Our Council’s ‘too hard’ basket is getting full

One of the ways we judge our Council is by how it takes on the difficult tasks…the things that are very tempting to tuck away into the ‘too hard’ basket.

Earlier this year Noosa Council responded to criticism about its failure to reinstate the annual bulk waste kerbside collection suspended during Covid, by advising it would be considered in a proposed waste strategy.  This is known as kicking the can down the road, or in this case, the kerb.

A proposed strategy? Council’s 2019/20 Annual Report told us they had ‘Commenced work on a new Waste Strategy to guide responsible waste management over the longer term’. 

That seems to have been binned. Instead Council has skipped directly to a Waste Plan 2023-28 for ‘further community consultation’. 

This screams to the reader “we really don’t want to do this”, part of a determined push to ensure the annual bulk waste kerbside collection is not reinstated. 

Consider the following not-too-subtle messaging.

Let’s quickly break down some of the spin in this ‘info-graphic’.  Yes, we get it. It’s a pig. With a dollar sign. The cost to deliver and dispose of the 2019/20 collection was $303,775 according to staff reporting to Council at the time. There’s no excuse for misleading the community in this way when the report is available on Council’s website. Even if it did cost $500,000 next time, it’s a drop in the bucket of this year’s proposed spend of $18 million on waste services.

Not everyone has ‘bulk rubbish’ to dispose of every year, if they did the task would be much greater. Most of the services Council provides are used by only some ratepayers (“free” buses for instance) so this part of the graphic is also heavily skewed to influence the decision making process.

Next, as environmental stalwarts like Councillor Joe Jurisevic will tell you, Council frequently reports illegal dumping in the rural area causing environmental damage, and a lot of money is being spent every year as a result. Surely it’s better for costs and the environment if this is collected from the roadside once a year rather than being dumped in the bush?

And underneath that frowning-face emoji,  850 tonnes sent to landfill may sound like a lot, but it’s insignificant compared to the annual total of 84,000 tonnes in Noosa.  And why not tell us that 227 tonnes of recyclable steel was part of the 2019 collection that was sold to help defray the costs.

The draft Waste Plan is out for ‘further community consultation’ if that’s what you call this.  A cynic might conclude that the original consultation provided some unwelcome truth that resulted in the propaganda campaign now underway. 

Feedback on the ONE thing Council could do to improve waste services showed the annual bulk waste kerbside collection as number 5 in the top 10.   Most people want it.

But with so much spin being applied to what we – and Councillors – are being told, perhaps the community’s views are not making it to the surface.

Anti pokies leadership also goes in the basket

That’s not the only issue in the Council’s ‘too hard’ basket.  You may remember back in May we reported that the current Noosa Council, under Mayor Clare Stewart, has rescinded its membership of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, although there is no record of this being made public, or of Noosa Councillors being either consulted or even informed of the move.

Several Councillors expressed “surprise” that a nationally publicised decision by the former Council was quietly rescinded in this way, “without the opportunity for open discussion and a transparent vote” on such a contentious issue.

The outgoing Mayor, Clare Stewart, told people it was the former Council CEO’s call and she was not aware of the decision.  If this was the case, we would expect that controversial and secret call to be publicly reviewed and voted on by all Councillors.  Instead, this too, is languishing in the ‘too-hard’ basket, along with any anti gambling leadership that may have prevailed in the previous Council. 

But wait there’s more. Much more.

Perhaps the largest single item that now threatens to fill Council’s ‘too hard’ basket is the Destination Management fiasco.

We’ve reported here and here about this drawn-out debacle in discussing and planning the future of Noosa’s development as a tourist destination without alienating the people who actually live here and pay rates.

What’s emerged is a convoluted talk-fest, dominated by ‘business’ voices in Council and by the tourism Industry, with barely even lip service paid to genuine community group consultation. 

We’re told a draft will emerge by year’s end, but of course that is way too late for a Council in caretaker mode leading up to the March elections, and with Councillors determined not to ‘rock the boat’ with an election so close.

Does anyone in our Council remember this from page 12 of the 2018 annual report?

Council and Tourism Noosa worked together to establish a Sustainable Tourism Stakeholder Reference Group.  This brings together approximately 15 different groups from the business, community and environmental sectors to consider challenges associated with how Noosa can manage the success it has achieved in becoming a premier tourism destination.  The Group met three times during 2017/18.

Noosa Council Annual Report 2018

Five years on, it appears Destination Management, one of the defining issues for this Council, will require a ‘too hard’ basket all to itself.  Perhaps we need to form a committee to discuss this too.


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