Councillors divided over ‘Miss Stress’ Anzac flyover
A T28 TROJAN aircraft named ‘Miss Stress’ for Anzac Day commemorations over Bundaberg was central to a heated council debate over money.
The councillors voted 6-4 against spending money for an aeroplane flyover, during their last meeting before the election.
There are several figures quoted for the aerial flyover, but a council spokesman said the cheapest was $9316, which included transit and meals.
But impacting the councillors’ decision on Tuesday was the COVID-19 stimulus package they had unanimously approved 12 minutes before, which had uncertain impacts on the council’s bottom-line.
Councillors were even divided about whether Cr Greg Barnes had a perceived conflict of interest, as president of Bargara Remembers Inc, which hosts annual services in the community, and as an organiser of previous flyovers.
Cr Barnes intended to move the motion that the council continue to use the allocated funds for aerial salutes in the T28 Trojan aircraft on Saturday, April 25, despite cancellation of all regional Anzac services.
But the same 6-4 majority of councillors decided Cr Barnes would have to leave the room.
He would not be able to read the motion or take a vote.
Cr Helen Blackburn, who is a returned servicewoman and former Bundaberg RSL president, moved the motion instead and then debated in support of the flyover.
Deputy mayor Bill Trevor spoke against it because of the cost on top of the widespread economic uncertainty placed on the community.
Cr Trevor said his family experienced the tragedy of war through his grandfather’s brother, who was killed in the World War I battlefields of France at 17.
“If he was here today he would say it’s about the living, not the dead, and the ultimate sacrifice he and many others made is for us,” Cr Trevor said.
“Now we stand here today in uncharted circumstances facing an invisible enemy that will affect our communities not only today but well into the future.
“There will be businesses that don’t open. People may take their lives because of mental illness, because of the stress they face in this historical day facing this invisible enemy.
“There are just so many other ways we as individuals and families can honour their sacrifice. “Let’s not spend the money on the dead, let’s spend it on the living and those who need the incomes to return to their business, their employees, into the future.”
Outgoing Cr Judy Peters debated emotively for the Anzac flyover in what was her last council meeting after a 26-year career in local government.
“I take on board Cr Trevor’s passion,” she said.
“I know that this time is unprecedented and I know this council will be there for this community.
“One of the things that we hold precious on Anzac Day is ‘lest we forget’.
“Bundaberg Regional Council does not and will not forget.
“It’s important for those who have gone and those who are living Anzacs that we show our respect.”
Outgoing Cr Scott Rowleson spoke against the flyover while appearing in the meeting by teleconference, and he further explained his position on social media afterwards.
He said he learned of Cr Barnes’s intended motion to continue with the flyover three days before the council meeting, and then had consulted with the community that weekend.
Cr Rowleson said he emailed councillors on Sunday morning of his opinion to see ratepayers’ money being used differently.
“I stand by my decision that I made in relation to the flyover for this year,” he wrote.
Cr Blackburn ended the debate by observing she was the only veteran among the councillors.
“This would be the one thing that could be done on Anzac Day that would be an acknowledgment of the veterans that have gone before and those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
“I feel it’s very important for veterans to be recognised for their service and we don’t have too many World War II veterans around.
“For them to be able to go out into their front yards socially distanced from other people and to be able to oversee the flypass I think would be important for them.”
Cr Blackburn said the council had agreed to allocate money for other events such as the postponed Nitro Circus, and a pop-up polo event.
“This is a very small amount to go towards remembering those that have gone before us so I’m fully in support of the motion in terms of us remembering as a country the sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Cr Blackburn said.
Voting against the flyover were; Cr Jack Dempsey, Cr Bill Trevor, Cr Jason Bartels, Cr Scott Rowleson, Cr Ross Sommerfeld, Cr Steve Cooper.
Voting for the flyover were; Cr Helen Blackburn, Cr Wayne Honor, Cr Judy Peters, Cr John Learmonth.
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