DEVASTATED: Anna Hobbs-Pukallus and Bill Pukallus sahave defended their role in the controversial Widgee Engineering decision.
DEVASTATED: Anna Hobbs-Pukallus and Bill Pukallus sahave defended their role in the controversial Widgee Engineering decision. Scott Kovacevic

Widgee couple faces backlash after council decision

BARRED from a local business and having resigned from the rural fire brigade, Widgee resident Bill Pukallus has been left "astounded” by what he perceives to be community backlash against he and his wife over the controversial Widgee Engineering decision.

Mr Pukallus and his wife, Anna, who opposed Widgee Engineering's application for a change of use to Gympie Regional Council, said they were now being "castigated” over their role in council's decision to force it to move or shut.

It was a decision they said was necessary given the damage the business could have had on their property.

Mrs Hobbs-Pukallus said they were not the only ones concerned, with the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee also lodging an objection to the development application.

Living across the road, they were directly impacted.

"Our property is the main property affected,” she said.

Mrs Hobbs-Pukallus said the ordeal had also taken a toll on their marriage.

"The stress, the worry, sitting up at 3am in the morning, literally and honestly... the cost, we have been to Brisbane, we have been to the South Burnett, we have been to the Sunshine Coast to see solicitors, town planners, it just goes on and on,” Mrs Hobbs-Pukallus said.

Widgee Engineering has been given two years to move or shut down.
Widgee Engineering has been given two years to move or shut down. Widgee Engineering Website

Mr Pukallus said their concerns were driven by the need for them to comply with their cattle biosecurity plan.

"As meat producers we have to comply with all conditions. I have to sign a declaration every time guaranteeing my animals are not being polluted,” Mr Pukallus said.

While they did feel for the workers, they said this entire situation could have been avoided if Gympie councils had taken responsibility much earlier.

"They should have stepped in a long time ago,” she said.

"They have the ability to do something about it,” Mr Pukallus said.

"The problem is not caused by Anna and I.

"If you were in our position, would you put up a fight to preserve it?”

The owners of Widgee Engineering declined to comment at this time.

Widgee Engineering meeting

PEOPLE concerned by the decision to force Widgee Engineering to move or shut within two years are being invited to a community meeting on Saturday.

Organisers have said residents, business owners and councillors are all welcome at the meeting, which will begin at 3pm in the Widgee Community Complex on Power Rd.

The decision was made by Gympie Regional Council at their last ordinary meeting after the company applied for a material change of use of the site.

For more information, contact Karen or Pete on 5480 0355.

What you've said

Kenneth Sonter: Well that sucks!! Not very good for a small town that's trying to grow!!

Diane McCudden: Wow where's the consistency in the rules. Council allowed squash courts to be built in a residential/rural area. I was told I was anti progress and jobs when I protested about all the extra traffic on a quiet residential road.

Janine Gledhill: While sorry that jobs are endangered, contrary to other comments here, I'm also relieved to hear council has abided by their regulations. For the past 7 years there has been a development proposal in my rural area that has twice been refused permission to operate. The proponent has had to be threatened with court action to stop illegal activity taking place and has now launched a 3rd DA. The activity is blatantly unsuitable and unsafe for the location. When starting businesses in rural areas, it might be better if notice was taken of local laws. It would save a lot of grief down the track - for all concerned.