The new-look Jewel at six storeys.
The new-look Jewel at six storeys. Adam Wratten

Column: Jewel mess not council's fault, but current system

OPINION: Boundary Rider, Ben Turnbull

WHEN I read the phrase "embarrassing mess” in Carolyn Booth's editorial on Thursday I thought she had gone too hard.

After reading the piece, I thought there will not be a Christmas card heading the NewsMail's way with Cr Ross Sommerfeld's signature on it.

However, criticism needs to be directed somewhere in relation to the failure of getting a much-needed development approved in the Bundaberg region.

Should Cr Sommerfeld, and the Bundaberg council, accept the blame?

I do not think so, and I will explain why he, and the Bundaberg council, is not the embarrassing mess, but how the system they work in is.

For our wonderful city to truly stake its claim on the international tourist market, and make use of the economic benefits, it needs to have a governance system in place that works.

So, when a developer comes with a plan that has the potential to boost the tourist industry the approval process can not be brought into question, and the development has every chance to go ahead.

Because of the corruption allegations in councils such as Ipswich and the Gold Coast it seems to me our politicians feel they must distance themselves from some of the process.

The behaviour of some councils over time has stained the reputations of the honest people in the system.

For too long there has been corruption in the political ranks, and distrust from the public has grown.

Crs Bill Trevor and Scott Rowleson excused themselves from voting on the project in September.

For the sake of transparency they did not vote, and a chain of events started in which the state government got involved, and ultimately stopped the project from realising its full potential.

The embarrassing mess is what other councils have left behind, where corruption has taken hold and many decisions are brought into question.

I hope next time a developer comes to Bundaberg with a fantastic plan we would have moved to a place of political transparency where decisions cannot be questioned.

Councils need to be more open to the people more of the time, and only then we will have more trust in them.

We will then have confidence the decisions are made on merit, without favour, and then developments will have every chance to go ahead.