Renee Pilcher

Shooters fired up over 24-year impasse on use of forest

GYMPIE Regional Council says it will take urgent action to try to break through the 24-year bureaucratic impasse that prevents Gympie having a major shooting sports tourist attraction.

But sporting shooters representative Ron Owen says they do not mean it.

Councillors have previously blamed conflict between the state departments of Forestry and Sport for preventing the long-discussed Cooloola Range Complex from going ahead in the near-Gympie end of the Curra State Forest.

But earlier this year, Environment Minister Steven Miles, whose responsibilities include environmental issues and national parks, told shooters the hold-up was with the council, which had the task of developing a suitable tenure deal.

A whole generation has gone by since Mr Owen was first involved in advocating for the plan, in 1992. Parents have become grandparents and babies have grown up in that time.

Specific discussions about the proposed shooting range have been going on all this century so far, coming up 16 years.

Wednesday's council meeting heard concerns by Mayor Mick Curran and councillors Ian Petersen and Rae Gate.

Cr Petersen raised the issue in the General Business session of Wednesday's council meeting, supported by Cr Gate.

"We need some sort of in-principle support (from the State Government) before we can go further," Cr Petersen told the meeting.

"We're deadlocked at the moment. It's just an impasse."

Cr Gate, who earlier this year said she was confident the issue would be sorted out this year, noted that the year was almost over.

"With a reduced number of ministers, it was very difficult to get a sit-down meeting with them," she said.

Cr Curran said he would raise the matter at the upcoming Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils.

"If there's no joy there, I would be happy to jump in a vehicle with you and to Brisbane to talk to the Minister," he told Cr Petersen, who also suggested Crs Larry Friske and Gate should be involved.

Cr Curran said the issue still had not surpassed the other great sleeper project, the Toolara dump plan.

Gympie Times

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