Owner defends hostel
THE man behind the proposed backpackers' hostel in Wallaville has defended his plan against local opposition.
Farmer and businessman Jason Macdonald has applied to Bundaberg Regional Council to convert a former church in the town into a hostel to house 16 backpackers.
The intention is for backpackers working in seasonal jobs on farms in the area to stay at the hostel.
But the plan has come under fire from a group of Wallaville residents, who claim the hostel would bring undesirable elements to the area.
They are also concerned the proposed hostel is right across the road from the primary school.
Mr Macdonald says the residents are blackening the reputations of the backpackers and farm workers who would live in his hostel.
"They're making out that they're really bad people," he said.
"That's all just slander."
Mr Macdonald said the Wallaville Hotel, which also offers backpacker accommodation, had space for 30 of them, much more than the 16 he would have in his hostel.
He said there was plenty of work for backpackers in the area.
"There are seven or eight farms nearby that would employ them for most of the year," he said.
Mr Macdonald said claims backpackers would be drinking and smoking at the hostel near the primary school were false.
"There won't be any drinking here; the hostel will be dry," he said.
Mr Macdonald said claims the backpackers would cause trouble in the town were not borne out by any statistics.
"There's still going to be backpackers in the hotel," he said.
"Are they saying they get a better class of backpackers than I'm going to have?"
He said his aim was to offer comfortable, spacious accommodation for people in the hostel.
"It's not just for backpackers," he said.
"It's workers' accommodation for everyone."
Mr Macdonald said from Easter to just before Christmas there would be a shortage of accommodation for workers in the area and the church building had been empty for 10 years.