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EDITORIAL SEPTEMBER 2022

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT AT COUNCIL; A CONTINUING ‘BLOCKAGE’ TO ISLAND PROGRESS!

Most people are unaware of who is really responsible for what, and who gets to make decisions in relation to our islands. If you want to ‘blame’ someone for something, the first port of call is usually always ‘the council’. ‘Our council has done this, or not done that’, is often a popular refrain. And when people ‘complain’ publicly, they invariably don’t research their subject correctly. Blame, then, often gets directed to the the ‘wrong’ public utility or organisation. And when the council is to blame, the next area blamed, is usually the ‘council’, often meaning ‘the councillors’. What many people are not aware of is that over the past few years, the State Government has been ‘eroding’ the power of the actual council; by that we mean those councillors who sit around our council table. Many wrongly believe that ‘our councillors’ are responsible for just about everything. They are not. In fact, the power of a councillor is extremely limited. The only power they really have is that they can move a motion to the overall council for approval. OR, they can vote on other motions that are put before the council-as-a-whole that can relate to new policy directions and other matters. And that’s it. And when it comes to ‘implementation’ that is passed onto council officers and staff by way of the Chief Executive Officer. So when you want a pothole filled or an issue addressed, you have to ‘find’ that area of council responsible and lodge your complaint or issue, not to your divisional councillor. It also highlights another issue. The State Government has ‘regulated’ that council staff can ‘by-pass’ the council itself and divisional councillors (who might be directly effected) and introduce policy without consultation directly with the community. And this is what has happened in the case of the ‘plumbing decision’ that is still impacting house and design approvals on our islands and, now right throughout the Redlands Coast. Plenty of evidence has been forthcoming that the decision by the council staff, without referral to the elected representatives, is waste of time and negatively impacts the future of home design on our islands and in Redlands’ rural areas that have septic sewage systems. Deputy Mayor Cr Julie Talty says she is going go implement a ‘notice of motion’ that can overrule the decision from the plumbing staff, but has been waylaid by staff which have indicated they will make their decision the subject of a ‘workshop’ with councillors, but say that Covid and ‘staff health issues’ have delayed that process. Another involves the Botanical Gardens project for Russell Island. The Bay Islands Conservation group has been ‘ready top proceed’ with the project for the past two years, but has been totally frustrated by the council section responsible for the final approvals and lease negotiations with the Queensland State Government for the site involved. Making a decision seems to beyond their comprehension given that the approvals are not much more than for a fence and a shed at this stage on the Botanical Gardens site.