War vet fined for river work
A WAR veteran has been slammed with a $1500 fine after spreading crushed rock and gravel on a riverbank to help disabled and wheelchair-bound Vietnam vets access a private retreat.
Woodgate man Roger Vincent Dwyer faced Bundaberg Magistrates Court yesterday charged with unlawfully performing works in a declared fish area.
The charge stems from 2009, when Mr Dwyer transformed his 16-hectare Gregory River property into an idyllic retreat for Vietnam veterans and their families.
Mr Dwyer spread 15m of crushed rock and gravel just above the high water mark to allow the veterans to walk and wheelchair up from the river into the property.
But 10 months later, he was charged with unlawfully performing works in a declared fish area, a charge that carries a maximum $300,000 fine.
While he maintains his innocence, Mr Dwyer yesterday pleaded guilty to the offence, saying the cost of fighting the charge would have been too expensive.
"I was extremely disappointed," he said after the hearing.
"There was no reason for this - there was no destruction or damage to the mangroves or vegetation."
The Vietnam vet said he felt no relief that the matter was finally over.
"This will always grate and, I mean on us - all the veterans," Mr Dwyer said.
"It's the attitude of the (Department of Primary Industries). They have no consideration for the amount of work we've done and what it is being used for.
"It is a free facility for all vets to attend."
Mr Dwyer's supporters packed out the court hearing.
One of his main supporters throughout the ordeal has been Burnett MP Rob Messenger, who said the charge against Mr Dwyer was "disgusting".
"The whole weight of the government's environmental legal department was thrown at a returned serviceman who stabilised a riverbank so that a fellow vet in a wheelchair could access a retreat for Vietnam veterans," Mr Messenger said.
"The hypocrisy of the government's actions is breathtaking."