Residents rage in Blackwater
ABOUT 100 residents attended the latest Blackwater Community Progress Group (BCPG) meeting to voice their opinions about the Urban Land Development Authority’s (UDLA) latest vision for the town.
The signs that inexplicably scatter the light poles of Blackwater sum-up the group’s feelings about the main issues at hand, and as Coal Towns Community Advocate Jim Pearce said: “In all my 30 years of involvement in coal mining, I have never seen a community so worked up over an issue.”
In the past couple of weeks, professionally-printed signs have mysteriously popped up at well-thought-out locations along Blackwater roads.
With slogans like “no more camps in town” and “families make communities, camps destroy communities”, the underlying beliefs held by many residents about sections of the ULDA’s latest vision are laid out plain and simple.
“There was a lot of discussion about the ULDA at the meeting coming backwards and forwards from the floor… There are certainly some very strong views about the possibility of more camps in town,” Mr Pearce said.
“There are major fears that the community is not progressing as industry does.
“The growing gap between residents and non-residents is not a good thing for the survival of small business in town who are really struggling.
“The only way the community can grow is with more permanent residents, and that can’t happen unless workers have the choice of living in town or not.
“It’s about finding the right balance that allows the town to grow with the industry.”
Mr Pearce said the BCPG was reaching out to the community and calling for more residents to come along and voice their opinions.
“Blackwater needs more of the community to get involved,” he said.
“Residents need to know that they are welcome to attend these meetings and have their say. This is their group and it is there for them to voice their concerns.”
BCPG president Kev Cracknell described the meeting as a good “roll-up” with plenty of discussion coming from the floor.
He said the get-together had resulted in two resolutions being moved.
The first being an extended invite to Premier Anna Bligh and her ministers to visit Blackwater, where they could get a first-hand view of the town for themselves.
He said the second originated from the feeling the group was not being listened to, and strongly revolved around the fact that no social impact study was completed before the ULDA proposal.
“The meeting went very well and I can firmly say that everyone is on the same page,” Mr Cracknell said.
“We want the ULDA to do their work when it comes to social-economic studies.
“Why does their plan continue to show camps in town when they know about the community’s feelings towards more camps?
“There have been no social or economic studies done. We want to see benefits in this town. Families bring money into town, not single people.
“We’re very disappointed with the contempt that has been shown to Blackwater. They know our feelings and it seems as though they are ignoring us. There has been no change in the plan.
“We handed in 700 submissions detailing our thoughts about camps to the Premier in November. What has happened to them? It appears none of that was acted on.
“If what is happening in Blackwater happened in Emerald, you can bet the residents would be up in arms.
“We’re very sympathetic to the rest of Queensland with all that’s been going on, but the government has really dropped the ball on this issue.”