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De-Amalgamation Jubilation

Mothar MountainWith more than 80% of the Noosa community eligible to vote supporting de-amalgamation, a long shadow cast by the development and financial threats of forced amalgamation at the behest of the Bligh government five years ago has been dispersed. Once again, Noosa will be free to pursue its local, sustainable destiny in accordance with the locally developed strategic plan and UNESCO biosphere status, with precious green corridors and limitations on subdivision intact.

Anytime someone tries to tell you ‘you can’t stop progress’, tell them the Noosa story. You can’t stop progress that is truly progressive, protects environmental values, and has a whole, involved community behind it committed to living sustainably. The Noosa model works – our Noosa UNESCO designated biosphere offers a means and strategy to help humans even in the ‘developed’ neoliberal world to live in balance within their habitat, sustain ecodiversity, protecting waterways and forests forever. Our model should be replicated and implemented nationally.

As I’ve previously versified:

‘Privatising neoliberalism
seems to lack a solid vision,
hollow ‘perish or populate’
with rabbit warrens all over the state,
since when was overpopulation
any habitat’s salvation?’

After a near lifetime spent in lovely Noosa, once again I can feel proud and secure that hard-won community consensus achievements are viable and defendable. The surreptitious stroke of a pen by politicians beholden to filthy corporate interests who never pay sufficiently for the infrastructure needs and unsustainable population growth they create even as they slip backhanders to grease their exploitation, fails when communities fight to protect their values.

Now we can turn our efforts toward deseating the state LibNat government which despite permitting us a vote and action on de-amalgamation, is mooting horrific schemes like logging national parks and state forests and privatising anything that Bligh couldn’t in accordance with disgraced ex-treasurer Peter Costello’s dodgy recommendations. It should be remembered that Costello approved the sale of Australia’s gold reserves before the price went up, costing Australia $5b, in addition to his failed foreign currency exchange transactions – $2b – $5b – hardly a trustworthy record. These proposed LibNat privatisations, unlike Bligh’s, will be deferred till the next election to become a pivotal issue.

By then, an argument must be made to prove that public ownership is cheaper, more efficient and protects jobs for ordinary people AND can protect the environment, while profits for elite shareholders and bonuses for CEOs pursuant to privatisations gouge the public in perpetuity.

Free Noosa – De-amalgamate!

Noosa from National ParkThe Free Noosa submission for de-amalgamation is now available – it is sustainable, green, sensible and financial!

Here’s my poem inspired by our community’s principled move toward de-amalgamation.

De-Amalgamation, At Last

Since the last election,
Oh Blight of all our lives,
the developers lament
for she was their delight.
Devine Homes perched upon the Board
which pulled our grassroots out,
Has she learnt her lesson?
The people showed their clout.
Who wants concrete wall to wall
as far as eye can see,
Who wins the real benefit?
not our community.

She thought of what to sell
We knew her plot too well
She and those dirty mates
wouldn’t share our living hell.
Where she saw dollars we see sense,
the rich gobble their swill at our expense,
when all we wanted
was to present pristine
environment in perpetuity,
sustainable and green.

What use covetous sanctimony,
preaching economic productivity?
In the dark with greedy mates
they signed away our dear shire’s fate,
stole our savings and overrated
was that the plan when she amalgamated?
Is it true democracy
that promotes developers’ profligacy?
Privatising neoliberalism
seems to lack a solid vision,
hollow perish or populate
with rabbit warrens all over the state,
since when was overpopulation
any habitat’s salvation?

She slunk away and we prevailed
She wouldn’t listen to our tale,
‘We must have progress’
she sighed and bleated,
too late, Blight,
you’re gone, unseated!

To vote or not to vote

Our beautiful village, PomonaWhat choice do we have? civil disobedience – in this case opting out of the electoral process – is seen by some as the last resort for people whose vehement, legitimate wishes been ignored, where democracy has been abandoned in the push for political outcomes which may prove disastrous and which have been imposed through nefarious deception. Others have joined the Noosa Liberation Army who today took responsibility for defacing roadside election posters:

“Noosa will secede or de-amalgamate,” an email read. “It’s just a matter of time! Those who think that this fight can be won without conflict are seriously deluded. This is a war, and we will win, however long it takes.”

Voting in the grandiosely named Sunshine Coast Regional Council Quadrennial Elections is compulsory under the state Local Government Act 1993. We, the governed, might argue we are voting for representatives in an illegitimate body which does not as yet exist, and that this flawed representation was proclaimed without the consent and against the wishes of the electorate.

There is no question that the people of Noosa Shire do not want amalgamation – we have been polled numerous times about this, the last plebiscite being 96% against it.

Yet if the people of Noosa do not vote, we run the terrible risk of having pro-development Joe Natoli for mayor and reduced representation for Noosa. Regardless of the new super council, State ‘iconic’ legislation provides that development decisions will be made in Brisbane, far from those who are affected and live here. Noosa’s say in its own future at present is nobbled … reduced back to vocal community groups, some of which are banding together under the Noosa Biosphere Association.

Local governments are not defined in the Australian Constitution – they are creations of their respective States. Regionalisation and amalgamation are State controlled and designated. Under the Australian Constitution, States and Territories are the only legal representative entities recognised by the Commonwealth. The present Queensland Government was elected by us, and it can thereafter do what it likes till we vote it out.

Naturally we have thought long and hard about the bigger picture when appealing to the Federal government. Although Kevvie has been approached about the undemocratic actions of the Queensland government by disgruntled Noosa residents amongst members of many such alarmed Queensland communities, and though neither he nor Julia personally supported forced amalgamations, we believe Rudd has a definite goal in mind, to form an Australian republic. With some historical vanity, he would like to be the engineer and steward of its formation. At present, for him it may be prudent to avoid a bun fight about the delineation of Federal and State powers under the existing Constitution, and so he is staying out of the fray, to the detriment of both Noosa residents and the upholding of representative democracy on a community level generally in our State.

Once regionalisation is complete throughout Australia, what need will there be for States? The footballers may not like it, but Brisbane can still play Sydney.

Except for alienated, infuriated folks, people will start identifying with their respective regions. The Sunshine Coast will play Brisbane as usual in soccer. Then the stage will be set for further reorganisation of decision-making and responsibilities.

In the interim, what happens if there is a change of government in Queensland or nationally? What power will we in our communities have had usurped from us, and passed into the mitts of an even more despicable, aggrandising mob?

Perhaps Noosa will be protected by iconic legislation for long enough for a republic to emerge, where the rights of individuals might be defined in such a way to protect the environments in which they live as well. Pigs might fly too. Despite Australians being typical disinterested in politics (is politics an acceptable dinner conversation topic yet?), it is essential that we are engaged in the republic debate, otherwise whilst we attend our barbies and down a few beers, we may get the sort of republic we really don’t want.

Grassroots democracy can be an annoyance and sometimes a threat to the feds who like things nice and tidy in Canberra. They’d rather be at lunch or off on a nice junket. Centralised governments who do not respond to vocal communities can be willing to sacrifice happy constituents and healthy environments at the beck and call of the rich and powerful who desire progress at any cost.

Recognised internationally with UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, Noosa, with its achievements in sustainability and community democracy could serve as a model for communities in the new Republic of Australia. It is up to all Australians to reflect upon the choices before them, and speak out to protect our children’s future and the environment which sustains us all.

In our Noosa garden

Banana garden
Most mornings we take the black cat for its beloved walk around the property, inspecting the gardens with their native shrubs, birds and dam, overflowing still from the recent rains.

Soon the bananas will be ripe enough to pick and hang in the shed – if the birds don’t find them first.

Sago plants are ready for their roots to be harvested, soaked and turned into tapioca or roasted or diced for curries, accompanied by crushed edible ginger.

Ginger flower

An elegant heliconia flower which has lasted for a couple of weeks still pleases with its voluptous curves and delicate colours.

Our splendid pink surprise grevillea is flowering in profusion near the dam. It is difficult to grasp that in one month, our shire will no longer exist … the merging of Noosa into the Sunshine Coast super council is imminent, despite the most vocal local protest in the history of Australia since the Eureka Stockade.

The latest outrage is that Noosa is to be given ‘iconic’ status, and any development or other decisions regarding its future will come directly from Brisbane. How’s that for representative democracy? we had better local representative government under Joh Bjelke Petersen (shudder), As one commentator has put it, centralised power and decision-making is the antithesis of democracy. Our community is disheartened – the decisions made far away may soon smash the cohesion which has sustained our environment and restrained at the shire boundaries the nauseating high density developments to the south.

Pink Surprise Grevillea

Our current Noosa mayor, Bob Abbott, may win Sunshine Coast super council leadership from development hungry Joe Natoli, yet even so, what happens after the next State election if Labor loses? and in the interim, what development pressures will Labor face? what of Terry Mackenroth, one of the architects of the amalgamation who sat on the supposedly independent committee, and who is a director of developer Devine Homes? what sort of sway do the building unions whose workers want jobs at any cost to the environment have with the Labor money men?

Still, it’s not over till it’s over and we must continue our protest as long as we are able. The survival of our community’s special preserving relationship with its treasured indigenous plants and animals depends upon it. We live here and we must protect our surroundings from those who care only for money, their development cronies and pandering to their future customers from the southern states – with a consequent increased demand for health and other community services which are currently horrendously inadequate.