A not so friendly RV meeting
SPARKS were flying at King’s Theatre on Wednesday night at a public forum to discuss whether Warwick should become an RV-friendly town.
The meeting was convened by the Warwick Chamber of Commerce and president John Randall – who chaired the meeting – was regularly interrupted by people on the floor and threatened to close the forum down at one stage.
“This is a Chamber meeting and I’m in charge here, we have one rule and that is there will be no yelling across the room ... we will close the meeting down,” he warned.
This was in response to two people from Stanthorpe who called out during his introduction querying if Stanthorpe would be discussed at the meeting, or just Warwick.
“You’ve wasted our time coming here,” one person called out.
The meeting was attended by about 100 people and the guest speaker was Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia director Karen Griffin.
Mr Randall said the purpose of the meeting was to try and help the Chamber decide upon a position to take to the Southern Downs Regional Council, which is still deciding whether or not to make towns in the region RV friendly.
“Of course, the Chamber has a strong interest in this matter, as we have in all matters concerning our members in the Warwick business community,” he said.
“There are millions of dollars spent each year by the travelling public in our town, and the Chamber needs to be supportive of those businesses involved. But at the end of the day, it’s a matter for the Southern Downs Regional Council to decide.”
One man called out why Mr Randall was in charge and questioned: “Who died and made you God?”.
“I encourage all of you to contribute, but we will have no disrespectful behaviour, we’ll have no mud-slinging and I’ll have to limit you to two minutes for the point you’re making,” Mr Randall replied.
“We’re after information, we’re not after hearsay and opinions which cannot be substantiated.”
Mrs Griffin told the crowd that from her experience as a director of the CMCA and as a traveller – up until three years ago she and her family were nomadic – she could not see any negatives of the RV-friendly badging proposal.
“It’s designed to put dollars into the cash registers of local businesses,” she said.
Hart’s Tourist Park owner Graham Hart then questioned from the floor the validity of figures Mrs Griffin quoted earlier, to which Mr Randall interrupted and told Mrs Griffin not to answer.
“You’re not interested in questions, you’re only interested in horse s--t,” Mr Hart said before leaving the meeting.
Warwick Chamber of Commerce RV friendly sub-committee member Peter Read questioned Mrs Griffin on what the economic benefit would be if the RV-friendly status was adopted.
“From a Chamber point of view, the real issue is will Warwick be better off becoming RV friendly or not,” he said.
“Karen, will your members actually stay in caravan parks when they come to Warwick?”
Mrs Griffin replied that about half of the CMCA’s 58,000 members were not self-contained and that many of them did stay in caravan parks.
One traveller, Tom Graham, told the forum he did not like going to caravan parks to use dump points when on the road because he felt it was “using and abusing them”.
“As a person who doesn’t always go to caravan parks ... I think we would have to be stupid to not embrace this,” he said. “I think the people opposing it are doing that because they don’t see the benefits.”
Graham Buchner, who organised the meeting, said he did not understand the negativity towards becoming RV friendly.
“Why do people think if we become RV friendly we’re going to have people coming in and camping in the street ... it’s absurd,” he told the forum.
Mr Hart met with the Daily News yesterday and said the RV-friendly tag was nothing more than a marketing ploy by the CMCA.
“These people (CMCA) have got a very, very smart publicity and marketing machine, they’re pushing their agenda for their own benefit,” he said.
“Who benefits from (becoming RV friendly)? I’ll tell you who, the CMCA. Who will lose? I will guarantee the park owners and mainly the council, as park owners are Warwick ratepayers.”
The Warwick Chamber of Commerce RV-friendly sub-committee met with caravan park owners on Tuesday.
The information from both meetings will now be collated and presented at the Warwick Chamber of Commerce’s June monthly meeting.