Fury over axed group

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

MT Mol­loy and Ju­lat­ten res­i­dents are up in arms over Mackay Su­gar’s de­ci­sion to ‘‘dis­con­tinue’’ the Com­mu­nity Work­ing Group, amid claims of ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour.

On Mon­day Mackay Su­gar an­nounced its de­ci­sion to axe the group, which was formed to ad­dress com­mu­nity con­cerns over the sched­uled trans­porta­tion of 700,000 tonnes of Table­lands cane through the small towns to Moss­man next year.

Af­ter only the sec­ond meet­ing the chair­man David Donohue (Queens­land Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Net­work man­ag­ing di­rec­tor) re­signed af­ter, what he de­scribed as peo­ple in the group main­tain­ing an ‘‘ en­trenched and ag­gres­sive stance’’.

One such CWG mem­ber from Ju­lat­ten, Den­nis Rose, said he and other mem­bers felt the ag­gres­sive stance came from Mackay Su­gar and the for­mer chair­man. ‘‘ We to­tally re­fute ev­ery­thing Lorelei van Dalen (Mackay Su­gar) and Mackay Su­gar have said, she and David Donohue had no in­ten­tion of ever re­solv­ing any­thing with the com­mu­nity and de­railed the process from day one,’’ he said.

‘‘David Donohue’s per­for­mance as a chair­per­son was ab­so­lutely pa­thetic. I’ve been in­volved in many other com­mu­nity groups over the years and usu­ally if the chair­man is bi­ased he at least tries to dis­guise the fact.

‘‘He per­son­ally attacked me then when that didn’t work he started hav­ing go at another. He tried the clas­sic di­vide and con­quer and when it be­came ob­vi­ous we were stick­ing to­gether he spat the dummy, took the bat and ball and went home - then Mackay Su­gar put out a me­dia re­lease about how we were ag­gres­sive and en­trenched. We are all dis­ap­pointed.’’

Mr Rose said for­mer com­mit­tee mem­bers are not sur­prised the CWG was dis­banded, but they will con­tinue to hold meet­ings with their own com­mit­tee, with sup­port from Table­land Re­gional Coun­cil­lor Gaye Tay­lor.

‘‘She has been very sup­port­ive of us. It doesn’t take a lot of ev­i­dence to see the in­ad­e­quacy of the road and the un­ac­cept­able im­pact from the amount of traf­fic we are go­ing to have,’’ Mr Rose said.

‘‘We are un­der no il­lu­sions it will be an easy bat­tle but we will do any­thing we legally can do to stop the trucks.’’

Mackay Su­gar com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Lorelei van Dalen said that while the CWG has been dis­banded, the com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion process with Mt Mol­loy and Ju­lat­ten res­i­dents would con­tinue. ‘‘We re­main com­mit­ted to work­ing with the Mt Mol­loy and Ju­lat­ten com­mu­ni­ties and de­vel­op­ing a trans­porta­tion strat­egy that takes into ac­count the var­i­ous con­cerns of Mt Mol­loy and Ju­lat­ten res­i­dents,’’ she said. ‘‘In lieu of the CWG, we will con­duct a short se­ries of work­shops in Novem­ber, in­volv­ing com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads, the po­lice and Table­lands Coun­cil.’’

Pic­ture: DONNA-MARIE MILNE

CON­TRO­VERSY:

Mackay Su­gar axed the Com­mu­nity Work­ing Group

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