Protest at push to privatise Hinterland

By Sonia Isaacs

Community demands greater transparency

Hinterland Quarry Action Group (HQAG) is calling for heads to roll after the Sunshine Coast Council has refused to adequately address community concerns around a push to privatise two Hinterland Quarries. In a shock move, Hinterland residents were left outraged that Council has decided to forge ahead with plans to seek commercial Expressions of Interest (EOI) for management of both Dulong and Image Flat Quarry; despite repeated requests for further clarity around numerous community raised issues.

These concerns include questions asked around perceived planning and zoning anomalies, and right to operate/permit transfer issues. Community advocates say they have been left devastated and disappointed that there has been no attempt by Council to respond satisfactorily or meaningfully to a detailed 27-page written community submission; and are now calling for the community to call their local councillors to account.

Council released the EOI just after midnight on September 8 after advising the community in an email at 4.19pm that same day. The response in the email from Council confirmed that issues raised in the community submission had been further considered “however having considered the implications for the whole of the Sunshine Coast Community, Council would proceed with the EOI process.”

President of Hinterland Quarry Action Group (HQAG), Anne Veivers, said the timing of this communication and the midnight release ensured the community had no opportunity to respond.

“The community continues to feel shut out, silenced and not heard. The community requests meaningful and demonstrated accountability that fully meets the information needs of the impacted community. Council’s decision to seemingly hurriedly release the EOI without having addressed points raised by the community is of enormous concern,” Ms Veivers said.

Since the EOI release protest signs have gone up throughout the hinterland revealing local anger at the Mayor, and the nine Councillors who voted in favour of this proposal.

Division 5 Councillor, Winston Johnston, said the reality was the Quarry privatisation decision was a whole of Council issue rather than a divisional one.

“I am confident that if a contract be awarded, then a number of the community concerns will be addressed within the contract conditions,” explained Cr. Johnston