Last Wednesday I met with two Wynnum residents regarding a few local issues including new high voltage powerlines that are set to go in to provide power to Port of Brisbane and the expansion of the Caltex refinery at Lytton.

Although both local (rather than federal) issues, the decisions that were made by government and business about these matters before actually consulting the community frazzled me somewhat – I guess in the same way it frazzled these two residents!

Increased air pollution in the area, such as that which will come about with the expansion of the Caltex refinery, has led to serious concerns by some of the residents of Wynnum in regard to the erection of new high voltage power lines.

In the July Baycare News, the Newsletter of the Moreton Bay Environmental Alliance, it said many of the effects of air pollution levels were still unknown. However, it said work on the possible effects of small particles that become charged by high voltage power lines has indicated possible health effects to the community in the vicinity.

The residents told me they received imcomplete information from government and business and were left to fill in any gaps in the research. Once they researched, they raised more questions which brought to light more inconsistencies.

One of the residents, who is concerned about the health risks his children may fall victim to by living so close to high voltage power lines, began by asking questions, but has become increasingly disenchanted by the ‘consultation’ process.

I believe he would have felt more comfortable about his children’s wellbeing if he had been provided with the appropriate information from word go rather than being thrown in the deep-end and given a plan with numerous environmental and health holes.

The other resident has taken on a research role, an admirable thing to do being the role should really be carried out comprehensively by a paid professional.

How long must they wait for answers? How long should they fight?

These residents deserve a definitive answer and, in future, their interests deserve to be respresented by their local members with consultation starting early rather than too late. That’s their right and that’s what democracy is all about – something that’s often forgotton in this era of pandering to big business.

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