Media Responses (08 - 12 November 2021)

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Media Responses (08  - 12 November 2021)

CONTENT: Koala Habitats, Exploration Permits, TLPIs, Inskip Gastro.

Gympie Times: 9 November – Clearing of Koala Habitat

QUESTION:

Have received this [WBBEC Press Release], this morning. Did council wish to respond.?

Did the council ignore urgent please from Steven Miles to delay its decision to remove the laws protecting koalas and wildlife?

Is it now standing by while unfettered clearing takes place in these places of known koala habitat?

When will it introduce some sort of protection for wildlife?

ANSWER:

We are currently preparing environmental protections over areas of significance, which we always planned to do. The State Government is aware of this as we have been working with them, and we are continuing to speak to environmental groups about our plans.

This isn’t a simple process and it will take time. Would we have liked to do this sooner, absolutely, however this wasn’t an option for us at the time.

This issue we have is that the original data used to justify the TLPI wasn’t presented in full to Council or the State Government, and ultimately may not stand scrutiny if challenged. The environment is a priority for Council, but we must ensure any regulations that we endorse and implement are based on fact and, to put it simply, the original TLPI was not. What is also not recognised is that land holders and residents were unintentionally and unreasonably impacted by the TLPI by no fault of their own. Council is fixing this to ensure environmental protections are long-term and unquestionable, which is what we all want.

The new environmental protections will be taken to Council in the new year – hopefully by the end of the first quarter. We will also release all relevant data and documentation regarding both the implementation and the removal of the TLPIs as the community has every right to this information.

Regarding the media release from the Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council, it is disappointing that some information is not presented in full. For example, if there are any changes to the planning scheme, we notify residents. To say that we only notified to clear land is misleading and unfair.

Should the Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council have satellite imagery of extensive clearing, we are very interested in this data as it will assist with our planning, and if the clearing was not allowed under the planning scheme, we would investigate it as a priority. We are currently working with the State Government; to say we are continually ignoring the State Government is misleading and false.

However, we need to ensure our process is correct and the information is based on fact.

Mayor Glen Hartwig

 

Gympie Today: 9 November – Exploration Permits

QUESTION:

According to information we have received, "Gympie’s township and surrounding areas are subject to a declaration known as Restricted Area 384 which restricts new resource exploration permits being granted the area."

This information then goes on to assert that GRC are looking to remove those restrictions.

Firstly, are you able to confirm this is the case?

Secondly, if this removal is being sort, what is the council's reasons for seeking this removal?

Thirdly, in the event the council is successful, what processes and procedures will be implemented to protect against exploitation?

ANSWER:

Council is aware the state government are in the process of proposing amendments to the current Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan. 

While at this point this is fundamentally a state related matter Council welcomes the community consultation period currently underway. 

 

Southern Cross Austereo: 10 November – Clearing of Koala Habitat

QUESTION:

Would Gympie Council like to provide a written response statement to concerns expressed by Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council and Anarra Wildlife Rescue Gympie about Council is not doing enough to protect the local Koala population. 

ANSWER:

We are currently preparing environmental protections over areas of significance, which we always planned to do. The State Government is aware of this as we have been working with them, and we are continuing to speak to environmental groups about our plans.

This isn’t a simple process and it will take time. Would we have liked to do this sooner, absolutely, however this wasn’t an option for us at the time.

This issue we have is that the original data used to justify the TLPI wasn’t presented in full to Council or the State Government, and ultimately may not stand scrutiny if challenged. The environment is a priority for Council, but we must ensure any regulations that we endorse and implement are based on fact and, to put it simply, the original TLPI was not. What is also not recognised is that land holders and residents were unintentionally and unreasonably impacted by the TLPI by no fault of their own. Council is fixing this to ensure environmental protections are long-term and unquestionable, which is what we all want.

The new environmental protections will be taken to Council in the new year – hopefully by the end of the first quarter. We will also release all relevant data and documentation regarding both the implementation and the removal of the TLPIs as the community has every right to this information.

Regarding the media release from the Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council, it is disappointing that some information is not presented in full. For example, if there are any changes to the planning scheme, we notify residents. To say that we only notified to clear land is misleading and unfair.

Should the Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council have satellite imagery of extensive clearing, we are very interested in this data as it will assist with our planning, and if the clearing was not allowed under the planning scheme, we would investigate it as a priority. We are currently working with the State Government; to say we are continually ignoring the State Government is misleading and false.

However, we need to ensure our process is correct and the information is based on fact.

Mayor Glen Hartwig

 

Gympie Times: 11 November – TLPIs

QUESTION

Why were councillors told that TLPIs cannot be amended (email from [NAME], Nov 6 9:37am, and in the report tabled before councillors on December 9, 2020)? The Planning Act does allow for amendments (Section 23 (2) of the Act), and this ability to amend was mentioned to [CEO] in the email from Kerry Doss on December 8. Why were councillors told otherwise?

*ANSWER:

Councillors acted on the advice ‘Amendment to the TLPIs cannot be undertaken,’ December 9 2020 Ordinary Meeting – Page 31Council report. Council now understands this information was incorrect.

 

QUESTION:

Has the council provided any of that further studies or justifications about the repeal decision as requested by Minister Steven Miles in his Jan 25 2021 letter to Glen?

*ANSWER:

A response is being prepared by Council. This this is a complex issue requiring thorough due diligence and as such will take further time to coordinate.

Council Staff have had many discussions with the State to assist with the matter.

 

QUESTION:

Regarding the decision making process around the TLPIs in February 2020, an email to the State Government on Wed Feb 12, dated 8.30am (attached below), claims the council agreed to make changes to the biodiversity TLPI to refer to critical wildlife habitat. This was despite councillors themselves not voting to make that change until at least an hour after that (the meeting didn't start until 9am). Is this standard practice for the State to be advised of such a change before it's endorsed by councillors?

*ANSWER:

No this is not standard process.

Please note:  This refers to the previous Council (2020) on the last official council meeting before the election.

 

QUESTION:

 At that same meeting (Feb 12) the biodiversity TLPI report claims the Minister "has approved the making of the TLPI". Yet the process was placed on hold on Feb 11, and an email sent Thurs Feb 20 (attached, TLPI 9) reveals the council was still waiting for the Minister's approval by that date. Does the council have any comment re: these conflicting claims, and the information given to councillors?

*ANSWER:

Council is investigating this issue, which relates to the former Council.

 

QUESTION:

 Is there any other comment the council, Mr Gray or Mr Hartwig would like to make on the matter?

*ANSWER:

This is a complex issue and Council is investigating further.

*Communications Manager Sharna Rowley

 

On behalf of the Councillors, am I disappointed and frustrated that Council was not fully informed either during the implementation or the removal of the TLPIs. The work presented does not meet the standard or expectation of Council.  To ensure we make the best decision on behalf of the community, we need to have all information presented.  The CEO is aware of the standard of expectation and council expects it to be met.”

Mayor Glen Hartwig

 

Cooloola Coast Today: 11 November – Inskip Gastro

QUESTION:

Can you confirm you are working with QPWS on the Inskip gastro issue? 

ANSWER:

Council acknowledges the issues at Inskip Point in relation to the gastro cases.  Council are supporting the State Government agencies in this space. In the meantime, Council advises visitors to the area to practice extra hygiene measures to limit the chance of sickness.

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