I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command. —'Ozymandias' by Percy Bishey Shelley
Recently both Labor and Liberal National Party have been under fire in Queensland for their lack of compassion for tossing caravan park residents out of their homes. This is occurring at State and Local Government level with both councils and state selling off public assets, parkland and rail to private enterprise…not mention sacking workers. Campbell Newman’s government like the one before it is selling Queensland Rail. A 34% tranche of Queensland National (the old QR) is still in public hands. Now the LNP government want to sell the rest of Qld Rail to the banks in a fire sale. This last bit of income earning asset is to be sold … you don’t need me to tell you what this means . Both parties have made sale of public assets on the basis that government should not be in the business of running rail, caravan parks and other public enterprises.
Has there been an ideological debate about the role of government? Well, not really. The level of debate has been very poor with understanding that appeals to voters at a low emotional level. Of course we are at a low emotional level if we think of ourselves as voters only. One chance every three years to say what?
Now to the debate …
The focus of the debate in Brisbane City council was a motion put up by the Labor Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Milton DICK (seconded by Councillor SUTTON), that
“That this Council affirms it will not sell the part of the land owned by Council and occupied by the Monte Carlo Caravan Park, and continues to support the current area classification to ensure residents are not kicked-out to make way for higher density property development.”
The motion was disallowed because the Council had already sold the land which was classified as parkland to the state government for use as housing land.
Ok, Labor did the wrong thing for the right reason … now the LNP has to fix it. But will they?
So what do they do in council? LNP put up its own motion which both Labor and LNP voted for.
The motion reads:
“That this Council affirms it will not sell the part of the land owned by Council and occupied by the Monte Carlo Caravan Park, other than through the terms agreed to by the previous Labor Civic Cabinet in their resolution of 1996. Further, that Council continues to support affordable housing outcomes on this site” (my emphasis).
But the terms agreed were to sell the land via an option. This does not protect the residents because the purpose of the land was parkland, not low cost housing. Labor stuffed up. The purpose of the land needs to change to protect the residents. It is up to the LNP to fix it.
But what do they do?
The LNP’s Bruce Flegg issued this press release a month ago:
“The Minister for Housing and Public Works, the Honourable Dr Bruce Flegg MP, is having to make some hard decisions to tackle serious financial problems in the public housing system…Therefore, the Minister has decided it is not in the best interests of the government and community to continue to own caravan parks, including Monte Carlo Caravan Park. He has requested that the department commences a process to sell Monte Carlo Caravan Park.”
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
So the security of Monte Carlo Caravan park residents remains under threat because both parties are determined to sell public assets in times of economic crisis.
Council members on both sides of the chamber have failed to provide copies of the the deed of option and lease over Monte Carlo Caravan Park to the residents. It was signed by the (old) Queensland Housing Commission. The lease is on a peppercorn basis, $1 per annum, with the lessor meeting all outgoings. The deed of option enabled the old Queensland Housing Commission to purchase the land at any time up until 2017 for its value determined on the basis that the land is part of a caravan park and all improvements are excluded from the valuation.
The purpose of the land which is the subject of the lease needs to change to protect the residents. It is up to the LNP to fix it because they are in government.
When you look at it, the purpose of parks is to visit – this is a short term thing. Some parks permit people to camp over night. This is fine. But Monte Carlo is not a park it is a residential area which provides low cost housing to people who enjoy a certain lifestyle.
This should be reflected in the arrangements made by council and state government.
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.
The full debate in council is attached. Debate in Bris City Council about sale of Monte Carlo
8 Sept 2012
PS. The poem is one of my favourites. It is ‘Ozymandias’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley