Objectors beat Milbi proposal

THERE was a stunned silence from a packed public gallery yesterday afternoon when councillors rejected an application to expand the Milbi indigenous detox centre.

It was as if, after more than an hour of sometimes fractious debate in an emotionally charged council chamber, no one could quite believe what had happened.

Councillors had seemed on course to approve the controversial proposal when they took Cr Glenda Mather to task for her passionate objection to the scheme.

Cr Mather surprised her colleagues with a lengthy and detailed motion to reject the application to expand accommodation at Milbi Farm, Etna Creek and formalise its status as a residential institution.

Proceedings were adjourned for 15 minutes for copies of her motion - which contained 13 reasons to turn down the plan - were printed, distributed and read.

Cr Cherie Rutherford seconded the motion, but it was slammed by councillors Greg Belz and Bill Ludwig, who criticised Cr Mather for not giving them prior warning.

“I am concerned at the way this has been thrust before us, with a multitude of conditions, with no time to digest its contents,” said Cr Belz.

He said he was worried that to accept its contents would leave the authority wide open to litigation at a planning court.

As tempers became frayed and Cr Ludwig complained that Cr Mather was haranguing her fellow councillors, the motion was defeated. It was the fourth time councillors had discussed the issue, which has attracted fierce opposition from neighbouring properties.

Cr Mather urged others to be brave enough to vote for what they felt, but when Cr Brett Svendsen proposed that the council accept an officer's recommendation to give planning consent, it seemed momentum had swung towards the applicant's supporters.

Cr Bill Ludwig said it was a complex situation, but he believed the council would be on very shaky ground if it refused the application.

With Cr Brad Carter, who says he would have supported the application, in the Czech Republic, the vote went five to four to reject the plan.

Crs Belz, Brady, O'Brien, Mather and Rutherford voted against.

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