Photo caption: Angela and Ron Green are leading a fight to wrestle control of Green Park, in Conondale, back to the local community. They have collected 2000 signatures calling for Sunshine Coast Council to be removed as trustee of the site. Photo: Richard Bruinsma.
By Richard Bruinsma
Conondale father and daughter Ron and Angela Green are preparing to ramp up their fight to wrestle control of Green Park away from Sunshine Coast Council and back into community hands.
However, both local Member for Glass House Andrew Powell and the Council agree that Council is the best trustee for now, due to various community concerns.
The Greens said the 100-acre site, 4km east of Conondale on the Maleny-Conondale Road, was gazetted in 1928 to local residents by the Australian Government, as a memorial to the rural town’s fighting efforts in World War I.
And they say the previous Newman State Government had “abused the system” by instead installing the Council as trustees of the site in early 2015.
“Conondale earned this more seriously than anyone else,” Mr Green said.
“It was pretty tough going over there in the trenches. Conondale gave and this is what it got for its efforts.”
However, Mr Powell said the decision to change trustees was the right one.
“The decision by the then Minister to appoint the Sunshine Coast Regional Council as trustee of Green Park came after a protracted and bitter dispute between multiple users of the reserve,” Mr Powell said.
“It came after considerable attempts to resolve the dispute by myself and Cr Jenny McKay, as well as by professional dispute resolution services.
“Green Park plays a special and important role in the Conondale community, including as a memorial reserve, and I fully support that continuing – which is why I will support the Council in their role as trustee. I believe they are best placed, with suitable resources and experience, to balance the competing but necessary uses of the site.”
A Council spokesman added: “Council has undertaken significant community consultation since accepting trusteeship and throughout this process it has become clear there are many unresolved historical issues and concerns associated with the Reserve.”
Mr Green ran as a mayoral candidate in the recent election and Angela as a Division 5 candidate. While they were unsuccessful in their campaigns, their efforts did manage to draw greater attention to the Green Park dispute.
They argue the matter is of international importance because it deals with preserving the legacy of the ANZACS.
“It’s an irreplaceable part of our heritage,” Angela said.
“If you deny Conondale this memorial, then it doesn’t have one at all anymore for the war.”
Mr Green said while the State Government had the power to change trustees, in this case its decision was wrong.
“They have the option – if Conondale is not interested – but Conondale is interested and they (the state) have abused the system,” he said
“Conondale wants its own trustees for its own land.
“The state can’t say, ‘no’ to that; it’s not the state’s land.
“…it was the people of Conondale that fought in World War I, not the state.”
The pair has collected 2000 signatures on a petition urging that Conondale locals be reinstated as the trustees. The petition will soon be presented to the Department of Natural Resources.
Mr Green argued Council had further rubbed salt into the wound, and had snubbed the Conondale community, by hosting its recent pest plants and animal field day at the site without consulting local people.
“It’s a political stunt, just making themselves look good,” Angela said.
Mr Green said: “They wouldn’t care what happens in Conondale – there are 20,000 votes in Division 5, and only 400 in Conondale.”