank in the platform of a genuine democracy.

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But the reality in this case is that the council probably could not win. To appease the protesters, the environmentalists and wild-life champions, the council would continue to bear the anger of the landholders disadvantaged by the environmental restrictions legislated by the previous council.

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And there is right on both sides.

Concern for the environment and the health and safety of our wildlife is a sign of a mature and enlightened society. That concern is to be appreciated and applauded.

Protestors outside Gympie town hall
Protestors outside Gympie town hall

On the other hand, the affected private landholders have maintained and paid rates on their unencumbered property, in some cases, for many decades. For some, no doubt, it is their superannuation. To be deprived of that by unforeseeable council legislation is rightly regarded as a grave injustice.

The ideal solution would appear to lie with the council’s ability and willingness (with funding assistance from State and Federal Environment Departments, both of which have a vested interest) to implement appropriate environmental legislation and to compensate affected landholders for their financial losses.

That ideal solution may be a long way off, but the protest last week highlighted the fact that the balance between urbanisation and the maintenance of the natural environment is an immediate and likely to be an ongoing, challenge for the council.

While Mayor Hartwig and the majority of councillors who voted with him did not deserve the hysterical abuse meted out on Facebook, the council is on notice that its stance on the environment is already suspect in some quarters and will be the subject of close, ongoing scrutiny.

Merv Welch, The Palms.

Protestors outside Gympie town hall
Protestors outside Gympie town hall
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