Milbi expected to light fireworks fuse
FIREWORKS are expected today as the controversial proposal to extend the Milbi Farm indigenous detox centre returns to the council table.
And yesterday a Rockhampton councillor took an early shot at Mayor Brad Carter.
Two weeks ago many people thought the matter was dealt with when council rejected (5-4 vote) a recommendation to approve the centre, at Etna Creek, north of Rockhampton.
A technical point of law means though councillors voted against the recommendation to approve, this didn't mean they voted to refuse it.
Confusion reigned in some quarters yesterday as it became clear the application was to be revisited.
Councillor Glenda Mather, who led the call for council to reject the application, fielded several enquiries from anxious residents about what could happen.
Cr Mather said everyone was led to believe the matter had been dealt with and there was genuine shock at reports indicating things were back up in the air.
She took aim at Mayor Brad Carter, who wasn't at the last council meeting when the matter was dealt with.
She believes he was wrong to publicly declare his support for the project after this meeting when council had taken a position against it.
“It would appear from then on that this matter was open to further debate,” Cr Mather said.
“Once a decision was made by council, it should then have been a matter of providing the reasons for the refusal, which is a formality and a legal requirement.”
It appears a reversal is on the cards.
Council's chief executive Alastair Dawson late yesterday said he expected the first resolution put to the table would be whether or not to refuse the application.
If council votes to refuse, it will then have to provide legally defensible reasons.
If it doesn't, then the matter could well go to another vote, this time to approve the application.
The return of Cr Carter will mean he then has a casting say.
Cr Sandra O'Brien, who voted against the application last time, will not be present because she is on leave, but Cr Stephen Schwarten plans to vote against the plan.
Whichever way things go, Mr Dawson expects a legal challenge from the losing party and that's why he said council was making sure of its position.
Cr Carter said he was legally advised the matter hadn't been finalised when he made his position known.
“Quite clearly I will stand and abide by any legal decision council makes on this matter,” Cr Carter said.
“I indicated what my position was in terms of transparency and accountability.”
He said council would make its decision based on the facts and he would not allow emotions to take over at today's meeting.
“Whilst there is a local group opposed to this development there are many in the community who support and need these sorts of facilities."