The Eagleby Community and Wetlands Group, www.eagleby.net, was formed in March 2019 due to community concern over the proposed northern route of the Coomera Connector project, following community rumours which led to a meeting being called by the Member for Macalister, Melissa McMahon.
The meeting was an invitation only event attended by concerned local residents, landowners and farmers. The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads were represented by Paul Noonan, SEQ Regional Director. Residents of Eagleby were unhappy with this meeting and a general public meeting was held several days later where it was decided to form a local action group.
The group organized into teams which were initially chaired by Kevin MacMillan who later resigned for family reasons. Kevin was replaced by Marilyn Goodwin who became Chair and Media Relations Officer, others were; Robert Livingstone – Alternate Route Officer, Mandy Lumley – Secretary – later replaced by Jackie Dobson, Gerowyn Jensen – Social Media Officer, Rob Carter – Social Impact Officer, Jonathon Larkin – Environmental Research Officer, Dr John Davis – Indigenous Advisor and Veronica Maskell – Fundraising Officer.
Once the roles were confirmed, the group began to work together gathering information, organising letters to Politicians and lobbying other interest groups. Initially the core group met each Monday night researching and gathering information. During that phase the group learned more about just how detrimental this proposed road would be for the area. The road would have a major impact on every resident of Eagleby as well as the remarkable complex Wetland System and the habitat provided for birds, plants and animals, some of which are endangered.
We learned that Eagleby is special in many ways that most of us had not understood. We learned of the international reputation of Eagleby as one of the best bird-watching areas in the country. We learned of the International Covenants between Australia and several SE Asia countries that cover the activities of some of our endangered birdlife. We learned of the significance and importance of this area to local Indigenous people. We learned of the many pieces of Environmental Legislation designed to protect areas of such diversity and we learned how none of this had been taken into account by the planners of TMR.
Meetings followed over the next several months with State Government departments such as Transport and Main Roads, Environment and Tourism and Innovation and we also spoke or corresponded with Ministers and Shadow Ministers from both State and Federal Government and Opposition to lobby for an alternate route which would be more cost effective and less damaging to people and the environment.
Stalls in shopping centres were held to educate the community on what the project would mean for Eagleby. Public monthly meetings were held until the COVID-19 restrictions prevented them from going ahead. Meeting weekly, the Committee continued to plan and organize their campaign. The Facebook page and website kept the community informed until a small public meeting was recently able to be held where an update was delivered to those present.
The group has also been fortunate to have the support of long term residents Mick Herse and Alf Schmidt as well as other local families with a wealth of knowledge about Eagleby. Rod Bloss, who has been keeping records of the birds of Eagleby for many years, has also shared his expertise.
Members of the Eagleby Community and Wetlands Group have amassed a considerable body of knowledge and members Jonathon Larkin and Jackie Dobson produced a comprehensive environmental report. The report has been circulated widely with everyone we’ve spoken with along the way.
The Eagleby Community and Wetlands Group has members from diverse backgrounds and is a remarkable example of what communities can achieve when they join together to deal with an issue that they consider to be of major importance.
We have had many articles published in other papers, interviews on both Channels 7 and 9, ABC Radio interviews and there have been two Ministerial Press Releases directly as a result of the actions of this small group. The most recent press release from Minister Mark Bailey states that TMR are now looking at six alternate routes and they have appointed a wetlands expert specifically to look at the Complex Eagleby Wetland System.
This group has been effective because of the hard work of its members and the body of knowledge gained. At almost every meeting we’ve attended we have been educating the people who are making the decisions on our behalf. This is not the way it should work. Governments of any persuasion should be doing the research first and then making evidence-based decisions which they can clearly articulate.
We have an e-petition to have the route “ungazetted” until a final decision is made. Please help us to achieve this by signing the e-petition where a link can be found on our website www.eagleby.net.
Working with virtually no funding the group has worked diligently to keep the Eagleby community up to date and will continue to do so.
Words by: Claire Taylor and Marilyn GoodwinPhotos by: Claire Taylor