Magnetic Island North Queensland
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March 14th 2008
Jenny Hill responds to Magnetic Questions

Yesterday Magnetic Times published a series of five Magnetic Island related questions we had put to the mayoral candidates for tomorrow's election. We had sought the responses in time to post them yesterday but had only two, Les Tyrell and Jenny Stirling, had replied. Late yesterday we received a response from Magnetic Island's present Councillor and Deputy Mayor, Jenny Hill. Although not a mayoral candidate we have decided to publish her responses so as to reflect the views of the Labor team. Readers may also find it noteworthy that this is the first time, since taking up her position as Magnetic Island's representative, that Jenny Hill has responded to questions emailed to her from Magnetic Times.

Q1.Magnetic Islanders have, for years, sought the completion of the Nelly to Arcadia walkway to end the dangerous use of the road route by pedestrians. What priority would you give to the completion of this project?

(A) We support the project to complete the walkway between Nelly Bay and Arcadia. We realise the walking trail is not suitable for everyone, particularly cyclists. We have a concept design and costings for the project of $2.4m and we will seek support from state and federal agencies to complete this project as a matter of priority.

Q2.With the liklihood of increased cyclones of greater intensity predicted for the future, Magnetic Island has been assessed for structures which might be suitable for a public cyclone shelter and government inspectors found that there were none suitable. Given that thousands of people could be stranded (over Christmas for instance) on Magnetic Island in the face of a major cyclone, would you support the construction of a multi-purpose building which could be used to temporarily shelter the public through the storm's duration?

(A) With improved cyclone tracking technology the Disaster Management Plan calls for the evacuation of the Island in times of serious threat. However there would still be a need for a suitable shelter for those remaining on the Island. We would support any attempt by the state government to establish a multi-purpose building that could be used by residents as a temporary shelter when required.

Q3.Magnetic Island is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and also a suburb of Townsville. What value do you give to the Wolrd Heritage status and in what ways do you think Magnetic's status can be enhanced as a World Heritage destination?

(A) We highly value the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area and in fact the Council has been recognised by GBRMPA as a Reef Guardian Council because of our investment in wastewater treatment and stormwater management on both the Island and the mainland. We also support Reef Check and Creek to Coral. To further enhance Magnetic Island's status we are developing a Local Area Code to provide more detailed and sensitive built form provision for the suburb. A number of specific provisions and codes apply to development on the Island already as part of City Plan. Council is also working with Ergon on the Solar City project to enhance the Island's World Heritage status.

Q4.Magnetic Island is a fairly small and close-knit community. In what ways would you like to see the values and qualities of this small community enhanced by a future council?

(A) I would like to see the Council continue the work around the Horseshoe Bay to provide quality sporting facilities. We would like to continue to support events like Carols by Candlelight and the Magnetic Island Jazz Festival as well as provide funding support for junior sports and other community groups that are part of the social fabric of the Island.

5.What do you see as the most effective initiatives you could introduce to benefit Island businesses.

(A) Support the businesses associated with growing number of weddings on the Island by working with local representatives to find areas suitable for ceremonies, receptions etc. As a major sponsor of Townsville Enterprise, continue to lobby the north's peak promotion body to ensure they actively promote the Island as part of their tourism and convention area. Extend the existing pensioner fare subsidies to Seniors Card holders allowing them to travel to the island at a reduced rate.

To add your comment, see below

Jenny Hill responds to Magnetic Questions
March 15th 2008
While Jenny has been personally involved in some recent productive projects on the island (for example, the excellent greening of upgraded sewerage works in Horseshoe Bay) the overall direction of Townsville City Council, firmly directed by Tony Mooney (and approved by a captive council) has been in bullying support for scramble development here, at great expense to local residents (MANY of whom have since left), the lowland environment (much of which has been bulldozed into annihilation) and local businesses (MANY of which are also extinct).

Re some of the major issues raised here:
1. Cyclone planning -- there is a real problem with evacuation from the island, particularly for those persons (sensibly) wishing to leave voluntarily ahead of a major event. Whilst there is lots of information about preparing for a cyclone, and extensive mop -up plans in place, there is NO provision for voluntary public shelters DURING the event (a problem common to most if not all towns and cities in Qld). Expert opinion suggests that nothing will be done in Qld until a major tragedy occurs. Townsville at present has a rapidly growing population, a low resident memory, and a high cyclone risk -- and is without the equivalent of New Orlean's superdome, or its network of exit highways to inland towns. Islanders face the extra risks of the hazardous sea journey, a landslide-prone landscape, and the lack of substantial buildings on safe high ground. Given the scale and complexity of cyclonic events, and the sophistication needed to ensure a proper civil response, the current attitude, which dictates that safety during the event is a personal/family responsibility, is a dereliction of public duty of care. Townsville City Council, the key authority for local response planning, is silent about this issue.

2. Whilst Townville City Council may have high regard for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, it seemingly has little regard for Magnetic Island's statutory place within this -- other than as a useful attractor for developers, and less for concerned locals. In 2001, a councillor informed some astonished residents that Tony Mooney's Council had taken private legal advice that the island could be technically excluded from the GBRWHA. Whilst developers and real estate agents seem to have been (mis)informed of this 'fact', Mooney's Council somehow omitted to cross check this planning fundamental with either state or federal expert authorities. In this (convenient) vacuum, town planning for 23,000 persons has somehow evolved. The island now has expandable infrastructure for 12,000, as per such planning. This is in spite of an agreed infrastructure limit for 5000 persons, set about a decade ago after extensive consultation with the then island community. Moreover, there is NO proper environmental review of the island as per its unique Dry Tropics presence in the GBRWHA in support of town planning. Concerned local scientists who assembled the first roundup of Magnetic Island's World Heritage features -- many unique to the island -- were publicly bucketed by the mayor. The current town plan (City Plan 2003) is acknowledged as deficient re Magnetic Island's World heritage status-- one reason why it is under review.

Townsville City Council's environmental and social credentials on the island, though rewarded by many glittering prizes, do not bear close scrutiny, on most sustainability fronts. It's the growing absences -- residents, community clubs and societies, local businesses, places, plants and animals -- that really tell the story.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
Syl Hayes In reply to Fair raises $15,000 for school
What a wonderful outcome for the school! I had a great time face-painting with Luke and Sasha, met lots of kids and parents,scored some great books at the Trash n Treasure stall, and even remembered to vote. Everywhere you looked people were enjoying themselves...such a tribute to the organisers. Well done!
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