Newly retired Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation chair Dick Barnes
Newly retired Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation chair Dick Barnes

Drilling the former Biosphere boss for answers

FOR possibly the last time, Noosa councillor Ingrid Jackson and former Noosa Biosphere Reserve Board chairman Dick Barnes have publicly “locked horns” over the environmental group’s annual reporting.

Cr Jackson is not re-standing at the March election, while Mr Barnes has stood down as head of the NBRF, so their recent annual frank exchanges during the NBRF’s public presentation of the report may be over.

Cr Jackson has always held the NBRF, a group that receives $140,000 in ratepayer money out of an annual income last year of $497,714, to strict account and again raised a number of operational and reporting issues.

On Monday in general committee, Cr Jackson said the NBRF funding deed referred to “developing and reviewing a three to five-year strategic plan, an operational plan”.

“There’s no mention of that in the annual report,” Cr Jackson said.

“I’m just wondering what progress did occur in relationship to this strategic/operational plan?”

Mr Barnes replied: “In the body of the document, it sets down an approach to the big ideas generation that we’ve been asked to take on and it shows how a process evolved some basic research about what are the big ideas and how can they be put in practice.

“That’s an ongoing process … we started that … there are, as I said, seven or eight big ideas in this which have been actioned in this year.

“Plus the fact that we comment in the thing, about what projects have been completed in the year, so there’s a lot of stuff in there, to be frank.”

Cr Jackson asked if this pertained to the strategic and operational plan.

Mr Barnes said these were about the plan in general and “we’ve put down a methodology for the strategic plan and we’re working on it”.

Cr Ingrid Jackson at one stage said: “I’m actually asking what happened in 2018–19?

Dick Barnes said: “Just read the report properly.”

Cr Jackson replied: “I have.”

Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie, who is the council-appointed member of the board, said there was “a point of disagreement there” and pointed out the periodic review was “intrinsic to the work down in 1918–19”.

“I would suggest that if you are saying nothing is in the report that records anything that happened in the 2018-19 year, it is an unfair and inaccurate question, because one of the first items it refers to is a periodic review,” Cr Wilkie said.

Cr Wilkie said this was a very large body of work.

The periodic review refers to UNESCO’s 10-year review of Noosa Biosphere operation, which has been given it the tick of approval.

As well, the report updates its “big ideas” projects like Bring Back the Fish oyster reef renewal project, Keep it in Kin Kin soil run-off mitigation works and work on the Noosa Environmental and Cultural Development Trail.

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