Meander Valley Gazette

Your Independent Community Newspaper

News

Closures on Emu Bay Road

Business, NewsJoanne Eisemann

By Hayley Manning

THE ANZ, a well established bank on Deloraine’s bustling Emu Bay Road has closed and a popular retail shop is set to follow suit.

The Reject Shop will close its doors on 5th July 2019. A spokesperson from the Reject Shop Head Office (Vic) issued the following brief statement. ‘After taking lots of factors into consideration we have decided to close the store. Staff will be redeployed to other stores.’

ANZ Deloraine branch closed at short notice on 24th April, after many decades of service.

Guy Barnett, MP, has gathered a petition to be tabled in the House of Assembly, aiming to draw attention to the effect the sudden closure has had on residents and small businesses throughout the Meander Valley.

ANZ General Manager (Vic/Tas), Michael Wake, said ANZ is disappointed that leasing circumstances beyond their control led to the Deloraine branch closure.

‘We were recently notified of changes to our leasing arrangement and have now reached an impasse which will see us discontinue our lease. We are working with customers and staff to ensure we can make this difficult transition as smooth as possible,’ Mr Wake said.

Online banking saves a bank the most money per transaction, followed by use of an ATM. Face to face customer service within a branch is the most expensive transaction for a bank.

In 2017, the four major banks spent a combined 4.2 billion dollars on online and mobile banking technology; giving an insight into the future direction of banking.

Mr Wake acknowledged the inconvenience rural branch closure would cause to a rural community.

‘We understand our regional customers are often adversely affected by branch closures and we apologise for the inconvenience we know this will cause some of our customers,’ he said.

Mending the rift

NewsJoanne Eisemann

THE TASMANIAN Catholic Diocese has removed Father Nicholas Rynne from his position at the Deloraine and Westbury churches after an outcry from parishioners.

But after an incident on his final Saturday in the job, police have charged three parishioners with common assault.

Tasmania Police say they were called to attend a minor disturbance at Deloraine’s Holy Redeemer Catholic Church at 6:50pm on 30th March.

Father Rynne and a 77-year-old Deloraine woman were allegedly pushed and grabbed by three other people during a minor altercation. No one was injured.

A 76-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man, both from Elizabeth Town, were charged with common assault via summons and will appear in the Launceston Magistrates Court.

The Catholic Diocese has confirmed Father Rynne has ceased work in the Meander Valley parish and is on leave.

It was also confirmed that the Dean of the North, Father Mark Freeman, has agreed to act as a moderator of the parish for the immediate future.

Provision of masses for the community in the coming weeks has been arranged

Telstra tower approval at Blackstone Heights

NewsJoanne Eisemann

By David Claridge

THERE HAS been a development with the process of a Telstra tower being built in Zenith Court, Blackstone

Heights. Since the Meander Valley Council rejected the proposal by Telstra it has been appealed and is now before the Resource Management and Appeals Tribunal.

In a media release from the Meander Valley Council, the council held a meeting and decided to support the approval of the tower being built.

Mayor of Meander Valley, Wayne Johnston spoke for the council to explain their decision change was due to new information coming available during the appeals process.

‘Council have decided not to be a part of the appeals process anymore, as a planning authority we can’t contest it.

‘The new information which we had been waiting for from Telstra since the beginning was about the community benefit of having the tower in Blackstone, now it has been produced our hands are tied.’

‘We all live in our own towns, the petition and the arguments of the neighbouring land owners were all relevant, but when we act as a planning authority you are not supposed to take certain things into account which is hard when you are trying to act on the good of everyone.’

The council stated that it was a ‘difficult decision’ and that some residents will be ‘extremely disappointed’.

Many residents have disapproved of the tower’s proposed location due its proximity to houses, possible health issues, affecting future sale prices and being an eye sore.

Council’s initial rejection was based on strong community feedback and lack of due diligence on Telstra’s part.

Church moves to mend parish rift

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Father Nicholas Rynne has replaced Father Richard Ross as the new Meander Valley priest, causing friction only six weeks after his arrival.   Photo | Sharon Webb

Father Nicholas Rynne has replaced Father Richard Ross as the new Meander Valley priest, causing friction only six weeks after his arrival.

Photo | Sharon Webb

April 2019 | Sharon Webb

ONLY SIX weeks into his job, Tasmania’s Catholic Archdiocese has moved to mend a rift in the Meander Valley parish. According to some parishioners, Nicholas Rynne has already sacked the local board of the Westbury and Deloraine congregations and decreed that mass will be in Latin at Westbury.

One lifetime Catholic said, “People’s attitude is that he has taken our church and parish from us,” describing how Father Rynne had replaced the board with people who support his traditionalist views. The parishioner said congregations halved to about 30 people after the dispute. Two parish chairs and two sacristans (who prepare the church for mass) have also left. In late March, the archdiocese sent retired Melbourne bishop Peter Elliott to attempt to reconcile the antagonists.

Staying five days, appointments with him were booked out by distressed parishioners, well before he arrived. A spokesperson for the Hobart Archdiocese said Archbishop Julian Porteus was “aware of tension within the parish” since Father Rynne’s appointment. “Archbishop Porteous has instigated a process to clarify the situation. His primary responsibility in this situation is to ensure the pastoral care of all concerned in the Meander Valley Parish.” Father Rynne, aged 38, said he had been instructed by the archdiocese not to make media comment. Preferring to wear the very traditional soutane or cassock, Father Rynne has worked in several Sydney parishes and is now seconded to Meander Valley for a year.

One parishioner said that of 62 people attended a meeting on 3rd March to discuss the conflict, only one supported the changes. A second meeting on 17th March attracted 40 people at short notice. “The new priest is an ultra-conservative and most of the parish does not want to follow his line,” another parishioner said. “There is a lot of unrest; people say their health is being impacted by his changes. “For 50 years we were encouraged to participate in our parish but the laity is irrelevant in the church he is trying to impose on us.

And he is supported by Archbishop Julian Porteus.” Another parishioner branded Father Rynne’s actions divisive: “We seem to have gone back a few generations. The well-being of the community is at risk and it’s sad to see how upset everyone is.” Father Rynne was ordained a deacon in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 2012. He served at Pope Francis’ first Pontifical Mass in March 2013, the year he was ordained a priest in front of Cardinal George Pell at St Mary’s Cathedral. Using the 1570 Latin version, he celebrated his first mass that same afternoon.

Putting on a great Show

NewsJoanne Eisemann

LARGELY OUT of sight of the majority of residents, the Westbury Showgrounds can be found at the northern end of Westbury. The Showgrounds are under the ownership of the Westbury Agricultural Society Inc. – a volunteer committee dedicated to running the very successful Westbury Show (now in its 156th year) as well as providing a venue for many other events.

The Showgrounds are home to horse shows, dog shows, horse training, dog training and are a venue for various community group fundraisers. Five local community groups are also provided with storage facilities for their equipment.

As with all committees, W.A.S.I. is always looking for new people to join and bring fresh ideas. In particular, they are now looking for a new secretary, as the current secretary is looking to step down after five years of excellent administration.

With many new people moving to Westbury, the committee hopes to make them aware of W.A.S.I. and the benefit it is to the community. “It is a great feeling seeing the many smiling faces at the show, or a hundred horses using the arena, or hundreds of well-groomed dogs strut - ting around the dog arena, knowing you are part of the organisation of these events.”

If anyone would be inter - ested in joining the W.A.S.I. committee, please contact President Kevin Lattin on 0417 104 520, or Secretary Shan - non Barwick on 0438 636 149. They would be very pleased to hear from you.

World’s greatest shave!

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Outside the Empire Hotel for the 21st World’s Greatest Shave, hairdresser Liz Walker wields her clippers on Mole Creek cave guide Angela Enright.   Photo | Hayley Manning

Outside the Empire Hotel for the 21st World’s Greatest Shave, hairdresser Liz Walker wields her clippers on Mole Creek cave guide Angela Enright.

Photo | Hayley Manning

April 2019 | Hayley Manning

ONLOOKERS DECLARE without a doubt that four fearless people had a close shave outside the Empire Hotel on the 22nd March. Friends, family and supporters all gathered around to spur on hairdresser Liz Walker, as she took to the three sponsored entrants and one passerby with her clippers.

The head-shaving event was for the Leukemia Foundation’s 21st World’s Greatest Shave campaign. Kim Lord, maintenance at Deloraine Primary School, was motivated by his own current cancer treatment to do the shave. “My hair was going to come out anyway!” Kim said. “I was walking down the street two days ago, when I saw a Greatest Shave sign and then decided to do it. It is the best thing I have done.” Kim has raised around $1,200, thanks largely to the staff at the School and Timber World.

Mole Creek cave guides Angela Enright and Shannon McMonagle were next in the chair. Angela credits Shannon for getting her involved in the campaign, which she decided to do because her dad suffered a blood condition and she had lost a good friend to leukemia.

“The aim of the annual campaign is to raise money for blood cancer research, so every little bit we do helps,” Angela said.

Shannon and Angela raised $1,300, not including donations on the night. All participants gave a heartfelt thank you to Liz, the Empire Hotel, and all their sponsors and supporters.

Happiness is a smashed avocado

NewsJoanne Eisemann

THIS MONTH, as part of their youth employment campaign, the Brotherhood of St Laurence has published a report ‘Smashing the avocado debate’, that looks at Australia’s youth unemployment hotspots. As at December 2018, the national youth unemployment rate is 11.2%, more than double the overall Australian unemployment rate of 5%.

Young people lacking in experience, training opportunities or higher educational qualifications are at significant risk of being left out of the work force altogether. Despite 28 years of continuous economic growth, youth hotspots across the country have unemployment figures ranging from 14.3% to 25.7%, with significantly more unemployment in regional than urban areas.

Three of the top 20 hotspots are in Tasmania — South East (17.8%), Hobart (16.9 %) and West and North East, including Meander Valley, (15.0%). The statistics quoted in the report are taken from the Department of Jobs and Small Business Labour Market Information Portal. But the ABS definition of unemployment is quite narrow.

Falling outside the narrow terms of reference, another group of people, who are not working and want to work are classed as ‘marginally attached’ to the work force. The report stresses that successful solutions to unemployment need strong local networks. The Brotherhood and other not-for-profits are working to develop innovative regional approaches to job creation for young people.

The last steam traction engine finds a new home

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Engine No 87964, out in the weather at Entally, hiding behind other farm machinery.  Photo supplied

Engine No 87964, out in the weather at Entally, hiding behind other farm machinery.

Photo supplied

April 2019

THE LAST steam traction engine manufactured by British company Marshall, Sons and Co. has been at Entally House since the early 1980s. With no buildings large enough to house it, Engine No 87964 has spent many years out in the weather and is in need of major conservation.

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service in partnership with Redwater Creek Steam and Heritage Society have finalised an agreement for the long-term loan of the Marshall engine to RCSHS, ensuring that this significant piece of industrial heritage will be preserved and will remain in Tasmania.

With no direct links to Entally, it will now be housed at Sheffield Steam and Heritage Centre alongside other historic engines. “A conservation plan will be prepared and over time, works will be carried out with the intention of eventually returning it to an operational state,” PWS General Manager Jason Jacobi said.

Made for the Tasmanian Public Works Department in 1937, Engine No 87964 crushed rocks for road works in the state’s north until 1957 when all use of steam ceased in PWD quarries.

Mole Creek ratepayers reject rubbish collection proposal

NewsJoanne Eisemann

April 2019 | Sharon Webb

AROUND 50 pensioners and retirees attending a Mole Creek public meeting in March were hostile to Meander Valley Council’s proposed new rubbish and recyclables collection for rural areas. Mole Creek pensioner Keith Cole stated the majority view: he does not want to pay more for the privilege of having his rubbish collected. “In Queensland I paid $4,000 a year in rates,” he said.

“I came here to get away from that. Here I pay $400.” Another woman who lives on a rural road just outside Mole Creek said: “It doesn’t fit, I don’t want to pay for something I don’t need or want and haven’t asked for.” But a vote showed eight people attending would like the service.

Peter Sykes who lives in the town centre said he’d like the convenience of the rubbish collection because it’s a problem for him to go to the tip. Robyn Grace and Ellen Scott also supported the proposal. The public meeting was arranged by Mole Creek Ratepayers Association president Trudy Richards and addressed by council director of infrastructure, Dino De Paoli, who gave a run-down of current operations. Mr De Paoli explained that councillors had suggested the collection to give equity to rural residents and cut illegal rubbish dumping.

He said of 400 ratepayer responses to the collection proposal, 330 had been against it and only 60 in favour. Of 272 Mole Creek ratepayers, 50 (18 per cent) had voiced their response: 43 against it and seven in favour. Council’s general manager Martin Gill wrote to “rural households in accessible areas”, telling them the proposed service would begin July to September 2019. It would cost an extra $206 a year. Meeting attendees voiced their suspicions about the letter from the council.

Mr De Paoli replied that a decision needed to be made soon for budget reasons.

Hagley RV homestay conditional approval

NewsJoanne Eisemann

April 2019 | Sharon Webb

MEANDER VALLEY councillors have placed a condition on an application for a caravan park in Hagley to protect intrusion on a young family living across the road. Annette and Stephen Camino, who own a farming property at 62 Meander Valley Rd in Hagley applied for a permit to establish an RV homestay for 20 self-contained recreational vehicles.

It will operate seasonally at $10 a night for each RV and no facilities other than van space and a 3m high sign. The Caminos envisage setup to cost them $500–10,000.. Council officers had recommended the permit be approved but after councillors heard objections from Shaun and Danika Leatherbarrow they amended the permit. The amendment ensures RV locations directly opposite the Leatherbarrow residence will be filled only after all other spots had been filled. Mr Leatherbarrow told council at the March meeting that he and his wife were distressed by the proposed land use and its location.

“We stand to lose quite a considerable amount if this venture is to go ahead as planned. “The current plan has a caravan park directly opposite our house, with campers to be located no more than 30 meters from our toddler’s bedroom. Not only does this propose noise issues but also privacy and the risk of strangers almost on our doorstep on a regular basis.

“Whilst the caravans are planned to be behind a row of trees, to state that 20 RVs parked alongside of the road would not adversely impact the current charm of our little village is misguided. “I would never have bought this property if it was located opposite what is being proposed. We love this area, but have talked about selling up if our dream of a beautiful quiet home in the country is ruined.”

Evacuation centre poised for action

NewsJoanne Eisemann

March 2019 | Hayley Manning

THE TASMANIAN Government, in association with Tasmanian Fire Service and local councils, opened evacuation centres for those areas impacted by fires or threatening embers.

Meander Valley Council’s Social Recovery Coordinator, Patrick Gambles, in response to guidance and direction from Tasmanian State Emergency Services (SES) and other emergency services, activated the Westbury Town Hall Supper Room as an evacuation centre several times during the recent bushfire threat.

“Our role is to help the community get back on its feet by providing access to personal support, shelter and information. It could be as simple as come in and let us know you are safe and we will register you. We can help with immediate needs and for more substantial support we will bring in services like Red Cross, financial or health services, and ultimately, if people need somewhere to sleep, we have contingency plans to turn a hall like this into an overnight evacuation centre,” Patrick said.

“Regrettably, Council does not always have the time or resources to door-knock during an emergency situation so we work in partnership with volunteers from our six local service clubs, who can provide low-risk support, check on people in their home, help with clean-ups and do minor repairs.”

Patrick says the Council emergency management team has a strong association with Red Cross, and they appreciate the support of agents with training in psychological first-aid, evacuation centre management and all forms of disaster impact experience.

Emergency Services Manager Tasmania, Howard Colvin, says Red Cross staff help people complete a ‘Register. Find. Reunite.’ national registration service that informs Tasmania Police, other emergency services and loved ones of evacuation details (according to permission indicated at the time of register) – in the event that communications are compromised.

“In my experience, Meander Valley Council is one of the most switched on councils in Tasmania when it comes to emergency management,” Mr Colvin said. “They have engaged with Red Cross in emergency management, adapted some of our emergency management operational practices, and worked with us to train a range of community organisations in the joint recovery effort that follows.

“We see the benefits every time they respond to an event and the community can take comfort from the hard work the Council has put in.”

Patrick says while it is heartening to receive offers of goods and volunteer assistance, it is not practical due to the unpredictable nature of events.

The best way people can help is by registering to volunteer. To do so, please visit www.volunteering tas.org.au.

Patrick Gambles and Vicki Jordan, ready to offer assistance to those in need at Meander Valley’s Evacuation Centre in Westbury   Photo | Mike Moores

Patrick Gambles and Vicki Jordan, ready to offer assistance to those in need at Meander Valley’s Evacuation Centre in Westbury

Photo | Mike Moores

A common problem

NewsJoanne Eisemann

March 2019 | Sharon Webb

TASMANIA’S THREATENED species manager will inspect Westbury Common this month before further permits are issued for grass mowing there. The Common has been slashed three times over summer after no mowing for a year. Environmentalists have voiced loud concerns about the effect on the threatened Green and Gold Frog as well as on skinks and bandicoots.

A DPIPWE spokesperson said that species mapping of the Common done before Christmas was not added to the State’s Natural Values Atlas in time for the information to be taken into account when the summer mowing permit was allocated. “All observations submitted for inclusion in the atlas go through a verification process. The accuracy of records - both in terms of location and species identification - is critical to good management outcomes,” he said.

“The permit issued to Meander Valley Council was based on the verified records contained in the atlas at the time the permit was being prepared, prior to new records for the Westbury Town Common being entered into the database and verified. “DPIPWE ensured the new records were swiftly verified and they will inform any future permitting and associated management planning.” Cllr Tanya King first brought Westbury residents’ rumbling discontent to public attention in the November 2018 council meeting when she asked what measures could be reasonably adopted to promote more harmonious use of the town common? “My question was in response to ratepayer enquiries as to why the grass on the Common had been allowed to grow so long, and to the unrest building about its use,” she said.

Cllr King, who lives in Westbury and said she supports the Common’s grass being baled for animal fodder, elaborated on the cause of Westbury residents’ “unrest” by claiming “long grass at the moment reportedly makes it dangerous for dog owners to use the common. “I am told that with the grass at the current length, the grass seed heads are proving hazardous for dogs. “The people that have contacted me are all seeking to enjoy this rare off lead environment for their well-behaved dogs, whose owners like to socialise and interact in a unique setting.” Cllr King told councillors: “There also seems to be some confusion in the community about the purpose of the Common, and I understand that there has been unnecessarily aggressive behaviour exhibited by a user of the common.”

Conservationists such as citizen scientist manager Craig Broadfield and Westbury Common supporter Di Robinson are concerned about the possibility of frogs being killed in their mating season and nocturnal bandicoots having their heads lopped by slashing equipment as they sleep in the grass. Council manager Martin Gill denied animals die by slashing.

He also indicated he believes only Ms Robinson and Mr Broadfield are the only people concerned about the effect of mowing on wildlife: “We’re really only servicing two people with this process.” While DPIPWE‘s policies on endangered species demand Meander Valley Council completes a Common management plan before DPIPWE issues further slashing permits, Cllr King believes such a plan is unwarranted.

“In my opinion the Common is no different to any other public spaced owned and managed by the council,” she said.

On track for rubbish collection

NewsJoanne Eisemann

March 2019 | Sharon Webb

MEANDER VALLEY Council has asked ratepayers living off‘ the beaten track to signal their interest in a new rubbish and recyclables collection – but not many people are interested in paying the council an extra $206 a year for the privilege.

General manager Martin Gill wrote to “rural households in accessible areas”, telling them the proposed service would begin July to September 2019.

“This initiative will allow more households to participate in recycling efforts and promote better environmental outcomes,” he wrote.

“Properties that are accessible will be provided with a wheelie bin for a weekly rubbish collection and a wheelie bin for a fortnightly recycling collection.”

One Mole Creek ratepayer said she knows no-one in favour of a new service. “We are organised to take our rubbish to the local tip and don’t want to pay more,” she said.

“I believe having it collected just makes people more reckless about what they throw away. I also don’t like the way rubbish collectors leave bins thrown untidily on the roadside.”

While Mr Gill’s letter implies the new service is a done deal, the measure has yet to be voted on by the newly elected Meander Valley Council.

Confirming that the council has made no formal decision to implement the service, he said: “The model currently under review was developed with the previous council.

“The letter has been issued to property owners to obtain feedback which will be provided to the council to inform their future decision.”

Ratepayers wondering whether the offer of rubbish/ recyclables collection applies to them should take a look at their access road.

“For properties to receive the service the waste collection vehicles need to be able to safely travel up roads and be able to turn around at the end of dead end roads,” Mr Gill said.

“Council officers and a contractor have inspected the road network to gain a better understanding of which areas are accessible without having to undertake significant road works.”

The rubbish/recyclables collection will be compulsory, as will payment.

Subject to council approval, Mr Gill said, the cost for the service will be added to the rates notice for relevant properties.

Ratepayers who wish to comment on the proposed service are encouraged to contact Meander Valley Council. This can be done by email: waste@mvc.tas.gov.au; writing to Meander Valley Council PO Box 102 Westbury; or phoning 6393 5300.

MVG.jpg

High frequency fence

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Roadkill, a common sight on Tasmanian roads.   Photo | Diego Delso

Roadkill, a common sight on Tasmanian roads.

Photo | Diego Delso

Feburary 2019 | Hayley Manning

DATA RESULTS from Australia’s first virtual fence trial, reveal the system is effective at reducing the estimated 500,000 animals, reptiles and birds, killed on Tasmanian roads each year. A 2018 white paper published in the Australian Mammalogy journal, ‘Roadkill mitigation: trialing virtual fence devices on the west coast of Tasmania’, shows the most commonly affected species impacted by road traffic are the Brushtailed possum, wallaby, pademelon, spotted-tailed quoll and Tasmanian devil. The Tasmanian Government’s ‘Save the Devil Program’ (STDP), lead by researcher and author of the paper, Dr Samantha Fox, conducted a three year trial on a 13 km stretch of road between Arthur River and Marrawah, from 2014 to 2017.

The small, high-tech devices are mounted onto posts at 25 metre intervals along the roadside and work when approaching headlights prompt audible, blue and yellow lights that deter animals from entering the road. Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary Director, Androo Kelly, said it took the devil facial tumour crisis to stir the government into action. “Road trauma does take a lot of devils and eastern quolls each year, so the government could have been looking for solutions earlier,” Androo said.

Wildlife Safety Solutions (WSS), founder Jack Swanepoel, “appalled” by the amount of roadkill he witnessed while holidaying in the state, was researching online when he discovered the virtual fence system on an obscure tech website in Austria. Jack says the system he imported into Australia is still at an experimental stage, but he has “high hopes” the Tasmanian government will take notice of the world’s first published, peer reviewed article and start using the cheap and easy to install devices around Tasmania.

“There is power in voices and numbers. I encourage everyone involved in conservation to band together with councils and make them realise we have a good solution here,” Jack said.

Where the devil has it gone?

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Thieves probably used power tools to remove the bronze devil from its locale near the Cenotaph.   Photo | Mike Moores

Thieves probably used power tools to remove the bronze devil from its locale near the Cenotaph.

Photo | Mike Moores

The damaged sculpture.   Photo | Mike Moores

The damaged sculpture.

Photo | Mike Moores

Feburary 2019 | Sharon Webb

THE MAN who dreamed up Deloraine’s Kooparoona Niara Cultural Trail wants residents to keep their eyes open for thieves following the theft of a valuable bronze Tasmanian Devil. Greg Murray said he has reported the theft to police and is disgusted that anyone would steal the devil. “It doesn’t just hurt me because of what the cultural trail means to me personally but it leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of locals and visitors,” he said.

Greg said he last saw the sculpture when he pointed it out to visitors around 9.00am on Friday 25th January. When he was on the riverbank at 2.00pm the following day it was gone. “This theft comes after someone tried to steal one of the muttonbirds last year – also on a Friday night,” he said. The bronze devil was smaller than lifesize, weighing 10-15kg and about 50cm in length. The Kooparoona Niara Cultural Trail project was funded by State Government, Bendigo Bank and Meander Valley Council grants. The Golden Valley artist who created the riverbank bronzes, John Parish, said the thief may have used power tools to remove the devil because it was anchored by three metal rods into a stump with fiberglass resin.

The devil theft follows the recent theft of a to-scale replica letterbox at the grainstore building in Parsonage St. Owner Richard Dunlop said: “They must have really wanted it; they would have needed a power tool because it was bolted to stone. “I imagine it will turn up at Evandale Market or on Gumtree. You can’t underestimate human inventiveness when it comes to making money.”

A very grave dilemma

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Thelma Wood (L) and Lorraine Carroll visit the gravesite of Thomas Reibey.   Photo | David Claridge

Thelma Wood (L) and Lorraine Carroll visit the gravesite of Thomas Reibey.

Photo | David Claridge

February 2019 | David Claridge

A NEW Year is meant to be a fresh start for everyone but, unfortunately, it has meant pain for many people. At the end of 2018 the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hadspen held its last congregation. The church has been listed as one of the properties to be sold as part of the plan to fund the redress to victims of child sexual abuse.

For sixty years it has been a place of union, a place of celebration, and a place to put family members to rest. The cemetery has a number people buried in it, including important Tasmanian figure Thomas Reibey who, among his many other achievements, was Premier from 1876-7.

Locals who have family members buried behind the church have also purchased lots for themselves and family members, with no sign of reimbursement from the decision. The Church now has no congregation and a question mark over what its future may hold while it is on the market. Hadspen resident, Lorraine Carroll, is devastated about the sale of the church because of the significant history of the church and what has been invested into it by the community.

She wrote a letter to the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania in December. The response was, that after further consideration, the Church of the Good Shepherd would remain for sale. It was indicated in a public statement that where cemeteries are involved it would be ideal for community groups to take ownership. “What’s annoying is that many of the furnishings in the church have been donated by Entally House.

I would hate for them to be sold,” said Lorraine. “My friend Thelma has nine family members buried at the church, including her husband, and has prepaid for a grave beside him. What is going to happen now?” The Church of the Good Shepherd holds history about Thomas Reibey III and William Hadfield, two prominent names in Tasmanian history who are both buried beside the church.

Difficult to find Common ground on slashing

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Westbury Common, pictured here in flood, provides a unique habitat for local wildlife.   Photo | Mike Moores

Westbury Common, pictured here in flood, provides a unique habitat for local wildlife.

Photo | Mike Moores

Feburary 2019 | Sharon Webb

MEANDER VALLEY Council has used an outdated plan to slash Westbury Common three times this summer, killing endangered frogs and other wildlife, according to Tasmanian expert Craig Broadfield. General manager Martin Gill denies any wildlife was killed, saying the council followed a Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) permit for the 2018-19 summer.

“Immediately following slashing in December and January we surveyed the town common for casualties or injured animals. There were no deaths or injuries of any fauna,” he said. A DPIPWE spokeperson said the department is aware several local residents have expressed concerns regarding the mowing/slashing. “But we have not been presented with any evidence the permitted activity has resulted in the deaths of threatened species,” she said.

According to DPIPWE, a condition of the current permit is that if the council is to get further permits, DPIPWE must approve a Westbury Common management plan to protect wildlife such as frogs, bandicoots and skinks by the end of this summer.

But Mr Broadfield, a citizen scientist who manages Frogwatch Tasmania, maintains DPIPWE allowed the council to use an outdated plan which did not take into account the most recent updates on threatened species data in DPIPWE’s Natural Values Atlas. “I inspected the common immediately after the first cut and in my opinion the cut was not carried out in accordance to the DPIPWE-approved plan,” he said.

Editor of the Frog and Tadpole Study Group of NSW, Monica Wangmann, wrote to all councillors and Mr Gill in December, seeking help to save the vulnerably listed, Green and Gold Frog which inhabits the common. She told councillors protecting the frog’s habitat needs to be a priority: “I dread to see photos again this year of more Green and Gold Frogs body parts in the cut hay.” Ms Wangmann said it is nonsensical to slash in the frogs’ breeding season: “The council is thumbing its nose at community concerns and it’s mean-spirited.”

Mr Broadfield is also concerned about the timing. “The disturbance of any threatened species’ habitat at the time of year when the species is most active (breeding season, mobility, numbers) is highly irregular and goes against all normal management protocols.” Longtime Westbury Common supporter Di Robinson, who takes school groups to the common to introduce them to wildlife habitat, said the council has slashed the common three times this summer.

“Nocturnal animals such as bandicoots sleep in the long grass during the day and the machine comes through and chops their heads off,” she said. But Martin Gill maintained that while council employees do not walk ahead of the slasher to rowse animals out of the long grass, “the pattern of mowing is done in such a way as to work toward the protected areas and use the vibrations from the machinery to rouse the animals.” Mr Gill said the council determined which areas of the common were to be protected by reviewing DPIPWE’s Natural Values Atlas and had worked with the local Landcare Group, constituting Ms Robinson and council’s natural resource management officer, Stuart Brownlea.

“We have been working with the same plan for four years and make slight adjustments each year if there are changes to conditions on the ground,” he said. Mr Gill denied knowledge of slashing areas planted with skink tussock, habitat planted with funding from NRM North. “We were slashing areas identified in our permit. To the best of my knowledge this did not include areas where habitat had been planted,” he said.

Ms Robinson, who has organised Green Army, Youth Futures and Conservation Volunteers groups to thistle-weed sections of the Westbury Common, firmly maintains council has slashed habitat. “I’ve put 10 years into this area; someone needs to be a voice for the wildlife,” she said.

Cash to sweeten the Grenoch pot

NewsJoanne Eisemann
Nationals Senator Steve Martin (L) discusses with Aged Care Deloraine’s CEO, Charlie Emmerton upgrades to the facilities in the kitchen at Grenoch.   Photo | Emma Hodgkinson

Nationals Senator Steve Martin (L) discusses with Aged Care Deloraine’s CEO, Charlie Emmerton upgrades to the facilities in the kitchen at Grenoch.

Photo | Emma Hodgkinson

February 2019 | Emma Hodgkinson

AGED CARE Deloraine has secured funding to undergo major facility upgrades in its Grenoch Home. The grant of almost half a million dollars was approved from the Liberal and Nationals Government’s $40 million Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grants scheme.

Nationals Senator Steve Martin had been lobbying for funding under the scheme to contribute towards Tasmanian aged care facilities. “This is a big deal for Deloraine, because we’ve had to compete against 3,000 other nursing homes Australia-wide for our fair share of 40 million dollars,” Senator Martin said. “This funding will help improve the residents at Grenoch’s quality of life.”

Charlie Emmerton, CEO of Aged Care Deloraine said that the funds will be used to build a new laundry and completely renovate the kitchen. “The upgrades will help improve our services, care, and the quality of life for the residents at Grenoch Home.”

Grenoch Home has 47 beds, providing care and accommodation for senior citizens throughout the local community. Mr. Emmerton said that the upgrades will not only benefit the residents, but it will make the facility more functional and better for staff as well.

“We’re really thankful for the grant because it’s really dicult in small rural communities to actually generate sucient profits that enable us to spend that on redevelopments like this,” he said.

This is the most significant upgrade Grenoch Home has had in twelve years and will take approximately five months to complete. The renovations are due to start in August, with the goal of completing them before Christmas arrives.

Campfire restrictions remain

NewsJoanne Eisemann

THE PARKS and Wildlife Service (PWS) is reminding everyone that campfire restrictions are still in place across all national parks, reserves and Crown Land state-wide until further notice.

PWS General Manager Jason Jacobi said PWS campfire restrictions will remain in place indefinitely due to elevated soil dryness and the risk of new fire starts, at a time when there is a significant number of fires already burning across the state.

Under the PWS campfire restrictions, campfires, pot stoves and any fuel stove that burn coal, wood or plant material are NOT permitted.

MVG.jpg

Property insurance dispute settled

NewsJoanne Eisemann

Feburary 2019 | Sharon Webb

THE OWNER of Blue Wren Hideaway at Mole Creek has been paid $35,000 in insurance to replace fittings and fixtures allegedly stolen from the property after he bought it. Blue Wren Hideaway became famous Australia-wide when Meander Valley Council sold it to gain $3,500 in rates owed by its former owners whose religious beliefs led them to believe the council was not entitled to demand rates.

The sale also created indignation among Meander Valley residents on behalf of the previous owners: the 2.4 hectare property, possibly worth around $500,000, sold for only $120,000 at auction. When the council put the property on the market, the former owners refused to allow potential buyers to see it; when new owner Geoff Styles entered the house he found many missing fixtures and significant damage created by removal.

New owner Geoff Styles’ insurance company, CGU (operating under Insurance Australia Ltd) refused to cover the missing fittings and fixtures, claiming that Mr Styles did not have proof the items had actually existed. But the Australian Financial Complaints Authority upheld Mr Styles’ claim that his insurance should cover the missing items. Its investigation report into the missing items found that “most likely the items claimed were part of the property purchased on 1 September 2017.

“The available information suggests the property was vacated by the residents shortly prior to 16 October 2017.” At the time Tasmania Police refused to investigate the theft saying it was “a civil matter”; the complaints authority also has no idea who took the items. It commented: “No information is available from the former owners. Whether the items were taken by the former owners or some other person is unclear.”

Mr Styles who previously had claimed a $50,000 loss, said he was satisfied with the outcome: “We didn’t get the full amount we asked for but this goes some way to putting back what was stolen.” Items missing from Blue Wren Hideaway included solar panels and inverter, all light fittings, a combustion stove, a heat pump, a vanity unit, oven and cooktop and built-in cupboards.

The home’s water system was damaged, as were walls, ceilings and floors. The $35,000 paid by the insurance company covered the items stolen but not the damage caused by their removal. After the property was sold for $120,000 and Meander Valley Council deducted the owed rates and the cost of the sale, the remainder of the money was returned to the previous owners.

But the family returned the $105,000 to the council saying it had been a hostile sale and they didn’t wish to collude in it. Mr Styles will now put in a claim to the Supreme Court for some of that money.

sharon.webb@meandervalleygazette.com

MVG.jpg