sad effects of publicity, sometimes

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: sad effects of publicity, sometimes
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 09:34:34 -0800
Hello Birding-Ausers,

At the risk of encouraging the publicity topic to continue on an ever
diminishing spiral (no doubt an ignominious fate is pending!) I will relate a
personal experience.

On 26th June this year I appeared on the Brisbane Channel 9 program, Brisbane
I was being interviewed as a birdwatching 'expert' in support of a protest
against the continuing development of an extensive canal estate at Scarborough,
a suburb of the city of Redcliffe just north of Brisbane, SE Queensland,

The protest has been an ongoing project by the Peninsula Environmental Group for
some time now.
I felt that the TV Channel produced a 'fair' item that was unbiased and
reasonable considering the target audience and time-slot.
The editing was good and did not make the environmentalists or the birdwatcher
look foolish or radical.

Unfortunately, I believe that the result has been that the developers have been
alerted to possible growing dissent amongst the local residents and this has
caused the developers to increase the rate of clearing in the area.

The area under threat is a significant part of the very little remaining
'natural' habitat in Redcliffe City.
Redcliffe City is on a peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by the Moreton
Bay system.
Moreton Bay is an important RAMSAR site.
It and the adjoining bays and inlets are also significant breeding grounds for
fish and prawns as well as grazing areas for turtles and dugongs.
The developers have freehold title over some of the threatened area as well as
leasehold title over other parts.
The area also borders directly on parts of the 'marine park' section of Moreton
It also appears that a new main access canal will pass through the marine park
part of the area.
The obvious intention is to have this crown land rezoned and 'handed over' to
developers at some later date.
Meantime, the Queensland State Government is supposedly developing management
intended to prevent further destruction of the Moreton Bay marine environment.

The immediate reaction from the developer to the TV item was to publicly
(actually during the interview) warn birdwatchers that they would be prosecuted
for trespass if they attempted to go birdwatching on the 'developers' land.
It was also obvious that the rate of clearing in the area was accelerated.

A further complication is that the Redcliffe City Council appears to be fully
supporting the developer.
A number of councillors are or have been connected one way or another with real
estate and
land development.
At the recent local authority council elections, the complete previous
collection of councillors, including the mayor, was re-elected in spite of a
deal of controversy during their previous term.
This appears to be the first time a complete council has been re-elected in the
history of Queensland politics.

In a democratic society such a result at the polls should mean that the council
has the approval of the community and is perfectly entitled to continue to
'govern' as they have been.

It would thus appear from the election result that the majority of the voters in
city are happy to see the environment 'managed' the way the council has been
doing it for some time now.
It would seem that the community (of Redcliffe) in general is not interested in
birds, koalas, mangroves, butterflies, fish breeding, dugongs, etc, but are more
interested in 'development' and the perceived increase in the value of their own
properties that will result.

The area under threat has been recognized as significant by birdwatchers and
other environmentalists for many years now but all the surveys, facts and
figures in the world will not save this habitat.
Possibly in 20 years time the canal estate will fall into a state of ruin and
decay and will be a source of undesired expense to all the ratepayers of
Redcliffe and demands will be made of the council to fix the problem.
But it will be too late; no one will remember what was before and no one will
really care.
What has happened in fact is that this land has been earmarked to be a
continuing source of wealth for a small
group in our society.
It will periodically change its appearance and utility as this group thinks of
new ways to fool the community into thinking they are getting something better.

This is the way of the world.

What we all have to decide is do we want it to be this way?
If we don't, we have to change a lot of our personal attitudes to a lot of
aspects of our community.
These attitudes include: the environment and how we use it, politics, religion,
having children, education, pets, material and personal wealth, hobbies and
past-times, health, transport, culture, jobs for us and our children, etc.

Whilst we ponder this we should realize that the developers have time on their
What they can't get this year they will try for again next year after studying
where they 'went wrong' last time.
The battle is never over.

To finish off this lecture I would like to relate another personal experience:
Some years ago I was employed at the Redcliffe telephone exchange.
During this time a new staff member arrived from Victoria seeking a better and
healthier way of life (as they were wont to
do in those days and who could blame them?).
'Bill', we shall call him, arrived at a time when the local council was
'reclaiming' a large section of the shoreline below my street in the name of
providing recreational facilities for the increasing number of local residents
and weekend visitors.
This section of foreshore was my childhood playground. It also was a known fish
breeding area and contained some remnant mangroves.
At the time 'Bill' arrived on the scene, the reclamation area looked like a
refuse tip; in fact it was because developers from other areas were dumping
truckloads of 'fill' (including bean-bag beads) regularly at two o'clock in the

In a conversation about the project 'Bill' stated that it would be a great asset
when it was finished.
He didn't seem to understand me when I claimed disappointment over the loss of
what I considered had been a beautiful and desirable habitat.
"Bill' is a decent, honest, hard working, intelligent person and is the sort of
person you would like
as a work mate and neighbour.
He is very concerned for the well-being of his family and wants a 'good' life
for his children.
But his attitude and perception of what is good and desirable in a community
such as I live in is typical of the majority.
The reclaimed area is now being used by a large number of people for a variety
of things such as picnics, barbeques, kite-flying, bike-riding,
walking/jogging (humans and dogs), jet-boating, boating-launching, and a little
bit of bird-watching.
I am sure that most of the local residents don't remember what it used to look
like and would protest violently if the council tried to restore the area to how
it was when I was a child.

My dilemma is working out who is 'right': the 'Bills' of this world or the
'Peter Garretts'?

In nearly 60 years of experience of life I have come nowhere close to working
I really do envy people who can see things such as this in black and white
rather than the millions of colours I see.

Bob Inglis
Woody point SEQld, Australia.
27 deg 15min S; 153 deg 5 min E

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