United front ‘fractures’ on sustainable tourism
DESPITE almost two years of meetings by a stakeholders’reference group members to find a sustainable tourism future for Noosa, Mayor Tony Wellington has admitted they still cannot reach a formal accord.
His frank assessment is contained in his review report sent out to members of the Noosa’s Sustainable Tourism Stakeholder Reference Group and presented this week to council.
This document has in turn created its own angst among local business groups, according to Cr Ingrid Jackson.
Cr Jackson told Monday’s council committee general meeting she has received informal feedback from these associations “there had been an expectation” that before the report was published online by council “there would have been an opportunity for the stakeholders to approve that publication”.
Cr Wellington in his report said “efforts to produce a written statement or accord that can be signed off by all participants” had “ultimately proven to be somewhat difficult”.
“There are participants who insist that such a document will lack real purpose unless it also includes a series of specific actions in some sort of action plan,” the mayor’s report said.
“The other stumbling block to date has been disagreement about the use of specific words to describe Noosa’s current or future tourism threats.”
Cr Jackson, who is a member of the reference group alongside Cr, said the “report has not been endorsed by the reference group members, so the views expressed in the report are not necessarily their views”.
“In fact the topics were presentations made to the reference group over the past two years as food for thought and discussion.
“My concerns with the report are about the need to fact check and provide researched evidence to underpin assertions.
“The report paints a gloomy picture and uses colourful language, without any underpinning statistics,” Cr Jackson said.
Cr Wellington said there was no intent to have the stakeholders sign off on the report – and he indicated to the stakeholders, the intent was to bring this report to council in January or February.
The mayor said reference group members, including Cr Jackson, had his report sent out to them on December 9 and not one had raised any concerns to him.
“It’s not surprising that Cr Jackson found some statements she liked and some she didn’t like.”s
He said this was a “schematic report’ which tried to describe in overview what the reference group had done over two years “without going into great detail”.
“The whole reason I’m bringing this report to council is to shed some light on what the group’s been doing,” the mayor said.
“It hasn’t received endorsement from everyone on the STSRG, but it wasn’t seeking to necessarily.
“Once I sent it out in early December, no one came back and said ‘remove this or you’ve missed this out – nothing’.
“That did not happen.”
“In the end, I’ll be damned, if you like, for setting up this stakeholder reference group and be damned for writing a report that some people don’t like some statements that are contained in it.”
The mayor said to date finding sustainable answers had been difficult however he said it was “a credit to every one of the participating organisations that they have stayed the course and maintained their focus on the issues at hand”.
“We will continue I am sure to have a range of views around this table and within the community and it doesn’t hurt us to grapple with issues that are seemingly insoveable, just as we are doing with transport,” Cr Wellington said.
Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie, who said the mayor’s report was an excellent summary of the issues raised over two years, along with the majority of councillors supported Cr Jackson’s amendment that council note the report was the work of the mayor and not endorsed by the reference group.
The council also agreed, except for the mayor, to recommend the group invite other organisations to join the STSRG.
The reference group consists of representatives from the following organisations:-
Zero Emissions Noosa Inc Hastings Street Association Noosa Residents & Ratepayers Association Noosa Community Biosphere Association Noosa Junction Association Noosa Parks Association Noosaville Business Association Noosa Chamber of Commerce Cooroy Area Residents Association Heart of Pomona Cooroy Chamber of Commerce Peregian Beach Community Association Noosa Integrated Catchment Association Noosa and District Landcare Tourism Noosa Noosa Shire Council.