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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Norfolk takes delivery of new firefighting vehicle

THEY keys to Tasmania's most advanced pumper/tanker firefighting vehicle were handed to the New Norfolk Fire Brigade late last month. Making the presentation, Lyons MHA David Llewellyn said the vehicle had been designed through consultation with Tasmanian firefighters.

“A total of 30 these vehicles have been fabricated at Tasmania Fire Service Engineering Workshops at Cambridge over approximately a two-year period, with around one third of those to be allocated within the Southern Region as they roll off the assembly line,” Mr Llewellyn said.

“This is a very impressive vehicle and fire services around the country have shown keen interest. In particular, they see the fact that they are 4-wheel drive with the versatility of being able to respond effectively to both structural and bushfire risk as being a desirable feature," he said.
Mr Llewellyn said Tasmania was in the unique situation of being able to produce its own fire appliances at considerable cost savings. “This is brought about by the planned way in which Tasmania Fire Service replaces its ageing fire appliance fleet rather than waiting until vehicles break down completely, which would then require them to be replaced in a reactive way,” he said.

Since 2003 the Tasmania Fire Service has manufactured 85 fire vehicles, including light and medium tankers, at its Cambridge complex. “The introduction of new and improved fire vehicles continues to enhance the quality of fire protection and emergency response offered by Tasmania Fire Service, and the State Government is strongly committed to continuing their excellent record of support for the replacement program,” Mr Llewellyn said.

Council's Christmas opening to be reviewed

THE staffing of the Derwent Valley Council office each Christmas is under reviewr. During councillor question time at this month's meeting, Cr Damian Bester asked whether the general manager would conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the recent practice of opening the council office between Christmas and the New Year.

Historically the council office was closed during this period, but several years ago a decision was made to have a skeleton staff on duty for the handful of business days between Christmas and the New Year. Responding to Cr Bester's question, general manager Stephen Mackey said it was already clear that little business was done during the period in question. Few development applications were received at this time and ratepayers now had alternative methods of paying their rates demands.

Mr Mackey advised that he too was at work over Christmas, and agreed that it was an appropriate time to analyse the effectiveness of opening the office during the holiday period.

Cr Bester said he was not generally in favour of reducing services, but he thought this might be an opportunity to reduce costs if the service was not being used. He looked forward to the general manager reporting back to the January council meeting.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Who goes there?

THE hosts of the Heart 107.3 FM breakfast show recently visited New Norfolk to answer a listener's question about what was going on at Willow Court. Their website says that after arriving at 6am and having a look around, they still didn't know the answer.

Simply turning up probably wasn't the best approach. Neither was looking around the old Royal Derwent Hospital site instead of Willow Court (see photo copied from their website).

Media interest in the ongoing delays associated with Willow Court is welcome (and vital) but experienced broadcasters such as these should have been a bit more thorough with their research. Our friends at  Paranoramal Intent blog would probably have been only too happy to help, or even the council for that matter.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the New Norfolk News

THE New Norfolk News sends Christmas greetings to all its readers. Your editor has a feeling that 2010 is going to be a landmark year in the history of the Derwent Valley, so rest up over the holiday period and take in plenty of sustenance. Next year is going to be a biggie.

Don't forget, if you are on your own tomorrow, a free Christmas Day lunch is available in the hall at St Matthew's Anglican Church in New Norfolk. The fine folk at St Matt's will make you welcome at noon. There will be a Christmas Eve service at St Matthew's at 11 tonight and the Christmas Day service will be at 9.30am.

Soon it will be Christmas Day, and your editor is having trouble getting this carol out of his head, so he's going to share it with you :-)

City sidewalk, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style.
In the air there's
A feeling of Christmas.

Children laughing, people passing,
Meeting smile after smile,
And on every street corner you'll hear:

Silver bells, silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring,
Soon it will be Christmas day.

City street lights,
Even stop lights,
Blink a bright red and green,
As the shoppers rush home
With their treasures.

Hear the snow crunch,
See the kids bunch,
This is Santa's big scene,
And above all this bustle you'll hear:

Silver bells, silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring,
Soon it will be Christmas day.

NNHS recognises its best and brightest

NEW Norfolk High School's annual prizegiving assembly recognised the efforts of a long list of achievers in all grades. Congratulations to all recipients and to the donors who make the awards possible.

Bursaries - Charles & Sylvia Viertel Springboard to Higher Education Bursary for a former Ouse student: Mikayla Hall
Charles & Sylvia Viertel Springboard to Higher Education Bursary: Jordan Hay
Central Highlands Council Bursary for a student proceeding to Further Education: Mikayla Hall
Magra CWA Vocational Bursary for a student proceeding to a VET Course: Ryan Turner
Claremont College Bursary for a students proceeding to Claremont College in 2010: Kirstie Nelson
Norske Skog Bursary for students proceeding to college education in 2010: Bianca Tonks, Amber Lester, Jacob Sproule, Hayley Browning
NNHS Medal for the most outstanding student at New Norfolk High School: Claire Elliott

Grade 10 Awards - Claremont Rotary Club Award for exemplary commitment to the values of education: Hayley Browning
Mat Goggin Foundation Award for Entrepreneurship: Ashley Heron
Minister for Education & Skills "Pride in Our School" Award for community spirit: Joshua Walsh
NNHS Cookery Award: Bianca Barratt
The Gazette Award for Achievement in Literacy and English: Hayley Browning
Tim Morris MHA Award for Achievement in Science: Seana Ackroyd
Uniting Church Personal Endeavour and Commitment to Personal Growth Award: Samantha Blackwell
Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership & Teamwork Award: Sam Treloar
Apex Shield for Citizenship, Service and Fellowship over 4 years: Sam Treloar & Kate Minchin
Senator Carol Brown Merit Award for Personal Endeavour: Sammy Bond
David Jefferson Memorial Award for Service to the School Community: James Tassell
David Llewellyn MHA Encouragement Award: Melissa Hutchins
Glengrey House Community Service and Citizenship Award: Claire Elliott
New Norfolk Bicentenary Award for Commitment to Community Activities: Emily Rieper
NNHS Achievement in the Arts-Music Award: Jeiel Roper
NNHS Graphic Design Award: Ashley Heron
NNHS Performing Arts Award: Jack Hooper
NNHS Visual Arts Award: Taylor Lacey
Phil Lake Award for Excellence in Numeracy: Claire Elliott
Michael Graham Memorial Trophy for Boys' Sport and Sportsmanship: Jacob Sproule
Tina and Stephen Rhodes Memorial Award for Girls' Outstanding Values in Sport: Kate Minchin

Grade 9 Awards - Betty Triffitt Memorial Award for Service to the School Community: Kimberley Williams
Derwent Valley Council Award for Outstanding Achievement across the Curriculum: Samantha Tassell
Dick Adams MHR Award for Achievement in Maths and English: Mathew Baumgarten
Lions Club of New Norfolk Community Service & Citizenship Award: Mitchell Lovell
Woolworths Supermarket Encouragement Award: Kara Nichols
John and Hilary Craw Award for Achievement in Information Technology: Ross Kent
Derwent Valley Masonic Lodge Best Grade 9 All Rounder: Samantha Tassell

Grade 8 Awards - Tasmanian Alkaloids Award for Exemplary Commitment to the Values of Education: Hayley Browning
Catholic Church Award for Personal Endeavour and Commitment to Personal Growth: Ashley Heron
AJ & IA Pearson Award for Achievement in Public Speaking: Joshua Walsh
Forestry Tasmania's Care for People Award: Abbey Browning
Heather Butler MHA Award for Achievement in Society & History: Connor McNabb
Lachlan CWA Memorial Committee Encouragement Award: Ladie Parker
Michael Polley MHA for Outstanding Achievement across the Curriculum: Shaun Gray
RSL Award for Improvement and Consistent Effort: Stephanie Tourmaline
Commonwealth Bank Best Grade 8 All Rounder Award: Aden Tonks

Grade 7 awards - Lachlan CWA Memorial Committee Encouragement Award: Chloe Eiszele
Michael Aird MLC Award for Community Service & Citizenship: Hayley Roberts
NNHS Award for Personal Endeavour & Commitment to Personal Growth: Glenn Woodhouse
NNHS Award for Achievement in Science or Society and History: Sarah Clarke
NNHS Encouragement Award: Mitchell Rice
Outstanding Achievement across the Curriculum (for a former Fairview Primary student): Sophie Briggs
Outstanding Achievement across the Curriculum (for a former Molesworth Primary student): Caitlin White
Outstanding Achievement across the Curriculum (for a former New Norfolk Primary student): Zoe Hall
Derwent Valley Concert Band Award for Achievement in the Arts-Music: Caitlin White
Rene Hidding MHA Award for Achievement in Health and Wellbeing: Tyron Rainbird
The Shoe Mart Sport and Sportsmanship Award: Luke Cooper
RSL Award for Improvement and Consistent Effort: Jessica Hall
Commonwealth Bank Best Grade 7 All Rounder: Sophie Briggs

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Developers circling Willow Court oval

AT least three developers are now thought to be interested in the Willow Court oval. A prime site on the corner of George St and The Avenue, the sportsground and adjoining buildings have been on the Derwent Valley Council's disposal list for nearly a decade. A loosening of heritage restrictions on the precinct is understood to have made the property more attractive to developers.

The council has been in secret negotiations to sell the property to a supermarket developer, but this process is likely to be cancelled when a special closed council meeting is held on Monday night. It is believed that a rival supermarket developer is waiting in the wings, along with a major hardware chain. It is understood threats of legal action were made when it was learned a sale was being negotiated without there being a public process of expressions of interest, tenders, or real estate advertising to let potential purchasers know that the property was for sale with less stringent heritage requirements than was previously the case.

It is not clear whether the parcel of land in question includes the only remaining car-parking area on the Willow Court site. All other parking areas, along with some roads and footpaths, were sold to private developers some years ago. This matter went unanswered when raised by Councillor Damian Bester at last month's council meeting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Secret land sale comes unstuck

A MOVE will be made next week to rescind a secret decision of the Derwent Valley Council to sell part of the Willow Court historic site for a supermarket development. Until last night's monthly council meeting, former deputy mayor had been the only councillor to speak publicly about the decision to sell the Willow Court sportsground to a developer planning to build a new supermarket.

At last night's meeting, Cr Judy Bromfield sought leave to make a personal statement. Cr Bromfield said she believed the sale of the oval was in the best interests of the ratepayers and she believed the decision to sell was correct. Cr Bromfield went on to say that certain circumstances had changed since the decision was made, and as such she was foreshadowing a motion of revocation and requested a closed council meeting next week to debate the motion.

At a "meet the candidates" forum at New Norfolk in October, Cr Scott Shaw revealed that the council was poised to sell the oval property to a supermarket developer for $500,000.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"No move to unseat mayor"

FORMER deputy mayor Scott Shaw has dismissed local speculation that he would attempt to unseat mayor Martyn Evans at tomorrow night's meeting of the Derwent Valley Council. Councillor Shaw was one of three unsuccessful candidates for the top job at this year's council election. Tonight he told the New Norfolk News there was no truth to a rumour he was planning to somehow remove Cr Evans from office.

Cr Shaw said he was aware of the rumour, which spread like wildfire today. He had been contacted by Mayor Evans, who had heard the story from the council's general manager. On hearing that it was alleged Cr Shaw had made certain comments whilst at the New Norfolk Christmas Parade on Saturday, Cr Shaw said he had not attended the parade.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Whatever it is, it's taking shape

A COLOURFUL structure is taking shape at Tynwald Park, where the Derwent Valley Council announced it was building a "sound shell" for public entertainment.

The council's recently-released annual report refers to it both as a "bandstand" and a "stage facility". Regular readers of the New Norfolk News know that the NewsBlogger is a grumpy pedant and he should be grateful to the Federal Government for providing $150,000 to make it happen.

The stage is being built at the furthest end of Tynwald Park, New Norfolk's highly regarded parkland and sportsfield complex. It looks out over the football and cricket ground and will be a valuable public facility.

Willow Court funds under scrutiny

A SPECIAL meeting will be held to analyse every detail of the expenditure of funds intended for the redevelopment of the Willow Court historic site. The move was one of a raft of measures put forward by new councillor Damian Bester at his first council meeting last month. Cr Bester consented to a minor amendment by Cr Jim Elliott which saw the term "line-by-line analysis" replaced with "an analysis", and the amendment was then supported by all councillors with the exception of Cr Barry Lathey who had declared an interest and left the meeting room.

In debate, Cr Elliott said it would be "quite interesting" if councillors were tied up for a week conducting the review. He suggested that Cr Bester should provide a precis of his own investigation of the financials, as a line-by-line analysis would be a lengthy process. In contrast, Cr Scott Shaw said it may be necessary for a series of meetings to be held. A lot of new information would be brought forward, he said.

Deputy mayor Craig Farrell said a close look at the Willow Court financial report was warranted. He said the council was now in a position to seek funding for the heritage property and future funds would have to be managed "properly and responsibly".

Cr James Graham said he had been asked many questions about Willow Court during the recent election campaign. He supported a review of the financial report, no matter how long it took.

Dazzling Derwent Dollar smiles

THE Derwent Dollar Draw is always guaranteed to put some smiles on the faces of several lucky winners after the New Norfolk Christmas Parade. The tradition started when the parade was revived by Ngaire Glover and Damian Bester 11 years ago and it couldn't be simpler: complete a coupon published in the Derwent Valley Gazette and place it into a box at the Christmas parade. The prizemoney is issued as Derwent Dollars, which can be spent at about 80 participating businesses in High St and surrounds.

This year's lucky winners, photographed with Mayor Martyn Evans, were, from left, Narelle Lane, of Lachlan (500 Derwent Dollars); Maxine Adlard, of New Norfolk (200 Derwent Dollars); Marlene Adlard, of New Norfolk (100 Derwent Dollars); Helen Hynes, of New Norfolk (100 Derwent Dollars) and Danielle Triffett, of New Norfolk (100 Derwent Dollars). Thanks to Ngaire Glover for this great photo.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nearly perfect day for Christmas Parade

THE crowd at today's 11th annual New Norfolk Christmas Parade was generally regarded to have been the best yet. The weather was almost perfect, with only just enough wind to blow over the council's small road-closure signs after the event.

There were 39 entries in the parade, which once again covered a wide area of community life in the Derwent Valley. As always, the Derwent Valley Concert Band and Derwent Scottish Pipe Band earned a cheer as they passed by. A pleasing feature of this year's event was the vastly increased number of walking participants and fewer trucks.

Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans and his son Campbell judged the contest for the best floats in various categories. These were:
  • Best overall presentation: St Brigid's School nativity scene (prize: 50 Derwent Dollars)
  • Runner-up: New Norfolk Cubs and Scouts (prize: 25 Derwent Dollars)
  • Best school presentation - Glenora Early Learning Group "A Very Fairy Christmas" and Glenora District High School human powered vehicle (prize: 50 Derwent Dollars)
  • Runner-up: Blair Street Kindergarten - "How Does your Garden Grow" (prize: 25 Derwent Dollars)
  • Best decorated vehicle: Norske Skog bumble bee (prize: 25 Derwent Dollars)
  • Mayor's special prize: New Norfolk Primary School - "Peace across the World" (prize: 25 Derwent Dollars)
Check out our photo gallery:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Valley Vision loses Willow Court

THE Derwent Valley Council has resumed direct control of the future development of Willow Court. Newly-elected councillor Damian Bester made Willow Court one of the key elements of his first council meeting and was able to gain enough support from his fellow councillors to see economic development group Valley Vision lose its long-held responsibility for the historic site.

Cr Bester moved (seconded by deputy mayor Craig Farrell) that the council resume direct authority for Willow Court and its redevelopment and that the project officer provide a written update at each monthly council meeting, in open session. In discussion, Cr Bester said it was time to make a move. He said Valley Vision had been dealing with Willow Court for about 10 years and had failed dismally. He said it was time to make a move. "It appears that the Valley Vision project officer is also the council’s economic development officer, so there will be no loss of momentum or corporate memory," he said.

Cr Bester also spoke of the importance of working with the community. "We need to formalise the status of the Willow Court working party and open it to the public as was originally promised," he said. Crs Jim Elliott and Barry Lathey asked what impact the move would have on the Willow Court working party. Cr Lathey said he was a member of the working party and would not like to see it disbanded. Cr Bester explained that the motion sought to formalise the working party, not disband it.

Cr James Graham said he liked the intent of the motion, and deputy mayor Farrell said he would like to see experts from the Tasmanian Heritage Council brought in as advisors.

Ernie Dingo drops in again

TELEVISION personality Ernie Dingo visited New Norfolk last week. The Channel 7 and Southern Cross Television presenter was seen relaxing at Banjo's Bakehouse in High St - the same place he was seen when last in New Norfolk several years ago. Dingo is the host of several programs including The Great Outdoors, a travel show which has visited the Derwent Valley several times.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas panto coming up

EVERYONE who enjoyed the local production of Puss in Boots in 2007 will love Cinderella when it hits the New Norfolk War Memorial Hall later this month as a Christmas pantomime. The sweet and kind Cinderella will be played by Holly Ackerly, while Allison Butterworth and Maria Josey are the cruel step-sisters.

Sharon Hutchison will play a delightfully mean granny who likes a bit of a bop. There is also a soccer-mad prince, a king and queen with a problem, the long-suffering Dandini with a constant migraine called Prince Charming, the love-sick Buttons and a 21st century, technology savvy fairy god mother.

The show times will be 1pm and 5pm on December 19 and 20 at the New Norfolk War Memorial Hall, Circle St. Tickets are $5 for children, $10 for adults or a family pass for $20. Tickets can be booked through Roz Chapman on 0403 858 210 or call in to 20th Century Artifacts at 56 High St, New Norfolk, between 11am and 5pm daily..

Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't eat the bream

A RECENTLY issued brochure contains important information about the safety of fish caught in the River Derwent. The annual Derwent Estuary Report Card warns that heavy metal levels in shellfish are slowly declining but mercury levels in some Derwent-caught fish are above recommended health guidelines.

“Results from a pilot survey of fish caught in the estuary found mercury levels in bream, and estuary trout, are in excess of recommended food safety standards,” Derwent Estuary Program director Christine Coughanowr said when releasing the report card last week.

The current health advice in relation to Derwent-caught fish is available in the recently updated brochure Should I eat Shellfish and Fish from the Derwent? This brochure says:

  • Do not eat any bream from the Derwent
  • Do not eat any shellfish from the Derwent
  • Limit consumption of flathead and other Derwent-caught fish (eg trout and mullet)
  • Pregnant women and young children should limit consumption of flathead or other Derwent-caught fish to no more than ONE meal per week, and avoid eating other fish in the same week.
  • Other adults should limit their consumption of flathead or other Derwent-caught fish to no more than TWO meals per week.
 Download a copy of the brochure here

Boyer's efforts boost river health

A REPORT looking at the health of the Derwent estuary has found the completion of several wastewater treatment projects has led to further water quality improvements. Releasing the annual Derwent Estuary Report Card today, Derwent Estuary Program  director Christine Coughanowr said several projects had significantly reduced the amount of pollution entering the Derwent.

“These include the commissioning of a more advanced wastewater treatment plant at the Boyer paper mill,” Ms Coughanowr said. “Since 2007, the cumulative loads of most discharges entering the Derwent have declined – in particular a marked decline in organic loads from Norske Skog paper mill. In the last year organic loads from the Norske Skog paper mill fell by more than 80% following the upgrade of the treatment plant.”

Improved sewage treatment at Clarence, Hobart and Glenorchy was also a factor in the improved health of the River Derwent, along with a new groundwater recovery system at the zinc works.

Despite this good news, a recent study has found that mercury levels in some Derwent-caught fish are above recommended health guidelines. “Results from a pilot survey of fish caught in the estuary found mercury levels in bream, and estuary trout, are in excess of recommended food safety standards,” Ms Coughanowr said.  “Further studies are under way to confirm the pilot study findings, extend the survey to other areas of the Derwent estuary and investigate how mercury is being passed up the food chain.”

The Derwent Estuary Program is a partnership between the State Government, councils, commercial and industrial enterprises, scientists and community-based groups to restore and promote the Derwent estuary.
For a full copy of the report card, go to

Lachlan woman ordained

LACHLAN resident Ann Whittle was ordained as a priest of the Anglican Church in a ceremony at St David's Cathedral on November 21. The Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, John Harrower, ordained two other people as priests and a fourth person as a deacon. Bishop Harrower said the four had a wide variety of life experience, with jobs such as teachers, working in a pharmacy and on a farm, and work with Scripture Union (school chaplaincy support). Some would continue in the workforce alongside their ministry, whilst others were in a full-time church role.

“I’m very pleased to see a steady stream of new leaders being ordained in Tasmania over recent years," Bishop Harrower said. "We are blessed with men and women of wide experience and different gifts, younger and older, who are taking up the challenge of serving their church and local community in these new roles. They will be a valuable part of the local leadership of the Anglican Church in Tasmania."

Boyer still worth big bikkies to state

THE Norske Skog paper mill at Boyer Mill had far reaching impacts on the Tasmanian and Australian economies, state treasurer and Minister for Economic Development, Michael Aird MLC, said recently. He said the mill's annual production represented about 40 per cent of the newsprint and related grades of paper  used in Australia each year.

“Ninety-seven per cent of this production is transported to interstate customers," Mr Aird said. “It is also a major customer of the Tasmanian rail network and Bass Strait shipping. Each year the mill transports more than one million tonnes of finished product and raw materials. The mill’s annual contribution to Tasmania’s gross state product has been estimated at approximately $390 million, and the employment creates more than 900 jobs, this includes 340 direct employees," Mr Aird said.

Mr Aird made the remarks in a press statement congratulating Norske Skog and BIS Industrial Logistics on the successful completion of the $50 million Softwood Conversion Project and Integrated Woodchip Plant. The project was officially opened on November 16 by the Governor, Peter Underwood.

Mr Aird said the Tasmanian Government had recognised the importance of the project to the state and provided a $10 million loan to Norske Skog.  “In addition to this assistance, support was also provided through the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) industry assistance program jointly administered by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments," he said. 

“The Softwood Conversion Project converts the Boyer site away from using eucalypt based cold caustic soda (CCS) processing lines to a new plantation softwood based thermo-mechanical pulp plant (TMP). The project involved investment of $27.6 million by Norske Skog and a separate investment of $22.5 million in an Integrated Woodchip Plant which will be owned and operated by BIS Industrial Logistics that is integral to the success of Norske Skog’s Softwood Conversion Project. The wood chipping facility will supply the entire feedstock requirement of Norske Skog’s new processes," he said.

Mr Aird said the State Government was committed to an environmentally sustainable and prosperous forest and forest products industry.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Norfolk and Maydena are tidy towns

TWO Derwent Valley localities are officially "tidy towns". New Norfolk has been named the winner in the 5001-15,000 population category and Maydena was the winner in the under-500 category. Derwent Valley Tidy Towns Committee members Carol Collins and Ian Lacey attended a recent awards presentation held at Oatlands. The Tidy Towns committee received a trophy and $500 which will be put towards further Tidy Towns projects.

Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans today hosted a celebratory afternoon tea, where he presented awards and certificates of appreciation. These went to:

  • Molesworth Environment Centre: for being an outstanding centre giving new meaning to sustainability and environmental understanding.
  • Corumbene Volunteer Gardening Group: in recognition of the creation and maintenance of gardens at Corumbene Nursing Home.
  • Norske Skog Boyer: for its generous and caring involvement in the life of the Derwent Valley community.
  • New Norfolk Historical Information Centre: for its contribution to the preservation of Derwent Valley historical data.
  • Windsor's Corner: in recognition of the great work of many in completing the project.
  • Corumbene Nursing Home for the Aged: for its imaginatively designed facility.
  • Derwent Valley Council: for its development role in the outstanding community asset Tynwald Park.
  • Chris Lester: for his enthusiastic commitment to reviving the Derwent Valley Sports and Recreation Centre.
  • Geoff Williams: for contribution to the Maydena community.
  • Roger and Julie Triffett: for the outstanding presentation of an historic residence garden.

The tidy towns committee also acknowledged the following for their support and contribution on the Tidy Towns judging day: Corumbene Nursing Home, Molesworth Environment Centre, Maydena Online Access Centre, St Matthew's Church, and Derwent Valley Sport and Recreation Centre.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Travel scholarship for local student

ELEANOR Salt from New Norfolk has been selected as the recipient of a full scholarship to spend one year in the country of her choice. The scholarship covers return travel, enrichment activities and medial costs for the full year.
The scholarship is a joint initiative of the well known AFS exchange program and SDA Tasmania. AFS Australia is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organisation committed to promoting peace and global tolerance through intercultural exchange. 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of AFS sending Australian teenagers abroad on exchange.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Boyer drops native forest from paper mix

LOCAL Greens parliamentarian Tim Morris MHA has congratulated papermaker Norske Skog for its major re-investment in the Boyer newsprint mill which ensures that its paper will now be produced using plantation pine and recycled fibre instead of native forests. Mr Morris said the new machinery at Boyer would also modernise and improve the competitive position of the mill at a time when there had been a reduction in demand for newsprint.

“The Greens welcome the softwood conversion project at Boyer which improves the mills’ competitive position, reduces effluent volume by 25% per tonne of paper, reduces CO2 emissions and also means that there will no longer be any native forest used in newspaper manufacture in Tasmania,” Mr Morris said. “Just as the Greens encouraged the  Boyer mill to end the use of old growth wood over 20 years ago, we have done the same with ending the use of native forest wood since then and are very pleased to see this come to reality today.”

“This does not mean an end to all issues we have with the mill but we thank Norske for their excellent level of communication over the issues of concern to many in our community, and we will continue to engage with them over the issues of chemical use in their plantations, and maximising rail for transport,”  Mr Morris said.

“The Boyer mill provides valuable jobs for Tasmania and the Derwent Valley, and this investment provides extra job security for those workers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.The conversion of the old cold caustic soda pulp mill to thermo-mechanical means that native forests will no longer be needed to make paper at Boyer and will potentially allow Norske Skog to seek Forest Stewardship Council certification in the future,” Mr Morris said.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New era for council

PROPER debate made a long-awaited return to Derwent Valley Council meetings this week. New councillors James Graham and Damian Bester led the way, with most other councillors joining in. Most discussion focussed on a raft of 16 motions-on-notice put forward by Cr Bester, mostly dealing with the provision of information to the public.

The meeting ran from 6.30pm until just short of midnight, with long-serving Cr Judy Bromfield remarking that it was "just like the good old days."

All did not go Cr Bester's way, as two of his motions were defeated and several attempts to amend other motions failed. New mayor Martyn Evans appeared exasperated with Cr Bester at times, particularly as the latter appeared to play to the packed public gallery at times. About 30 people filled the gallery and additional seating had to be brought in. Mayor Evans called a short intermission after several hours of intense discussion, and Cr Bester invited the public to help themselves to a cup of tea and a biscuit.

The public gallery gradually emptied as the meeting wore on and there were only a handful left after 11pm when Mayor Evans closed the meeting and opened a new meeting in closed session. Cr Bester objected to the closed meeting and the fact that the agenda had been withheld until that very moment. He voted against the closed meeting.

New Norfolk News hits 200

THE most recent article on New Norfolk News was the 200th posting since this website started on July 2, 2008. The first article was about New Norfolk's bicentennial. Thank you to everyone who contributes and all those who comment on the articles posted here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Council and Feds talking again

NEW Derwent Valley mayor Martyn Evans has wasted no time in re-opening dialogue with the Federal Government on topics of local concern, particularly Willow Court. While the former regime made an aborted effort to take the Federal Government to court over lost grant funds, the new administration appears to have adopted a more friendly approach.

Assistant Treasurer Nick Sherry and Lyons MHR Dick Adams met Mayor-elect Evans and several councillors last Friday to discuss plans for a number of New Norfolk icons. The meeting discussed the council’s plans for the development of the Willow Court Barracks to create a vibrant tourism experience, along with beautification of the walking tracks and reserves through the Esplanade area and the future of tourist rail in the Derwent Valley.

“I am delighted to be able to sit down with the mayor and councillors and discuss the future plans for these important venues around New Norfolk,” Senator Sherry said. "There is great potential in the Derwent Valley for tourism and job creation while celebrating the historical significance of the area.”

The party also toured council-owned buildings on the Willow Court site, inspected the “sound shell” being constructed in Tynwald Park and visited the Derwent Valley Railway yard to view progress of the construction of carriage shed. The Tynwald Park improvements have been made possible through the Federal Government’s Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program and railway yard facilities have been supported by a $50,000 grant from the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

“The Derwent Valley is really starting to move ahead – there is so much potential here to promote the entire Valley, and it’s great to see Council being proactive in their approach,” Mr Adams said.

Mayor-elect Evans said the council was pleased to be able to hold ongoing and direct dialogue with federal ministers and the local Federal Member, Dick Adams. “The council is pleased to be able to work with the Federal Government to progress our plans to enhance the tourism and community prospects for the Valley”, Mayor Evans said. “It is a critical and positive partnership that stands to benefit all Derwent Valley residents,” Councillor Evans said.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ngaire needs your Christmas parade entries, pronto

Hello everyone!
I have just been allocated the task of once again organising the annual Christmas Parade, so sorry about the late notice!
I understand that there was a survey of the business community to ascertain their support for its continuance and seems there was a resounding yes but have no idea why nothing had proceeded - however it's under way now.
I believe several of you may have contacted Roz Chapman as a result of either her calling you or you phoning her following the notice in Wednesday's Gazette and she has passed those names and contacts on to me. However, I would appreciate your confirmation.
If you would like to participate, please either confirm by return email or phone me 0419 337 608.
Face painters/entertainers/other street entertainers please contact me as well.
Plan is as usual to depart from Circle Street at noon on December 12, proceed down High St, around Arthur Square by way of Stephen St/Pioneer Ave/Bathurst St and return back along High St to finish at Circle. The parade will go ahead, rain hail or shine!

Readers ask for election figures

READERS of the New Norfolk News have asked for the final figures in the recent Derwent Valley Council election. These are published below, starting with the final, rechecked and confirmed first preference votes.

  1. Scott Shaw              967 votes (1.19 quotas)
  2. Damian Bester           851 votes (1.05 quotas)
  3. Tony Nicholson          452 votes (0.56 quotas)
  4. Barry Lathey             443 votes (0.55 quotas)
  5. James Graham           406 votes (0.50 quotas) 
  6. Phil Bingley               310 votes (0.38 quotas)
  7. Wayne Shoobridge     273 votes (0.34 quotas)
  8. Raymond Smith         180 votes (0.22 quotas)
  9. Alexander Moores      167 votes (0.21 quotas)
Sitting councillor Scott Shaw and challenger Damian Bester were the first to be declared elected, as both secured in excess of a quota. The following shows the process that followed as the distribution of preferences proceeded and various candidates were excluded.

  1. Shaw Elected 1
  2. Bester Elected 2
  3. Shaw's surplus distributed
  4. Bester's surplus distributed
  5. Moores excluded
  6. Moores' votes distributed
  7. Moores fully excluded, Smith excluded
  8. Smith's votes distributed
  9. Smith fully excluded, Bingley excluded
  10. Bingley's votes distributed
  11. Bingley fully excluded, Shoobridge excluded
  12. Shoobridge's votes distributed
  13. Lathey Elected 3, Shoobridge partially excluded
  14. Shoobridge's votes distributed
  15. Shoobridge fully excluded
  16. Lathey's surplus distributed
  17. Graham Elected 4

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Graham ousts Nicholson after election tussle

WELL-KNOWN New Norfolk businessman, activist and community worker James "Migloo" Graham is the fourth and final candidate elected in this week's Derwent Valley Council election, edging out former mayor Tony Nicholson after a day of vote counting.

Co-owner of the famed Old Colony Inn, Mr Graham was in his fourth election attempt. He unseated Mr Nicholson, who last night became the first Derwent Valley mayor to lose office at an election.

Sitting councillor Barry Lathey was the third candidate elected. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for the office of deputy mayor.

In the order of election, the successful candidates were:

  1. Scott Shaw
  2. Damian Bester
  3. Barry Lathey
  4. James Graham

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Change has come to the Valley

AT the close of counting tonight, the Derwent Valley has a new mayor, deputy mayor and at least one new councillor. New Norfolk drycleaner Martyn Evans is the new mayor and electorate officer Craig Farrell is the new deputy mayor. Former deputy mayor Scott Shaw and journalist Damian Bester look set to be the first candidates elected as councillors, with both polling strongly and obtaining a full quota each with 99% of votes counted.

Final figures for tonight were:

  1. Scott Shaw              969 votes (1.19 quotas)
  2. Damian Bester           852 votes (1.05 quotas)
  3. Tony Nicholson          454 votes (0.56 quotas)
  4. Barry Lathey             443 votes (0.55 quotas)
  5. James Graham           405 votes (0.50 quotas) 
  6. Phil Bingley               310 votes (0.38 quotas)
  7. Wayne Shoobridge     273 votes (0.34 quotas)
  8. Raymond Smith         180 votes (0.22 quotas)
  9. Alexander Moores      167 votes (0.21 quotas)
Counting will continue tomorrow (Wednesday) which will firstly see the distribution of Shaw and Bester's surplus votes, followed by the gradual exclusion of candidates with the least votes and the distribution of their preferences. Follow the count at the Tasmanian Electoral Commission website

Among the many people to congratulate new mayor Martyn Evans (left) and new deputy mayor Craig Farrell (right) tonight was the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Michael Polley MHA (centre).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lone wolf Parker retires from council

THE lone voice of change and procedural fairness on the Derwent Valley Council attended his final council meeting tonight. After several terms as a councillor, Richard Parker decided not to contest this year's election. He and his wife Christine recently sold their home at Lachlan and have settled into premises in the city.

A former police officer, postal worker and travel agent, Cr Parker spent many years lobbying the council to improve its performance. He has been a frequent voice of dissent at the council table and spent many years as a one-man opposition party, until joined by several like-minded councillors at the last election two years ago.

Tonight's meeting was the final gathering of the current council, although it did not pass up the opportunity for a final closed session. Before the mayor cleared the public gallery, Cr Judy Bromfield farewelled Cr Parker and wished him well in retirement. "I do wish you well and hope you gain all you wish for in retirement," Cr Bromfield said.

Mayor Tony Nicholson, Cr Barry Lathey and Cr Jim Elliott all added their best wishes on the occasion and Cr Nicholson remarked that Cr and Mrs Parker had been good neighbours of his own family.

In reply, Cr Parker said retirement was not on his agenda. He said he had nearly completed his masters degree in journalism and was still involved in the travel industry and overseas aid. "I will be working until Christine calls the undertaker to collect me," Cr Parker said.

Question cutbacks approved

ONLY two councillors voted against proposed changes to the public question policy when it was debated at tonight's Derwent Valley Council meeting. Several councillors expressed misgivings about the restrictions, but only Councillors Craig Farrell and Narelle Molan voted against the motion.

Councillor Judy Bromfield told the meeting she had been responsible for the introduction of public question time at the council and the original policy allowed only one question per person. She said understood the new allowance of two questions per person was in accord with the Local Government Act, but she queried whether or not questions could be debated. General manager Stephen Mackey said the Act allowed for questions to be asked and answered, but not debated.

Cr Richard Parker said the new policy was deficient in a number of areas, and noted that he had "availed himself of questions" before he was a councillor. He said the major deficiency was in the matter of debate, as on a number of occasions councillors could be able to provide answers to questions if they were allowed to do so. He said councillors heard many questions being asked, but they were not privy to the answers provided, if any. "We were questioned tonight by Mr Bester and I am sure someone could have provided the answer [instead of the mayor taking the question on notice]," Cr Parker said.

Cr Craig Farrell said he was in general agreement with the new policy but was concerned there had been no public consultation. Cr Narelle Molan agreed with Cr Parker's remark that councillors were not provided with copies of written answers. "Is it too much to ask to be provided with the answers?" she said..

The record of voting is as follows (note: Deputy Mayor Scott Shaw was absent from the meeting:

Those in favour
  1. Cr Nicholson
  2. Cr Lathey
  3. Cr Evans
  4. Cr Elliott
  5. Cr Bromfield
  6. Cr Parker

Those against
  1. Cr Molan
  2. Cr Farrell

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Council considers public question cutbacks

THE Derwent Valley Council will consider slashing the time allowed for public question time when it holds its monthly meeting tomorrow (Monday). In a written report, deputy general manager Robert McCrossen recommends that the council approve the following changes:

  • Reducing the time allowed for public questions from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, with provision for councillors to extend the period
  • Each member of the public is limited to two questions
  • Questions must be submitted in writing 10 minutes before the monthly meeting (increased from 5 minutes)
On the positive side, the new policy:
  • Says "questions on notice" will be answered in writing
  • Removes the individual time limit of three minutes per question
  • Includes "other administrative changes designed to improve the process of responding
  • to questions from the public" but these are not specified in the agenda.
On the whole, the new policy appears to further restrict the ability of ratepayers and residents to question the council. Notably, the new policy was not put out to the public for consultation, as shown in the following excerpt from the agenda:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keen crowd met the candidates

THE "Meet the Candidates" forum held last Saturday afternoon at the New Norfolk Lions Club rooms in Willow Court was praised by those who attended. "It was a really good opportunity to listen and question the candidates in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere," said convenor Ngaire Glover of Molesworth.

Chaired by Geoff Dodge, former general manager of the Brighton Council, the function gave all Derwent Valley Council election candidates the opportunity to speak for five minutes and the receive questions for five minutes.

All candidates for Councillor, Deputy Mayor and Mayor, with one exception, attended and took the opportunity to relate their claims to the position being contested. A good crowd of about 30 people posed a variety of questions of each candidate occasioning several lively debates. Afternoon tea afforded the opportunity for many to have individual conversations with the candidates.

A call for such a forum to be held every two years at election time was a common request and Mrs Glover said it was the best $150 (less $49.60 received in donations at the door), she had ever spent.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Noted New Norfolk woman dies

A FORMER New Norfolk woman referred to as the "Lady of the Air Force" has died in Victoria, aged 88. Gloria Gwendolyn Grace was born at New Norfolk in 1920 and came to fame as a result of her service during World War II. She and her younger sister Marcia joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force in 1943.

The then Corporal Gloria Grace was based in Melbourne when the artist Harold Freedman spotted her on a tram, carrying a briefcase with the distinctive monogram "G.G.G.". Deciding that she would be perfect for a new series of war service portraits, Freedman tracked down the attractive servicewoman and immortalised her in a painting which today hangs in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. From this portrait, she became known as the "Lady of the Air Force".

Miss Grace married Len Corcoran at St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, in 1947. The couple had three children, Michael, David and Andrew. In 1949 she was struck down by polio, and its effects remained with her for the rest of her life. Despite this setback, she gained a Bachelor of Education and became a teacher in the Catholic education system in Victoria. She died in a Melbourne nursing home yesterday, just short of her 89th birthday.

Both of the images used here have been sourced from the Australian War Memorial website.

The ABC has more on this story here including audio of tributes from younger brother Geoff Grace and childhood friend Ron Ruthven.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Land sales for closed council meeting next week

DEPUTY mayor Scott Shaw lifted the lid on the likely sale of the Willow Court sportsground last weekend, but the New Norfolk News understands a nearby supermarket car park is also under offer.

Councillor Barry Lathey inadvertently revealed the imminent sale of the Willow Court oval during his deputy mayoral campaign speech on Saturday afternoon, but refused to reveal further details when questioned. During his own mayoral campaign speech, Cr Shaw later revealed that a developer had offered about $500,000 for the oval, which was likely to become the site of a new supermarket.

A number of people present for the "meet the candidates" function expressed their opposition to the oval being sold, describing it as open space which had long been used by the public. It has now emerged that the council is also considering the sale of the public car park at the Woolworths supermarket in New Norfolk for about $300,000 to the same developer.

The council has been seeking a buyer for the Willow Court oval for some time. It rejected an offer for the car park several years ago and had not revealed that the property was still up for sale. Both matters are expected to be considered during a closed council meeting on Monday night, allowing the council to keep its decision secret if it wishes.

Liberty Swing lets special kids let loose

THE Derwent Valley's first Liberty Swing was officiallly opened at Tynwald Park, New Norfolk, last Saturday afternoon. The innovative swing was installed, thanks to the efforts of the Variety Club Bashers and the local community. Liberty Swings are a world-first Australian innovation which allow people in wheelchairs the opportunity to experience the joy of having a swing in the park. Until now, they have had to watch from the sidelines as their siblings and friends experience the freedom and exhilaration of a swing.

The swing at Tynwald Park was been made possible through support from the Derwent Valley Council, the Lions Club of New Norfolk, Norske Skog, Log A Load for Kids and Variety Tasmania.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Site security is Willow Court group's top priority

CONNECTING the electricity and installing electronic security and surveillance is the top priority reported by the Willow Court working party at its community forum tonight. The recommendation will go before the Derwent Valley Council at its monthly meeting on Monday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Next Willow Court forum on Monday night

THE promised follow-up to the recent community forum on Willow Court will be held tomorrow (Monday) at 7pm in the Derwent Valley Council social rooms. The recently-established Willow Court Community Forum will hold another of its unadvertised meetings in the morning, to prepare for the forum.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Science labs and radio studio for NNHS

TENDERS have been called for the construction of 10 science and language centres in government schools across the state, including New Norfolk High School. Premier David Bartlett said Tasmania had secured more than $43 million for 30 new science and language centres through the Federal Government’s multi-billion-dollar Building the Education Revolution (BER) program. “This is the greatest school modernisation program in Tasmanian history and we want every Tasmanian child to have access to the best facilities for learning,” Mr Bartlett said.

The New Norfolk High School project includes construction of a new science laboratory, as well as studios for the new community radio station which is soon to begin broadcasting from a temporary facility in the Valley Vision office in High St. Advertisements outlining the tenders were published last Saturday in the state’s three daily newspapers. Tenders close on November 4 and builders are expected to be appointed as soon as possible. “This will enable the builder to work closely with the architects, and satisfy council requirements, including building and other permits, before construction begins,” Mr Bartlett said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Council candidates to front the public

FORMER Brighton Council general manager Geoff Dodge will chair a “Meet the Candidates” afternoon at New Norfolk on October 17. Organised by Molesworth resident Ngaire Glover, the function will be held at the Lions Club at Willow Court.  Mrs Glover said it would give all voters an opportunity to listen and ask questions of the Derwent Valley Council election candidates.

"All candidates have expressed their willingness to attend however current Mayor Tony Nicholson of Lachlan has a prior meeting engagement and may not be able to do so," Mrs Glover said.  A gold coin donation will help with the cost of the venue hire. The Lions Club will provide tea and coffee.

Tim's new office officially opened

GREENS leader Nick McKim has officially opened the new office of Lyons MHA Tim Morris at the Cove Hill Fair Shopping Centre at Bridgewater. Mr Morris' former New Norfolk base became unavailable when its ownership changed earlier this year. His new rooms at Bridgewater were previously the office of former Franklin MHR Harry Quick. Mr Morris has had the office for some time, but the official opening took place on September 23.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Council candidates named

HERE is the list of candidates for the 2009 Derwent Valley Council election. Councillors are elected for four year terms, with half of each council facing the voters every two years. This year nine candidates are vying for the four positions available. The positions of mayor and deputy mayor are elected every two years. The candidates are, in the order named by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission:
Councillor (nine candidates - four to be elected)     
BESTER, Damian Rodney, of New Norfolk     
BINGLEY, Phillip, of New Norfolk     
GRAHAM, James, of New Norfolk     
LATHEY, Barry, of New Norfolk     
MOORES, Alexander, of Molesworth     
NICHOLSON, Tony, of Lachlan     
SHAW, Scott Darrell, of New Norfolk     
SHOOBRIDGE, Wayne Anthony, of New Norfolk     
SMITH, Raymond Allan, of Lachlan     

Mayor (four candidates)     
ELLIOTT, Jim, of Bridgewater     
EVANS, Martyn, of Magra     
NICHOLSON, Tony, of Lachlan     
SHAW, Scott Darrell, of New Norfolk

Deputy Mayor (three candidates)         
FARRELL, Craig, of New Norfolk     
LATHEY, Barry, of New Norfolk     
SHOOBRIDGE, Wayne Anthony, of New Norfolk

Local council elections are conducted by postal ballot. Election material (including the ballot paper) mailed directly to each elector. This process is due to start on October 13 and every elector should have their ballot packs by October 16. All ballots are returned to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission in the post (as a postal vote) and must be received by 10am on October 27 in order to be counted.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mudslide closes Molesworth Rd

THE weekend's wild wet and windy weather contributed to a landslide on Molesworth Rd between Molesworth and Glenlusk this morning. Local resident Anthony Edwards snapped this photo of the incident, which closed the road from the early morning, but it was cleared by the afternoon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Letter to the editor

FOLLOWING the debacle of the Willow Court public forum and the inaccurate report of that week’s paper, I not only felt ashamed to be part of the council but like the public needed answers. On demanding the figures for the RDH development I spent 10 hours plus analyzing the contents. It became very clear why the figures have been kept secret. They show very clearly a case of "commercial incompetents" not the "in confidence" they keep speaking about.

The ratepayers have a right to know as we are responsible for carrying the can if and when the funds run out. There are two ways this can be looked at. Firstly the manner under which the council has operated and that was to do all the inquiries and investigations to ascertain what is there and what condition the site is in. They now feel in a comfort zone that future sales in the pipeline will pull them through and with government help will provide a paying project. That is fine but if we get the appropriate sales through and if the government's help! We need both state and federal to contribute to make it a worthwhile project.

The facts is there were limited funds from day one and those funds should have been used to secure the asset. Anybody buying property is urged immediately to insure the asset and secure it. If we had securely locked down the asset then we could have then made more adequate investigations as to its future. Knowing its size they knew that additional help was required and they could have negotiated more strongly with the governments as how we could move forward.
What then did happen? They did not secure the asset and the council made approaches to persons who they thought would have the financial assets and sold the main portion of the assets to them. History knows the result of that effort. Then as soon as they got the funds they didn’t secure the balance. They went on a spree of investigating and obtaining reports. This may have seen to be the right thing but alas while this was happening again the site was left to be destroyed. Common sense says they should have protected the asset.

The big question is why did the council persist in attempting to sell in its own right when there were and still are several very competent real estate agents on the town who may have produced a far better outcome than what has now evolved. They may have saved several thousand in commission but cost the project millions. Instead of a good and positive outcome we have a pitch patch of private ownership that is slowly trying to develop their patch. We have access issues due to the refusal of the council to take responsibility for the roads in the site. This now leaves several buildings without proper access. I as a councilor at the time of subdivision pointed out that the council should take responsibility for those roads and was told they only had to have a frontage onto a public road and they all had that, even though they cannot access their properties from them. I did later oppose the acquisition of those roads as you can not change midstream when someone has already purchased the property with the roads. Not only is it ethically not correct it would have cost the council a lot of money at that stage as the owner was not agreeable. The current private owners are also having huge vandalism problems and this would have been avoided had the council at the time taken the right steps in the first place to secure the assets. And guess what: the cost of restoration would have been minimal in comparison to what is required today.

The project was doomed to failure from the outset. The funds they got piece meal $2,238,000 or there about required a commercial urgency if it was to be any where near adequate. However the lack of common sense and commercial understandings seen a long protracted program that has now seen $2,235,451 or there about spent and the public are rightly saying what have we got. We have a group of derelict buildings that each day has more added to a restoration bill.

What did they spend the money on? Would you believe 53.3% or thereabout has gone to administration! That is over $1.1 million gone to administration. That in anyone's language is incompetence. Since 2002 about $136,000 has been spent on security. And that was not all with recognized security firms. I would suggest that in 2002 a system to cover the whole area and secure fencing would not have cost more than about $180,000 and that would have included temporary power supplies. In the last couple of years vandalism has gone through the roof and guess why? We have spent just over $10,000 on securing the site or should I say "playing at" securing the site. The reduction in security has seen the increase in vandalism.

The Federal and State Government grants were not spent as it could be seen that if they were it would have left the community with an ever increasing cost starting around $50,000 per annum. The fact that the council voted to attempt to sue the Federal Government was a total farce and both Councillor Parker and I spoke strongly against such a silly move. Cr Evans voted with us but the other six councillors voted to go ahead. The result was the matter had to be withdrawn after wasting more money on impossible action. Although there has been public condemnation and mystery as to why the government grants were not spent I can tell you now that is probably the only sign of common sense in the project. It has avoided the ratepayers from footing an ever increasing bill.

Where to from here? The horse has bolted but we should now move to secure what is left of the buildings and shut the project down until both governments and council can work out a suitable plan for the proper and financially viable outcomes of the site. Alternatively put it on the open market and see if there is a suitable purchaser out there for the balance of the site. We do now have all these extremely expensive reports. If marketing the project is the outcome then we should look at the end result rather than the monetary gain as it is more important to have the site restored with local employment rather than a developer going broke and an unsightly mess. The council should step back from the marketing project and give it to the professionals.

Councillor Jim Elliott
Candidate for Mayor

Thursday, September 17, 2009

State and council bury the hatchet

STATE funding for part of the redevelopment of the Willow Court historic site is back on track. Acting Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, David Llewellyn MHA, said representatives from the Derwent Valley Council and the State Government had met last week to discuss proposals for future funding.

“I am pleased that planning has now started to get this project back on track,” Mr Llewellyn said. “The State Government is very aware of the issues relating to the conservation, security and management of the Willow Court site. We want to see a successful outcome for the site, and for the Barracks and Bronte buildings in particular. The preservation and re-use of the heritage buildings is to be supported.”

Mr Llewellyn's media release included a comment from Derwent Valley Mayor, Tony Nicholson, saying the Council was "extremely pleased" that the State Government was committed to the reallocation of the original $750,000 grant to the Willow Court site. “Council is happy to work in partnership with the State Government on the future of the site,” Councillor Nicholson said. “An options paper will be prepared in the next two weeks for consideration by council and the State Government to determine the best way forward with the site.”

Closed discussions continue

ONLY days after the Willow Court Working Party held its first meeting without the promised public involvement, the Derwent Valley Council will tonight exclude the public from a discussion about historic items stored at Willow Court. The agenda for tonight's monthly council meeting includes one item for discussion in closed session. In accordance with the Local Government Act (1993) the agenda lists only the topic, which is stated as "Willow Court historical items security". The Local Government Act allows the council to exclude the public when it considers items relating to:
  • personnel matters including complaints against staff of the council
  • industrial matters relating to a person
  • the health or financial position of any person
  • contracts for the supply and purchase of goods and services
  • the security of property of the council
  • proposals for the acquisition of land or disposal of land which is not public land
  • information provided to the council on the condition it is kept confidential
  • trade secrets of private bodies
  • matters relating to actual or possible litigation involving the council or staff of the council.
The council did not see fit to use the above provisions of the Local Government Act when it discussed Willow Court security issues at last month's council meeting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Willow Court meeting mystery

DESPITE assurances of public participation, the Willow Court Working Party appears set to hold its first meeting in private tonight. People who volunteered for the committee received a written notice of meeting last week, but the meeting does not appear to have been publicly advertised as promised.

The working party was formed at the suggestion of Derwent Valley Council general manager Stephen Mackey in response to an earlier suggestion by New Norfolk resident Wayne Shoobridge that the council re-establish its Willow Court Redevelopment Committee. Mr Mackey suggested a working party of eight to 10 members, with its meetings to be advertised in order for any other interested persons to come along.

Instead, letters appear to have gone out to those who put their names down for the working party, with no public advertising. The group will meet at the Derwent Valley Community House, Willow Court, at 7pm tonight (Monday). The New Norfolk News understands the letters were sent from the Community House, not the Derwent Valley Council.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Willow Court forum ends in farce

A WORKING party has been formed to assist the Derwent Valley Council with the redevelopment of the Willow Court historic site. Establishing the new group was the only solid outcome of tonight's community forum which attracted 97 people to the council social rooms.

The meeting provided few answers to the many questions surrounding the stalled redevelopment project and failed to gain any official acknowledgement that the council's seven-year-long approach had been found wanting.

Mayor Tony Nicholson opened the forum with a message of welcome and then disappeared to the back of the room, leaving the running of the meeting to facilitator Adam Saddler. Valley Vision project manager Ian Brown (who was introduced as the council economic development officer) bore the brunt of more than an hour of sustained questioning from the likes of Damian Bester, Anne Salt, Wayne Shoobridge, Ngaire Glover, Mark Bennett, Tim Jenkins, John Shoobridge and others.

Mr Bester asked the first question after Mr Brown said more than 100 jobs had been created by the council at Willow Court, and elicited the answer that few if any of those jobs were ongoing. Mrs Glover asked what costs had been associated with the various jobs and Mr Brown undertook to provide those details later.

A brief history of the council's ownership of the site was given, including news that the former administration building has changed ownership six times. Electricity supply remains one of the stumbling blocks, along with the loss of government funding. The council hopes to raise further funds by selling more of the historic site to private developers.

Mrs Glover asked what conditions had been applied when earlier subdivisions had occurred on the site, in particular with reference to roads and access. Mr Brown said negotiations were ongoing, which drew spirited responses from the New Norfolk Lions Club and the Derwent Valley Masonic Lodge, who said their buildings at Willow Court had no formal access and their members were relying on the goodwill of neighbouring property owner Haydn Pearce. The council has never adequately explained why it sold sealed roads and footpaths when it subdivided the site, effectively leaving some properties with no access.

Mr Brown took issue with a statement by Mr Bester to the effect that the council at one time had $4 million in hand and this could have been used to make a start on the redevelopment but had been squandered. Mr Bester said it had been stated that the council earned $2.4 million from the sale of buildings and $1.5 million in government funds. Mr Brown said this was not correct and asked Mr Bester if he would like to make another guess. A voice said that figure had been published in the Derwent Valley Gazette and in reply Mr Brown said that did not make it correct. When asked, he said the sale of buildings to Barbara Adams had netted $2.238 million, which drew howls of derision from the crowd. The proceeds of the sale of a former workshop building on the site have never been publicly declared.

Former councillor Wayne Shoobridge said a lack of information had been an issue even when he was on the Derwent Valley Council. He asked when the site would be open to visitors and what was being done to preserve it in the meantime. Mr Brown said the site could be open 18 months after the redevelopment project was under way, but could not say when that would be.

Security was raised as an issue by many at the meeting, including one remark that before long Willow Court would be merely a pile of heritage bricks.

Mr Layton Hodgetts expressed the view of many in the audience when he said the agenda seemed to have been designed to cover a meeting held over an entire weekend, rather than the 90 minutes allowed by the council. He suggested that the meeting move on to discussing the future rather than going over the past.

Anne Salt then asked how much money was left in the Willow Court fund, which was revealed to be about $350,000. Mr Brown would not be drawn on how long that money would last. Mrs Salt remarked that it would probably last about seven months based on current spending.

Mr Bester pointed out that Mr Brown had been bearing the brunt of the questioning, and asked where the mayor and general manager were. He said said all three should all be at the front of the room. General manager Stephen Mackey promptly joined Mr Brown but the mayor remained nowhere to be seen, despite calls for his presence.

Several members of the audience then raised the prospect of handing the Willow Court site back to the state government. Mr Mackey said he did not support that view, and said he believed the project was now at the "sharp end" with all the preparatory work that had been done.

Mr Shoobridge called on the council to re-establish its Willow Court Committee, which drew a mixed response. Mr Mackey suggested a working party instead, and when put to the vote there were 33 people in favour and four against. Thirteen people then put their names down for the working party, which will meet in a fortnight.

The issue of funding came up again, at which point an endorsed Labor Party candidate for Lyons, Nick Wright, made himself known and said he had been advised that the state government grant of $750,000 was "still on the table".

Summing up the meeting, facilitator Adam Saddler said it appeared that security was the top community priority for the historic site, along with increased transparency and communication from the council.

Mayor Tony Nicholson reappeared and said the evening had provided a good opportunity to listen to what had been done at Willow Court. He said the meeting had not produced the number of suggestions he had been expecting, and he rejected what he described as "recriminations" over the current situation. Cr Nicholson said information about the project had always been freely available. "BULLSHIT" was the unified response from many in the crowd, including Mr Bester, who leapt to his feet and demanded to know why he had to resort to a Freedom of Information request to gain access to the minutes of the Willow Court Committee. "Sit down Damian," the mayor replied. Mr Bester shouted his question several times more, quite rudely pointing his finger at the major. "Because you wanted to," Cr Nicholson said. His response drew several boos from the crowd and prompted a further outburst from Mr Bester, calling on the mayor to resign.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Going, going, gone

LESS than half a million dollars remains in the Derwent Valley Council's fund for the redevelopment of the Willow Court historic site, it was revealed in today's issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette. The newspaper quotes a letter sent by councillor and mayoral candidate Martyn Evans to his council colleagues.

Expressing his frustration over years of delays, Cr Evans said there was just $350,000 left from the $2.4 million raised when the council sold part of the historic site to private developers. This follows recent decisions by the State and Federal governments to withdraw grants totalling $1.5 million.

Child and family centre for New Norfolk

NEW Norfolk has been named as one of the next three communities to have one of the State Government's new "child and family centres", Premier David Bartlett said today. “These centres are another part of the Government’s passionate commitment to instill in our children a life-long love of learning and are in addition to the eight centres already announced," Mr Bartlett said.

“Community consultation on the three latest centres will start before the end of the year to enable planning and building to start next year. Work on the first eight centres will begin this calendar year as part of the $76 million strategy to help our children get the best possible start in life," he said.

“We want all children to arrive at schools as learners. Child and family centres are an important part of our comprehensive strategy to enable every Tasmanian to reach their potential, at all stages of life and we plan to build up to 30 state-wide,” Mr Bartlett said,

“Child and family centres will provide a range of integrated services that support families with the health and well-being, care and education needs of children from birth to school age, preparing them for a healthy life and success at school," he said.

The first seven centres are to be built at Clarendon Vale, Ravenswood, Chigwell, George Town, East Devonport, Beaconsfield, and Queenstown, with the eighth to be built at Risdon Cove to meet the needs of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. New Norfolk, Burnie and St Helens will be the next three.

“Child and family centres will help give our youngest children the best possible start in life and acknowledge the importance of the family in a child’s development,” Mr Bartlett said. More information on child and family centres is available here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MP mauls mayoral muttering

FEDERAL MP Dick Adams has hit back at claims that a Federal Government "razor gang" was responsible for the Derwent Valley Council losing federal funding for the Willow Court precinct. “Recent claims made by the mayor of the Derwent Valley that a Federal Government ‘razor gang’ is responsible for the withdrawal of Federal Government funding Willow Court are simply not correct," Mr Adams said.

“Put simply, the funding was withdrawn because the Derwent Valley Council failed to meet contractual obligations in the funding agreement," he said. "As part of the 2004 Federal Election campaign, the then government made funding available to the Derwent Valley Council, through Valley Vision, for the development and conservation of the Willow Court precinct. Like all funding, there were strict timelines and contractual obligations put in place - this is after all public money that must be accounted for – those obligations were not met,” Mr Adams said.

“I understand that the Derwent Valley Council is also negotiating with the State Government in order to keep the state component of the funding and wish council well with those negotiations. There’s no doubting that the conservation and suitable use of the Willow Court precinct is challenging, but when council submits a proposal for funding they must ensure that the follow through with that proposal," he said.

"Mr Adams said many of his constituents had raised concerns about the future of Willow Court and he hoped this week's public forum would provide a constructive opportunity for those concerns to be aired and addressed. He said any developments in the Willow Court area must take into consideration the culturally and historically sensitive area, as well as the need to ensure there was community consultation throughout the entire process.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Willow Court forum this Thursday

THE long-awaited community forum on the subject of the stalled redevelopment of the Willow Court historic site will be held this week. The function will be held at 7pm on Thursday in the social rooms behind the Derwent Valley Council Chambers in Circle St, New Norfolk.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

But wait, there's more... or less

ABC Radio news is today reporting that the State Government has asked the Derwent Valley Council to return $750,000 it was given four years ago towards the redevelopment of the Willow Court historic site. This follows similar action by the Federal Government and brings the tally of lost redevelopment funds to $1.5 million.

The council has been involved in a lengthy dispute with the Federal Government over its decision to withdraw funding for the project, even going so far as to launch a legal action which it quickly cancelled in the face of escalating costs. When questioned about the legal action, the council refused to comment - despite the matter being on public record on the Federal Court website. It is not known how much money was spent on the aborted legal action.

It is understood the council has sought legal advice on the State Government's decision, and will be briefed by a lawyer at a closed council meeting this Tuesday night. Comment is welcome from the council and government on this matter.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mayor grilled on legal action

MAYOR Tony Nicholson came under fire at tonight's Derwent Valley Council meeting, when two councillors alleged he had not informed them of legal action against the council.

Rising to his feet during questions without notice, Councillor Martyn Evans said he had recently been advised that a writ had been issued against the council, Valley Vision, and the former council-owned company Derwent Valley Investments. Cr Evans asked whether those councillors not implicated in the action should seek independent legal advice, and Mayor Nicholson said he would take the question on notice.

A short time later, Deputy Mayor Scott Shaw said he had recently been handed legal documents while shopping in the Woolworths supermarket at New Norfolk, and told that the council was under writ in the Supreme Court. "Why have you as mayor not kept us informed of this?" Cr Shaw asked. In reply, Cr Nicholson said he had only the same information as Cr Shaw.

Cr Evans interjected to say the writ had been filed on March 31, which was "adequate time" for the mayor to have advised councillors. General manager Stephen Mackey said: "We are dealing with it," and Cr Nicholson said he would address the matter after the meeting.

Agitator evicted from extra-legal meeting

THREE members of the public were evicted from an unscheduled meeting convened by mayor Tony Nicholson at the end of tonight's Derwent Valley Council meeting. New Norfolk journalist Damian Bester and two Bushy Park residents were in conversation in the public gallery when mayor Tony Nicholson asked them to leave.

Councillor Nicholson had called councillors back to the council table some time after declaring the meeting closed. After being asked to leave, Mr Bester asked the mayor what section of the Local Government Act applied to the new meeting. Cr Nicholson said it was a private meeting and again asked the three people to leave. While the Bushy Park residents took their leave, Mr Bester remained seated in the public gallery and repeated his question about the legality of the new meeting.

Cr Nicholson refused to state under what section of the Local Government Act he was ordering Mr Bester to leave and repeated his demand that Mr Bester remove himself from the chamber. Mr Bester remarked that the mayor had not answered his question and then left the forum.

Valley Vision project officer Ian Brown was also present and was not asked to leave the gathering at the same time as the other members of the public.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Norfolk's magic roundabout

DOCUMENTS produced by Valley Vision to highlight the group's achievements include the information that a state-funded roundabout was due to be completed at a major New Norfolk traffic junction by June 2009.

The document titled "Capability Statement" is dated July 2009 and was sent to a local ratepayer on July 14 in response to questions asked of the Derwent Valley Council.

$100,000 was provided last year to the Derwent Valley Council via Valley Vision, for the construction of a roundabout at the busy junction of High and Stephen streets in New Norfolk. The money was provided from the State Government's "Safer Travel Speeds in Shared Urban Spaces" program on a dollar-for-dollar basis with the council.

As our photo shows, there is no roundabout at the junction and no indication of any preparatory work. The New Norfolk News invites Valley Vision's comment on its "magic roundabout".

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bridge to be fixed by Christmas... next year

A CONTRACTOR has been appointed to repair the Bridgewater Bridge. Federal Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Anthony Albanese last week said a $14 million upgrade of the historic bridge would be started in October by McConnell Dowell Constructors (Australia).

This news was welcomed by the Federal Member for Lyons, Dick Adams MHR, who said completion of the federally-funded project was expected around December 2010. "Once complete, the lifting system of the bridge will once again allow boats, yachts and the ferries to pass under the bridge," Mr Adams said.

“It has been over three years since the Bridgewater Bridge lifting mechanism has been able to be used. The restoration of this mechanism will allow river users to once again take advantage of the beautiful Derwent River. “Vessels from outside the Derwent Valley will again be able to access the upper reaches of the Derwent. This will open up many opportunities for the Derwent Valley and New Norfolk in particular. There is the potential here to open up new tourism opportunities in the Derwent Valley with increased access to the river”, Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams said the Bridgewater Bridge project would support up to 80 jobs during the construction phase, with the potential for more jobs to be created in the Derwent Valley if tourism operators became involved in a greater use of the river.

State Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges asked motorists to be patient and careful when driving across the bridge during the works. “The bridge is part of the main North-South road and rail link and the work schedule has been designed to minimise disruption for road users,” Mr Sturges said. “Some inconvenience and lane closures will be unavoidable, but this is essential to ensure construction can be undertaken in a safe environment for both workers and motorists.”

Mr Albanese said planning was continuing for a future replacement for the Bridgewater Bridge.

State and council review partnership

NEGOTIATIONS have started on a new "partnership agreement" between the State Government and the Derwent Valley Council. Lyons MHA and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Michael Polley, visited New Norfolk last Thursday to sign a "protocol arrangement" with Mayor Tony Nicholson. Mr Polley said he expected the new agreement would be completed by November, with a formal signing in December.

Mr Polley said the Derwent Valley Council was one of a growing number of councils around the state that had committed to negotiating a second partnership agreement. The protocol lists the issues to be considered during the negotiation of the second agreement. These issues include:

· a review of the council’s local tourism structure
· exploration of opportunities to increase the supply of affordable housing
· ongoing involvement in southern regional community recovery planning meetings and exercises
· using the "Communities for Children Project" to build community capability to support young children and their families
· Continued co-operation on the "Real Action Forward Thinking" program for youth development and community involvement
· A community safety strategy to promote economic, social and environmental wellbeing, in the Derwent Valley.

Mr Polley said the partnership agreement program had recently observed its 10th anniversary. “A thorough evaluation of what has been achieved by the program over the last ten years has led to the identification of ways to make partnership agreements over the decade more streamlined and strategically targeted,” Mr Polley said.

Mr Polley's media release made no comment on the state of the council-owned Willow Court historic site and whether that would be up for discussion in the partnership agreement negotiations.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nowhere to run to

THE Derwent Valley Council's management of the Willow Court historic site took a battering from all quarters last week, including all Tasmanian political parties and the state premier himself. Here are the highlights:

Tuesday, July 28: Greens MHA and former Derwent Valley mayor Tim Morris called on the council to open its books and reveal what has (and has not) been going on with the management of the site over the past six years. Read more here.

Wednesday, July 29: Liberal MHA Sue Napier said: "Some lateral thinking is needed to assist the Derwent Valley Council which simply does not have the financial resources to preserve and protect Willow Court, much less restore it."

Thursday, July 30: Premier David Bartlett said government funding for the site remained unspent and he urged the council to get its skates on. The ABC has the story.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Willow Court committee disappears again

THE Derwent Valley Council tonight rescinded its earlier decision to appoint a new committee to oversee development of the Willow Court heritage site. Councillor Barry Lathey successfully moved a motion of revocation, despite twice voting in favour of the new committee in recent months. The council overturned its two previous decisions to appoint a new committee and instead voted to invite expert and community advice.

The lengthy debate at tonight's special council meeting kicked off with Mayor Tony Nicholson calling for a mover and seconder, then putting the matter to the vote without discussion. Several councillors objected, and so started a lengthy discussion.

Cr Martyn Evans was first to his feet, speaking strongly against Cr Lathey's motion, which he said would vest all power over Willow Court in the mayor, general manager and Valley Vision project officer. He said he could not support the motion of revocation when the mayor had already alluded to the formation of a new committee on two occasions. He spoke of the council's poor public perception in relation to Willow Court and said it was time to stop blaming the Federal Government for withdrawing unspent funds. He said he would move a new motion in favour of the elected council members taking responsibility for Willow Court development with the support of an advisory group.

Cr Craig Farrell agreed with Cr Evans and said it was time to move forward with Willow Court. He said the council should take responsibility, but it should also hold a community forum to keep the ratepayers informed and the council should appoint an advisory group rather than a new "special committee" as defined by the Local Government Act. Cr Farrell said he had received many expressions of interest and offers of support from eminent persons and members of the community. "We have had charge of Willow Court for a very long time and need to look at moving in a new direction, using the people who can advise us."

Cr Richard Parker said he supported Cr Lathey's effort to revoke a previous motion which had not been properly thought through. Both he and Cr Judy Bromfield said they felt the new motion was still not quite right.

Cr Lathey said he had raised the revocation issue because the council decision of May 23 had not addressed all the issues and did not give everybody in the community a chance to have a say. Referring to the disbanded Willow Court Redevelopment Special Committee, Cr Lathey said many people were not aware that the committee had no decision-making power and had only been able to make recommendations to council. "It has gone past its use-by date," he said. "It is now time to move on."

Mayor Tony Nicholson then put the motion of revocation, which was supported by all councillors except Mr Evans. Debate then turned to a new four-part motion: to hold a community forum in September; to seek public input about the disbanded committee at the forum; to seek public input about future development at the forum; and for Valley Vision project officer Ian Brown to report directly to the council with regard to any developments on any land or buildings in council ownership.

Cr Farrell was first to speak, pointing out that the intention of the now revoked motion had been to involve the public. "It has been stated in the Mercury and The Gazette that a new committee will be formed," he said. Cr Farrell said he saw a role for an independent advisory committee rather than one under the auspices of Valley Vision. He foreshadowed an amendment to the new motion, to the effect that the council appoint an independent group of heritage experts, political representatives and community members.

Cr Jim Elliott said he was lost for words. He said his understanding of recent discussions was that there would be a series of public forums, not just one; and that the councillors themselves would be the new Willow Court committee. He said it was neither workable nor manageable to have too many people and too many ideas on a committee. He said the process had been too "procrastinated and messy" already. "I don't support the idea of having a separate committee of so-called experts and people who may or may not come along to the meetings," he said. "We should have constant updates going out to the public and give the public an opportunity to put ideas forward without an unwieldy committee."

Deputy mayor Scott Shaw said it would be difficult to find suitable committee members at the public forum (as proposed by the rescinded motion) and cautioned councillors that they were dealing with a sensitive situation and a sensitive area.

Cr Parker said he was now opposed to establishing a new committee but he was open to Cr Farrell's suggestion about advisors. "This council should invite people to advise us; to stand here, whether it be Damian Bester or the head of the National Trust," he said. "There must be a dozen people in this town who would be prepared to advise us."

Cr Shaw said he agreed with the advisory group idea, but it was necessary to talk about the structure of the group and how many people would be in it. He said greater use should be made of the council website as a way of sharing information.

Cr Elliott then asked if someone could tell him the difference between a "committee" and a "group". Cr Farrell said committees were bound by certain rules and procedures whereas a "group" could be more informal. "If this process doesn't work, at least we can say we tried. The project over there is beyond the scope of local government. It is time to call in some extra troops and get some help to make something we can be proud of."

Cr Lathey then caused a minor stir when he spoke about the sale of the Willow Court oval to a developer. He corrected himself and said he was speaking hypothetically. "There is not much left over there owned by the council," he said, before offering an incomplete list of council assets on the Willow Court site, omitting wards D, E, F, G and the historic but wrecked Frescatti cottage. He said if the council was able to sell the oval and the river flats area, it may have enough money to develop the remainder of the site. He did not support the notion of appointing an advisory group, as "advice is generally available when you ask for it."

This prompted Mayor Tony Nicholson to enter the debate with a "point of order". "Experts have already been consulted in the formation of conservation management plans," Cr Nicholson said. He said these documents would "take a lot of reading". "Before anyone can make an informed comment they should appraise themselves of the conservation management plans," he said. Cr Bromfield turned to Damian Bester seated in the public gallery and asked if he had read the plans. Bester responded with a "thumbs up" gesture.

Cr Farrell said it was time to take Willow Court in a new direction, with the ambition of achieving more than had been achieved to date. "We need to be a little bit more open," he said. Cr Elliott said there had previously been a good committee and he had spoken against disbanding it. "My understanding when we started this process was that we wanted to bring the people in. We also needed to look at where we were going with that property. Now we are going around in circles," he said. "We should invite the public to come along and speak at any council meeting provided they provide the required notice."

Cr Farrell said he was not suggesting a new committee. He said the previous committee had met at the behest of Valley Vision and its meetings were held "under a cone of silence". He said the committee had seen tenders and business proposals that had not been made available to councillors.

Mayor Nicholson, who was chairman of the disbanded Willow Court committee, said the Tasmanian Heritage Council had stalled the committee for four years before finally realising that its concept of "adaptive re-use" of the Willow Court buildings was not acceptable to potential developers. He was dismissive of the idea of "bringing in so-called experts and outsiders with all their fancy ideas" and said developers would be used to dealing in a degree of confidentiality. "Having input from the public is a good idea, but to recreate a fairly nebulous group of advisors is going over old ground again."

Cr Evans leapt to his feet and said the mayor had taken Cr Farrell's proposal "way out of context". "Cr Farrell is talking about bringing in people with ideas. It is a fantastic idea and [the advisory group] would not have to deal with confidential issues," Cr Evans said.

"Who would deal with confidential issues?" Cr Nicholson asked. "THE COUNCILLORS!" Cr Farrell and Evans said in unison.

Cr Narelle Molan then spoke, saying she liked the idea of knowledgeable people being involved, and also the idea of using the council website as an information source.

The council then dealt with the motion on the table and Cr Farrell's amendment that the council appoint an independent group to advise the council, to consist of heritage specialists, political representatives and community members.

Cr Parker said he was opposed to the word "group" as he believed the concept was for "advisors" as individuals, not a group.

Cr Bromfield said she would support the amendment if it said "advisors" rather than "group".

Cr Lathey sought "clarification on what we are saying."

Cr Farrell said he was happy for his amendment to say "independent advisors" rather than "group".

Cr Elliott said he would prefer the amendment referred to "inviting" advisors, not "appointing" them.

Cr Lathey said: "If you use the word 'appoint' you are establishing a committee."

Cr Farrell agreed for his amendment to have the effect that the council invite independent advisors including heritage experts, political representatives and community members.

Then, after 67 minutes of debate, councillors voted unanimously to hold quarterly public forums with the first in September;
to seek public input about the disbanded committee at the forum; to seek public input about future development at the forum; for Valley Vision project officer Ian Brown to report directly to the council with regard to any developments on any land or buildings in council ownership; and for the council to invite independent... zzzzzz. Is anyone still awake?