Tourism “fairytale” under review

QPRC’s Tourism Plan will be reviewed after a decision made at the council on Wednesday.

Councillor Trevor Hicks attacked the plan as “soft” at the April 11 council meeting.

The plan’s focus “creating a world class cycling destination” in Queanbeyan Palerang had raised his ire. Cr Hicks particularly criticised support for the proposed Molonglo Rail Trail.

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“It’s just a fairytale proposal,” Cr Hicks said. “There’s no facts and figures, there’s no guarantees.”

The proposed rail trail runs through Cr Hicks property. In December when council discussed the rail trail, Cr Hicks declared a conflict of interest in proceedings and left the room.

The council instead needed to focus on attracting “real” tourism to the region, such as motorcyclists, by fixing the Captains Flat Road, Cr Hicks said.

“The motorbike riders are going to spend a hell of a lot more money than push bike riders,” Cr Hicks said.

“We could be the ultimate motorcycle destination, but that’s not proposed.”

Photo: Dave Cole.

Photo: Dave Cole.

The Tourism Plan previously attracted controversy in December 2017 when the council decided to take no further action to support the rail trail. This was despite the rail tourism orientated plan having been endorsed by then Administrator Tim Overall in April 2017.

The move was taken in response to a request from the Molonglo Rail Trail Committee that QPRC send out a letter from the group to landholders along the line, as groundwork for a feasibility study.

Cr Hicks also attacked the independence of the feasibility study proposed by the committee. Instead, he said the group should be speaking to locals such as himself to determine the project’s cost.

He denied owning land along the rail trail was a conflict of interest when making decisions as a councillor.

However in December, when the Rail Trail committee asked the council to distribute letters to landowners on its behalf, Cr Hicks did declare a conflict of interest in the item, which required a motion.

“[The Rail Trail Committe] are financing it themselves, so all they’re doing is financing a report. There’s no independence about it. There’s no independence there at all,” he said.

“I’m probably the foremost expert, having the engineering skills, having the local knowledge.”

The decision to review the Tourism Strategy is part of a progressive process of review for decisions made under administration.

The 2017 Disability Inclusion Action Plan, the Sports Facilities Strategic Plan, the Queanbeyan CBD Transformation Strategy and the QPRC Digital Economy and Smart Community Strategy were all endorsed by council.

Councillor Peter Marshall said several of those who are now councillors were on the local representation committee during the administration period.

"It’s very odd indeed for those councillors to have picked out one plan they don’t like for review, having overseen its development," Cr Marshall said.

A spokesperson for QPRC said the review of all policies, strategies, plans and procedures adopted during the period of administration was requested by councillors.

Mayor Tim Overall welcomed this move, and said “the more input, the better.”