A BRIGHTER FUTURE COULD BE ON THE HORIZON FOR OUR ISLANDS
A bright future could be on the horizon for our islands if a future report from Councillor Mark Edwards can be taken as a guide.
The councillor has produced a document based on the forthcoming 2017-18 budget that becomes a reality in the new financial year starting July 1.
In looking to the future, he has taken a look at the past; which has revealed some interesting information.
Whilst land is designated on our islands for industrial development, why has it not happened?
He has discovered previous council and State Government policy have been major contributors and have worked against the islands, which have a vastly different real estate market to the mainland.
He also reveals that Redland City Council is seeking a strategic partnership with the CSIRO to look at future opportunities for our islands.
So much so, that a CSIRO study unit could be looking at long term engagement with our islands.
Where this has happened in the past throughout Australia, good things have followed.
The CSIRO has on many occasions gone into partnership with business and government bodies to develop some great solutions and concepts.
If the current negotiations progress, the goal will be for one of the world’s great scientific bodies to put its expertise into developing a ‘future blueprint’ for all our islands.
Apparently, it will be about delivering ‘on the ground’ solutions.
Whilst it is yet to be determined, Cr Edwards says some of the areas for study and development could include health services, education, waster transfer management and more, or, hopefully, some totally new outcomes.
Economic development, however, will need a greater buy-in from Council, particularly where there is a real need to build on island jobs and business services that deliver for the islands community.
The FBI has spoken to several commercial and industrial land property owners about why they have not committed to building island business.
The consistent response is the cost of council application fees and infrastructure development fees which in all cases make the development unviable.
Council needs to review its current stance in relation to contributions for development projects on the islands.
Mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisasale, hit the nail on the head when he visited the island for a seminar at our invitation (the FBI) about three years ago.
He said at the time it was ‘ludicrous’ to impose such impost on development, prior to the project being built.
“Make it easy for industrial development and jobs to occur, and get it back in other ways at a later date,” he declared.
He was dead right.‘Contributions’ are so high that it is impossible for island investors to obtain any advantages in trying to establish a business in any would-be industrial park or commercial development.
That is why no blocks available for industrial development, and very few for commercial development, have resulted in projects or new island industrial business.
The FBI knows that there is a good deal of support from many Councillors seeking the advancement of the islands.
They must know that every employment opportunity on the islands reduces the infrastructure pressure on the mainland, and improves the resilience on the islands.
So perhaps a first step is to declare an economic development zone for the islands, with reduced fees and incentives.It would be a great start.
Clearly the signs are good, but whether council is prepared to go that extra step, remains to be seen. We hope Redland City Council is up to the task.
TIME N TIDE JUNE
TELSTRA IN CRISIS
When it comes to communications on our islands, again we are getting the raw end of the stick! In recent weeks, the Telstra signal, particularly to Russell Island, has been getting worse and worse. Post Office, taxis, general business, ATM’s have been literally cut off for nearly half the week. That can mean no money for food for many. It is becoming a huge crisis. Pleas to Telstra are failing on deaf ears. That’s because they have sold the network hardware to the NBN. And, as many will know from our previous stories, we have now been downgraded to near the bottom of the list to get the NBN here by 2019, and you can bet that date will drift out. The problem is, since the island went digital last year, the wheels have been falling off. That’s because the Telstra tower on Russell Island is on overload. And because they have ‘passed the buck’ Telstra have thrown their hands in the air. ‘You will just have to wait until the NBN gets here’, they have told island customers with ADSL problems. The Telstra mobile problems from congestion on the sole tower, could be relieved later in the year if a planned additional tower to share the load, is built on the southern end of Russell Island. There will be more about this in our July edition with a special feature.
RAFAEL NADAL GIVES NEW TENNIS CLUB ‘THUMBS UP’
It seems one of the great tennis players in recent times, Rafael Nadal, is supportive of the new Russell Island Junior Tennis Club. The new club kicks off with a sign on day on Saturday, June 10 at the largely unused tennis courts at the Russell Island Sports Complex. Nadal used instagram or something like that, to give a ‘thumbs up’ to the fledgling group. All they need to do now is to get him to come and make a personal appearance next time he is in Australia - that was in jest, by the way; but sometimes you just never know!
ISLAND FIRE BRIGADE INFO
Macleay Island deputy chief fire officer Guy Hickey advises that Volunteer Fire Brigades on the Bay Islands are quite different to the normal Rural Brigades. Most notably, 64% of call outs last year were for QAS assist. Over half a dozen of those involved the application of advanced life support and CPR, often involving life and death situations. The Macleay group is frequently used to assist with lifting patients and patient transport. This is necessary because there is only one paramedic on duty (Macleay and Russell) at any one time. When called out to an incident requiring extensive hands-on, they call the Brigade for assistance. In the case of a cardiac arrest for example, which occurred recently, once the brigade members arrive, they are able to take over the CPR, leaving the paramedic free to administer life saving drugs and provide more advanced care. In the case of the paramedic being off island, the brigade will attend and apply advanced life support within the capability of their training (whilst being in contact with QAS by phone), until a paramedic can attend. Pretty handy group we have on our islands!