Ron Owen
Ron Owen

Region’s 18,000 shooters urged to vote for new council

Letter to the editor

WE HAVE a council election only a month away. Everyone I speak to wants the council to change.

No one wants the status quo.

The tyranny from upper staff and the councillors support for it to remain as is.

Across the counter I speak to real estate agents, land developers, farmers, fishermen, earth movers, tradesmen, chefs, cooks, pensioners, wives and girlfriends, not one person can I find who is happy with the current council.

Gympie Smallbore Rifle Club Captain Laurie Aberdein. Taken three years ago. Photo Lachie Millard
Gympie Smallbore Rifle Club Captain Laurie Aberdein. Taken three years ago. Photo Lachie Millard

(We need an action group) to begin a campaign to assist a majority of councillors with similar objectives, and they will have to do it rather quickly as they are running out of time.

It seems most voters do not know the names of our current councillors, they might know some of them but do not know which division that they represent.

They wait until the election day and put a tick next to the name that they might have heard of before and the new candidates have already been forgotten. That’s the way that most sitting councillors get re-elected as they have the known profile.

Owens Gun Shop owner Ron Owen at the Gympie Smallbore Rifle Club. Photo Lachie Millard. Taken three years ago.
Owens Gun Shop owner Ron Owen at the Gympie Smallbore Rifle Club. Photo Lachie Millard. Taken three years ago.

I am a retired councillor and president of the Cooloola Range Complex Association Inc. and out of the 28,000 voters that will be voting, 18,000 or so are licensed firearm owners.

They shoot and I am the target for their complaints about council. Not that I can do anything for them, but this, write letters and tell them to stand up and run for council.

The local firearm owners and customers are particularly upset.

In 1992, the Rifle Range had a railway line put through the centre of it and ever since then the State government have promised to give us land to replace it.

They suggested the Corella Forestry block at Wood Rd and Agreements in Principle was given and then broken by subsequent governments.

Gympie Council Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Council Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.

Council has spent 28 years and a $100,000 demanding repeated reports and feasability studies, so that they could procrastinate the plan, giving time for the council/Dept Natural Resources Cycling Club to get their claim on the land in front of ours.

On June 26, 2019 the council tabled the motion to cease pursuing the promised range at Wood Rd and blamed its inability and shortage of its land to exchange/off set with the State Government as this was the main demand that broke the Agreement in Principle with State Government.

Yet, this motion was the first order of business at Section 5.1 Investigations for Consolidated Shooting Facility.

“A list of twenty-nine (29) potential sites was identified and referred to DTMR”. Five sites were agreed on as suitable (as adjacent to the old Victory Rifle Range block) to the State Governments needs and one of these located on the north side of the Railway housed the Gympie Pistol club and includes its safety template. These sites of about a 100 acres in central Gympie would be worth many millions of dollars in real estate but council moved motions to change the land zoning from Residential to Open Space, making it look like they were donating worthless land to the State Government.

(Taken three years ago) Gympie Shortbore Rifle and Silhouette Club Members from L-R Chris Davies, Mark Brown, Ron Owen, Michelle Aberdein, Laurie Aberdein, Paul Power and Shilo Ryan. (Pictured under controlled conditions, bolts removed and safety flags inserted). Photo Lachie Millard
(Taken three years ago) Gympie Shortbore Rifle and Silhouette Club Members from L-R Chris Davies, Mark Brown, Ron Owen, Michelle Aberdein, Laurie Aberdein, Paul Power and Shilo Ryan. (Pictured under controlled conditions, bolts removed and safety flags inserted). Photo Lachie Millard

So on 5.1 the council report states, ‘there is not land for an offset with the State Government’ and further down in 5.3 it states that they have 29 blocks to give for nothing to the State. This angers every shooter that knows about it. They growl when told that council has spent $40 million dollars on a swimming pool and a model train set, in the last few years and yet again council only takes away from shooters.

No wonder they want the current council moved on.

Those who intend to be councillors and mayors should make it known publicly, to all voters, how they intend to represent the firearm owners in our region, how are they going to support these shooters who have suffered 28 years of government betrayal.

The answers given by the councillors and would be councillors will have a serious impact on the election results.

Ron Owen, Gympie