News

Dodgy fruit picker ‘hostel’ busted by council officers

CLOSE QUARTERS: More than 70 seasonal fruit pickers had been sleeping cheek by jowl in the marquee.
CLOSE QUARTERS: More than 70 seasonal fruit pickers had been sleeping cheek by jowl in the marquee. Supplied

A LANDOWNER who crammed no fewer than 74 overseas workers into a marquee in his backyard has been successfully prosecuted by the Southern Downs Regional Council.

Jan Idec of Thulimbah, north of Stanthorpe, appeared in the Planning and Environment Court in Brisbane yesterday where he was found guilty of running illegal accommodation.

Mr Idec's appearance ironically comes just a day after the Daily News reported the council is facing a string of court cases over planning matters, mostly resulting from its refusal of development plans.

The council originally sought an enforcement order on March 27 to force Mr Idec to remove the marquee from the 14ha property on Granite Belt Drive.

He does have an approval from the council for a resort including guest accommodation, wine tasting and sales, function rooms and stables and currently operates a guest house and cottages.

Mr Idec has been ordered to dismantle the marquee by 4pm today, but his penalty is yet to be handed down.

Seventy-four fruit pickers were found living in this tent on the Granite Belt.
Seventy-four fruit pickers were found living in this tent on the Granite Belt.

 

 

"Council staff and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services personnel inspected the property and were greatly concerned about the potential for loss of life in the event of a fire," Cr Blundell said.

"The council took action immediately issuing an interim application to the court for a hearing.

"The Planning and Environment Court instructed the landowner to remove seasonal workers from the marquee immediately and to remove the structure.

"The council is vigilant about the illegal housing of backpackers and seasonal workers in the council area and this case has proved that our efforts are worthwhile.

"Our farmers value the backpackers and seasonal workers who pick fruit and vegetables. Their input helps drive our local economy and these workers deserve to have safe and comfortable accommodation during their stay on the Southern Downs."

Cr Blundell said in past years council staff had found a number of backpacker-style accommodation units that were not compliant.

"In some cases the accommodation was way below standard, to the point of being a health risk with overloaded septic tanks and crowded bedrooms," he said.

"Both the council and QFES are extremely concerned about safety and we do not want a repeat of the Childers backpacker hostel fire in 2000, where lives were lost.

"Anyone wanting to rent short-term accommodation units to backpackers or fruit pickers must have planning approval and for some properties this might require a change in building classification for the structure.

"As many people would know, landlord insurance is deemed invalid if a property is illegally tenanted.

"Council inspections of properties are conducted on an ongoing basis."

Topics:  editors picks




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

OPINION: How to prepare your child for day care

Your kids will love childcare, but it may take some adjusting.

GETTING your child ready for day care is vital.

MUMS' TOP 5: 'Musts' to have on your childcare checklist

SOME FALL SHORT: Organisations that train childcare workers will be subjected to extra audits.

SENDING your child off to day care can be daunting and confusing.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Warwick girl makes most of new business venture

Meet the team behind Warwick salon Hair Kreations: stylist and owner Belinda Benz (second from right) and hairdressers Charlotte Hockings, Cassie Taylor and Casie Ellis.

Warwick hairdresser Belinda Benz is loving her new salon

Never-before-seen footage of Granite Belt snow

Snow blankets the road through Girraween National Park.

Dash cam footage shows a winter wonderland across Southern Downs

Gang steals exotic bird from tourist attraction

Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife - Crimson Rosella Photo Contributed

Native bird stolen from Queen Mary Falls.

Latest deals and offers

Three bedroom, 1100sqm block: Is this Qld's cheapest home?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%