CALL TO ACTION: Councillor Glen Hartwig says the Rattler project delay can be blamed solely on one person.
CALL TO ACTION: Councillor Glen Hartwig says the Rattler project delay can be blamed solely on one person. Renee Albrecht

Hartwig:'I felt those paying the bills needed to know'

Letters to the editor

THANK you Cr Curran for your response.

It is once again an opportunity to shed light on the lack of understanding you have on this matter and show that your play on words regarding the circumstances is not representative of the real detail of the situation.

It is true that I did second that motion.

Who wouldn't? It was a motion to initiate an evaluation of the project with the view to have the state assist in funding.

I believed it would also involve the appointment of a suitably qualified contractor to do a detailed engineering inspection of the track and bridges.

To suggest that my support for seeking State Government funding is support for the project and approval of the expenditure is completely untrue.

I was happy to have this report done and expected that the detail would be revealed to councillors before things progressed further. To suggest that I wanted the rattler project to go ahead with a blank cheque simply because I wanted a detailed engineering inspection is the equivalent of saying that any person who has the RACQ or a mechanic inspect a vehicle is committed to buying it.

People buying homes get building inspections done after they have signed the contract and then pull out if there are issues. That might have been a good principle to apply here.

If you read Cr Curran's response, you will see he has much detail about holding companies ect, but little about actually how to evaluate a proposal and the relevant and necessary steps to ensure rate payers get value for the money we spend.

He also forgets that the reports and business plan was not built around the substance of detailed engineering reports but rather, reports that he publicly described as "engineery type.”

By his own words, he makes it clear that enough wasn't done before committing.

A failure of due diligence and good governance, in my opinion.

If this business plan was so robust then why is Cr Curran not putting up his own money? I did read the plan and saw it highlighted how many other heritage rail operations around the world run at a loss, that is why I wanted a detailed inspection followed by a thorough "today's costing" of the defects found.

I expressed this point to council on a number of occasions.

I know that point would be of little importance for those with a free money philosophy, but it was part of my evaluation of the project.

Why did the State Government not fund it through the building better regions?

The fact that myself and Councillor Smerdon asked for copies of all reports on numerous occasions and it was never given to the group says so much about my desire for good governance and the lack that has surrounded this project.

The State Government money that has been spent could have been spent on anything, bitumen on roads or fixing potholes in gravel roads and laying footpaths.

The Government allocated funds and the council got to decide which project it was spent on.

I am sure Cr Curran would recall that I was the only councillor to raise my hand and express my reservations regarding the project.

This was done before Cr Curran committed council to the project.

Cr Curran also fails to mention the number of emails I sent to all councillors explaining my concerns regarding the lack of due diligence and the exposure that the rate payer faced with the process we had adopted of committing before knowing the real detail.

What this shows is that , whist I support the rattler getting back on track, I want to know exactly how much it will cost prior to committing.

Given that we could see all the structures, it is only prudent to do detailed inspections before committing, that is why I voted to have Rail Futures do that report.

I had expected to see that report prior to have council commit but, alas, that was not the process under team Curran.

I have to thank an unknown member of the public who delivered a copy to my business.

The word that stands out most in that report is condemned.

In reference to the bridges and structures, I was not surprised it was not shown to councillors. When you compared the Todd report with the Rail Futures you would have seen that there was significant extra issues noted in the Rail Futures report which categorically shows that the 10.8 million was never going to be enough. Why were these reports not given to councillors? Why wasn't a detailed costing done of the new report by Rail Futures?

These were the issues I raised on more than one occasion, I expressed my concern with the lack of detail and governance on this project.

Cr Curran fails to address or answer the questions surrounding the rate payers ongoing commitment.

After trying internally to have some common sense applied to the Rattler, I felt it was necessary to alert the rate payer to this matter, its your money and you expect me to act responsibly with it. I could see there was going to be blow out after blow out and after alerting Cr Curran and his team of this with no response I felt those that were paying the bills needed to know.

That's my job and the responsibility I take seriously.

I have never had free money, I had the blessing of working on a farm from a young age and owned my own businesses, I know how hard it is to earn a living.

The process we used on the rattler is flawed and any person that says otherwise should foot the bill, or hasn't been privy to all the information.

My idea regarding economic development is different to that of Cr Curran.

I believe Gympie needs a large industrial estate that can cater for those businesses that get squeezed out of Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast as urban sprawl makes it impossible for them to function.

These jobs are real, long lasting and do not require the rate payer to continually prop them up.

20 million could have gone a long way towards this and within months of being elected I shared my vision with Cr Curran privately, and also at a dinner with business representatives.

Would 500 jobs in long term businesses be of more valuable to this region? Industry will always be required for any country that has mining and agriculture.

Tourism can be fickle and I am not confident it should be the foundation of the economic program.

Glen Hartwig.