by Anne Miller
A note on Facebook by former South Burnett Regional Council candidate Caroline Haskard piqued my interest on Sunday.
It was addressed to the Burnett Free Press, which is represented publicly by former mayoral and Greens candidate, Grant Newson.
The post, which was shared also on the Facebook walls of South Burnett Council Watch, Residents Assoc Of Blackbutt & Benarkin (formerly SBRAG), and the Nanango & Districts Regional Alliance Group (formerly SBRAG), read:
If you can spare the time please attend Memerambi Estate meeting this Tuesday – be there by 10.30, a bit earlier if possible. Channel 9 news, a politician or two and some very badly treated home owners will be there. I wonder if representatives from our disgusting, disgraceful, dishonest council will be there? If ever a local government was overdue for an investigation and administration this wouldn’t be a better time or place.
I was intrigued as I believed the Memerambi mess was more or less sorted out (although I know some owners are understandably not happy with paying the levy).
Was there a new problem at this beleaguered housing estate?
On Tuesday morning, I found a small group of Memerambi owners gathered near the corner of Earl and Prince streets inside the estate.
As I approached, a woman told me I wasn’t welcome, to go away and not to take any photos.
I heard the word “council”.
A reporter from another news organisation look bemused as I exchanged “pleasantries” with this woman, telling her that I was not from Council and reminding her that it was a public street.
Mr Newson began fumbling with his phone to tape this as the conversation quickly degenerated.
When it became obvious that none of these owners were willing to talk to me about what the event was about, I walked back to my car.
While I was waiting there to see what was going to happen, local resident Stephen Priestley came up. He was more than keen though to talk about the drainage problems which had plagued the estate, and which, in his opinion, should have meant that it never went ahead in the first place.
These are positions that I hold, too. In fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t actually prefer the agricultural land that was there previously.
When the Channel 9 crew turned up, it quickly became a race between the cameraman and an approaching thunderstorm.
The owners went for a short walk with Channel 9 reporter Tessa Hardy before the storm sent them all scurrying inside one of the unfinished homes.
Needless to say, there was no point in me trying to follow.
As the rain poured down, another figure arrived and hurriedly raced inside. I was later to learn that this was One Nation Queensland leader – and LNP defector – Steve Dickson.
The disgruntled owners may have had something new and interesting to say to Mr Dickson, but I doubt it and now I’ll never know.
The Channel 9 news report on Tuesday night travelled across ground that has been criss-crossed many times before, and it contained nothing new other than Mr Dickson calling for “an inquiry”.
I wonder, does One Nation want the ratepayers of the South Burnett to pick up the bill for the owners’ unlucky investments? I would like to have asked him that.
What a total waste of everyone’s time.