The following articles #YourHome">Your home... secure haven or up for grabs? and #GreaterGood">The Greater Good - whose? both by Greg Wood appeared in the Gympie Times of 18 July 2008. The letter from a Brisbane resident included as an #appendix" id="appendix">appendix is an illustration of how the resumption of land for inappropriate projects is by no means confined to the Gympie region,
#YourHome" id="YourHome">Your home... secure haven or up for grabs?
Australians take home ownership very seriously. We get upset when title and use of our houses and businesses are put in doubt.
Native Title triggered widespread concern about loss of freehold rights. Less widely, but even more ferociously, so did regulations regarding vegetation clearing and forestry management.
Why then does silence reign as hundreds of people, in various locations around Queensland, are being forced from their homes to make way for a range of projects of ‘significance’.
Over four hundred Mary Valley households have already been displaced by the grossly flawed Traveston Dam project. Many of these people are neither happy nor comfortable with the result. More than a hundred households remain staunchly resistant but are deeply disturbed by the immediate stress and and anxious about an uncertain future.
The Gympie bypass threatens up to two hundred homes, leaving occupants as uncertain and confused about their future as Valley residents are.
A new coal conveyor to Tarong Power station is displacing about fifty families.
Hundreds of properties have been resumed to make way for Brisbane’s new north-south tunnel and air- port link.
Add in the Sunshine Coast Powerlink project, rail corridor, water pipelines etc. etc, and you have a fraction of a growing list that threatens to sweep ordinary people aside like a tsunami.
It is not just fair to ask to ask some searching questions. It is imperative.
#question1" id="question1">Question 1: Does the project provide real value? Is it worth the agony?
Obviously this varies, but some are clear stinkers, not least our infamous dam.
The real problem is the complete lack of genuine consultation being taken ahead of hatching and adopting mega-project plans. This lack also applies to the broader planning policies that generate need, or the excuse, for specific projects.
Public comment, if allowed, always occurs too late to change anything of substance. How can plans and projects hope to deliver maximum public value when the public are never asked what they value most?
Plans should be subject to fair, competent and transparent cost-benefit analysis. We accept less at our peril.
#question2" id="question2">Question 2: Is land resumption a fair and humane process?
Whilst processes are each different, they all work to isolate households within extended, high pressure negotiation where the agency holds all of the cards.
Well coordinated, experienced teams confront individuals with offers and claims that they do not have the skill, support or resources to verify. People are played off against their own doubts and fears.
Market value is touted as a standard for payment, but this is open to wild interpretation.
Much fairer, more humane land purchase processes are desperately needed... assuming of course that projects are genuinely worthy to begin with.
#question3" id="question3">Question 3: If a project is poor at its stated purpose, what is the real purpose?
If questions 1 and 2 were properly dealt with as a matter of course, we’d not have to ask this question. But they aren’t and we do.
No project better illustrates the matter than the Traveston Crossing Dam.
It’s not really a reliable water supply, so what is it?
A political stunt?
A cooling pond for a nuclear reactor?
A property development scam?
Part of a breathtakingly cynical plan to develop a water grid asset for sale to a private corporation?
Informed, rational review favours the last one. How good can the exiled, traumatised families feel about that?
#GreaterGood" id="GreaterGood">The Greater Good - whose?
The incidence of social dispossesion due to unsound planning and development is not an isolated, occasional circumstance, says Melbourne based sociologist and land-use planner, Sheila Newman. She says the condition is systematic and escalating.
Ms Newman says, “Melbourne and Sydney have both reached the stage where local residents, and local authorities, are being completely written out of having any say over the deluge of planning applications that seek to radically change their life and investment in the place they live... homes and values that might be generations old.”
“Pressure to keep up with the demands unleashed by unmanaged growth is creating a permanent state of emergency”, say Ms Newman.
“This crisis mentality is used to justify extreme options, including dispossession with zero consultation and settlement transactions that are more mafia than management”.
Ms Newman says local people need to demand that local interests are not ignored within any grand plans for the greater good.
“‘The Greater Good’ has a lot to answer for over history”, says Ms Newman. “Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and all their ilk have invoked its power. If the greater good does not care about you or the things you love, then it is probably a fraud”.
#appendix" id="appendix">Appendix: Letter from elderly Brisbane resident facing home resumption
Cars eating our homes
This letter appeared in Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper of 29 July 08. The Courier Mail newspaper is a strident promoter of both population growth and the large number of road and other infrastructure projects that population growth necessitates. As a consequence, hundreds of homes around Brisbane, including that of Eileen Urquhart, are being resumed.
HOW ironic and tragic that a home in which you have lived for 86 years; a home that your father created from a huge hole in the ground and took years to prepare for a building, can be resumed by the powers that be.
My uncle fought the enemy in France and my brother was a Rat of Tobruk in the last war to defend us.
Where can an old lady of 87 years and her handicapped daughter live? We have been used to half an acre of land with lovely gardens, created by my dad, and having every facility we require at Toowong Village, only a short bus ride away.
Whatever happened to good public transport?
Quite possibly it could take some of the private cars and trucks off the road, instead of losing our homes to them.
Eileen Urquhart, Toowong