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May 22, 2024

Q&A with Shane Rennie, Island Quarry Trust President

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Regarding the push from a Change.org petition calling for fresh leadership at Island Quarry (IQ), Island Quarry Trust member Shane Rennie has replied to Echo questions.

IQ is a former quarry located on high land, opposite the Cavanbah Centre on Ewingsdale Road. According to iq.org.au, ‘The Island Quarry Restoration Project was formed by a small group of like-minded people in early 1995, with the vision to create a social and artistic enterprise in a wider cultural and tourist initiative’.

Those pushing for change say that IQ leadership does not represent the original intent of the community-led project.

Shane says, ‘I’ve been involved with IQ since its inception over 25 years ago, and in the early days lots of events were held and IQ was open for access to the public. Sadly, after IQ became widely known in the backpacker community and there was an influx of tourists a very sad incident occurred where a young man drowned. A lengthy coronial inquiry recommended fencing a safe perimeter and the necessity for risk management plans and protocols for events and public access’.

‘We are are aware that there is a Change.org campaign set up by ex-member who is trying to rev up the community with misinformation, petitioning stating ‘Rise up Byron and take back your Island Quarry’ with no recognition or information supplied to the public by the anonymous petition organisers as to where iQ is at with the DA approval; the barriers to open access to the iQ site with no conditions around safety and supervision, or the fact that we are in process to ensure IQ is opened to the public and remains in community hands. There are many in the community that would come forward to support the current IQ management should we also launch a support campaign. 

‘All requests to IQ have always been addressed. We did have a recent request for another community event and when we asked about their safety plan and insurance they said they were anti establishment/anti-insurance and then didn’t get back to us further with a plan’.

Q: According to iq.org.au/iq-update/, the most recent ‘planning hurdles’ that have been passed that are listed are over three years old. The website says, ‘The Trust looks forward to a full re-opening of the Reserve to the public once all consent conditions for public events are completed’. Neighbour Adam Bennett Smith says ‘It is unclear in the past 25 years since the adoption of the IQ management plan what elements of the stated management goals have been achieved’. You mentioned the possibility of a men’s shed being constructed at IQ, yet any building there would presumably be in its early stages given a DA needs to be drafted and submitted.  Is it a fair assessment to say that very little ‘management goals’ have been achieved on the site in 25 years, notwithstanding the 2014 death and ‘planning hurdles’?    

You can see in the email correspondence below to Council & Bennett-Smith – that plenty is happening at iQ, just in the last year or two alone, including: Community Building Partnership grant attained for construction of a site shed (for storage/meetings/workshops); approval and construction of driveway roadworks – just recently approved (with a couple more consent conditions to complete eg funding & landscaping of the driveway roadside earth-bund, which is progress following recent meetings); 100 bush-tucker trees planted with Delta Kay; numerous regen days; off-site fundraisers held for iQ Inc, an annual fundraiser held for the Arakwal Corp in NAIDOC week; an annual Thrills private function (who did a one off licence, paid a hire fee, supplied their own public liability insurance, 8 security guards, a risk management plan, a traffic management plan and were required to have an RSVP system for their free private ticketing).

We have also had a few meetings with the Men’s Shed group over the last month, although they seem very interested, we have not received a formal proposal as yet.  We look forward to receiving a proposal from the Men’s Shed group following recent positive discussion. This is in confidence for now – but I will update you with any news. We are open to any formal proposals.

In 2017, The Echo reported you saying that IQ presents the Byron All Shorts short-film competition alongside its Flickerfest tour screenings. While IQ is a not-for-profit based on public land, ASIC records show Flickerfest is a for-profit company. The only ‘news’ that IQ publicises (iq.org.au/category/news/) relates to Flickerfest activities. How is using a NFP to promote a private enterprise in the spirit of IQ? Surely, those who started IQ, other than yourself and Bronwyn, have no vested interest in Flickerfest, and would rather see the site utilised as it was originally envisaged?

A: As you know from our 2017 correspondence, the Flickerfest relationship with IQ is purely benevolent. This IQ inc Mullum/Bangalow Flickerfest and Byron All Shorts hosted event has been held as an offsite fundraising activity that has assisted to raise funds to contribute to public liability insurance, additional road work costs, tools and garden maintenance etc. This IQ inc fundraising activity is essential as other than grants for infrastructure, IQ does not currently have an income stream. So there is no financial benefit to Flickerfest from IQ hosted events as all profits have been given to IQ inc or the community. The 2022 event and a raffle raised $3,200, equally shared between Koori Mail Flood fundraiser and Mullum Neighbourhood Centre. In 2023, we raised $2,906 for IQ and this has been very handy as our public liability insurance costs have increased, as have roadwork and other costs.

Both myself and Bronwyn have never received funds from IQ for any activity or time we have given over many years and we host the fundraising activity and all time we give to IQ voluntarily, we have no pecuniary interest. We live in this community but run Flickerfest nationally, we give back to our community through our fundraising events in support of IQ and other community groups. You will see that no wages are paid to anyone as outlined in our recent AGM financial report we have supplied.

As we cannot host public ticketed onsite events until our DA is completed, we use these fundraising events as an iQ revenue stream. The listing of the iQ inc event mentioning the  Mullum/Bangalow Flickerfest & Byron All Shorts on the website was to alert the community to the fundraiser for iQ, and to benefit local filmmakers and recognise them and give them a platform.  Many not for profit organisations host the Flickerfest tour as a fundraiser for their organisations, about 40 nationally and the Flickerfest event is listed on many websites as such; see here

Q: Where are the IQ Trust meeting agendas and minutes filed – they don’t appear publicly available. Can they be provided please? 

A: iQ Minutes are filed with the Public Officer. Attached are the minutes from our most recent AGM in March 23.

Q: Are the IQ Trust annual reports publicly available? It appears they are required under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 No 58, section 3.30 (e): https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2016-058#sec.3.30 Also records (including accounting) should be publicly available, according to section 3.31.

A: Our Trust Annual Report is lodged every year on the Crown Reserve Reporting website – we have been told by the Crown Lands dept that the Annual Reports do not have to be displayed on our website & that being lodged on the Crown Reserve Reporting website meets all public accessibility requirements – but, please find the Trust Annual Report attached

Q: I understand the IQ membership application was removed from www.iq.org.au – why was that? I have a copy (attached). There appears no mention of IQ membership on the website, only an invitation to volunteer, or for organisations to have its public liability insurance auspiced by IQ.

A: It came to our attention two weeks back, when after one membership information request and one membership form was received in an email; we noticed that the membership form and fees needed to be reviewed in light of the increase in costs for public liability insurance required for having members on site. The increase in fees, review of membership form and page layout will be addressed at our next meeting late August. The membership form will be returned to the site by the end of August. No membership has been rejected and we have sought further information from one of the only two persons from whom a membership request was received, who have not as yet replied. Prior to, and since these two membership forms were received we have not received any other written requests, nor have we rejected any membership or ignored any membership or volunteer enquiries.

Btw, we had already begun the process of working on general minor website updates prior to your enquiries, you can view some updates we have made at www.iQ.org.au

Q: In 2017 The Echo also reported, ‘A Plan of Management (PoM) for the Reserve was supplied to The Echo by the Industry and Lands department, which has been in place for 18 years, since 1999. According to the department, ‘an updated PoM has been drafted and is being finalised by the Trust.’

Is the new PoM finalised, and if so, can it please be provided? I was curious why it, or the previous 1999 PoM, is not available at www.iq.org.au

A: Our current PoM still stands as of 1999; we do have a draft PoM in process, but it cannot be completed until we know the future plans of the changes to the Ewingsdale Rd roundabout, and the access to ex the Sunnybrand site to our eastern boundary and its impact on the Island Quarry reserve. We will be ensuring our final driveway design approval in completion of the Plan Of Management; this is to ensure the new PoM will work with the future site. 

Q: In 2017 The Echo also reported ‘a 2010 DA was approved with conditions, which include roadwork access on Ewingsdale Road and stormwater plans/works. Those particulars are being finalised with Council, Rennie says, with other conditions stipulating detailed engineering plans for driveways, parking areas and an access road’.

Has all the DA conditions been met, and if not, what is remaining? 

A: This is also answered in the cover letter to Council, we have just had our traffic island approved late last year, our driveway sub-grade and tarring works approved last month; and just last week met with the BSC Open Spaces dept to discuss the planting plan and funding for the landscaping/planting of the roadside driveway earth-bund. Once that is completed and approved we have to provide an Asset Creation Sheet and provide a holding deposit of five per cent cost of the driveway; & pay any final fees. Then the driveway access is approved.

Q: In 2017, you refused to supply The Echo with the IQ Constitution. Given this operation is supposed to be a community led non for profit on public land, are you prepared to supply the Constitution now? 

A: I would have said it was the basic model rules of all associations with a couple of small amendments – please find the iQ Inc Model Constitution (attached)

Q: Has the IQ structure changed at all since 2017? Is there still 35 members, and off not, who many are there? Are the IQ Assoc Inc members the same as they were in 2017? At the time you said it was (president) Shane Rennie, Bronwyn Kidd, Tim Rabbidge, Helen Stickley-Thompson and Alex Polo. According to the deleted IQ membership page, it lists Shane Rennie (Chair), Tim Rabbidge & Alex Polo (share Vice Chair & Exec Member roles), Bronwyn Kidd (Secretary), Helen Stickley-Thompson (Treasurer). 

A: Our structure is the same; we currently have 12 members, the committee is the same except with one vacancy since last year, as Helen has moved to Woombah. I am standing in as the Treasurer atm. Arakwal custodian Delta Kay who has had a long association with iQ had previously expressed interest in being on our board, we will be formalising her appointment to the board at our next meeting in August.

 

Ends


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