Working the Networks

Di Thompson, NCC representative Southern Ranges Regional Advisory Council and NSW Advisory Council

This story is about building a relationship that has a constructive outcome.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a phone message from the ABC Canberra, concerning 4WD damage at Dubbo Flats. I groaned. How did the ABC find me when the issue wasn’t even horses? For goodness sake I didn’t want to be the font of all knowledge on all high impact activities in Kosciuszko National Park.

I phoned back, got more information, and decided this was an opportunity to work with my recently appointed colleague, Craig Thomas, the President of the Four Wheel Drive NSW & ACT Association, who is on the NPWS Advisory Council with me. I’d previously developed some good friendships with representatives of the Land Rover Club, over many years on the Southern Ranges Region Advisory Committee. So I passed the names to the ABC reporter, sent emails to all, including Mick Pettitt, Director, Southern Ranges Region (which includes KNP), and advised the reporter that there were both good and bad experiences with 4WDers, but that their representatives were likely to be responsible and reasonable to work with.

Sometime later I learned it was Gary Dunnett, NPA CEO, who dobbed me in, claiming that the issue really needed a local perspective, not just a statement that ‘driving offroad is bad’ !

Of course this is what we usually see. Another swampy area and 4WD impacts.

Dubbo Flats, in northern Kosciusko National Park (KNP), is remote, rugged and definitely popular with 4WDers. Northern KNP is also the habitat of the Northern Corroboree Frog.

It would have been easy to have done the spiel, about damage and 4WDers in national parks, but I expected it was a rogue lot who had despoiled the park.

Better that we all learn more about the circumstances and work together. Craig immediately took the matter up, contacting Mick Pettitt and offered for their members to go in and help with rehabilitation.

In the end, Craig found that it was a combination of circumstances and impacts including that the contractor had realigned the road straight into a swamp. The road is now closed for the winter season and the contractor is going back when it dries out to try and remediate the damage. Mick also advised that they had made a response via their Public Affairs Branch to a media request a few days before my contact.

Craig now has a good working relationship with NPWS management in our area. He has also offered to put photos on their Facebook page to help highlight any damage that happens in this region. This contact builds further good relationships with NPWS, and in this case with NPA NSW.

I expect Craig and I will work together on many issues on Council over the next few years. It won’t always be straight forward, but we have demonstrated again the benefit of good will and a respectful relationship.

I belonged to the ACT 4WD Club for many years and did all my training in my Prado with them. Generally their trips were either too hard or involved too much driving for me. But I have needed and used those skills over many years driving around Australia.

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