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A Right Royal Waste Of Time

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The media event was held on the corner of Earl and Prince streets at Memerambi ... and it was a right royal waste of time

March 14, 2017

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.

Former Greens candidate Grant Newson with two colleagues ... Grant possibly organised the One Nation event although he refused to say one way or another; he certainly promoted it on his multiple Facebook pages

A small group of Memerambi Estate owners talks to Channel 9 reporter Tessa Hardy as Grant Newson watches on

Channel 9's Tess Hardy, second from left, walks with the group of owners as the thunderstorm looms

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5 Responses to A Right Royal Waste Of Time

  1. "An annoyed local"

    To the Memerambi investors who bought “sight unseen”, it would be rude of us locals to point out your folly in hindsight, however, the best outcome has been achieved by Council on your behalf (and us remaining ratepayers)!
    We all accept that those who funded the building of these homes allowed themselves to be ripped off. We also feel for those innocent home owners who live in the older part of Memerambi this eyesore backs onto.
    To the owner seeking compensation… “from who?” … the developer I hope, not ratepayers? Further note to any aspiring politician or out-of-area media – If the names mentioned in this article pop up in your Inbox, Facebook or phone message, do yourself (and the South Burnett generally) a favour, don’t take their bait!

  2. Compensation? For believing everything a property spruiker tells you? Generally, getting ahead is by hard work and doing your own background checks. People who sell property developments etc are not regulated by any overarching body. Always talk to your accountant or financial advisor. If you are pressured to sign today, ask yourself WHY?

  3. Maryanne

    Andrew, you make out that the Council have done us a favour by getting us out of the poo so this estate can go ahead. Well, don’t forget that us investors have to come up with half of the infrastructure money and basically were coerced into signing a contract ensuring that we would not seek compensation from the council.

    The compensation these investors (and I’m not one of them) are seeking is from the financial advisers Members Alliance that promoted this development fiasco.

    This whole mess would never have happened if the South Burnett Shire President at the time approved Summit View Meritor to go ahead and start developing before the infrastructure had been done. Yes, we should have done more homework however not so easy when your 4469 km away. Too many behind-the-door handshakes all round for my liking.

    • News Desk

      Without the South Burnett Regional Council intervening, Maryanne, you may well have just ended up with a semi-built house that you could do nothing with. That would have been a 100% loss on your initial investment.

      There have been no winners at Memerambi – the Council, South Burnett ratepayers, other Memerambi residents, or the investors like you who bought into the Memerambi Estate from afar.

      However, surely the current result is the best for everyone, considering the circumstances? Obviously, the investors have to pay out more – spread over a long period – but they end up with a house they can sell, rent out or live in. And other South Burnett ratepayers don’t have to incur any more costs.

      The infrastructure decision was a whole-of-council vote on a motion recommended by Council staff – not just a decision by the then-Mayor (“President”); we don’t believe there was any indication at this point that the developer was going to fail; 20/20 hindsight is a marvellous thing. However, if you have any evidence of “behind-the-door handshakes”, we’d love to hear about it.

  4. Andrew

    Maryanne, I do think the council has done the Memerambi estate owners a favour. It is a hard lesson for the investors burnt. The underlying problem is that property can be spruiked by anyone and unfortunately, as far as I am aware, there is very little room for recourse. The council is a victim along with the investors, sub-contractors, long-time Memerambi residents etc etc. Hopefully in 5 years the estate will look the way it should, lived-in homes, manicured lawns, swings, gardens and so on. A long-term chance for investors to get some funds back through rent and/or higher-than-current values for their houses. I think the political aspirants involved in the latest sensation have used the duped investors for their own purposes.

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