3 October, 2023
Mt Garnet residents no longer ‘abandoned’
A ROUND of applause from Mt Garnet residents erupted after Tableland Regional Council agreed to further investigate options for Mount Garnet Transfer Station at last week’s ordinary meeting.
The delegation of residents attended the 28 September ordinary meeting to hear council’s response to Cr Peter Hodge’s motion to “investigate options and report back to 23 November Ordinary Council Meeting on providing infrastructure that is safe for the public and staff at the Mount Garnet Waste Transfer Station”.
Cr Annette Haydon she was happy to support this motion which essentially reversed “what we’ve done”.
“As far as I’m concerned – we’ve abandoned Mt Garnet," she said.
Cr Haydon was referring to the original June decision to close the transfer station which was backed by four other councillors, with Crs Annette Haydon, Dave Bilney, and David Clifton against the move, citing fears of a rise in illegal dumping as one of the factors it should remain open.
Cr Haydon was also unhappy there had been no public consultation and had told the June meeting the closure would “do little for morale in the community”.
Mt Garnet’s Waste Transfer Station was permanently closed in June after Tablelands Regional Council determined that repairing infrastructure at the facility was not worth it given the small number of people using it.
The council had the option of doing repairs to the wall at a cost of $107,000 and re-open the facility, or to spend $75,000 to demolish the failed wall, repatriate the area and permanently close the station.
At last week’s meeting Cr Hodge spoke in support of the motion and the people of Mt Garnet, noting that he had to “look after everyone in the TRC, just like every other councillor”.
“Of course, I am in Atherton … and everything is at my fingertips. … But the people up there at Mt Garnet and the other side of Mt Garnet, they don’t have those facilities,” Cr Hodge said.
“We made an easy decision to close the Mt Garnet Transfer, that was an easy decision … and I was actually one of them who put my hand up (to close the station).
“I’ve had people come to us, they’ve put presentations to us, we’ve received the petition and we’ve had numerous approaches and complaints from local residents that they want it back.”
Cr Hodge noted that the original wall was a faulty build and unsafe.
A report at the time revealed structural damage in a retaining wall was at risk of “catastrophic failure” if any further loading from vehicular movements were allowed in close proximity to the wall.
However, as Cr Hodge pointed out, “that is not the residents of Mt Garnet’s fault … that is the problem”.
“We can’t sit here in my view and say, ‘sorry people of Mt Garnet, we’re closing it because we didn’t do our job’. I think it’s time we stood up and be counted and said, yes, ‘let’s look at what happened in the past and let’s fix the problem’.”
Cr Hodge said council should “do it properly” and ask our officers to come back with a report.
He said maybe the work could be on a smaller basis, “it doesn’t have to be so grand”, as long as residents have the facilities to use.
“I’m happy to move the motion and I’d hope to see it unanimous”.
Far from unanimous, Mayor Rod Marti, Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew and Cr Bernie Wilce all spoke out against further action which could lead to reopening the transfer station.
Deputy Mayor Cr Cardew said there had been a service level review at TRC, “and it says we’ve got to cut down on our facilities right across the board, not just Mt Garnet, everywhere … so we’ve got to make some hard decisions”. He added that he would rather see the money go towards a pool which would service more of the Mt Garnet community.
Cr Bernie Wilce also mentioned the review “that’s telling us we have to cut back on our expenditure and assets”.
“I fully disagree with reopening the Mt Garnet Waste Transfer Station”.
Mayor Marti said he could not support Cr Hodge’s motion, and that he was with Crs Cardew and Wilce “on this one” and that council had made the decision to close on the best information.