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The Macleay Island Foreshore



Redland City Councillor Lance Hewlett has dug himself into a hole over the decision by Redland City Council to proceed with the $6 million Macleay Foreshore project.

Council at a recent meeting decided to approve the project, with the State providing funding for the recreational boat ramp with work to start this financial year.

Council passed the project narrowly 5-4 with councillors Edwards, Alan Beard, Murray Elliott , Paul Gleeson and Mayor Karen Williams voting for the resolution and Cr Hewlett declaring himself in voting against the project along with fellow councillors Boglary, Ogilvie, Hewlett and Bishop voting against and Crs Talty and Hardman absent from the meeting.

The Friendly Bay Islander reported in our June issue: "Cr Lance Hewlitt argued that council should not have to pay for the entombment of the asbestos on the site nor the provision of the extra parking and, as such, 'no work should be done'."

On publication of that story, Cr Hewlett contacted the Friendly Bay Islander with the following: "Just to clarify the story on page 4 of your June edition of the Friendly Bay Islander, "Macleay Foreshore", I did not say or imply that "no work should be done" as I believe it is vitally important that the capping of the asbestos be completed as soon as possible. I simply wanted clarification on why Council was funding work being done in a " marine park" as these areas are usually managed and controlled by the State Government.

"At the General Meeting, in my opinion, I was not provided with a convincing enough reason to support Council funding the project," Cr Hewlett said in an email to us.

We again contacted Cr Hewlett where he further explained his reasons for opposing the project.

He stated that the asbestos was 'in the waters of Moreton Bay' and therefore should be a matter for the State Government'.

We pointed out to Cr Hewlett that the asbestos in question was not 'in the waters of Moreton Bay' but, in fact, over much of the site where the car park and slipway are being built, all above the high water mark.

He seemed surprised when we also explained that the asbestos came from a building that was owned via a purchase by Redland City Council, making the matter a local council issue.

We then asked Cr Hewlett to confirm on how he voted on the Macleay Foreshore redevelopment. He admitted he voted against the project.

In an another email to us, Cr Hewlett claims "Yet again, you misrepresent me. I said I requested further information from officers, concerning the asbestos, and that it was not forthcoming".

He said no such thing in our phone conversations.

If Cr Hewlett's claim here is accurate and that he sought 'further information' from officers, it points to a neglect of council duty.

The Friendly Bay Islander cannot verify that a request was made to council officers re his lack of information about the project and the asbestos issue.

However, all Cr Hewlett had to do was to read the reports that were in front of him at both council meetings.

In the reports, councillors were well informed of the nature and the solution to the asbestos problem.

The reports, which are on the council website, more than adequately identify the location of the asbestos and the entombing process planned to alleviate the problem that will come via the construction process of the new slipway and the construction of the new car park area to the Median High Water mark on the Macleay waterfront.

This information was in reports to council and councillors on Wednesday 6th November 2013, and again as recently at the meeting of council when the decision to proceed with the project to the Median High Water Mark was made.

At the November meeting, the decision to support the project was 'unanimous'.

It was only when the outright decision was made at the May meeting that the project was supported 5-4, with Cr Hewlett voting against for his stated reasons here.

The Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience have a Councillors Resource Kit and Councillor Handbook.

On page 34 of that booklet, that should be the 'bible' of all Local Government councillors, it says: "It is important that councillors allow adequate time to read all the agenda, reports and other business papers for the meeting."

It also says: "if more information is needed to help inform their view, and contact the CEO or mayor for assistance before the meeting if required.

"Setting aside sufficient time to prepare for the meeting, obtaining additional information (where required) and consulting with stakeholders within the community are essential."

Clearly Cr Hewlett has not carried out the research or read the reports that were in front of him to vote on this issue.

Instead of pointing the finger and blaming others for his lack of knowledge and research, he should take a good look in the mirror.

Cr Hewlett did not say whether he would have changed his vote had he properly researched the matter prior to making such an emphatic anti-island stance at council.

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