Noosa Councillor Ingrid Jackson
Noosa Councillor Ingrid Jackson John McCutcheon

Councillor wants answers from Biosphere board

WITH Noosa Shire Council sinking $1.8 million of ratepayer money towards a local green group over three years, one councillor is demanding greater transparency.

Cr Ingrid Jackson has submitted a list of questions to council CEO Brett de Chastel regarding the Noosa Biopshere Reserve Foundation and wants the answers made public.

"I am disappointed that there is little information about NBRF achievements and outcomes in their 2016-17 Annual Report and 2017-18 Half Year Report,” Cr Jackson said.

"I believe detailed disclosure is called for. We are, as a council, the only primary fund provider to that organisation. That is ratepayers' money, which means that we would like ratepayers to have full information as well as councillors when these sorts of reports come through.”

Her list of questions includes:

What progress has been made by each Biopshere reserve project to date?

What criteria do you use to establish whether a project is "going well”?

What problems were being experienced with the financial systems that the current NBRF directors inherited that they believed required improvement?

What improvements have you made to the financial system?

What are the functions of the newly formed Bring Back the Fish Client Group?

Is it the NBRF's intention to form client groups for other projects?

Have the directors reviewed or intend to review those provisions of the NBRF Constitution which severely restrict membership and which lie at the heart of claims that NBRF is a "closed shop”?

Cr Jackson had asked for her question to be answered at last Thursday's monthly ordinary council meeting, however CEO Brett de Chastel said there was not enough time to respond.

Mr de Chastel also said he had not considered at this stage how the answers will be made public, once he had conveyed them to Cr Jackson.

Cr Brian Stockwell said some of her questions went "far beyond what is a legitimate interest of council”. "Some of the questions that Cr Jackson asked were totally appropriate in terms of the funding deed,” Cr Stockwell said.

"I think it's important to understand when Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation was set up, it wasn't set up as an arm of council.

"We have a specific funding agreement by which they report against certain things.”

"There were other aspects that dealt with the internal operation on the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation and I have a very principled position about empowering community groups,” he said.

He said when you hand over responsibility to such a group "you don't seek to manage it from afar”.

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