Sunshine Coast Council has been forced to direct five hinterland service stations across the Region to close in response to Queensland Government Legislative changes to the Dangerous Goods Safety Act 2001. The impact of these changes is being felt across the whole State.
In response to the legislative changes, council commissioned an independent risk assessment report into eleven (11) sites currently operating as Large Dangerous Goods Locations in the region.
This review was limited to those premises that were operating on council owned public footpaths and lands.
The subsequent report alerted council to a range of unacceptable community safety and liability risks in relation to the operation of five fuel service stations on the Coast.
These businesses have today been directed to stop operating. Some of the businesses may be able to reopen if they undertake identified actions to reduce the risks to an acceptable level, however for other businesses such actions will be cost prohibitive.
In one of the hinterland towns the business operator will cease the provision of fuel as alternative fuel sources are easily available to the local community and the provision of fuel was only a small part of the business.
In another hinterland town the business operator will cease the provision of fuel immediately with no alternatives for fuel sources within that township.
This local operator has said that whilst he understood council’s role, he would hope that council representatives act in good faith and in an expeditious manner to assist in resolving the current situation for the sake of his business, his clients as well as the local community in general.
“I have been operating the service station for over a decade and in that time, I have contributed every day to local community associations and projects on a voluntarily basis.
“Council’s actions have now prevented me from carrying out my current means of earning a living.
“I don’t think Council realise how much this will affect me and the community that I have to face everyday.”
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor, Bob Abbot said the outcomes and recommendations within the independent risk assessment report left council with no option but to act on this issue immediately.
“Having received the independent report on the risks, the findings can not be ignored especially given the number of people who frequent some of the locations on a regular basis.
“Unfortunately, that’s the reality – and it’s a tough reality particularly so close to Christmas and in the economic climate of today.”
“Knowing the consequences and If something happened that caused severe injury or loss of life, neither the responsible officers in council nor the operator would be able to live with themselves I’m sure.
“Council understands that businesses are doing it tough and while I know that this process is happening throughout Queensland – in some places where the only fuel bowser for hundreds of kilometres is the one at the general store with fuel tanks sitting under the footpath – it doesn’t make this any easier.
“What we are doing is working with the operator to minimise the economic impact to that business and the local community.
“Already our economic development officers have contacted the operators and arranged to meet with them and we hope this will be the start of an ongoing business planning process to assist the handful of business impacted by this change to State legislation.
“We will also be working with the operators to decommission the fuel tanks and to provide continued support in relation to the Dangerous Goods Safety Management Act 2001 and the incoming Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
“The success of the towns impacted lies in the strength of their communities – I know they will be getting behind the service station and the general stores.
“In conjunction with the local divisional councillors, I will ensure council staff continue working with the operators and community to make sure we have done everything possible to minimise the impact of these changes”.
A range of local business support measures are available to the impacted operators including:
Professional advice and support from Council staff regarding the Dangerous Goods Safety Management Act 2001 and the incoming Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the role of the Queensland State Government in this matter and in particular to assist you in understanding the directive and risk mitigation actions that you need to undertake;
Support in communicating this matter to your customers and local community; and
Independent business advisor support to assist you to develop and implement individual business plans for the ongoing future of your enterprise.
This is not something we wanted to do nor do we feel happy about doing it,” Cr Abbot said.
“But at the end of the day, not only is council obligated to help local businesses comply with this legislation but we also have a community obligation – and that is to ensure that our community is kept safe.”
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