Remember Grasstree Court, a stain on Noosa’s name

The lost battle of Grasstree Court.  For many locals it will define Noosa in 2023.  

A place with a grand history and reputation for environmental protection, but one that can be tarnished by poor decisions and a lack of genuine political will.

This week, as large machines began to wipe out an important habitat for the threatened Glossy Black cockatoos at Sunrise Beach for another expensive ‘cookie-cutter’ estate of retirement homes that in 2023 Noosa doesn’t really need, there was palpable anger and frustration. 

This video from the site can only be viewed with sadness. 

Yes, the protesters said, we understand the story about the deal being done in 2011 by the amalgamated, developer-friendly, Sunshine Coast Council.  But our own Noosa Council also missed its opportunity to act.

The State Government slammed the door on the final sliver of hope this week after Noosa MP Sandy Bolton asked why they had not used their power to intervene using an interim conservation order.

The Government’s response was that there were other potential food trees on other land nearby, an answer that rang hollow for those who understand just how selective the threatened birds are in their eating habits and their choice of which trees they prefer.  

Here in Noosa Matters, retired Barrister and PBCA President Barry Cotterell has repeatedly pointed to the moments when Noosa Council could have acted.   

Last week’s protest at Grasstree Court

The most obvious came in 2017, six years after the developers had been given the green light to fill what they claimed was an important and urgent need.

Common sense suggests at that time our elected Councillors should have decided the issue, but instead a council planning officer – with delegated powers – waived through the extension, and we have nothing to show whether he asked the developers to explain why they had done nothing for six years and why they deserved more time.

This week, veteran planner and Councillor Brian Stockwell referred to this “sliding door” moment in Noosa Today and said “I do think, in the future, Councillors should be making decisions like this.”

Meanwhile, BlueCare has stepped up its local advertising in an attempt to patch this stain on its social license that makes the ‘not for profit’ group look much the same as any other developer.

Try not to laugh (or groan) at the way BlueCare is selling its new 2023 branding, “bolder, more human, Blue hearted – just like us”.  

Local government is a complex balancing act. There is the prevailing power of state legislation, the need to keep the promises built into each planning scheme, and – here’s the tricky bit – the need for every Council employee to be broadly guided by the demonstrated values of our Mayor and Councillors. 

It will be another six years before 12 year old Spencer Hitchen gets his chance to elect the Councillors and Mayor he considers are equipped to plan for the Noosa he wants to live in.  The rest of us get that opportunity next March.

Spencer Hitchen with his mum Maxine

And a personal post script.  It’s five years since I made this video on the fight to save the local Glossy Blacks, viewed on social media by more than 30,000 people.  I filmed it with a sense of optimism for these endangered birds on our doorstep, optimism that is now difficult to sustain.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Black Tail Cocks
    Hi Ric
    I have been a member of Noosa Uniting for over 30 years and we used to meet in the school yard in sun, wind and rain
    No one objected when we built the church and we have looked after the birds all this time
    We shall not desert them still
    Please give us peace
    Dr Michael Harker

  2. Avatar

    Being a new rate paying resident, this decision made by the council makes me feel terrible disappointment in the Noosa Council and our Qld Government. With this display of greed and lack of care for the residents and the flora and fauna, I fear for the planned development on our beautiful Cooloola National Park – they are allowing the destruction of places that should remain sacred and undeveloped.

  3. Avatar

    I despair for Noosa’s Natural environment and tireless workers endeavouring to protect it, with our Noosa Shire Council Mayor and her lack of leadership, employing uneducated and uncaring staff regarding our precious environment and threatened species. Thank you to the conservation committment of Brian Stockwell and other Councillors doing their utmost to protect our threatened environment and species from greedy developers and inadequate laws.

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