After 42 days, Councillor Hardman responds to eight questions about Redland City Council’s illegal clearing of trees near Carolena Street in Cleveland.
Cr Hardman was asked these questions because the tree clearing was done in Division 3 which she was elected to represent. The questions emailed to her on 31 July were:
1. Who petitioned for these trees to be cleared (petitioner’s names are usually public information)?
2. Who at Redland City Council approved the tree clearing?
3. Were the Mayor and any of the Councillors involved in or aware of the plan?
4. When was Council first made aware of the fact that this tree clearing was illegal and what was its initial response?
5. Why was this illegal action by Council not disclosed to the public?
6. What discussions took place between Council and the State Government?
7. Why has 15 months elapsed with no re-vegetation to this area?
8. What has Council done to improve its legal compliance procedures?
We published these questions in Redland City Council tree clearing was illegal on 2 August.
A few days later Council planted 490 seedlings in the cleared area. This work was required by the State Government, to remedy the Council’s breach of the Fisheries Act which could have resulted in Redland City being fined up to $220,000. We wrote about this in Did Council get it right this time?
We recently noted that after five weeks Cr Hardman had still not not responded to the questions.
On 11 September (42 days after first raising the questions) a response was received from Cr Hardman. Information gleaned from her three page response includes:
- Council seems to prefer using the term “view management work” to the term “illegal tree clearing”
- Cr Hardman is not aware of “any involvement of councillors” in approval of the tree clearing and has been advised that “there has been no finding that the clearing was illegal”.
- Information about the issue can be found in various newspaper articles and Council media releases
Her letter points out that elected officials are not allowed to “interfere or intervene in operational matters” under section 170 of the Local Government Act. It is reassuring that Cr Hardman has a clear understanding of this particular provision of the Act.
What is not reassuring is that it took 42 days for her to produce an uninformative response to eight straightforward questions.
Cr Hardman’s response to the eight questions is published below: