The circus came to town last week with some comical performances in both the community and the council chambers. Few of us were entertained.
Words like transparency and consultation were tossed around like popcorn, even as some of those using them ignored their own advice as they urged Councillors to cancel the long-running oyster reef project designed to cement our reputation for environmental excellence.
We know that some members within the ‘business’ groups that entered this political fight were not happy as they began to ask whether it’s appropriate to be involved in attacking a project aimed at restoring our river’s health. Some told us they have been misrepresented and wanted to distance themselves from their organisation’s public stance.
And yet it was stated at last week’s council meeting that ‘more than 1,100 Noosa businesses or individuals’ supported what was sent in their names. Really?
The performances of some in the community were just a warm-up for the show to come in the Pelican Street Council Chambers.
After a minority of Councillors tried and failed to gain support to dump the oyster reef project, they had a series of amendments ready to throw – like banana skins – in front of the project. And out came those high-falutin buzz words again.
Despite extensive previous consultation, they said the project should be put on hold while we have consultation – again. Even though the project complies with the community’s future vision contained in the Town Plan, and with Council policies informed by the Plan and other inputs like the recent liveability study.
Did the same councillors demand this level of community consultation when they decided earlier this year to spend ratepayers’ funds on community housing? Of course not, they had no policy, no plans, just a knee-jerk reaction to deflect criticism. In fact, they have already allocated some of next financial year’s rate money to spend on housing. Again, without consultation.
Then of course there’s a word we hear too frequently these days – transparency. It’s been weaponised of late. Most frequently used to oppose or create doubt when there is no valid argument.
Every circus has a ringmaster, and last week’s circus is no exception. Let’s have some disclosure and transparency from those orchestrating this very political and coordinated campaign.
For most of us this show had little to recommend it.
It will have diminished Noosa’s reputation, particularly with scientists, philanthropic organisations and individuals, other levels of government and with universities.
And the ultimate loser, if this continues, will be the Noosa environment…by far the most important liveability element for Noosa residents in the recent Noosa Shire Liveability Survey. Now that was consultation.