Bring back strewth!

I was going to have another subtle Matrix reference as the title for this but at the last minute decided against it.

It appears another fan of Strewth! had the same idea as me to get a replacement online, just seems I slightly beat them to it. After exchanging some emails we’ve decided that the “main” site will be administered by them, and that Strewth Reloaded will simply remain as an archive of old posts, and I will focus my attention of bringing back whatever I can dig up from Google.

So from this point forward, please direct your attention, contributions and posts to Bring Back Strewth!

As you will see the creator has put substancial effort into recreating all the councillor pages, as well as keeping things tidy and promising a completely open, yet sensible debate.

All the power to the people! It will be even more difficult to hide the ulgy truths from us than ever before. Stand strong indeed.

Advertisements
Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Red pill.

The public’s hunger for the truth is huge. Another twelve hours and large number of hits, and it’s come to our attention another fan has created another mirror of Strewth. This will be linked shortly, just as soon as we work out how things will work.

Strewth Reloaded is not yet on Google, but as soon as it is, we predict an even higher influx of people seeking the real deal. Thanks of course, to our good friends at the Fraser Coast Chronicle for naming Strewth as they triumphantly crowed from the rooftops that the Fraser Coast’s brief flirtation with open democracy was no more.

Big thanks to those who have contributed and assisted with getting this on the road. Today so far we’re pleased to present an entertaining comment by John Neve.


Germany Calling?

Have just read today’s Fraser Coast Chronicle for the third time. It did not get any better. Every thing the paper claimed about Strewth! can be said about the Chronic in spades. Cannabilistic, secretive, biased, selective, the use of innuendo. Any
objective look at the Chronic would find it guilty of using all of these to misinform it’s readers.
 
If any thing has undermined democracy in this region, it’s the Chronic’s lack of fair and unbiased reporting.
 
I would love an open inquiry into the accuracy of both Strewth! and the Chronic, I know who would get the tick of approval.
 
The Chronic’s editor claims to be a trained, professional journalist, if she is, God help democracy. She puts Lord Haw Haw to shame.
 
John A Neve

Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Welcome to the real world.

What an intriguing twenty four hours. Four hundred hits and many welcome pats on the back later, it appears at least for the time being we have a skeleton of the once great and triumphant source that we were all coming to rely upon, and took for granted.

Firstly I thank those who have emailed and commented throwing their support behind this little project, and in particular those who have made contributions.

I absolutely can’t promise this clone will keep the sheer pace and polish of the original [seems that it’s easier said than done].  I’m no journalist, nor political animal. Just a fan of the original site who was sad to see it go.

Still no news on what happened to the real Strewth, apart from rumors of an email circulating naming a name. Noone is convinced yet though.

To finish off, we have a contribution from Outsider:

This is why we need Strewth back – the following is from the Minutes of the Tiaro Council Meeting.

20.1 Complaint against Cr MacKellar

Moved Cr Long seconded Cr Kelly that in relation to the complaint made against Cr MacKellar Council take the following actions in accordance with the independent report:

1. Alleged intentional provision of misinformation by Cr MacKellar which was relied upon and acted upon by the complainant

a. That Councillors and staff are careful not to confuse or misrepresent discussions with Councillors in informal or operational meetings with decisions made in a properly constituted Council meeting. Further that the Mayor and Chief Executive Officer ensure that all Councillors and staff understand this distinction and act accordingly.

b. That as an intent to misinform the complainant cannot be established and there is no established breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors, no action be taken by Council against Councillor MacKellar in respect to the matter.

c. That Councillor MacKellar consider offering an apology to the complainant for unintentionally giving him incorrect advice.

2. Alleged racial vilification and intimidation

That Councillor MacKellar be issued with a written reprimand for a minor breach of the Tiaro Shire Council Code of Conduct for Councillors section 2.3.2.4 – Standards of personal behaviour

a. Councillors must conduct themselves in a manner which will maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the Council, ensuring that their actions do not detract from the integrity of the Council and avoiding any action which may diminish its standing, authority or dignity.

b. Councillors must demonstrate respect for people, including treating others with dignity and respect and ensuring that neither offence nor embarrassment are caused.

3. Alleged release of confidential information

That the Mayor ensure that all Councillors are aware of their obligations under the Tiaro Shire Council Code of Conduct for Councillors and that they seek to act in accordance with the obligations imposed and the spirit of the code.

Carried 045 – 02 – 08

So why would anyone want to vote for him.

Keep it going Strewth!!!!!

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Secret list? What secret list?

Inside Trader writes:

Latest story NOT to hit the press (i.e. Nancy Bates’s personal election platform for her favourite council candidates – the ChronicallyIll) is the “Secret List”. Apparently Mick Kruger’s campaign lackeys have been handing out a secret list of who HIS wants on his council when HE wins. (Yes that is right not “if” but “when” he wins.)

Anyway, turns out that the principle electoral officer found out about it and has taken action and there is a bit of an investigation. Election material must fit a particular format and be duly authorised etc etc, all of which Mick knew of course as did his campaign manager but not being overly bright they seemed to think it would be easy to keep it a secret. Even funnier is the fact that some of the candidates that thought they were Mick’s mates found out that they were NOT on the list initially (Refer Bob Campbell) and it had to be amended several times to keep the whingers happy as Mick likes to do. Some are still “NOT HAPPY JAN (Mick)!!!” With over 20 years working in council and over 10 years as a councillor, Kruger is very familiar with the laws and ignorance cannot be used as an excuse for flouting the laws on this one.

Also questions starting to be asked about funding of election campaigns, Kruger’s in particular. One of the anomalies in the election process is the declaration of campaign contributions. Developers can make huge contributions to any candidate they want to get elected, all legal and above board. The problem is that we, the voters, cannot find out who is getting funded by who. Not for weeks possibly months at least and by then the election is over and it is too late. There has been a call for all candidates to publicly declare their contributors before the election. How many do this we will have to wait and see. How many do it and do not tell the whole truth, we may have to wait even longer to see. Don’t hold your breath for the ChronicallyIll to do any in depth investigation. Well, at least if the anointed one gets in. Wouldn’t put it past them to do a witch hunt if he doesn’t though.

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 6:01 pm  Comments (2)  

Any information?

Firstly, the person who created this site does not necessarily support/condone/endorse anything posted on this page. This is simply a regurgitation of what we can find, for the benefit of the fans of Strewth!

So, does anyone know what happened? All we know is some time Friday morning the website was deleted from its host, leaving no trace or clues as to what happened.

We’re very keen to bring back a blog on which to discuss the upcoming local government elections.

Any ideas/comments/whispers/legal threats can be directed to strewthreloaded@gmail.com

In the mean time we’ve reposted what we could find on Google’s cache for the reading pleasure of all.

Published in: on March 7, 2008 at 5:35 pm  Comments (8)  

From Google’s cache:

Licence to kill

You could never accuse Strewth! readers and contributors of not having a diversity of opinions.

No sooner had the dust settled on yesterday’s post, which contained such an overt plug for mayoral candidate Bob Chambers that it had the commentariat going into meltdown, than Michael Kennedy  fired in a robust rebuttal which appears below.

He wasn’t on his pat malone, with Redback also joining in to ridicule James Bond’s  glowing reference of the candidate.

Strewth! copped some flak from inside trader for putting Bond’s piece on the main page but as we explained, it commented on three candidates in the election so the main page was appropriate, as is the case with the rebuttals.

While on inside trader, Strewth! wants to acknowledge his/her excellent effort in trolling through the archives to extract snippets of comments relevant to some of the candidates and posting them on the candidates’ pages. My shout, inside trader.

* * *

James Bond – I think not!

Here’s what Michael Kennedy has to say:

James Bond’s inside version of history regarding the ‘Randall gate’ affair as it became known deliberately miscasts what took place and who did what, particularly the role of Bob Chambers.

Here are some facts James Bond neglected to mention:-

1 – The CMC investigated the matter and found no finding against Randall.

2 – The computer in question was a laptop provided to Randall for his personal private use as a Councillor to which he had the only access. Each Councillor was given such a laptop for such purposes. Although Council property these laptops were provided for each Councillors personal use to facilitate their roles as Councillors. These laptops were not subject to Council administration scrutiny or control. Whatever Randall was doing with his laptop at the time breached no rules or policies of the Council at the time. Hence the CMC finding.

3 – A Council employee working for the IT department downloaded information from Randall’s laptop when it was in for repair and made this information available to other staff of Council. WHY? Other staff found this information and made a complaint.

4 – The matter was leaked by staff within Council to the media as CMC investigations are usually confidential unless or until a negative finding is found. Why was this?

5 – The Councillors who had direct handling of this issue were the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. What has Paul Hefferan got to do with it? There were 6 other Councillors on council at the time including 2 who are currently standing for re-election  Belinda McNeven and Bongo Bob. Why are not these Councillors in the same boat as you place Hefferan?

6 – The IT staffer who downloaded the information and made it accessible to all Council staff should have been sacked as such an act was hardly accidental. If a backup of information was needed to reload the operating system software it should have been downloaded to a secure server with limited access. The information downloaded should never have been looked at as it was personal information and none of the IT technician’s business or anyone else’s as the computer was provided for personal use.

7- The head of the IT department should have been held accountable along with the IT staffer but that didn’t happen. Little wonder Mr Chambers lost the confidence of the Councillors, (don’t think any one of them could trust him after that).

8 – Bob Chambers inaction against staff speaks volumes in his idea of how he likes to run a Council.

Your recommendation for Bob Chambers when viewed with what actually transpired is not a recommendation at all. In fact quite the contrary.

* * *

Here’s Redback  on the same topic:

‘I feel that Bob Chambers is the only candidate with the positive track record of honesty, respect and integrity when dealing with Council staff who would be able to achieve this.’

This is ridiculous Bob Chambers is a Yes Man through & through.  Just ask any staff member how glad they were when he left it was only slightly less than the glad feeling when Leigh Bennett left. I do agree that Mark Henderson was a scape goat.

What Hervey Bay needs is someone with guts, who can talk in the public arena and has common sense and a business acumen.  Now that would be a first for Hervey Bay as they have not had that before.

* * *

Strewth! passes a bit of a milestone today with 100,000 hits on the site since we posted our first blog back in September. We’re not crowing about it but pointing out that it wouldn’t have happened were it not for the strong demand from people on the Fraser Coast for some diversity in their information supply and the ability to comment and interact with each other.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on March 4, 2008 at 6:43 am Comments (0)

The kitchen’s getting hotter

With less than two weeks to go, the election debate is hotting up with one Strewth! contributor dredging up the past of mayoral contender John Neve  and another, calling himself James Bond,  giving what appears an insider’s view of events at the Hervey Bay City Council during the time of some of the players in this election campaign. The Neve comment is on his page.  The other comment appears below.

Mayoral candidate Paul Hefferan  has also emailed us an election spiel which you’ll find on his page.

From the wannabe councillors, Strewth! has received a plug from Kevin Smith  (it’s on his page) and a link to his blog.

Smith  writes:
“Dear Strewth!
Thank you for your invitation to interact with your readers.  Being a Councillor in the amalgamated Fraser Coast Regional Council is going to be no easy task.  I am going in with my eyes open, a readiness to roll my sleeves up and get the hard work done and the tough decisions made, with a strong commitment to serve the communities of our great region equitably.  The public faces the tough decision on March 15 – which 10 do they entrust to serve and represent them?
Kind Regards
Kevin Smith”

We’ve also received an interesting comment from milo drink  which has been posted on councillor candidate John Kingston’s  page. Well worth a read.

Last up there’s a contribution from mobility maid  asking why any of the more than 8000 people with disabilities in Hervey Bay should vote for any of the current Hervey Bay councillors seeking re-election.

The links to all the pages and websites and blogs are in the column at right.

Just a short note about contributions from candidates.

All candidate contributions are reproduced as they are sent, without editing or cleaning up of any kind.

This has resulted in criticism of some candidates who, as one commentator said of a council candidate, hadn’t crossed his t’s or dotted his i’s.

Strewth’s! attitude is that candidates’ contributions should be presented as they are sent, warts and all. If they can’t spell or string a sensible sentence together then it’s not our job to do it for them. That way what you see is what you get.

* * *

How to play the blame game

James Bond  writes:

I have watched with interest and growing concern, the debate over Mayoral candidates for the Fraser Coast Regional Council. 

As someone who has been witness at close hand to the conduct and management style of three of the five candidates i.e.  Bob Chambers, Paul Hefferan and Mick Kruger, I feel that I should put the following facts forward for your reader’s information.

During Paul Hefferan’s term as Councillor, Mick Kruger, Paul Hefferan and Mayor Ted were key players in the “blame the staff for everything” culture.  Senior staff were regularly bullied, villified and used as scapegoats for Council mistakes.  Probably the most shameful example of this was the investigation into the Deputy Mayor, Randall McLellan’s downloading of hundreds of pornographic photographs onto his Council laptop computer. 

Ted, Mick and Paul were happy to support their mate Randall’s blatantly inappropriate use of Council property and to blame Council staff for allowing this to happen. The Manager of Council’s IT Department was hounded to such an extent that he resigned and another officer suffered a nervous breakdown.  McLellan remained on Council without any disciplinary action being taken.  Despite mounting pressure on CEO Bob Chambers to resign for reporting this incident to the CMC (a statutory requirement of his job), it took a further 12 months of character assassination before he did so.

Unlike the recent departure of yet another CEO, the resignation of Council staff rarely rates a mention in the press.  However, Ted, Mick and Paul have been responsible for a long list of Council staff resigning due to being constantly harrassed and blamed for poor decisions made by Council.

A more recent example of this is the Wide Bay Water audit debacle, where Council has tried to blame the previous CEO, Mark Henderson, for the commissioning of the audit. Does anyone really believe that the CEO had the authority to commission an audit on Wide Bay Water without a Council resolution?

On March 15th, there will be an opportunity for the Fraser Coast community to get rid of this destructive culture by electing a new Mayor prepared to develop a team approach between Councillors and staff and end the “blame game”. I feel that Bob Chambers is the only candidate with the positive track record of honesty, respect and integrity when dealing with Council staff who would be able to achieve this.

* * *

Still waiting

mobility maid writes:

Why should any of the 8635 people with disabilities in Hervey Bay vote for any of the present Hervey Bay Councillors who want to be re-elected?

On the 5th April 2004 the secretary of the only  non-council aligned  advocacy group in Hervey Bay wrote the following letter to the newly appointed councillors of the 2004 election:

“Dear Councillor,

At their meeting today the members of Access For All Alliance Inc, instructed me to write to you asking that our Executive meet with you to discuss the work that Access For All Alliance Inc is carrying out on behalf of the disabled community of Hervey Bay.   I would appreciate it if you could let me know if Thursday morning at 10.30 am on the 22nd April 2004 would be convenient for you.  I thought that perhaps the meeting could take place in the Council room as this is an accessible venue.”

In four years no answer or communication has been received from any of them with the exception of Trevor McDonald who on the 24th April 2004 telephoned the office to advise them that he had obtained legal advice that he should not talk to the writer as a representative of Access For All Alliance Inc.  He did not answer  a letter asking  who gave him such legal advice.  

Since when has a councillor had to have legal advice as to his ability to accept an invitation to meet with a community group – Trevor – please explain.  

The rest of you – your silence has been deafening over the past 4 years.   We need people who are willing to make the world accessible to people with disabilities, not just to the tourists and councillors who will listen when asked to do so.

* * *

Dobbers corner

The Protege  writes:

Word in the bush is the majority of Woocoo Shire Councillors have folded in the Joe Hill case which was due to be heard next Monday.  The word is moving quickly that only two councillors opposed the cave-in and neither are standing for re-election on March 15.  Several people have told me they are absolutely ropable and will not be voting for any of the candidates from out that way if this information is true (Strewth!  writes: It’s true alright).

Will the payout figure be publicly released and will we ever know how much was spent by council on legal fees?  I would imagine that the Woocoo mayor would not be happy with this outcome as she set out to clear the matter through legal avenues.

‘Tis a shame because we desperately need representatives with the backbone to stand up to wayward beurocrats and serve their communities best interest not that of mates.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on March 3, 2008 at 10:55 am Comments (2)

Hit me with your rhythm stick

As this blog approaches the 100,000 hit mark, the last 24 hours have been phenomenal in the number of people coming to Strewth! hungry for information on the coming election.

The hits have been particularly huge for the individual pages for council and mayoral candidates we put up a few days ago. What a shame the majority of candidates haven’t availed themselves of the offer to submit their details. The offer remains open, candidates.

What we have listed today are two new links to candidates’ websites in the Blogroll column at the right of this page.
The new additions are for councillor candidates Barbara Hovard and Ernie Paussa.
You’ll find Hovard here  and Paussa here.

Elsewhere on Strewth! today we’ve received an email from regular correspondent dibadober telling voters why they shouldn’t vote for Mick Kruger which we’ve pasted into the comments section on Kruger’s page (the link is in the column at right).

There’s also a contribution from Audrey Robb about Gerard O’Connell which Strewth! has attached to the comments on his page.

For something completely different, we have a “local kid done good” story.

While it’s not the usual sort of thing you’d expect to find here, we have a soft spot for “small-town kid makes waves in the big pond” stories.

Here’s a link to a Maryborough girl making headlines in the USA.

Enjoy your weekend.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on March 1, 2008 at 8:37 am Comments (0)

You asked for it, you’ve got it

In response to reader demand, Strewth! is pleased to announce we have created a separate page for each candidate contesting the Fraser Coast Regional Council election.

You’ll find them listed under the Pages banner in the column at right.

A few of them have profiles as submitted to Strewth! but most have no details. What they do have is the capability for readers to leave individual comments about the candidates and put questions to them which, if they read Strewth!, they may feel inclined to answer.

Try to keep to the issues and avoid insults or personal attacks. If they’re too rabid Strewth! will moderate them.

Go for it.

Wide Bay Water is still occupying the minds of some candidates with mayoral contender Paul Hefferan  promising to reveal all if elected.

Hervey Bay councillor Sue Brooks  also has an interesting take on her website on the way the corporation could be managed better by the council.

Also today we’ve put up links in the Blogroll column to two new websites we’ve become aware of by mayoral hopeful Paul Hefferan and council candidate Roger Currie.

* * *

Let the facts decide

Paul Hefferan writes:

The terms of reference for the AEC Group report were approved by Council. The report was accepted by Council without qualification. (Refer the council minutes.) The report highlighted a number of problems and issues in the WBW operation.

The terms of reference for the PricewaterhouseCooper report were set by WBW. This report has not gone to Council and the report is more favorable to WBW.

There is no doubt that there is a degree of unease within the community about WBW. The community is also displeased that Council continues to hide information that should by right be openly available.

I gauge the feedback to me as saying. The people elect the council and that Council has lost control of WBW. Perhaps Council and its leadership are just too weak to handle WBW seems to be part of the perception.

If I am elected as Mayor on March 15 I will be gathering and analysing all the relevant information available on this WBW issue. This information will be made available to the community.

The facts will decide the matter. A decision will be made by the Council in the best interest of the community, and the community will have complete confidence in the decision because the process will be completely open and transparent. 

* * *

Should Wide Bay Water Corporation be a company?

Sue Brooks writes on her website:

I worry that Wide Bay Water Corporation (WBWC) doesn’t come under public scrutiny as easily as it could if it was managed differently by HBCC. This is a very important issue as I prefer government managed organisations to remain very open to public scrutiny. WBWC provides an excellent service to the community and is staffed by very capable and hard working talented people. I want to ensure that their good work provides direct profits for our entire city and that duplicated costs and communication difficulties between WBWC and HBCC, don’t impede on the financial benefits to our entire community. I think at this time the future of WBWC is best left for the new Fraser Coast Regional Council to decide. In saying that I will not personally support continuing the corporation model unless it is proved that this model brings savings and better services to our community.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on February 29, 2008 at 11:07 am Comments (12)

The word is out

Contributors to Strewth! now have to the opportunity to have their writings seen by a far greater audience than just the Fraser Coast.

The Queensland University of Technology, in association with the Local Government Association of Queensland and On Line Opinion, has created a website which monitors blogs from around Queensland covering the local government elections.

Dr Jason Wilson, a research associate with the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT, has contacted Strewth! seeking permission to post a selection of Strewth! contributors on his site, called Queensland Decides and whose address is www.qlddecides.com, to which we’ve agreed.

If Strewth! contributors wish, they can also register with Queensland Decides and post comments directly to them. You’ll also find the link in the Blogroll list at the right of this page.

Strewth! was pleasantly surprised that blogs similar to this one are springing up all over the state as people decide they are no longer satisfied with having their news sanitised and trickle-filtered down to them by an entrenched establishment whose only interest is maintaining the status quo.

“Citizen journalists”, as Dr Wilson calls them, are taking control of the agenda and reversing the flow of information, much to the chagrin of the established powers who are seeing their positions being undermined and eroded.

Since being listed on Queensland Decides, one of these bloggers, based in Cairns, has contacted Strewth! seeking to cross-link. You’ll find the link to Michael Moore’s (that what he calls himself) CairnsBlog.net  – Tales from tropical Queensland here and in the Blogroll list.

It’s a far flashier and better laid out site than Strewth’s! but has drawn a similar reaction from the establishment with Cairns mayor Kevin Byrne slamming it as: “Highly defamatory and offensive” (Where have we heard that before).

It brings to mind a line from a John Lennon song: “Power to the people – right on.”

* * *

In the rest of today’s edition we have an election pitch from councillor candidate Russell Felton  and a searing commentary on the Wide Bay Water affair from dibadober.

* * *

Why Felton wants your vote

Russell Felton writes:

“My name is russell felton i am running in the upcoming election i just wanted to tell some of your readers a little about my self.

i ran my own business in hervey bay for many years .i am 45 married have three daughters , when devolopers are building new housing estates i will push for them to build playgrounds not just leave parkland we have a lot of young families moving to the region,in hervey bay we need to build the water park a.s.a.p and maryborough maybe run concerts and entertainment in the brolga theatre and other events for our teenage children.

the average age of population in the fraser coast region is becoming younger so we need to look after all age groups,we need devolopment but not at the expense of the enviroment.
the reason i ran for council is i have seen in the past what councils have done and reading some of the running candidates comments. i have a lot of experience in management,budgeting and marketing and will not just rubber stamp approvals i will stand and fight for what i believe in.

i am not going to make any grant promises that i cannot keep and not knowing what work projects are in place by the previous councils some of which can be years in advance,i just hope people don’t vote by the devil we know line of thinking, so thanks for listening”

* * *

Blame game

dibadober writes:

Wide Bay Water CEO Tim Waldron needs to go – NOW!

Mr Waldron I was disgusted by your comments printed in the Fraser Coast Chronicle on the 23rd of February 2008.

I cannot remember ever reading such an extraordinary misrepresentation of fact and circumstances coupled with unsubstantiated allegations to personally vilify a senior local government bureaucrat while simultaneously attacking the motives and ethics of our elected members of Council.

It would appear in your tirade you neglected to remember quite a few relevant facts that if mentioned would have cast a completely different interpretation on what you had to say.

Seeing as you forgot I will do it for you and let the facts speak for themselves.

The financial review conducted by AEC group was authorised by the elected members of Council as part of a sustainability review which was adopted by the Council on the 14th March 2007. WBW’s own rebuttal report acknowledges as fact the elected Council approved the review and its terms of reference.

Let’s look at what you said on this matter Mr Waldron:

“What isn’t out there is someone deliberately commissioned AEC to try and discredit WBW simply because I wouldn’t allow them to take money from water and waste water and use it for other purposes. They deliberately tried to make us look bad because they wanted to take water and waste water money and build a fancy new administration building”.

Well, it’s out there now! The “someone” and the “they” were our elected representatives on Council who very deliberately set the terms of reference on which to assess WBW, which according to Mr Tim Waldron included terms for discrediting WBW for the purposes of taking money for a “fancy new administration building.” OH REALLY?

Let’s look at another relevant fact Mr Waldron overlooked which concerns the discrediting of the AEC report through a WBW commissioned report by PWC.

The rebuttal report, while being made available to all and sundry on WBW Corporation website, was not presented to Council that I can find anywhere in the minutes of Council meetings. Apparently this almighty document containing overwhelming facts and undeniable truths that comprehensively discredit the AEC report beyond any reasonable doubt was not important enough to formally present to Council. WHY?

In fact the Price Waterhouse Coopers report does nothing of a kind in discrediting the AEC review.

The simple fact is the premise used in either report is different to produce different views of the organisation. The AEC report assessed return on Council’s investment based on revenue raised devoid of one-off payments while the PWC report included every source of revenue including developer contributions (one-off) and Government grants (also one off).

The main thrust of the AEC report was when you take the one-off payments out of the picture (like when development slows to a trickle in tight economic times and grants dry up due to reduced project undertakings), the revenue collected is not adequate to maintain reasonable returns to Council. Nothing surprising there.

With respect to duplication of resources and associated costs, PWC used a lot of opinion based on Waldron’s own doctrine to support a contrary view to the AEC position but didn’t address the costs in hard and fast dollar terms while AEC did.

Bottom line – Council accepted the final report by AEC on WBW on the 12th September 2007 with the motion moved by Kruger, seconded by Dalgleish, and carried unanimously by the full Council (yes, Teddy was there too).

The PWC report has never been presented to Council nor accepted by Council so Mr Waldron is making a lot of nothing.

Mr Waldron uses very deliberate language when making his allegations against a senior Council officer in an attempt to imply inappropriate dealings, manner or possible intent with regards to WBW Corporations earnings. Here’s how Mr Waldron opens his Saturday tirade of nonsense (Strewth! writes: It was actually the Chronicle paraphrasing Waldron):

“A senior bureaucrat tried to siphon $3 million from Wide Bay Water and began a campaign to discredit the corporation when he was denied the money. When he couldn’t get it he tried to shut down Wide Bay Water.”

Once again – OH REALLY! Where is the proof for any of this rubbish Mr Waldron. The officer concerned had no way of siphoning moneys from WBW other than what WBW should have been paying Council as required under the charter and financial arrangements put in place by the Council.

As to this senior bureaucrat closing down WBW are you so ignorant of Local Council to understand a single bureaucrat does not have that power to do anything of a kind? Is it your ignorance or paranoia that is driving your irrational behaviour and loose tongue to the point you have now exposed the WBW Corporation to possible litigation by AEC for what looks like a very resounding attack on that organisations reputation and professional ability?

As to you Mr Waldron not hesitating “to sue any troublemakers who were throwing mud at Wide Bay Water and using the discredited report to deliberately mislead the public” is a complete joke. The person doing the mud throwing is you. You have thrown mud at our elected Councillors. You have thrown mud at a senior bureaucrat for simply doing his job with the complete blessing of his board of directors, the Councillors. You have thrown mud at a reputable consultancy firm who produced exactly what the client, our council and your boss, asked for. And then you have the absolute gall to threaten anyone who might wish to comment on an accepted report to Council which highlights your (Strewth! – moderated for legal reasons) as a CEO with being sued by WBW using what really is the community’s money to do so. As I said, a complete joke.

By the way what does a Water Billing Co-ordinator know about WBW’s high finances and corporate structures? Do all your staff from the highest paid managers to the lowest underlings have intimate knowledge of the complete financial workings and dealings of the WBW corporation and a complete understanding of the technical and legal relationships with the Council? WOW! That is impressive.

No wonder each and every one of them felt insulted with a report that had no bearing or comment on their respective performance and abilities. And encouraging your staff to use terms like a***holes when defending the organisation just makes me feel so proud they are associated with the only company I can use for water services and supply. Yep – they did you and themselves real proud, a true reflection of the WBW culture in action.

In all seriousness Mr Waldron the new Regional Council should sack you as its first priority for the disgraceful and cowardly manner in which you have behaved. A point of reference for you Tim – WBW Corporation and Tim Waldron are not one and the same, something the new Council may demonstrate hopefully with extreme haste.

(Strewth! writes – you’ll find Wide Bay Water’s rebuttal of the AEC report and the PWC report here.)

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on February 27, 2008 at 12:38 pm Comments (2)

Look out. Incoming

Phew! Is it safe to stick our head up?

Strewth! has been absolutely flabbergasted by the viperous bile and vitriol spewing out of the Tim Waldron-Nancy Bates-Ted Sorensen axis over the AEC Group review into Wide Bay Water Corporation.

Today was the latest in a four-day onslaught in the Chronicle which has now seen Wide Bay Water staff trotted out defending their jobs, not that anyone was ever critical of them. But when Tiny Tim says jump you don’t ask why but how high.

Strewth! is considering lodging a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over Monday’s Page 3 effort in the Chronicle for not carrying the legally required “Advertising feature” banner across the top of the page.

After all, the only advertisement on the whole page was from Wide Bay Water so at least we know who’s paying for it. Yeah, that’s right, it’s us, the ratepayers.

As pointed out in the comments elsewhere, the response has been a classic search and destroy job – discredit the report and malign anyone who might have been associated with it. On no account address the issues raised therein.

The axis powers would do well to take themselves in check with their demolition job on one of Queensland’s most respected consultancies.

Go here to see the response the AEC Group, authors of the review, have posted on their website.

Much of what Bates has allowed into print could easily be construed by a jury to be injurious to the good name of a respected company and it would not surprise Strewth! if the writs start flying.

If it does happen it’ll cost Australian Provincial Newspapers a lot more than the last defamation action Bates lost.

And so it goes.

* * *

Strewth! has deliberately not posted for the past few days since releasing the AEC review to allow it to be digested without any extraneous clutter on the blog diverting attention from it.

That, of course means that today we have some catching up to do. Among the correspondents today we have Dot  from the Burnett asking why their council isn’t looking after ratepayers there. (Looks like word of our presence is spreading. We may have to put on more staff if this keeps up.)

Then there’s Isaac  telling us why Gerard O’Connell has lost his vote, Urangan’s Concerned Ratepayer  poses more curly questions about the review of Wide Bay Water and Mayoral candidate John Neve tackles the question of regional unemployment and his cure for it.

* * *

Know who your mates are

Here’s what Isaac  has to say but please note, Strewth! has had to moderate some obviously litigious comments (sorry Isaac):

Well another day in politics and some big surprises!

Here I was debating whether Cr Gerard O’Connell was worth voting for. Yes, I know his Number 1 fan is Nancy at the Comical but I didn’t think our Gerard was too bad. That was until yesterday.

On driving into Maryborough late Wednesday what did I spy but a huge colourful billboard extolling the virtues of the one and only great white hope Gerard! Not only was the sign huge in size it automatically smelled of “developer” funding. After all, these signs don’t come cheap!

Now Maryborough Council has a policy on the size, location and quantity (10) of election signs that a candidate can use. Surely a Maryborough councillor as clever as Gerard would know the contents of his own Council policy.

It seems he didn’t. So the billboard was a case of now you see it now you don’t and is there no longer.

I expect someone from Maryborough Council advised Gerard that not only did his billboard breach the size limit but it was also located on the airport land. You guessed it, that is also a huge “no no”.

Did anyone notice the photo in the Comical today. A strategically placed billboard can be clearly seen behind the big fallen gum tree. If that isn’t a blatant case of totally biased reporting and a free plug, I don’t know what is!

Most independent candidates have to part with their hard-earned money to get such exposure.
Now, when I thought things couldn’t get worse for Gerard, I open the Hervey Bay Independent newspaper to spy Gerard’s latest advert. Lo and behold we have the ex Hervey Bay CEO Mr Leigh Bennett extolling Gerard’s many virtues.

Now anyone reading this site will have read a very apt description of (w)hat Mr Bennett made of running Hervey Bay Council. Not forgetting the ample assistance he received from the retiring mayor Ted Sorryson.

Both Mr Henderson (got rid of for exposing the mess) and now Mr David King are still trying to clean up the disasters that they inherited such as an Airport Industrial Estate which was so poorly managed through a joint venture agreement that millions of dollars in potential earnings have been lost to the city.

Whatever you do now Gerard you have lost me forever. I hope that everyone else can now see clearly where you are coming from. I am so glad I realised before the election, and not afterwards, who your mates are!

* * *

Unbelievable if it’s true

Concerned Ratepayer  writes:

I have just read a summary of the report commissioned by council, and done by the AEC Group on the performance of Wide Bay Water.

This was brought to my attention when I read Strewth! and then highlighted after seeing the Mayor of Hervey Bay on  the local TV  news, criticising the report.

This is a report that I believe the current council voted to bury, apart from Sue Brooks, who wanted it published and she should be congratulated for her stand on this matter.

I believe this report was commissioned by council using ratepayer funds, and the Chronicle on Friday  stated it had cost $55,000 to have it prepared.

If it is such a poor and inaccurate report, was AEC Group  who prepared it, informed of this  at the time the report was initially tabled, and the fee not paid, or is this only a recent revelation, after the report was brought into the open?

Nancy Bates in her editorial for the Chronicle on 23rd January states that it was discredited by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
If this is so,

a) who engaged them?
b) when were they engaged?
c) how much were they paid?
d) if they were paid, who paid them?

I am not saying this happened, but it is possible to get different results, depending on the parameters laid down.

This report has been  “regurgitated” as Nancy has quoted in her editorial, but only because no-one other than her quoted, so called “intelligent councillors” knew about it, except for an unknown person who believed it would be in the publics’ interest if it was brought into the open.

If it’s our money being spent ($55,000), and the councillors (who are our elected representatives) authorised it, surely we have the right to know where our ratepayers’ money is going and make an informed opinion.

As this  appears to be secret council business that the public was to be kept in the dark about, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all bury anything  we didn’t like in life, especially when others are paying for it.

I once again stress that it was obviously a person in authority who instigated this report on WBWC and if it was faulty when presented the problems should have been addressed, not buried.

It reminds me of school children, who when found out for doing something wrong, simply deny everything.

While not denying the achievements made by WBWC, which have been so well publicised in the Chronicle over the years, and their specialised  water management systems, which are recognised globally, from the report findings, I believe there has to be more accountability in their general management, especially towards council.

I urge everyone to consider your vote carefully when voting in the upcoming elections as I believe it is time that many of the current councillors should step down to make way for those with the expertise required for an expanded council. I  urge the new council to streamline Wide Bay Water and make it more accountable.

After reading the report it is obvious to me that  Wide Bay Water should  be de-corporatised and once again be a business unit of HBCC and the new expanded council and thus reduce its running costs.

The removal of the board and streamlining of duplicated services will help achieve this.

* * *

No five-minute solution

Mayoral candidate John Neve  writes:

Protege’s post (February 22) raises a real problem for the Fraser Coast Region. The answer is not simple and won’t be fixed in five minutes.

The bulk of our employment is either tourist or service industry, we have few large productive industries.

Tourism employs in direct relationship to the number of tourists, local service industries are not only effected by tourism, but being small or one-person shows are forced to drop staff and apprentices as the work drops off. Apprentices will not be picked up by other trades people as they will be in the same position.

Our region needs to take a look at other areas with poor employment options. Cheap industrial land, reduced rates for industry, industrial land opened up close to rail and highway. We need to be looking for light, clean, niche industries.

Council gets no revenue from vacant industrial land, any income is better than no income. So let’s give a little and make the region appealing to new industries.

* * *

Dobbers corner

Dot  from the Burnett writes:

Duffy and his mates in council also managed to get boat ramp funding for a ramp in Burnett Downs on the north side of Burnett River – without community consultation.  The roads to it through the residential estate are already a mess and council claims not to be able to afford upkeep, but can afford to build the new car park for the boaties. Was there ever an EPA check?  Who knows?

* * *

Darren Edmonds  Writes that there’s raw sewage in Eli Creek at Point Vernon and he has an independently completed scientific report confirming it. Here’s what he has to say (Strewth! write: We’ve also had to moderate some of Edmonds’ comments):

Pease give my phone number to Bob Chambers, Ernie Pulsor , John Horrex, Paul Hefferran and John Neve.

Mick Kruger in my opinion is a dead wood branch from the dead wood tree.

My phone number for who would like to be the next Mayor is 07 41243415 m 0419984149.

This report has the support and backing of ACTEW in Canberra and I have photos of coral reefs before and after as well.

The report has been duplicated and sent to every embassy in Canberra so every country knows that Tim Waldron doesn’t practice what he preaches.

Both newspapers have been informed and neither want to do a story on it as Wide Bay Water simply pays them too much money.

Haley from the Chronicle stated that there is no way Nancy would appove this story – I don’t hate Haley – I hate her boss.

* * *

I. Scream  writes:

I recently read that the Fraser Coast Local Transition CEO, said words to the effect that the Executive members would not be getting pay rises to go with their new positions.

I have heard rumours that at least one of these directors etc has already received courtesy of ex HBCC CEO Henderson, a massive salary increase of up to 50% equating to an increase of $50,000.00 per year. If true, not bad for someone with very little formal qualifications.

* * *

A. Nonymous  writes:
Maybe the investigative powers of Strewth! can uncover the vast amounts of property acquired by a soon to be redundant Tiaro Big Wig , who then, in their lofty position, zoned the said land commercial/industrial. Insider trading by any other mans language.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on February 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm Comments (23)

The dirty, little secret’s out

The confidential review of Wide Bay Water Corporation, that was buried by the Hervey Bay City Council and cost the job of the  Chief Executive Officer who commissioned it, has found  the water utility is costing ratepayers up to $4 million a year in duplicated services and that the council has become a “rubber stamp” for its operations.

Furthermore, rather than the promised rich dividends it was supposed to pay the council, WBWC has never come even close to the returns outlined in its corporate charter and has performed so poorly that it is returning only about half of what it was supposed to and will fall even further behind over the life of its financial plan..

What dividend it is paying, the review by the independent AEC Group found, is sourced almost solely from contributions provided by developers, placing the council in serious financial jeopardy in the event of a development downturn.

“Council has been, and will continue to be into the foreseeable future, heavily reliant on these payments as a funding source for general operations in its annual budget, which poses a significant risk in the event WBWC is unable to sustain the current payment levels,” the review states.

To put it on a safer financial footing, the review says water rates would have to be increased by 74% before the end of June.

That the council finds itself in this parlous position is blamed on Hervey Bay City councillors who appear to have let WBWC run unmonitored and uncontrolled. The findings on this are damning:

“In undertaking this review, it became apparent that Council, as a shareholder of WBWC, has had little input into the strategic direction of WBWC beyond some initial direction at formation. Annual statements of corporate intent seem to have been ‘rubber stamped’ by Council without proper interrogation and negotiation, and appropriate review of performance and revision of key performance indicators.

“Council as owner of the business has probably not appropriately performed shareholder/monitoring role specifically identified in the Act …”

Since corporatisation, WBWC has achieved an average annual rate of return of 3.8% compared with a benchmark of 6.8%. Over the life of its financial plan, that return will fall to 2.4% .

The review, a copy of which can be downloaded  as a 1mb executive summary here

wbwc-exec-summary.pdf

or the 8mb full report here,

wbwc-full-report.pdf

says that WBWC’s inability to reach its target dividend return means it was in breach of its legislative requirements.

To achieve the target, the review says, it would have to raise water charges, already among the highest in the state, by a massive 74% this financial year. Sewerage charges would have to go up by 12%

This equates to the base water charge of $266 increasing to $466 and the sewerage charge from $501 to $578.

Wide Bay Water Corporation was commercialised as a business unit of the Hervey Bay City Council on July 1, 1998, as a paper shuffling exercise to shift debt from the council into Wide Bay Water so that the council could increase its borrowings beyond its statutory limits.

It cost ratepayers more than $140 million to set it up and is still costing an additional $4 million a year through duplication of staff and resources, which is equivalent to between $75 and  $150 per annum impost per property.

One area singled out in the review is the board of directors, which annually costs $140,000 to maintain. Because of corporatisation, having a board of directors is unavoidable. Had WBWC remained a business unit, as it had been, there would have been no need for a board.

This is the board which in 2006 approved a 12% across-the-board pay rise for WBWC staff, leading to grumblings from Hervey Bay City Council staff, who no longer had parity, about receiving a similar generous deal.

Duplication also exists among staff such as executive support and media affairs, positions which also exist within the council.

The review states that up to $2 million annually could be saved by eliminating current corporate service and governance duplication.

Among the options recommended to achieve this is to de-corporatise WBWC and turn it back into a business unit of the council.

Following the AEC Group review’s presentation to councillors in a confidential meeting in September last year, it was swept under the carpet where it has remained until today.

The review is a damning indictment of Hervey Bay councillors’ disgraceful mismanagement of ratepayers’ funds and inability to run the business of council by letting Wide Bay Water Corporation operate with only the most cursory of controls – the “rubber stamp” – and not run very successfully at that.

With the exception of the mayor, Ted Sorensen, who might have had an inkling this issue was going to see the light of day and did a runner before it did, the rest of the councillors – Mick Kruger, Les MucKan, David Dalgleish, Bob Campbell, Trevor McDonald, Belinda McNeven and Sue Brooks – are all asking for people to vote them into the new much larger  regional council, despite failing to demonstrate even  the most basic ability to do their job properly.

Only Brooks retains any shred of credibility because she tried to make the review public but was rebuffed by the others. Even so, someone should have had the courage to blow the whistle but they were all more interested in covering their butts.

It is now also clear why CEO Mark Henderson, who commissioned the review,  was forced out and why a WBWC solicitor was advising the council in its dispute with him.

It will be interesting to see how Maryborough, Tiaro and Woocoo voters and the other councillors seeking re-election react to the revelations contained in the review as none of them would have known what they were inheriting.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on February 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm Comments (18)

They’re on the board

Nominations have closed and the ballot draw has been done for the most important elections in the history of the Fraser Coast.

Emerging from the smoke was a surprisingly modest field of five mayoral contenders and 29 councillor hopefuls.

The big surprise nomination was that of Bob Chambers for mayor.

Chambers is a town planner by profession, a former Hervey Bay City Council Chief Executive Officer and is currently working for the state government as a local government adviser.

Not so surprising is the return of Paul Hefferan, who was a Hervey Bay councillor until he tried to take the mayor’s job from Ted Sorensen at the last election.

Proving he does have a sense of humour, Hefferan, who used to be in real estate, lists his occupation as councillor making Strewth! wonder what he’s been doing the past four years.

Here’s the candidates:

Mayoral Candidates in Ballot Paper order
CHAMBERS, Bob
HORREX, John Julian
HEFFERAN, Paul Francis
NEVE, John A.
KRUGER, Mick

Councillor candidates in Ballot Paper order
McNEVEN, Belinda   
OLUJIC, Richard   
HAWES, Debbie   
FELTON, Russell   
JENSEN, Gary   
BANKS, Brendon Arthur   
O’CONNELL, Gerard Daniel   
CURRIE, Roger Michael   
MACKELLAR, Jim   
CAMPBELL, Bob   
SOUVLIS, Peter   
KINGSTON, John Alan   
DICKSON, Darren   
HARRIS, Linda   
MUCKAN, Les   
PHILIPPI, Walter   
PAUSSA, Ernie   
HANSEN, James   
ARTHUR, Julie Ann   
STEWART, Darryl George   
HOVARD, Barbara   
DALGLEISH, David   
NIOA, Anne   
SMITH, Kevin   
McDONALD, Trevor   
SULLIVAN, Troy   
HUNTER, Allen   
BROOKS, Sue   
KUHN, Shayne

Now that we know who’s running whatever you do don’t miss Wednesday’s Strewth! when we lift the lid on a story that could well affect the outcome of the election. It will be uploaded after high noon.

* * *

Also today we have Michael Kennedy doing a demolition job on Jim MacKellar’s job application for a council spot which was published in yesterday’s Strewth! Ouch.

As well, mayoral candidate John Neve has something to say about the building company collapse.

* * *

Why even bother

Michael  Kennedy  writes:

“Why MacKellar wants your vote.

After reading why I should vote for you I am left wondering why you are even bothering to stand.

You seem to want others to do the work, you don’t understand Council town planning processes, you want change without qualifying how or understanding its ramifications, want my children to pay for councils past failings, ask to be entrusted getting it right second time around, and have the most important concept of local governance backwards.

If you want to know why I came to this conclusion from your own words read below.

1. “The establishment of a fair and equitable system of governance for the Fraser Coast region … follow the example of New Zealand, when it moved from Local to Regional government, and appoint Local Boards in each distinctive area …”

Did I miss something? What are highly paid fulltime Councillors for? Eleven Councillors (including the Mayor) doing their job properly with sensible communication processes put in place (meaning policies for Councillors to interact with the community) should be more than capable of representing the community. If you can’t do the job properly don’t stand!

2. “Devising and implementing a fair and equitable system of revenue raising for Council. The system of rates based on the Unimproved Value of a property is now both unfair and thoroughly discredited …”

This is a can of worms usually opened by ignorance. The reason most Councils use the current system is to ensure the entire community can afford rates.

In Hervey Bay about 50% of rateable properties are on the minimum rate possible. Shifting the method to what you suggest would by its implication raise the rate level of over 50% of properties substantially.

If you want a Council to flat rate rates then be prepared for the majority of ratepayers, many pensioners and young families, to pay much more! Simple fact of number crunching, go and check.

3. “Town Planning Schemes. It is now patently obvious to most Fraser Coast residents that there are substantial problems with the existing Town Planning Schemes which the state government virtually forced onto our existing councils. … it is possible for the council to quickly modify the existing schemes to cover the interim. By the mechanism of Town Planning Policies a council is able to implement changes to its Town Planning Scheme while the actual amendments are being fully processed …”

There are a number of points to your view of the world on this matter readers of Strewth!need to be aware.

Firstly the State government did not force onto Councils the current planning schemes forcing a rush as you try to insinuate. Planning schemes are rewritten every 8 to 10 years and the last was no different in timing. In fact if anyone cares to look at the title of the previous planning scheme for Hervey Bay it was called a Transitional Plan and for good reason. It was a planning scheme to bridge old legislation with the new legislation to give Council’s more time to draft new planning schemes in keeping with new legislation.

Because many councils (not all by the way) were too slack to get on with the job was their own fault and a very sad indictment on the Councillors responsible of which you are one as Tiaro was no better.

The process of developing new planning documents should have started around 2001. Because Councillors in this current term were so tardy in ensuring each plan was done in time by allocating the proper resources to make it happen, time ran out and everything got rushed.

Sounds like your Council Mr MacKeller was no better so why are you going to get it right this time, particularly when you try and blame the state government for your own tardiness?

As to Council changing planning policy for expediency and convenience you seem to be forgetting something. Changes in planning policy require State Government checks and public consultation. A little matter you left out of your quick fix approach or are you unaware of the process after all this time on Council?

4. Financial Responsibility. “Much has been made of the debt that Maryborough and Hervey Bay Councils will bequeath to the new Fraser Coast Regional Council. When considered from a purely business point of view the amount of debt to be carried by the new organization is not a serious problem, but one that will need to be judiciously managed … That is to say that if we build a road with an expected life, with proper maintenance, of 50 years, then it is unfair to expect the rate payers of today to foot the entire bill this year, but the cost should be spread over the ratepayers for several years…

There are potentially two debt issues of Council that are treated quite differently which Mr MacKellar you are either ignorant of, or, are deliberately misconstruing in your simplification of a real problem the new regional Council may face.

Council budgets have two parts each funded differently: Operational Expenditure funded by rates and charges (cannot be directly supported through borrowing); Capital expenditure funded through development charges, grants, and where necessary borrowing (which regardless of what we are told can indeed impede on future rates charges, particularly if development slows while large debts are accumulated).

The first debt issue is that of the operational side of the budget which in theory should never be in deficit but for many councils is the reality after final end of year adjustments (hence part of the amalgamation justification argument).

For example Hervey Bay Council last financial last year ran an operational budget quite a few million in the red. The new regional Council could realistically face its first few years running considerable operational deficit budgets unless it slashes services to balance the books.

You do not at this point in time Mr MacKellar have any real idea as to what the operational costs verses income will be for the first few years. 

This leads to the second issue, capital expenditure spending and how to pay for it. It’s all very well to talk about spreading costs over the next 2 or 3 generations but not when much of what is needed to be built is from past Council’s failing to build what was needed when it was needed.

Quite frankly many Councils have not ensured the recent and current generation of developers have paid their share of infrastructure costs, or worse, failed to spend the money they collected in a timely manner and then wasted it on non-priority projects.

When you talk about pushing payment for past failings onto our children it all gets a bit rich. You sound like a Councillor who will spend and make other Council’s in the future deal with the financial fallout. “Intergenerational debt”  oh please anyone can spend now and make others pay later.

5. Traveston Dam. “The Fraser Coast Regional Council must join with the Gympie Regional Council to be the major driving force in the fight to prevent not only the Traveston Crossing dam but any dam being built in the Mary river system …”

Like many Councillors getting on this bandwagon I simply say this, you should have done more before now when you had the opportunity and timing more on your side. Suddenly you and every other Councillor can for some reason do better now than a few months ago.

Sorry, but as much as I don’t won’t this dam built, entrusting stopping the dam to those who have failed us in the past seems to be a backward step. 

6. Fluoridation of Water – this last point on fluoride falls into the same boat as the dam issue, too little too late!

One last issue is that of your idea on communication, particularly regarding the “Council’s vision”.  If I read what you said correctly you seem to be of the opinion “Council’s vision” is driven by the staff and communicated to the residents. While this has been sadly true with the Hervey Bay Council, that is not how it supposed to work.

The Council’s vision should be a reflection of the community’s vision which is then enacted by the staff through policy developed by Councillors on the community’s behalf. Really – is it all that hard to grasp?”

* * *

The bells are ringing

John Neve writes:

Hi Strewth!
As an avid reader of your site, I can’t refrain from comment. Writings such as “Failed builder’s McDermott link” and “So who’s running this town” have a common theme, which is the ratepayer is the loser.

The warning bells have been ringing for some time, but we choose to ignore them and re-elect the same people over and over again.

Based on the posts to Strewth! this has gone on year after year after year. One or two public spirited people have voiced their opposition and sounded warnings, but by an large we have voted for more of the same.

We are now looking at a $100 million plus business and 90,000 residents over a fairly diverse area. If we don’t get it right this time the past will be perfect compared to our future.

Where you were born, what your religion is, or what code of football you support, has little bearing on ones managerial skills or ones vision for our future.

I love the Wide Bay Region, but believe me, there is a big wide world out there. What we don’t want is inward looking people, we need a wide range of diverse views and ideas, we need to think outside the square.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on February 19, 2008 at 9:15 pm Comments (56)

Let the games begin

Tomorrow the battle for control of the Fraser Coast starts in earnest when we find out who all the candidates are who are running for the new Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Strewth! believes there are quite a few, some well known and some not known at all, who are waiting until the final minutes before lodging their nominations.

We can only hope that they are not more of the same old, same old that we’ve seen put their hands up so far.

Strewth! can’t be certain but we believe ex-Hervey Bay councillor Paul Hefferan may be among the names to go up on the board on Tuesday.

Hefferan hasn’t said as much but he has had a lot to say on this blog about other things related to the council which makes us think he’s taking a position in preparation to running again. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s for mayor or councillor.

In today’s edition, another council hopeful has availed himself of Strewth’s! offer to submit their details.

Jim MacKellar  is currently a councillor with the Tiaro Shire Council. We don’t know too much about him but from comments posted on Strewth! over the past few weeks, he seems to be carrying a bit of controversy with him.

MacKellar’s  spiel is reproduced below and we’re sure it will attract its fair share of commentary.

Also today, Isaac  challenges candidates to come up with more than just motherhood statements and glossy web sites if they are seriously after our votes.

Strewth! agrees that much of what the candidates say is diatribe but criticising them for embracing technology to get their message across we feel is a bit harsh, especially if they include a forum where you can communicate with them.

First up, however, we have mayoral candidate John Neve  with a request:

G’day Strewth!
Just a thought, so voters can make a ready assessment of candidates. Why not a comparison chart, where candidates answers to questions posed are grouped together? As I said, just a thought.
John A Neve

Strewth! writes: Thanks for the suggestion, John. It’s a good idea and we’d love to do it but the WordPress format we’re working in doesn’t have the flexibility to allow us to do that. Any suggestions from the technocrati out there?

* * *

Why MacKellar wants your vote

Jim MacKellar  writes:

“Thank you for your invitation to candidates for the new Fraser Coast Regional Council to make their case via your site and I am pleased to avail myself of your kind offer.

Application for position of Councillor on the Fraser Coast Regional Council – Jim MacKellar

Firstly a short background. I was born and raised on the Fraser Coast before spending 21 years in the Australian Army including 11 months active service.

After retiring from the military I worked in middle management in Queensland’s largest private development company before buying the family business in Bauple which I have recently sold.

In 2004 I was elected to the Tiaro Shire Council. My major achievement as a Councillor has been the 5year Road Improvement Program which we have been able to largely complete in 3 years. This program has delivered a material improvement in standard of living to a large number of the shires residents.

Enough of the past it has gone. The future beckons and it is there we must look. Rather than try to lay out here everything I believe in and all the things I believe we should be doing I will list here some of my top priority issues in some detail.

For those of you who are interested in more information on these or other issues, I am more than willing to spend the time, by this means or other, to answer any questions that you may wish.

My initial priorities as a Fraser Coast Regional Councillor will be –

  1. The establishment of a fair and equitable system of governance for the Fraser Coast region. We have many varied and diverse communities within our region and it is important that every community and every person have an equal opportunity to be heard. To this end I believe that we should follow the example of New Zealand, when it moved from Local to Regional government, and appoint Local Boards in each distinctive area. I think there are 6 such areas in our region:- 1. Hervey Bay urban; 2. Maryborough; 3. Northern Coastal; 4. Western Rural; 5. Southern Rural; and 6. Sandy Strait villages.
    The boards would consist of local community and business leaders and include 2 councillors one of whom would be the chair. The boards would provide Council with information on the conditions in their areas and on the wishes of the people. Council may also direct the board to collect specific information from their areas and request advice as to the prioritization of works from the budget allocation for each area i.e. advice on roadworks priorities.
  2. Devising and implementing a fair and equitable system of revenue raising for Council. The system of rates based on the Unimproved Value of a property is now both unfair and thoroughly discredited.
    The Local Government Act 1993 of the Queensland government gives councils many varied methods by which to raise revenue in a more equitable manner. Through the use of methods such as Special and Separate rates and charges and benefited areas councils are now able to practicably charge each property by the services which are available to it, thus making a system more truly representing the actual cost of supply. This leaves only a small general rate to cover administration and allowances for unforeseen circumstances.
    Yes this is more time consuming and thus more costly to implement, but do we desire a cheap council or one that is fair and efficient.
  3. Town Planning Schemes. It is now patently obvious to most Fraser Coast residents that there are substantial problems with the existing Town Planning Schemes which the state government virtually forced onto our existing councils. It must be a priority of the new council to address these issues.
    While it will take time for the new, single, town plan to be produced and to go through the necessary checks and reviews, it is possible for the council to quickly modify the existing schemes to cover the interim. By the mechanism of Town Planning Policies a council is able to implement changes to its Town Planning Scheme while the actual amendments are being fully processed.
    Further, if the Fraser Coast Regional Council begins the process of producing the new town plan as soon as possible it will not find itself under the time pressures from the state government that were characteristic of the production of the present plans. This will mean that a much more thorough and meaningful public consultation process will be able to be undertaken. It is only through such a thorough process that we will be able to finish with a planning scheme that we can all have some degree of ownership over.
  4. Financial Responsibility. Much has been made of the debt that Maryborough and Hervy Bay Councils will bequeath to the new Fraser Coast Regional Council. When considered from a purely business point of view the amount of debt to be carried by the new organization is not a serious problem, but one that will need to be judiciously managed.
    The only point that has been raised that would cause concern, if it be true, is the matter of monies being borrowed but not expended in the year in which they were obtained. The new council will however, as was revealed in the independent report prepared for the LGAQ, be in a better financial position than Telstra, BHP and most of the other companies included on the ASX200. So it is our borrowing policy into the future that we need to address.
    Borrowing by a public authority should adhere to the principles of cross-generational funding. This means that monies for current expenses must come from current revenue, but funds for capital works which have an expected useful life of many years should be funded over a considerable period of that life. That is to say that if we build a road with an expected life, with proper maintenance, of 50 years, then it is unfair to expect the rate payers of today to foot the entire bill this year, but the cost should be spread over the ratepayers for several years. The one rider to this principle is that it should only be used for the provision of necessary infrastructure and not for ‘nice to have’ projects.
  5. Traveston Dam. The Fraser Coast Regional Council must join with the Gympie Regional Council to be the major driving force in the fight to prevent not only the Traveston Crossing dam but any dam being built in the Mary river system. Dams are a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem. And we can be absolutely sure that once the state government is prevented from building Traveston Crossing they will try to build either the ObiObi creek or Amamoor creek dams or probably both. So we must be prepared to continue the fight until such time as the state comes to realize that the future of water supply lies in technologies such as desalinization and not in the continued looting and raping of our environment.
  6. Fluoridation of Water. The Fraser Coast Regional Council must resist the state governments move to compulsory fluoridation of our water supplies. Wether fluoride is good or bad for our health is irrelevant. This is a democracy, and the people must be consulted before such a step is taken. There must be a referendum of the all those who water supply will be effected to gain their permission to introduce another substance into their supply. If the argument in favour of fluoridation is as strong as we are told it is then the referendum will have no difficulty in being passed. If not then so be it. But the people must decide.

In conclusion, let me say that much has been made in the recent past, especially in the print media, of the need for us to elect councillors who have the capabilities to run a ‘big business’. While I do have those capabilities, I do not believe this should be the principle characteristic we look for in a candidate.

The position of councillor first and foremost requires the skill of communication. The skill of listening to the people of our region, the skill to understand the message they are delivering and then the skill to be able to concisely and clearly communicate this message to the Council and its executive. The reverse is also true in that a councillor needs to be able to understand the communications of the staff, to assess if they will lead to the attaining of the Council’s vision, and then to communicate these matters to the people to gain their feedback and their confidence in the Council and its work.

The principle role of a Councillor is as a conduit of communication because the council is not an independent business. It exists only to carry out the wishes of the people of the Fraser Coast Region.”

* * *

The last word

Isaac  writes:

“What The? or “how to write a lot without actually saying much”!
I read with interest Gary Jensen’s response to “Fruitfly’s” dot points. It certainly shows a background in the Public Service, with a lot of “govspeak” and little real substance.

After reading it I am no wiser on where Gary stands or what his ideas are. All I gathered from this post was that he is confident enough to make the statement  “I am not on council till after 15 March 2008″. I assume this was a slip of the keyboard, and hope that it is not confidence borne from some dubious arrangements with the local press and/or developers as appears to be the case with some of the more high profile candidates.

As for the glossy websites and the perceived professionalism associated with having one, this response is a good example of why voters should look behind the facade of flashy websites, flyers, etc., before they make their decision.

As for “That Guy’s” comments suggesting every candidate should spend lots of money to get a professional image, it doesn’t necessarily make them better prospects.

* * *

The last last word

Whatever you do, don’t miss Wednesday’s edition of Strewth! when we break the biggest story to hit the Fraser Coast in years. It could well influence the way you vote in the election for the new council.

Look for it on the blog after 12 noon. This is one story you will not want to miss.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in:

on February 18, 2008 at 9:20 am Comments (6)

Failed builder’s McDermott link

The fallout from the collapse of Sunshine Coast-based builder RPC has brought to light a link with another company that’s on the ropes – Craig McDermott’s Maxen Developments.

RPC was building about a dozen houses at Fraser Waters Estate at Toogoom and a similar number at the 12 Mile Beach Estate down the road. Both developments belong to McDermott’s Maxen Developments. You can read the details here.

Maxen hit the news last year when it was revealed it had been having trouble repaying an $18 million debt to another failed company, Bridgecorp Finance.

Its troubles give little solace to the residents of Toogoom who fought long and hard to curb McDermott’s grandiose plans for the sleepy beachside suburb.

What they do, however, is provide another indictment of the “develop at all costs” mentality of the the Hervey Bay City Council, which has shown little regard for the feelings of residents in its manic scramble to keep the developer dollars flowing in.

Unfortunately, it is the residents who are left with the resultant mess, not the councillors who allowed it to happen.

Councillors can be kicked out but the damage done to the community is a lot harder to repair.

* * *

Campaign goes high-tech

One Hervey Bay councillor who can’t be blamed for the Toogoom mess is Sue Brooks mainly because she arrived on council after the approvals were given.

This is not a Strewth! endorsement of Brooks but we have to admit that she is showing herself to be a savvy operator in the run-up to next month’s election.

She’s had a website and forum up and running for some time (the link is in the Blogroll column at right) and this week Strewth! discovered she’s done a Howard and Rudd and put herself up on YouTube.

While not the flashest of presentations it does allow the voters who have never seen or heard her to gain a small appreciation of what she’s like. Click on here to see for yourself.

What’s the betting a few of the other candidates will follow her lead, especially considering the exorbitant cost of TV and newspaper advertising.

Know something the Strewth! community should know? Email it to strewthdob@hotmail.com.
Want your friends to know what’s going on? Email them Strewth’s! address –
http://strewth.wordpress.com/

Published in: on March 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment