February 27, 2019
The South Burnett will get a new fishing competition this year despite concerns it might undermine already successful events run by community groups.
At February’s meeting, Councillors debated a proposal to commit $10,000 towards sponsoring a new “Festival Of The Dams” fishing competition to be run at Lake Boondooma.
The event would be run by “Fishing Freshwater” on May 18-19 and would cater to all ages.
Competitors would catch, photograph and release fish to be in the running for prizes.
Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff said both the Boondooma and Bjelke-Petersen Dam fishing stocking associations had expressed concerns to her that a new competition at the dam could affect their own successful events.
The Boondooma Dam Yellowbelly Fishing Competition, which has been run by the Boondooma Fishing Stocking Association each February for the past 29 years, attracted 945 entrants and an estimated 2200 campers when it was run on February 9-10.
The BP Dam Fish Stocking Association’s revived Inland Family Fishing Classic also attracted large numbers of entrants last October after a six-year break.
Cr Duff said she did not think running fishing competitions was part of Council’s core business, and more community consultation should be undertaken.
“I have been told by both these groups that instead of getting more people to the dams, this festival may undermine their own festivals – and that was brought to my attention loud and clear at this year’s Boondooma Fishing Competition,” Cr Duff said.
“I just can’t let this go without bringing this to everyone’s attention.”
“Thank you Cr Duff, I’ll take that as a comment,” Mayor Keith Campbell replied.
“This matter has already been spoken about with both the Boondooma and BP Dam fish stocking associations.”
Cr Terry Fleischfresser said he disagreed with Cr Duff and thought both dams were definitely part of Council’s core business.
As such, Council needed to look at new ways to generate money from them, he said.
Cr Roz Frohloff said she also disagreed with Cr Duff.
“I don’t reckon it’s going to be an issue or detrimental to the fish stocking associations,” Cr Frohloff said.
“As we’re aware, BASS Nation (a professional bass fishing competition) will no longer be on our dams.
“We own those two dams, and by Council getting on board and doing this we’ll see that money come back into Council’s coffers.”
However, Cr Ros Heit also had reservations.
“My concern is that is this setting a bit of a precedent,” Cr Heit said.
“I mean, obviously we want to develop the dams and we want plenty of people to go there. But partnering with a private organisation concerns me.
“Whenever community groups – and we have a lot of them – apply for community funds they have to provide a business plan, they have to supply KPIs, and they have to have a plan for long-term sustainability.
“But to my knowledge we haven’t got any of these sorts of plans.
“So what is the return on investment for ratepayers? And is this the best use of their funds?”
CEO Mark Pitt said there was nothing unusual about Council partnering with private businesses and this happened all the time as a routine part of its operations.
He said there had been extensive discussions with the competition’s organisers for several months, but no final agreement would be drawn up until Councillors voted to proceed or not.
He said one over-arching consideration from Council’s point of view was strengthening relationships between the South Burnett and Somerset regions to promote the two areas as inland fishing destinations.
Council’s investment was limited to sponsorship of the inaugural event, and after it was over there would be a full analysis of the results which would be publicly available.
In addition, Council still had the option to walk away from the deal if it could not negotiate a sponsorship agreement to its satisfaction.
When the issue was put to a vote it was carried 6-1, with Cr Duff opposed.