Council passes on Milbi ruling again

THEY'VE read detailed reports, heard presentations from supporters and protesters and even visited the location, but councillors yesterday decided they needed more information and more time before they could decide the future of the Milbi Farm detox centre.

Another packed public gallery trudged out of the council chamber for the third time, still uncertain of how councillors will resolve what is proving to be a very difficult problem.

The two sides lined up on opposite sides of the meeting hall and sat through an hour's discussion on the role Rockhampton Regional Council will play in deciding Tower Holding's application for the redevelopment of Great Keppel Island.

And they steeled themselves for a debate that never came.

Cr Glenda Mather had already shown her hand and was ready to recommend that the council reject Milbi's proposal to expand its treatment centre for Indigenous alcohol and substance abusers.

She had prepared a detailed motion, complete with 12 reasons to reject the proposal.

But before Cr Mather had cleared her throat to speak, Cr Cherie Rutherford got to her feet.

She proposed letting the matter lie on the table for a third time. “We have received conflicting information. Issues have been raised that need to be addressed, more issues need clarification,” she said.

“This is a very important decision and I would like to know that I have given full consideration to all the facts before I vote,” she said.

As hers was a procedural motion, under the council's standing orders there could be no debate, no questions, no counter-arguments before a vote.

And to the clear frustration of Cr Mather, who had to be warned about her conduct by Mayor Brad Carter, councillors voted in favour of the motion to seek further information from officers.

Mystified observers from Milbi and the neighbourhood group, which objects to the application, filed out of the Town Hall.

Milbi has been treating addicts and providing a roof for homeless indigenous people at the Etna Creek farm, 25 kilometres north of Rockhampton and 10 kilometres from the Bruce Highway, for the past 26 years.

It is seeking permission to expand the accommodation to take up to 29 people and formalise its status as a residential institution.

People from neighbouring properties have lodged 18 objections to the application, mostly on the grounds that it is outside the planning scheme for the area.

But they have also reported that they live under constant threat of disruption from Milbi's residents.

There was no indication at yesterday's meeting when the matter would come up for discussion again.

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