Campaign to save Tully’s Igloo gains momentum

The wonderful interior of the Igloo

Following the article in the Wet Tropic Times’ edition of September 03, 2021, and ongoing engagement with the community by the members of the Tully Igloo Preservation Group, the campaign to preserve the Igloo has grown and gained significant momentum and support. A polished Facebook page has garnered many comments, the posting of some historical photographs and interesting commentary, and an increasing number of followers. 

A second meeting of the Tully Igloo Preservation Group was held on Saturday, September 11, with additional new members in attendance. It was pleasing to note the community support and the increasing number of activities for the young and the not so young that the community, and community groups, would like to see held in the Igloo should tenure be assured.

The meeting discussed the Council’s unanimously passed Resolution Number LG1057: That the Recommendation be rejected to enable an extension of time for further consideration and negotiation from community groups. 

This resolution did not put a time frame on the extension of time and Council Officers arbitrarily decided upon October 18. The resolution also refers to negotiations. To date, the Council has not yet undertaken any open and transparent negotiations with respect to the Igloo, nor provided any update on its requirements. 

The Local Government Act 2009 is founded on principles, which should, in turn, shape the governance arrangements of local governments. These include (but are not limited to):

  • transparent and effective processes and decision making that are in the public interest
  • social inclusion
  • meaningful community engagement
  • good governance of, and by, local government
  • ethical and legal behaviour of local government employees

These principles apply to anyone who is performing a responsibility under the Act, principally Mayors, Councillors, CEOs, and Council employees.

The Councillors’ attention is drawn to the Queensland Treasury Corporation’s Quick Reference Guide entitled: Governance in Local Government.  In particular, it advises that [sic] The fundamental role of councillors is to serve and represent the interests of their community – the local government area as a whole, rather than of any particular section or interest group. Council members are accountable to their community, which expects that the council will apply good governance through its decision-making processes and systems.

The Group wishes to publicly ask the Council when it will commence ‘in good faith’ negotiations with respect to the Igloo and when will its requirements be provided as part of full and frank disclosure? 

They would also like to know why the Council is consistently breaching its customer service standards by not responding promptly to emails and other information requests?

Some of the many questions that the Group wishes to pose to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council include:

  • Why were members of the community consultation group required to sign confidentiality agreements? How can members represent their community when they have been “gagged”? And noting that negotiations to use a ‘community asset’ by non-profit associations whose members live in the community hardly warrant ‘commercial-in-confidence’ type clauses unless there is a desire to treat one community group more generously than another, which would be neither equitable nor open and transparent.
  • How many different users are required for the building to be classified as a shared-use facility? And if classified as a shared-use facility, would it be removed from the Asset Rationalisation Project?
  • How did the Council calculate the circa $41,000 depreciation figure and what is the written-down value of the Igloo, noting that it is circa 80 years old? 
  • Is depreciation being charged to other users of community facilities?
  • We understand a building inspector has visited the Igloo. When will his report be available?
  • How will the demolition of the Mullins Hall impact the Igloo (as there is a storeroom and storage area between the two buildings)?
  • Previous correspondence has referred to a formal lease. Would other options, such as a User Agreement or Licence to Occupy or a simple per occasion hire fee be considered?

It is with no pleasure that the Tully Igloo Preservation Group so publicly requests this information. In a ‘perfect world’, elected Councillors and the management team who report to them would be more mindful of the growing unease in the community with regard to how the Asset Rationalisation, with respect to the Igloo in particular, is being handled, and be more forthcoming, transparent, and timely with information and responses to questions, and provide a realistic extension of time for both sides (for, unfortunately, it has become a question of ‘sides’) to consider this information. 

In a ‘perfect world,’ there would be an understanding that the Igloo (and other assets being rationalised) are only ‘beneficially’ owned by the Council on behalf of the residents of the Cassowary Coast region. And that the Igloo sits on State land and its installation there involved the Federal Government and Commonwealth monies. 

Rather than amass the ‘perfect storm,’ would not some transparency and open engagement be in order?

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