The Range News is Maleny's premium Weekly Newspaper delivered each Friday
to the People of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland from Glasshouse to
Kenilworth and west to Peachester.

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Beattie offers support
on supermarket issue

by Simon Roper

Premier Peter Beattie has told Maleny residents that he wants to see a solution to the Woolworths supermarket dilemma on the Obi Obi Creek that meets the wishes of the community.   Mr Beattie held a 20 minute discussion with Maleny Voice representatives Susie Duncan, Lin Fairlie amd myself on Sunday following the community cabinet meeting in Caboolture.

The meeting was requested by Maleny Voice Inc to explore partnership opportunities with the state government that would see a stop to the supermarket development on the former Boxsells site beside the Maleny Hotel.   Also attending the meeting were the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Stephen Robertson, departmental officers and local member for Glasshouse, Carolyn Male.

This columnist told the premier that the Maleny community felt let down by government
at all levels over the supermarket proposal.  The premier said the only real opportunity the community had had to protect the Obi Obi Creek in the recent past had been the Development Control Plan.   The DCP process had been initiated six years ago and involved extensive community input.

However, he said the DCP had proved worthless.   Protection for the Obi Obi Creek had not been incorporated into the Caloundra City Plan because of Council fears of heavy compensation claims from owners with land along the creek.   But now the community was faced with a two million dollar asking price simply to protect this one creek site.  This was about four times what it would have fetched three years ago.

I told the Premier that once built, the supermarket would help turn the Obi Obi Creek into to an industrial canal running through the centre of Maleny.    This was an utter disgrace for a place that has been described as a jewel in the crown of south-east Queensland.

Susie Duncan and Lin Fairlie showed Premier Beattie the recently revised, and Council approved, supermarket plan from Cornerstone Properties.    They pointed out the new building footprint was still primarily on the edge of the creek, and mostly inside the 100 year flood prone area.

They also explained the potential traffic dangers, particularly from local primary school children who would have to pass the supermarket entrance on their way in and out of town.  Mr Beattie expressed surprise that Woolworths had not withdrawn from their supermarket proposal, given the widespread concern from residents that the site was inappropriate from environmental, social and local economic points of view.

We said there was increasing anxiety in the town at the likelihood of confrontation if Cornerstone returns to the site next year.   We said the level of anger and frustration had reached serious levels with many residents threatening to personally obstruct any development on the site.

Minister Robertson asked the group if there were any ways of reducing the asking price by encouraging Cornerstone to construct a less obtrusive commercial development on the site.   Susie Duncan explained that any commercial development would have serious impacts on the narrow entrance to the town.

Lin and Susie raised the issue of abundant platypus breeding burrows in the banks of the Obi Obi Creek and the need to restore the creek’s delicate biodiversity.   Also, in public meetings, residents had expressed a wish for the site to become a park, and perhaps incorporating an interpretive centre for the Blackall Range.

Premier Beattie concluded the meeting by openly acknowledging that the community had a dilemma, and expressing a wish to help Maleny find a way to stop the supermarket development.  He recommended that Carolyn Male and Minister Robertson liaise with the community representatives to work on a joint solution.

After the meeting a close adviser to the Premier told the group that one of the greatest strengths of the Maleny anti-Woolworths campaign was the resident population.   They have proven they are highly articulate, well organised and won’t let go, he said.

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.