Home Environment Muchea Marri trees: is there accountability and transparency?

Muchea Marri trees: is there accountability and transparency?

Collen Osborn, Natalie Vallance and Peter Osborn leading the cause to prevent the destruction of Muchea’s Marri trees.

The recent decision by the councilors of the Shire of Chittering to destroy three, one-hundred-year-old Marri trees in Muchea, acknowledged by the National Trust as significant, defies belief!

The facts:
1. The trees are to be demolished to make way for two new Netball courts.

2. This to provide five courts in total.

3. There was an alternative option to build just one new court to provide a configuration of a 1+2+1 option.

4. This option has not been costed or considered by council

5. The overall budget for the Muchea Recreation Centre is some $5m.

6. The proposal includes resurfacing to the existing three netball courts.

7. The Muchea Reference Group held 8 meetings, chaired by a councilor.

8. There is only one mention of the impact of destroying the trees recorded in minutes during this time.

9. The matter of the removal of the trees was raised by a community member and presented to the February 2023 Ordinary Council meeting.

10. Council had not considered the trees prior to this time, however agreed to their destruction at this meeting.

11. In August 2021 Muchea Recreation Centre reference group minuted that Option 3 as presented to their meeting was the preferred option (1+2+1) after learning that the trees would be lost.

12. The next meeting of the reference group, in October 2021 suggests that the 2 new courts are agreed to.

13. The 30th August Reference group minutes carried forward to the October meeting do not indicate any agreement to a 2+2 configuration of netball courts.

14. Written advice that, “Subsequent correspondence between the Netball Club and the CEO after the 2h October 2021 meeting led to Site Architecture reconsidering the court positioning between the 25 October meeting and correspondence sent to the MHUG (Muchea Hall User group) and MRC (Muchea Reference Group) on the 28 February.”.This correspondence has not been forthcoming despite requesting the information. What evidence is recorded in relation this feedback. Was there a Reference Group meeting to agree to the outcome or simply in house discussion?

15. The 15 December 2021 Ordinary Meeting of Council instructed the CEO to cost a 2+2 configuration, plus other points (3 councillors opposed this) This instruction has not been carried out, perhaps due to the following point 16.

16. A briefing session held on December 22, 2021, where another instruction was given to the CEO. A BRIEFING SESSION is NOT A COUNCIL MEETING, it is not advertised to ratepayers. Decisions cannot be made in this forum. Is this transparency?

17. A briefing session is not a formal meeting of council. Two more sessions were held: a presentation on the 27 January 2022 and a workshop on 3 February 2022. No information is available from these sessions.

Further information
1. When asked, most councillors replied that they do not plan to observe the destruction of the trees.

2. It has been identified that four courts is sufficient.

3. The cost of building 2 new courts and resurfacing 2 existing courts is budgeted at around $1m, which is 20% of the overall budget.

4. The Marri trees on this location have been classified to be of heritage significance by the National Trust

5. The importance of retaining vegetation and trees is well documented as our planet suffers, however did council refer to its own Local Biodiversity Strategy 2022.
Councilors have a responsibility to preserve community assets of heritage value. The trees to do not belong to just a few councillors.

The building of only 4 netball courts, in the 1+2+ 1 configuration could save ratepayers up to $400,000 and SAVE THE TREES
It will take courage to reconsider.