Maleny Voice


 
 
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CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES AS STATE GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT SOUGHT
Monday 18 July 2005

A very cold Monday morning and protesters are at the site before dawn to state their continued opposition to the supermarket development. No word has been received from Woolworths executives on whether they are willing to negotiate. An offer by Maleny negotiators to fly to Sydney seems to have been ignored. Perhaps no one at Woolworths HQ is empowered to make decisions on this issue whilst Mr Corbett is away overseas.

Local Councillor Dick Newman and State MP Carolyn Male met with Mr Quinn of Hutchinson Builders briefly and were unable to broker a meeting with Woolworths. Ms Male was asked to seek the assistance of Premier Peter Beattie to broker negotiations between top Woolworths executives and the people of Maleny.

Maleny protest group representatives also sought a meeting with Environment Minister Desley Boyle as heavy machinery commenced major earthworks on the site. The protest action looks set to continue.


MALENY AWAITS WOOLWORTHS DECISION
16 July 2005

Over 400 residents assembled for an impromptu rally to show that the offer is still serious.

Whilst Uniton boss Greg Quinn has initially rejected an offer by Maleny residents to purchase the controversial supermarket development site, the town is waiting on Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett for the final word on the success of the purchase offer. Mr Corbett is due back soon from an overseas visit to India.

Maleny believes that Woolworths hold the key to the resolution of the present situation.


MALENY SITE PURCHASE APPEAL

A large sum of money was donated and pledged during the attempt to purchase the site from Uniton Pty Ltd. Whilst we have not given up hope that Woolworths will change their mind and permit the site to be sold, we are no longer actively seeking donations at the present time. All donated amounts which were not anonymous will be fully refunded.

Maleny Voice is in need of continued funds to mount our campaigns against Woolworths. We will be announcing in the next few days our fund raising strategy and hope that you will be able to help us at that time.

Pic shows how close the drilling is to Obi Obi Creek. The pink ribbons mark known platypus burrows.

WOOLWORTHS TOP EXECUTIVES IMPLORED TO RELEASE THEIR GRIP ON MALENY DEVELOPMENT SITE
14 July 2005

Woolworths executive Peter Thomas in a phone call early afternoon on 14 July said that the sale of the site would be considered. A meeting in the afternoon between Mr Quinn and two finance industry businessmen clearly showed that the funding was genuinely available for site acquisition. Mr Quinn stated to the media that the site owners were willing to sell. Then late afternoon word filters through that Woolworths want their supermarket to go ahead. They appear to be having difficulty making up their minds. Maleny residents are pressing on to raise the $2 million and will present Mr Quinn with a contract as soon as possible.

The last-minute efforts to buy the site came as excavators started drilling 57 holes for one-metre wide concrete pylons around  the site on Thursday 14 July. About 100 police stood guard to prevent protesters entering the site.

Maleny residents of all ages wept openly as the drilling began in a known platypus area without being witnessed by  local council or government environmental complicance officers.  Caloundra City Council withdrew its two compliance officers earlier yesterday because their superior officer considered their work was done.  

Protest leaders launched a national campaign to raise the money by Friday morning. Two local residents came forward immediately, one mortgaging his house and the other diverting cash he had set aside to buy a home.



No favours for mate - Spence
Malcolm Cole, state political correspondent
The Courier Mail 14 July 2005

POLICE Minister Judy Spence has played down the significance of long-standing personal ties with the developer of a controversial Woolworths shopping centre in Maleny, where more than 100 police were deployed to remove protesters this week...



Queensland the "Police" State
Tuesday 12 July 2005

Approximately 150 police (sponsored by Woolworths) today invaded Maleny to assist Hutchinson Builders erect an inappropriate building on an environmentally sensitive site.

Does Peter Beattie really have a poster of Joh Bjelke-Petersen above his desk?

To quote old Winny... "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."


PUBLIC MEETING HELD IN MALENY
Saturday 9 July 2005

A public meeting was held in the Maleny Community Centre on Saturday 9 July 2005 to update all interested members of the community on the Obi Obi campaign. People spoke on various aspects of the campaign including site buyback, indigenous participation, endangered platypus habitat, the mining exploration, the lack of Queensland Government resolve to do anything, danger to school children by the construction, and continued pressure from everybody towards Woolworths, the developers, and politicians. Over 230 people attended the meeting.


UNITON EVICTION DEADLINE DEFIED BY MALENY RESIDENTS
Thursday 7 July 2005

Uniton Pty Ltd gave an ultimatum of 12 noon to vacate the site. As the morning drew on, the crowd of concerned Maleny locals grew and grew. At 12 noon well over 150 people walked onto the site, formed a large circle, and sang songs of protest and solidarity. Many others cheered from outside the fences. A large TV and newspaper press contingent were there to capture the event. Around 10 policemen looked on and a bemused contingent of security guards looked well out of their depth. The stand-off looks set to continue.

A magnificent quilt is in the process of being created by the 'silent majority' of Maleny and it grows every day. The quilt was on show outside the site.


CONCERNED RESIDENTS DELAY DEVELOPER
Thursday 23 June 2005

Hutchinson Builders Manageing Director, Greg Quinn, and their contracted surveyors attempted to commence a pre-construction site survey.

A large number of Maleny residents turned out to protest against the survey work which posed possible harm to the platypus if survey pegs were hammered through the earth into their burrows which criss-cross the site.

Even though the surveyors promised not to hammer below 100mm, and later relented to only using spray paint, the persistence of the concerned residents eventually led to the work being called off for the day. A large number of campers are now situated near the Bunya tree saved in last year's confrontation. They are safeguarding the site from any early hours activity by the developers.


SCIENTIFIC PLATYPUS STUDY RELEASED

Maleny's platypus were out frolicking in the rain early on Wednesday morning, June 15. It's as if they knew something good was about to happen.

And so it was. The anti-supermarket protesters were about to release a scientific study that could be a turning point in their three-year fight to keep Woolworths off the Obi Obi Creek bank.

A team of scientists, led by recognised platypus authority Dr Les Hall, has irrefutable proof that a colony of platypus lives under the supermarket site.

It is an offence under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act to knowingly disturb a platypus habitat. All indications from the new developers (and the former ones) are that work will start soon and that they think platypus are not a problem. They believe platypus are very scarce on the site. The developer's consultant says there is a .001% chance of hurting or killing a platypus; Dr Hall's evidence shows there is a .001% chance they WON'T (it's like a Swiss cheese down there!)

The evidence, carefully documented since last September, has been sent to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Environment Minister Desley Boyle, seeking their urgent intervention. Media reports last night said Ms Boyle had said the project was "on hold" until Dr Hall's report could be studied.

The team of scientists has asked that the developers, Uniton Pty Ltd, obtain a damage mitigation permit from NPWS before starting work. They believe such a permit must be refused.

The team, with veterinary biologist Antara May doing the cold, wet work in scuba gear, helped by Matthew Smith, found more than 50 platypus burrows in the Obi Obi Creek bank along part of the site perimeter. A team of helpers included platypus researcher Graham Kell (BSc in natural resource management) and renowned wildlife cameraman Clint Hempsall ... some tireless "platy people" and others.

Dr Hall says that in 40 years' research on platypus he has never seen such density of burrows. He has spoken eloquently and with passion to the media. The developers have been told the exact locations of the burrows, all precisely fixed by GPS settings, and photographed from above and below the water.

Five police officers were on duty at the site yesterday while surveyors started work. Several said privately that they hoped the protesters would never give up. The platypus, which frolicked later than usual in daylight, no doubt agree.


Brisbane Protest Action

Eighteen Maleny residents took the three-year fight against a Woolworths supermarket to the Brisbane CBD yesterday and produced a secret weapon -- the Wooldozer.

The theatrical prop is made of plywood and steel in the shape of a mini-bulldozer and carries a large W for Woolworths which contains the "driver". The crawler tracks are jammed with crushed platypus (toys!) to symbolise what Woolworths plans to do on the Obi Obi Creek site, a recognised platypus habitat.

"Driver" Michael Parks took the Wooldozer from King George Square into Elizabeth Street, down to Edward Street and across to MacArthur Chambers, which houses a Big W and Woolworths store for CBD shoppers. He was accompanied by Steve Thompson in a platypus suit and other chanting protesters carrying placards about the town's plight.

Brisbane pedestrians were generally supportive of the protest and several cries of "Good on you" and "Go Maleny!" were heard.

Several Woolworths employees expressed regret for what their company is planning to do at Maleny. Security staff at Woolworths also appeared amused by the Wooldozer, as were Queen Street Mall police, who looked on without interfering. The protesters chanted outside the Woolworths store for 15 minutes and left peacefully without being asked to.

They then proceeded into the Queen Street Mall, for which they had a permit for a "public assembly". The Wooldozer was allowed to travel up the Mall to the "designated area", where protesters stood calmly (no signs, chanting or handing out pamphlets allowed) and had amicable discussions with passers-by and Mall security staff. One man from Darwin said he knew all about Maleny's fight and urged protesters not to give up. After journalists from each of the three Brisbane commercial TV stations and The Courier-Mail had interviewed participants, the protest team left quietly and returned to King George Square, to disband and head home to Maleny.

Rumour has it the Wooldozer will make another appearance soon at a venue to be announced!


Wobbly Kneed Developer Bails Out

Cornerstone Properties has sold the site to Uniton Pty Ltd (for $1.6M, they offered it to the community for over $2M). Uniton was registered as a company on 10 May 2005. The directors of Uniton are also directors of Hutchinson Builders (the builders).
Here is a photo of the directors (and shareholders). Neither live in Maleny, both are in Brisbane.

What sort of games are Woolworths playing?



Protesters close ranks at Woolies site
May 06, 2005

MORE than 70 protesters defied a small contingent of police to briefly occupy the controversial Woolworths supermarket site at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast early yesterday morning. The protest continued as brushcutters began clearing, weeds ahead of development.

Chanting "we won't shop there" and "we shall overcome", the protesters scrambled behind a fence and concrete barricades before joining hands, circling local artist Steve Thompson, who blew loudly on a cow's horn.


Morning Vigil
27 February, 2005

... today was my first experience of dawn on the Obi Obi Ck. It was a very inspiring experience -

  • firstly the platypus (which I think was a juvenile) which cavorted in the creek through the lightening hour,
  • then the tortoise that swam down with the current,
  • a monarch flycatcher '"which-you"-ing in the bamboo,
  • the brilliant blue jewel of an Azure Kingfisher zipping up the creek,
  • Drongos rasping away in the Silky Oak,
  • a flock of firetails calling from the thicket,
  • Dusky Moorhen dabbling along beside the bank,
  • our Siberian migrants the Swifts whistling overhead,
  • and then all the regular birds - Kookaburra, Currawongs, Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets.

As usual the Water Dragons were playing sentinels along the bank below the library. So altogether a wonderful start to the day. Steve has posted some beautiful images of the creek in slightly mistier weather.


PROTEST SUPPORT IS GROWING
22 February 2005

The Maleny anti-supermarket group is stepping up its fight, with the prospect of Cornerstone starting work on the site any time after March 1.

On Sunday February 27 a rally will be held in Tesch Park, Maleny, to update residents on the situation and to remind Cornerstone and Woolworths that opposition to the proposed supermarket is from much more than "a noisy minority", as has been claimed.

The rally will be told that more than 300 people have agreed to be part of a "phone tree" to arrange a non-violent protest immediately if work starts on the site. A much smaller phone tree resulted in about 250 people rushing to the site on 14 April 2004, when Cornerstone used the Deen Brothers demolition firm to clear native and other vegetation.

Protest group leaders are confident of a much larger protest this time if work resumes on the site. They say support for keeping the site as parkland is growing and a significant number of previously indifferent Maleny residents are openly admitting that it is a ludicrous place for a supermarket.

On Wednesday 16 February 2005, a group of 19 residents travelled Brisbane and staged a peaceful protest at 11am outside the offices of Cornerstone partners F.A. Pidgeon & Son Pty Ltd, at Pidgeon Close, West End.

Sixteen police officers were present at the Pidgeon headquarters, including some from the Tactical Response Group. The officers did not interfere with the demonstration and several said privately they agreed with the message: Leave Maleny's platypus alone.

Cornerstone Properties is a division of developer F.A. Pidgeon and Son. Former Property Council of Australia (Qld) president Liz Pidgeon is a director of both companies.

Ms Pidgeon declined to meet the protesters or to make a statement. A police liaison officer agreed to pass to her a copy of the recently screened ABC Television documentary by platypus expert David Parer, entitled Platypus: World's Strangest Animal. The group hopes that seeing the documentary, which uses high-tech mini-cameras to show development of young platypus inside their burrow, will change Ms Pidgeon's mind about the need to protect the platypus under the proposed construction site in Maleny.

The protest group's resolve has been strengthened by the sighting last week of a female platypus and two "new season" young. The sighting was by Dr Les Hall, of Maleny, widely respected platypus specialist. He has passed this information to Cornerstone. The burrow is one of several directly under the footprint of the revised supermarket plan.

Interestingly, Cornerstone's lawyers have sent Dr Hall a warning to keep off the site, saying they had advised police of his "trespassing" and had photographic evidence.

Dr Hall Les replied with an explanation that resulted in Cornerstone agreeing to seek his advice on the position of inhabited burrows before they start work.

Protest group leaders welcomed the promise but said that on Cornerstone and Woolworths record regarding the site to date, were wary that it might not be fulfilled.


 
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