Tuesday, 7 April 2020
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Mayor booed at Kooralbyn Coronavirus forum

The Mayor was booed at a fiery public forum about a Kooralbyn resort potentially being used as a Coronavirus isolation facility on Wednesday.

The meeting was hosted by Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor Greg Christensen to give people information on the virus and the risks in posed, not in relation to Kooralbyn.

There were also representatives from Queensland Health and Queensland Police Service (QPS) to help address any questions.

Residents were assured that no one showing symptoms of the virus would go to Kooralbyn and the resort would be used for people who wish to isolate themselves in case they were.

The QPS representative who was a member of the State Disaster Advisory Group, said he had been involved for 10 days in planning including accommodation.

“Kooralbyn is just one of a number of places where we’re looking for accomodation across Queensland,” he said.

“There are a number of reasons we don’t advertise those places; primarily it’s around those individuals themselves.”

He said the vast majority of potential virus sufferers were isolating themselves at home in their communities.

“At each of the venues where people are being accommodated, we do have protective service officers, who are employed by the Queensland Police Service but they’re not a police officer.”

They will provide support for the isolated person, the venue and help them to liaise with government agencies.

After the information session about the virus, now named COVID-19, the forum was turned over to question time by the Mayor.

One resident said she recognised that people had to go somewhere but when they isolate in Brisbane the whole city doesn’t get branded.

“We are Kooralbyn Valley and we’re a tourist area and some of us make our income out of that, make our living out of that and I don’t know how you can justify the whole community becoming aware of such an issue via a Ramada Facebook page.”

“It brands this community whether you like it or not.”

She was cut off by applause and the Mayor saying he understood her comment.

“I didn’t create the challenge and I’m trying to address it,” he said.

Cr Christensen said the perception issues were very similar to what the region just experienced with the fires.

“The way this broke on social media is really terrible and we as a region now will have to deal with an aftermath whether we like it or not, that’s just a reality.”

And he added that council was looking at creating another disaster recovery plan.

He shut the conversation down by saying he was not willing to discuss economic challenges to the community on the night, that it was a long conversation needed “down the track”.

When asked by another local about how would they deal with the stigma that would be created by social media, the Mayor responded: “If you have a solution to the dishonesty of social media I’d love to hear it, it haunts me every day.”

He said the damage was done and the meeting was not about solving problems but instead about addressing facts.

Cr Christensen said there were no plans, currently, to use the Packer lodge and that he hoped there would be no use for it.

The police officer, when asked, said he couldn’t say where the other locations were and if the facebook post hadn’t gone up, people would not have known about the Ramada resort being used as an isolation facility.

When State Member for Scenic Rim, Jon Krause, stood up to ask some questions he received loud applause before he even spoke.

He asked if local doctors and nurses would be involved in the treatment and if residents would be notified if people were brought to Kooralbyn, to which he was told no decisions had been made yet.

Mr Krause then called for the government to scrap the idea of the Kooralbyn resort being used as an isolation facility.

The Mayor’s response to Mr Krause’s call drew an audible ‘boo' from across the room.

“Take your politics and do it in parliament,” Cr Christensen said.

He later said he would discuss the options with the rest of the councillors at a future meeting.