Big read: A summary of January’s council meeting
IT WAS the first formal Bundaberg Regional Council meeting of the year.
It was not a divisive or heated meeting, but there were potentially significant announcements made by Mayor Jack Dempsey and Councillor Ross Sommerfeld, as well as the passing of significant local laws amendments.
There are reports of previous council meetings which were more divisive.
Political candidates boosted the number of observers in the public gallery, including Scott Allison, Tanya McLoughlin, Tim Sayre, and Joseph Ellul.
COUNCILLOR Greg Barnes’ absence from the meeting was declared, which Cr Dempsey said was due to ill health.
If councillors needed another reminder that it wasn’t long until the election, then Pastor Errol Buckle provided it at the beginning of his sermon, which had a theme about not needlessly finding faults in people.
“We should be able to disagree agreeably,” he said.
“Disagreements should be about ideas, principles, and actions, not about the individual.”
Conflicts of interest
THREE councillors declared perceived conflicts of interest in the meeting, with two of them regarding confidential items.
Cr Judy Peters first declared a potential interest in renewing a lease to Bundaberg Football Inc, which was a confidential item.
“The nature of the relationship is that I am a patron of a like-minded organisation,” she said.
“Having stated this conflict of interest I believe I can participate and vote on the matter.”
Councillors agreed she could stay in the room and did not consider there to be a conflict.
Cr Wayne Honor declared a conflict of interest for an Innes Park development seeking an extension to be eligible for the Open for Development Scheme.
Cr Honor said the conflict was because his own company, Coachtrail Investments, was seeking to be eligible for the scheme. He would leave the room.
Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor said he would leave the room when council amendments were voted on, and this was because he was a shareholder of Isis Central Sugar Mill.
The mill had been on the proposed list of sites to be added to the local heritage list, although was no longer on the final list approved in the meeting.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said he wanted to speak on Bundaberg Regional Council’s efforts to improve the local economy, some of which he said were overlooked by the media.
These things include its efforts with youth employment, and the Love Bundy Campaign.
He said last year the council almost doubled the number of trainees and apprentices it employed, having increased the number by 23.
The council also adopted a policy to prioritise local businesses in the tendering process in 2018.
“I’m pleased to report that council has successfully increased our local expenditure on goods and services to nearly 60 per cent,” Cr Dempsey said.
“I’d like to recommend the new council increase the current 10 per cent weighting for ‘Buy Local’ content to 30 per cent for contracts.”
This was not a formal motion, and councillors made no decisions.
COUNCILLORS voted to adopt Amendment Number 5 and Amendment Number 6, which would come under effect from February 10.
Planning and development councillor Ross Sommerfeld moved the amendments, saying “this is actually the last step in a process that has been discussed in the last six months and active in the last two years.
“The Minister (Cameron Dick) has given consent on December 20 to make these changes.”
Amendment 5 targets secondary dwellings and dual occupancies, a local plan of the Burnett Heads Town Centre local plan, the Port of Bundaberg’s State Development Area, the Kalkie-Ashfield local development area, and additional sites recognised on the local heritage list.
Amendment 6 focuses on turtle protection measures in Shelley St and Hampton Ct, in Burnett Heads, enforced by the State Government’s Temporary Local Planning Instrument. The TLPI is repealed with the passing of the amendment.
Pop Up Polo
COUNCILLORS voted to sponsor the return of Events Queenslands’ pop-up polo event later this year.
The support would be worth $25,000 through field preparation and waste disposal at the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct, and marketing support.
Cr Dempsey advocated the event by saying the event had been a success last year, and that a similar event in Rockhampton had shown attendance growth in the two years it had been held.
“It has certainly brought a number of people to the region,” he said.
THE public gallery, not including council staff, left the room as councillors discussed two items.
It took about five minutes for them to discuss extending a 10-year lease of Bundaberg Football Inc, and the extension for a housing project to apply for the Open for Development scheme.
The door was opened again for the public, which was when councillors voted for the chief executive, Stephen Johnston, to lease Martens Oval for another 10 years.
Bargara Waters Relocatable Home Park, in Innes Park, was given an extension to a council scheme which would subsidise infrastructure charges.
The scheme was initially for developments completed by June 26, 2020, although there had been several projects that have been granted extensions.
The relocatable home park’s extension was set back to June 28, 2024.
CR DEMPSEY formally closed the meeting, and then said Cr Sommerfeld had an announcement to make.
Cr Sommerfeld, who is recovering from eye surgery, said he would no longer represent Division 7 at the end of the council term.
He said it took him three times to get elected which was why he never took his role for granted.
“In 2008 the Bundaberg region’s infrastructure, water, waste and sewerage was outdated, not good, and in cases non-compliant,” he said.
“The heavy lifting has been done. I hope future councils will add the extra layer, or ice the cake, in a way that suits the future needs of our region.”