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Taking Responsibility For Katherine

posted 24-Nov-2017

At the October 2017 meeting of Council, Katherine’s Elected Members unanimously endorsed a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seeking his urgent and determined leadership to more effectively deal with the impacts of PFAS to our people, environment and economy.


The letter seeks support for all in our community; from those RAAF Tindal firefighters who have been highly exposed to PFAS as well as those living in the most impacted area near the base, through to our industries, residents and visitors.


"This letter to the Prime Minister marks another milestone in the ongoing advocacy by Council for our community on the PFAS issue in Katherine." said Mayor Fay Miller.


"Since Council was made aware of the issue, we have been getting on with the work of advocating for our community through countless meetings and discussions with our community, Federal and Territory governments.  Our Elected Members and a team of five key officers have worked many hours and through the night at times to ensure that our community is best supported." she said.


Some of the results of this work have been a greater focus on informing the community, a transparent process of releasing results when available, a precautionary decision to close the pool, securing funding from Defence and a ‘Katherine first’ focussed view on the issue.


"‘On-the-ground’ people from Defence, NT Government and Council are doing their best to respond to the issue, but as well observed by the Katherine Times, despite the progress made, we need the increased leadership of our federal government at this critical time." she said.


Council CEO Robert Jennings said that "Whilst the issue has emanated from PFAS used at our RAAF Tindal Base, Council have taken an approach of getting on with solving the problem in a strategic manner, rather than creating additional problems to be solved.  We have chosen to show respect, collaboration and integrity whilst still setting clear boundaries and speaking out strongly for our community."


As stated at the October Council Community Forum, Council are seeking to put together a practical long term framework to deal with all aspects of the issue and will work to respond to this challenge with those best able to attain this outcome.  Defence are a key player in the history and future of our town and to date have provided program funding without question.


Mayor Miller summarised the process by stating that "We are still at the beginning of this journey.  Now is the time for resilience and forward thinking.  We do not want to perpetuate a legacy of Katherine being defined by PFAS, but instead will lead the campaign of a township defined by its united people who will create their own enriching and sustainable future in agriculture, tourism, economic development, natural wonders, regional services, aboriginal and non-aboriginal culture and arts."


"We know this is possible, as our people have been tested many times before through floods, so let us not fail this current test of our township and let it make us greater." she said.