The “Durie is out”, as the ratepayers and property investors of Townsville are shaking their heads at the Labor State government’s decision to spend $10 million on a local water conservation initiative out of the $225 million promised to secure the city’s water supply.
The campaign was headlined on page seven of Saturday’s Townsville Bulletin with Jamie Durie the former Australian stripper (dancer) and international lifestyle celebrity.
The promised $225 million was sold to ratepayers by the Labor government as the be-all and end-all solution to the City’s water security problems for the next 50 years.
Resident’s anger and frustration
The Water for Townsville Action Group (WFTAG) attracted disgruntled comments on their social media site as residents directing their anger towards the Queeensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk who appeared with Mr. Durie.
The Townsville Bulletin story was presented with the Premier and Jamie Durie having been “signed up as the face of the $10 million campaign to get Townsville residents to cut water use”, the Bulletin’s reporter Ms. Victoria Nugent said.
However, Mr. Durie was engaged with the Pure Projects review of the City’s branding months earlier and that the announcement of Mr. Durie’s involvement was “click bait” media for the bulletin proudly boasting of its activism in winning a better deal for Townsville.
It was an opportunity not to be missed for the News Ltd press to ruffle a few feathers as the Labor State conference was being held in the city at the Townsville Convention Centre.
One could imagine the new general manager of the bulletin and the editor feeling a little exuberance by “shirt-fronting” the Labor faithful as they come together to articulate a policy agenda absent of any “jobs” generating plans, dominated by the party line and debating just one issue on euthanasia.
As the Labor party has a gender policy, the Durie article would have got at least 50% of the Labor conference and any LGBT delegates so inclined to get excited about the Townsville water security agenda as it opened on Saturday morning.
Video: Townsville City Council wasting clean drinking water in the streets of Townsville
while spending $10 million on a celebrity campaign to convince residents to use water more wisely
Nothing like skulduggery
Local businessmen Brad Webb, the Chairman of the Townsville Water Security Taskforce (TWST) recommended a duplication of the existing Haughton River pipeline to Ross Dam. The most cost-effective solution was $200 million put forward by the TWST press release in the interim report.
In releasing the Interim TWST report, Mr Webb said, “We have finite resources and a bird in the hand right now, so I think our community can live comfortably knowing that two years from now we will have abundant water for the next 15 years, and that this solution sets us up for further long term growth beyond that,” he said.
In addition to the water supply pipeline solution, which the report said would be designed to be upgraded to secure Townsville’s growth over the next 50 years, Mr Webb announced “recommending a range of management strategies including an immediate roll out of subsidies to residents and business willing to fast-track our transition to a more water efficient city.”
Mr Webb and the TWST report called for government to “help to manage the costs of some of the water efficiency technologies and we’re asking government to offer support in the interim as we can’t get to the long term water solution in one step.”
As the largest Australian City in the dry tropics, “Townsville should be aiming to become a showcase in demonstrating best practice in its use and re-use of water.” Mr Webb said.
What is the purpose of “showcasing” dry tropics management practices to non-dry tropic regions? Isn’t dry tropic management for dry tropics residents?
However, the press release was not written by Mr Webb. Instead, it was written by a senior bureaucrat appointed by the Palazszuk government to manage the public relations and communications of the Water Security Taskforce. Nevertheless, Mr Webb endorsed the press release.
The members of the taskforce were senior bureaucrats and the CEO of TCC. The taskforce kicked off in early April 2017 with specific direction to expedite an interim report within 2 ½ months. “While the taskforce is working to an extremely tight timeframe, the work must be thorough and must include engagement with community groups and residents.” The TCC press release stated on 4th April 2017.
The specialist taskforce’s independent members were Lewis Ramsay, ex-general Manager of the Townsville Bulletin, master in business administration and an expert in public relations, and Mr Tom Vanderbyl who has worked closely with government departments for 30 years as a civil engineer on water resource strategy, planning, operations and management.
The task force had no specialists in water infrastructure development, construction and building.
Council failure to secure infrastructure
Only 12 months earlier, the Mayor Jenny Hill and Councillors in Townsville had no concerns about water security because the pipeline to the Haughton River was already operational and could be turned on when the dam levels reached critical levels.
The pipeline has been operational for decades. The dam level has dropped from 21.9% to 20.3% in 30 days since the 1st July 2017. The pumps are scheduled to begin when the dam level hits 15 percent.
However, the federal governments Smart Cities Townsville City Deal provided the platform for water security which has focused on the management of existing water infrastructure and demand as stipulated by the Townsville City Council.
Definition of Security is False
Is it water security Townsville wants or is it water independence and freedom?
The definition of security in the economic or financial context relates to management practices. The common use of the term talks about income security and savings. It more often refers to individuals and family money management and savings.
Economic security refers to a society’s production levels and financial support for non-working citizens. It pertains to a perception of comfort, a mitigated level of fear and an assumption of feeling secure.
It has become evident that the TCC has failed to set the long-term non-political platform for water security in the federal governments funding model under the City Deal.
Water security is a falsehood under this policy because the people will always be susceptible to emergency intervention like turning on the tape to water the garden in dryer times.
It’s like dipping into the TCC cookie jar to cover the water pumping costs on the Haughton pipeline when the Ross River Dam level inevitably drops below 15 percent, and more frequently due to Townsville’s projected population growth pending the delivery of critical infrastructure.
Population Growth Miscalculated
The population projections up to 2021 have been underdone by approximately 15,000 people. The City has a current day population of nearly 190,000. Based on ABS projections, we should have already hit 200,000 in population.
Assumptions by bureaucrats and independent experts that are expected to have the economic and financial security have failed.
A water security taskforce with government and independent experts asserts that the local and state government body would deliver on the most common definition of water security to residents.
With common sense, the taskforce obviously defines Council and residents income and savings are secured and not needing an extra $5.5 million from the TCC cookie jar in 2017. I think not!
But the Smart City water security strategy has pushed up dog registration costs for the most vulnerable, penalised early bird rate payers and de-commissioned dumping services in the Northern beaches as the TCC has done.
As demand from population growth occurs, economic uncertainty prevails in unsecured borders and cyber-security environments and the residents’ financial leverages continues to decline from low wages, increasing energy costs and related climate change overheads such as insurance.
Proposal for Townsville Super Council
Absent in the City Deal negotiations by the TCC and Labor State government, both of whom put their signatures to the deal, is the need for additional water capacity and storage infrastructure.
The federal government has expressed the option for Townsville’s water and energy independence, including better water infrastructure at the Burdekin Dam and a new dam at Hells Gate with other economic inflows, this policy position is not just a pipeline vision based on conservative civil engineering expertise.
Townsville Enterprise is advocating for the feasibility of the Hells Gate Dam in its current scope of initiatives. Hang on. Why is the “future cities” City Deal inconsistent with the region’s leading industry and marketing policy and strategy “think tank” at Townsville Enterprise?
The City Deal has under estimated the policy agenda for Townsville residents who do not wish to be constrained with ongoing water restrictions. Ratepayers footing the bill for management campaigns and pumping overheads for the next 50 years is intolerable. $5.5 million has been allocated in the 2017/18 Council budget for pumping costs for 5 months.
The scope of the Townsville City Council local government area (LGA) is constraining the planning and strategy development capacity of the City in the best interests of the residents, whose livelihood are indirectly or directly dependant on mining, agriculture, grazing and some manufacturing carried out in neighbouring LGA’s.
Townsville Enterprise more accurately represents the “software” relations defined as Townsville North Queensland while the “hardware”, determining infrastructure development policy, is defined in separate local government areas such as Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island and the Burdekin and the State government.
Townsville also has a significant social investment market with welfare, housing, defence, education and transportation such as the airport, port and their military uses. The Townsville LGA is a melting pot of political interests yet it is seemingly incapable of ensuring its own security and independence, at least this is what is perceived at the head office of the TCC in Walker Street.
The push for a separate North Queensland State attempts to address this but the broader economies such as Mackay and Cairns are self-sufficient across all aspects of “hardware” and “software” and the political diversity of Northern Australia and Queensland makes this an unfeasible proposal.
Townsville is a gateway economy for the North Queensland region and has been defined as the “capital” but the governance model for planning and policy development is disconnected from the essential infrastructure such as energy and water, and social services being supplied from state and federal jurisdictions.
Therefore, the Townsville governance mindsets are based on a siege mentality, a wait and see approach, a security and savings ideology that are derived from generations of dependence on southern governments, breeding scarcity of resources and independence thinking.
The entire City and particularly the governance systems are consistently in a state of “Groupthink” that is causing ineffective decisions to be taken by the leadership. The “future cities” office announced as part of the TCC restructure highlight this quandary.
The North Queensland region must become a “super-council” that connects and creates harmony with the soft and hard entities of the region, the creation of a vertically integrated region.
Transition to management plans confusing
The Community Water Transition Package (CWTP) is an initiative of the TCC. However, the local government authority has not officially announced the CWTP to ratepayers and nothing is available from the Council’s spokesperson.
Nevertheless, the News Ltd owned Townsville Bulletin created the headline that ironically does not address water security. The local monopoly news bulletin led the story to inform the ratepayers about the celebrity signing, causing the dramatic response intended.
The New Ltd conglomerate promoted the Palazszuk government apparently reaching celebrity influence over a jurisdiction of the Townsville City Council, but the message was convoluted and confusing.
The residents’ response in the WFTAG forum demonstrated the melee as words like this were let go; “this idiot of a Premier”, “another southern wanker to tell us how”, “what a joke”, “do you think we are idiots”.
Even though one of the moderators informed the frenzy that the Durie photo “has nothing to do with what was announced yesterday”, it was the story of the $10 million deal with the celebrity and residents being upset that the focus for water security by the Premier and the Mayor has been directed at resident’s wasteful behaviour. It was taken with offence.
The CWTP aims to create awareness about the use of water-efficient gardens, dual flush toilets cisterns, reuse of grey water, pool covers and proper selection of native plants suitable for the Townsville’s dry tropics climate. The taskforce also identified changes to the regulatory framework including restrictions and use of non-portable water use.
Bring in the Durie- $15 million black hole
The interim report from the taskforce identified that $200 million has been allocated to water supply in the pipeline and $10 million to the transition to better water management practices. However, $15 million remains unaccounted for as the Palaszczuk government announced $225 million to its Townsville Water Security policy.
Where is the extra $15 million? Has the missing $15 million been directed to the celebrity’s appearance fee in March?
The Townsville Bulletin story did not ask these questions of the Mayor or the Premier back in March and April nor did they ask this question in the Saturday bulletin.
The TCC announced as part of the restructuring in June 2017 that two new positions will be created in its “future cities office” reporting directly to the CEO Adele Young. One was an Economists and the other a Placemaker charged with land design and landscaping.
What is the need for Mr. Durie when the City has already budgeted for the Placemaker position in the restructure? Is this where the $15 million has been allocated? To prop up the Council’s well-reported debt, aggressive restructure and exploding costs for Big 4 executives?
These questions have not been asked by the Townsville Bulletin either.
The Mayor Jenny Hill provided comment on the CWTP to the Townsville Bulletin but did not reference Jamie Durie directly.
How can the Townsville bulletin misrepresent the Mayor’s comments? Why is the News Ltd press not conducting proper investigative journalism to help the Townsville residents?
Where is the Mayor in all of the this? Why has the Mayor’s office not called a media conference to address the Jamie Durie scandal?
Although the deputy Editor and other staff of the Townsville Bulletin are followers of the Water for Townsville Action Group Facebook community, where the raft of inaccurate comments have been made directing negative reactions towards the Premier and Mr. Durie, the Townsville Bulletin has not attempted to clarify the truth or settle the confusion within the discussions.
The News Ltd bulletin is being accused of bias journalism and favouring the LNP candidate Casey Scott who is a trained Journalist and former Townsville news reporter.
Ms. Scott has been recorded on her social media page perpetuating the story that Mr. Durie is being paid $10 million by the Labor State government; leveraging her constituents and capitalising on the Townsville victim stereotype.
Although the WFTAG is promoting a non-partisan political position, it too is strident in their silence of the News Ltd subterfuge campaign in this instance. The story by the Townsville Bulletin was blatant political positioning due to the glaringly obvious Labor Party pork barrelling on the water security issue. The WFTAG has the measure of residents’ discontent with the story but the group has refrained from sending a message to the News Ltd press.
The social media group did not call for the proper decorum of News Ltd as it has antagonistically done with other resident guests. But then again, the bulletin has the right to self-rule in their own paper as they choose. Just as the social media group has quashed any dissenting voices that are screaming out for better water infrastructure and are opposed to just improving water management security for Townsville.
The group is resolute and firm in its narrative along the water management security line defined in the “City Deal” by the visionless and increasingly isolated policy position of the Mayor and TCC. The Bulletin and the WFTAG have taken the Townsville water security issue hostage!
The WFTAG is favouring Green preference deals with Labor’s left faction, even though the group’s leadership won’t admit this. The social group’s policies and aims are ironically aligned with left activist policy, conservation and environmental protection but adamantly claim no partisan agenda with Labor or Green ideology.
The media relationship for the social group serves the activist agenda well because they get a weekly Townsville Bulletin column. But the group is vicariously misleading and playing the water victim card for influence, and News Ltd is milking ratings, clicks and bulletin sales.
It’s become a comfortable bed for the “groupthink” alliance, but the action group is misrepresenting its constituency as they cannot get enough members to volunteer at a community event to promote their agenda from the 12,000+ followers. So the group had to cancel its campaign plans.
Federal government City Deal is the cornerstone agenda
Meanwhile, the Mayor Jenny Hill and the Councillors have failed to secure Townsville Water Infrastructure in the Smart “City Deal”. They simply did not demand it!
But it is the framework upon which the stadium and other federal funding infrastructure projects must be secured. That’s the deal! It’s also become the licence of the Labor party and WFTAG to kill all reasonable and creative debate and discussion.
The Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland, Ms. Coralee O’Rourke has attacked the federal government for not matching the $225 million state funding. But the State has not even made an application for the funding as required within the framework of the City Deal. The federal government has repeated that it is ready to fund water security infrastructure.
The Townsville Water Security Taskforce has simply rubber stamped a dishonest and deceptive campaign by the Labor party to manage existing infrastructure, anticipating the wet season will save the day, effectively washing away the urgency orchestrated by the Premier and organised by the WFTAG.
And by no surprise, the group’s alignment with the Labor-left movement is to stifle industry, stifle development and transition the carbon economy to zero impact, and even push southern elites like Mr. Dury out of town.
The Townsville Bulletin understands the politics and purposefully beat up the water victim stereotype using an old photo of the ex-stripper, celebrity and southerner with a crazed looking Premier appearing like a groupie at a teenage music concert.
The News Ltd story is clearly aimed at the Labor government that can’t be trusted and a modern-day social media activist group, being used like a paperless printer pumping out transparent ballot papers for exclusive use by Green marker pens – not a good look!
Responsibility to broaden the debate
Meanwhile, the people of Townsville and their voice are being directed away from the Labor-centric activist group to the LNP, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and the Bob Katter Party.
These parties have committed to industry, manufacturing and mining with powerhouse projects that could seriously grow the economy and deliver sustainability, facilitate the economic machinery that could support massive population growth.
These alternative views are serious contenders for the capital of Northern Australia vision which is unashamedly represented in alignment with the Townsville Bulletin and Townsville Enterprise.
The water debate is not about Townsville despite the majority of Townsville residents believing it is. The WFTAG is peddling this narrative however. The latter party desperate to save the embarrassingly incompetent Labor members in Coralee O’Rourke and Cathy O’Toole, the double-0-never team, and secret agents of the Labor-left and Green activist movement.
The water security debate is about North Queensland because water infrastructure security for Townsville is good not only for Townsvilleans but, it’s great for North Queenslanders across the entire region.
Water infrastructure security is defined as infrastructure that delivers sustainable storage capacity exceeding residual annual demand and matching the targeted growth demand plan without the operational intervention of unplanned energy consumption such as pumping, water treatment mitigation that costs the ratepayers or even attracts local government subsidies.
Channelling and distributing essential clean water supply to the residents and businesses of the City must not incur unplanned expenditure from rate payers for upgrades, emergency relief or new infrastructure.
This is essentially what the Labor party is doing and they are expecting the residents to live under perpetual water restrictions.
The commitment of the City Deal is underdone, inadequate, incompetent and poorly conceived. It is a self-limiting policy focusing on a bureaucratic taskforce to “research and study to identify” put forward by the leadership of a Labor Mayor and Labor State government playing politics with Townsville residents. It’s a thinktank process prone to groupthink as social psychologist Janis Irvine has scientifically defined. It is also a perfect example of political pork barrelling.
The WFTAG is the perfect definition of Groupthink. The Townsville Bulletin also fits into this definition.
Water capacity infrastructure is the responsibility of the State. Water infrastructure management is the responsibility of the local government.
The Mayor, Premier, Water Security Taskgroup and Water for Townsville Action Group are in a line of sight with Labor and left-wing policies and collusion, and are committing the most despicable and dishonest campaign against the residents of Townsville and North Queensland.
Neither, the state or local government has clearly defined a true visionary statement on water infrastructure independence, nor have they outlined a clear strategy with international problem-solving capabilities that will deliver Townsville residents the promise of a greener and more liveable city.
The duplicity in the labor leadership is deafening. On one hand, the leadership says they want to attract increased domestic and international tourists, guarantee industry and business essential energy supplies that are affordable, economically sustainable and environmentally sensitive and secure the economy for the next 50 years.
On the other hand, they are the “pot calling the kettle black”, an appropriate euphemism for the Labor and left-activist movement’s contradiction to the “fair go”, equity and security principles. They haven’t just passed away; they are dying of political death as they have not fronted up to the North Queensland people with honesty and integrity.
Leading a community initiative for a limited “water security” campaign will directly harming their own constituents. But instead of campaigning with clear and meaningful plans and policy, and applying a consistent narrative, the groups operate within a parallel conservation agenda.
Labor is unworthy of voter confidence as the faithful are blinded by the mask of “groupthink” science, using a confusing and fearful narrative for the purpose of intimidation. Well, this what is happening to the Townsville residents, and many people have cottoned on to the deception, thanks to the Jamie Durie $10 million celebrity scandal.
The people are crying out for the freedom to access resourceful, cost-effective and affordable energy infrastructure from across North Queensland.
And while the Premier appears like a teenage groupie in the presence of a celebrity dancer, the best tactic of a resourceful media and partisan North Queensland supporter is to fight fire with fire.
The Labor pot has been looking at the kettle for too long and the Durie photo captures the compromising position for all to see and suffice to say, the Premier hasn’t got a glowing red complexion around the poster boy for gays and Green thumbs.
Free Subscription Offer
How to stay up-to-date
Do you have an opinion about Water Infrastructure Security and Inpendance for Townsville?
The TREN community wants to hear your story.
Become a subscriber to TREN eMagazine and be the first to receive local breaking stories, analysis and opinions on the Townsville real estate market.