Maleny Voice

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Protest Actions Continue
28 November 2004

As 2004 draws to a close we continue to maintain our high profile campaign against Woolworths Ltd and their property developer in Maleny.

Members of the community travelled to Sydney for the Woolworths AGM on Friday 26 November 2004. They delivered the message, to its owners, of how unethical Woolworths really is.

This display of Maleny community committment received great response from the national press. As a result of this reponse to our presence at their AGM, Woolworths placed a full-page advertisment in major newspapers. This was obviously "spin-doctoring" about their committment to community.

The advertisment was ceremoniously burnt at the development site today.

One of the main arguments against Woolworths in Maleny is about their lack of integration with, and caring for, local communities. We believe that maximising profits, for their owners (shareholders), overrides their willingness to effectively contribute to the welfare, both economic and social, of local communities.

Community Meeting Re 3-way Partnership To Acquire Site
25 October 2004

Thanks to everyone who helped with the Community meeting on Sunday 24 October 2004. We came out with two well supported resolutions:

This meeting wants Uncle Nurdon to proceed on behalf of Gubbi Gubbi towards the purchase of both blocks in cooperation with Caloundra City Council and Maleny Community.
Meeting supported this. (c. 100 for, 2 against)

RESOLUTION moved by Michael Berry seconded by Lin Fairlie
This meeting calls upon Carolyn Male to request a meeting between Premier Beattie and a Delegation from Maleny to discuss the possibility of building retrospectivity into Amendments to the Water Act to protect Lot 1 & 2 Bunya Street.
Carried. [c.100 for, 2 against]

Spring Walk On The Obi
26 September 2004

The show of support for the campaign to prevent the building of a supermarket on the bank of the Obi Obi Creek was a great success with over 300 people attending.

Local wildlife biologist Dr. Les Hall reckons that mid-September is platypus mating time. He informed us about where the banks of a creek really are and about the native wildlife that inhabit them. It is not where the Brisbane based Panning and Environment Court believe it is (a Judge and a couple of Barristers taking a quick walk around the area thought they knew better)!!!

Status as at 15 Sep 04

The charges, by the police, against community members for their actions on the 14 April have been dropped.

Court Case Favours Developers
14 September 2004

In what is a very sad day for local wildlife and the people of Maleny, the court-case Judgment has been made in favour of the developer. That is, they can remove native trees on, and below, the "high-bank" of the Obi Obi Creek. They can also build within that area as long as they do not interfere with the flow of the creek, even during floods!

The general mood of Judgment shows very little respect for the waterways in small rural townships. (This same Court issued another Judgment today in favour of a developer over the Cabolture Council. Perhaps this is a trend that needs to be investigated!!!)

Status as at 3 Sep 04

The court-case decision is expected to be made by the end of the week 10 Sep.

The Gubbi Gubbi people (traditional owners) are currently pursuing the possibility of purchasing the site.

Platypus Embassy Vollies Treated
29 August 2004

Three local primary producers invited participants from the Platypus Embassy to a social occasion to express their appreciation for what was done to protect the site.

Around 50 people attended this unique event and were treated to cheese platters and freshly BBQed sausages in beautiful natural surroundings. Tales were told and laughter echoed through the night while the full moon was rising making it quite magical to mix and mingle with all the folk.

Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and it was a most generous gesture of those who organised it and provided yummy tucker.

Thank You Peter, Heather and Marcus for initiating and hosting a very special gathering.

Woolworths And Similar Corporations Exposed in Documentary Film
28 August 2004

A movie titled "The Corporation" was shown at the Community Hall last Saturday night. Many people commented on how the wheeling-and-dealings portrayed remind them of the possible parallels with that of the lead-up to the disaster in Maleny on the 14th of April this year.
Click here for the web-site "The Corporation".

Court Case Awaiting Decision
23 August 2004

The court case between Cornerstone and the DNRM is still waiting for a decision.

The community is still keen to purchase the site for a park. However, the asking price is considered too high and uncertainty exists as to whether Cornerstone are still willing to sell or not.

Community Maintains Momentum For Site Purchase
7 August 2004

Site purchase by a consortium of interests is currently under negotiation. Things are moving quite slowly, but a solution may be possible in the next few weeks.

The Caloundra City Council has indicated a willingness to be involved in a compromise deal currently being considered, which would see Lot 1 retained as open space whilst seeing Lot 2 purchased by another developer for small scale commercial development.

Currently, the negotiations are in a delicate position. An outcome should be known in a week or two. Whilst not all members of the Maleny community will be happy to see a compromise on the site, the vast majority are satisfied that the creek will be safeguarded, the platypus burrows will not be disturbed, the 'rescued' trees will not be cut down, and the out-of-town developers and Woolworths will be sent a clear message that they must listen to the wishes of local communities when they seek to move into a new area...

Purchase Proposal Being Formulated
26 July 2004

A proposal to purchase the site from Cornerstone Properties is being devised by community members and a local developer.

This proposal will include a park on Lot 1 (western) and commercial operations on Lot 2 (next to pub). The design would be sympathetic to the site, best practice, and incorporate Maleny vernacular architectural elements.

The court challenge by Cornerstone Properties against the Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy is still proceeding. This is the challenge relating to the location of the "high-bank" of the Obi Obi Creek, and who has jurisdiction over this key portion of the development site. The Queensland Government see this as a potential 'precedent' case and will appeal, if there are legal grounds, in the event of an unfavourable outcome.

Cornerstone Price Seen As Too High
30 Jun 2004

Several Caloundra City councillors have expressed concern that the price of $1.89 million asked by the developers, Cornerstone Properties and retail giant Woolworths for the disputed Bunya Street supermarket site is too high.

The point was made on Tuesday June 19 after three key Maleny people presented the case to councillors that the council buy the site at 2-4 Bunya Street. After the 90-minute presentation, none of the eight councillors present spoke against the Maleny argument that the land be purchased for use as a public park.

Division 1 councillor Dick Newman said the Maleny presentation by Michael Erbacher, Steve Swayne and Paul Williamson, representing a core group of about a dozen people, was one of the most professional he had seen. "It was very convincing. We have seen a lot of presentations over the past two months in council. This was just the best we have had,'' Cr Newman said.

Mr Swayne said later the team had been frank with councillors and admitted that a substantial amount of the $700,000 that Maleny people and businesses had pledged or donated toward buying the site was subject to conditions. He said Mayor Don Aldous had raised the possibility of the State Government contributing to the purchase and this was being further pursued.

Another suggestion was that the buyback would be more attractive to the council if all the land did not have to be open space and a limited commercial development was possible. This would enable to council to recoup some of the purchase price. Mr Swayne said the way ahead for the anti-Woolworths group was to continue to seek State Government financial support; to raise more money within the community; to try to make some major sponsors' pledges unconditional; and to continue to seek a fairer price from Cornerstone and Woolworths. "The central issue revolves around the stalled negotiations with Cornerstone, and their reluctance to move on the $1.89 million asking price," he said. "Another problem is Cornerstone insisting that the land be rezoned to open space as part of the sale contract."

Deputy Mayor Don Smith suggested that if rezoning did not occur, then the council could be in a position to sell the portion of the site away from the riparian zone for commercial purposes, and thus defray some of the site purchase cost. Mr Swayne said this aligned with the May 22 public meeting Option Three and was a far better outcome than a supermarket, if developed sensitively. He said several councillors clearly stated they were not interested in keeping Woolworths out of Maleny, but were considering the Obi Obi Bunya Street site only from an environmental and traffic problem point of view.

The council will decide at its meeting on July 8 whether to proceed with the purchase. July 8 also is the deadline set by Cornerstone and Woolworths for their offer to sell the site be taken up.

Courtroom Battle In Progress
26 June 2004

Cornerstone were in the Queensland Planning & Environment Court in Brisbane on 24 and 25 June challenging the Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy (NRM&E)'s right to be a concurrence agency in this issue, and also challenging NRM&E's right to restrict tree clearing between the high and low bank. The Queensland Government is taking this court action very seriously as it has the potential to set a precedent. They have engaged very senior and capable legal experts to defend the case. The judgement will not be handed down for several weeks.

Public Meeting in Maleny
22 May 2004

At a Public Meeting on Saturday some general ideas about the future of the site where presented. An option - Maleny Peoples' Park - which was presented by the "Obi Site Future - Working Group" was selected as the preferred choice. All of this is dependent on the Caloundra City Council purchasing the site from the developers. It is then dependent on the Council accepting this plan.

Pantastic Street Party Fund Raiser
11 June, 2004

Maleny people dug deep and quickly into their pockets at a street party on Friday night to raise funds for the Woolworths supermarket site buyback.

In the first 10 minutes, donations came in at more than $1000 a minute and after an hour, $22,000 had been collected. That pushed the total raised in the past three weeks to $670,000.

Division 1 Cr Dick Newman, who last night donated $5000 of his pay rise that Caloundra councillors voted themselves the previous day, said: "These people are really putting their money where their mouths are. It's an incredible result from a crowd of 300 people."

On Thursday the council voted to resume negotiations with Cornerstone developers, which has offered to sell the environmentally sensitive site to the council for community purposes for $1.89 million.

Mayor Don Aldous, whose salary will increase to $130,000 a year after Thursday's vote, has said that if required to cast his deciding vote he would oppose the council contributing to the buyback because it created a precedent.

The mayor and councillors' pay rises was a hot topic in Maleny yesterday and organisers of the Maple Street party, at which Noosa's popular Pantastic Steel Band played for free, said it probably galvanised residents into opening their wallets.

"Yesterday's news headlines about the council pay rises reminded us that self-interest is alive and well. But up here, community interest and spirit is what we're about. Maleny's anti-Woolworths fight is being watched nationally and internationally. We will win this one." organiser Katrina Shields said.

An article on the Jenman Real Estate Site:

Woolies the Bullies
By Terry Ryder

Residents in the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Maleny often get a standard response from police to reports of burglaries, traffic accidents and shoplifting. There are no police available to attend.

So they were stunned to see 24 police vehicles and over 50 uniformed personnel assemble at a Maleny development site early last Wednesday.

The police knew something the residents did not. Property developer Cornerstone Properties intended to move on an environmentally contentious site in the town centre to eradicate all vegetation. The trees had to make way for a Woolworth's supermarket which, surveys show, almost nobody wants... Click here to read the rest of the article.

Daniel in the Bunya Tree - Eviction Threat
13 May 2004

The property developer, Cornerstone, has threatened to have Daniel Jones forcibly removed from the Bunya tree at the Maleny development protest site. Many people have rallied to support Daniel and an all day vigil has commenced. People have chained themselves to the bunya tree and barriers have been raised into the tree to prevent access by those who would seek to remove Daniel from his protest location.

Benefit for the Obi Obi Campaign
8 May, 2004

Penelope Swales, supported by local band Resin performed at a fundraiser concert at Crystal Waters Cafe, on the 8th May 2004. Over 80 people attended the concert and $1,000 was raised.

Crystal Waters - The Local Food People

Visit Penelope's site at

Woolworths and Cornerstone Supermarket Development
20 April 2004

Caloundra City Council today said it was disappointed at the public statement made by Woolworths in today's media which aimed to distance itself from the community outcry against its development at Maleny.

Caloundra City Mayor, Cr Don Aldous, said both Woolworths and Cornerstone had made decisions in relation to the development of the supermarket based on commercial decisions.

"Council, will respond to the letter it received from Woolworth's yesterday, and which was published today by asking them to confirm that Woolworths themselves, or any other party that may be proposed tenants, will seek compensation from Council in the event that Council purchases the Cornerstone property," Cr Aldous said

"Any decision to purchase the land, or not, will be made by Council. Council must also remember it is spending ratepayer money when it makes its decision."

Cr Aldous said public may not be aware of the full sequence of events leading up to the approval by the Planning and Appeals Court for this development.

These included:

  • Cornerstone lodged an application with Council to establish a Shopping Centre at 2-4 Bunya Street in August 2002
  • The application was discussed at the Council meeting on 6 February 2003 and approved with conditions.
  • Advice to Council indicated that it could not refuse the development application. Approval was given on the basis that the area was zoned Local Business under the Planning Scheme (1993) and Business Area and Open Space under the Development Control Plan 2001.
  • In March 2003, Council received a Notice of Appeal which was lodged by Cornerstone in the Planning and Environment Court against Council's conditions of approval for the development.
  • In August 2003, the Planning and Appeals Court upheld Cornerstone's appeal. Some conditions were agreed to prior to the Court hearing. One of the conditions required land adjacent to the creek to be set aside for an Esplanade. The court rejected this condition. It was satisfied with landscaping and a pathway as proposed by the applicant.
  • Legal advice stated that Council had no further basis to appeal the Court decision.
  • An application for operational works (civil and landscaping works) was lodged in November 2003.
  • The applicant requested permission to selectively clear vegetation to remove an existing house in March 2004.
  • Work began on 14 April and were stopped the same day after a notice was served by the Department of Natural Resources. This order is based on the interpretation of the Water Act and what it means by "top of bank".
  • Today, there is still ambiguity over what is "top of bank", the line which decides where Council's jurisdiction ends and DNR's begins. The Water Act 2000 is managed by the Department of Natural resources. While Council waits this determination, it will put on hold consideration of any operational works applications for this site.

Cr Aldous said questions over whether or not the Bunya Rd site should have been bought by Council at an earlier time and whether or not it should have refused the original application outright, were still being asked.

"Council could not have refused the application in February 2003, when it was approved," Cr Aldous said.

"The application for the proposed supermarket fell within the planning scheme criteria and was code assessable. A refusal by Council would have been deemed unlawful. Council is was aware that while a refusal would have achieved the community's wishes such a recommendation would see the applicant take Council to court. A costly exercise which history has shown, we could not have won.

"What Council did decide to do was to heavily condition the application. These conditions were designed to address and significantly reduce the environmental and traffic issues on which the development would impact and the concerns of the community.

"Council made this decision on the basis that it would be better to have some control over the development through the conditions then to have a refusal overturned by the Court and approval given without such conditions.

"Also, as the land was not zoned conservation or environmentally sensitive, there would not have been a reason to buy the land. Such zonings require certain criteria to be met.

"Council could not have purchased the land after the application was lodged and public outcry established because to have refused an application and then proceed to buy the site itself would be inappropriate."

Woolworths shares dropped about 4% in value today!!! PM 20Apr04

Council Approached to Buy Woolworths Site
19 April, 2004

What appears to be very encouraging news - Woollies have approached Council to purchase the site (Council to purchase, that is!) They have put a deadline on this.

Obviously, we will be informed of negotiations as quickly as possible.

While these negotiations are underway, please refrain from lobbying CC Councilors.

A letter from Jill Jordan to Caloundra City Councilors regarding the Obi Obi site in Bunya Street.

Good morning Councilors:
I believe that Peter Thomas, Woolworths' National Property Manager, will be contacting Council again this week with another attempt to exit the site on the Obi Obi Creek "gracefully".

I am aware that Council on a previous occasion rejected the motion to buy the site, but I also believe that it is possible that Councilors were not at that time given the information which would have allowed them to make a decision in the affirmative.

At this point in time, given the events of the past week, where people of the Maleny community at all times acted with the highest integrity in the face of extreme provocation from Cornerstone and the contractors (the notorious Deen Brothers), I would beg that you consider purchase of 2-4 Bunya Street for the Maleny community.

I believe that even Woolworths realise (given the results of their own survey) that a supermarket on this site would not be viable, and that a negotiated price may be possible - some combination where Council pays some of the asking price of approximately $2 million, Cornerstone (as a grievance factor!) pays some, the community pays some, and Woolworths "discounts" the price.

The eyes of not only Maleny, but Australia, are on you, Councilors. Please consider the merits of this proposal. A revegetated "Platypus Park".

All the best in your deliberations
Jill Jordan

These news webpages commenced a few days after the Deen Brothers cleared trees on the controversial development site on the banks of Obi Obi Creek in Maleny Queensland Australia. See more information regarding this campaign in the pages of this website. A timeline covers all the key events in the campaign in chronological order. A photo library has all the best images from the campaign. A DVD-ROM is available fully documenting the campaign.
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