RECAP: The Burnett’s 20 biggest news stories of 2020
IT WAS a year like no other with a global pandemic shutting down the South Burnett for weeks, the election of a new Mayor and some horrific crimes across the region.
The South Burnett Times have dug back through the years news stories to compile a list of the 20 biggest South Burnett news story of 2020.
As the coronavirus pandemic sent the country into lockdown, a Kingaroy Woolies worker testing positive was the first time it really hit close to home, sending the community into a state of fear.
Published on March 13, this story marked the first case of coronavirus in the South Burnett, confirming a 53-year-old Woolworths worker tested positive to the virus.
The man who contracted the virus was immediately placed into quarantine, Woolworth workers were contacted and directed by Queensland Health officials and the store closed for a deep clean.
April 1 marked the regions second case of coronavirus with the South Burnett Regional Council receiving the news from Queensland Health.
The South Burnett Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) received the advice from QLD Health that contact tracing was underway and that the case was to be managed by Queensland Health.
Arguably one of the biggest stories of the year was when police arrested two people in Nanango for lying on their border declaration forms.
The South Burnett Times broke the story on August 6 when police detained a 63-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman, outraging the community.
The couple were placed into mandatory hotel quarantine after travelling from a COVID hotspot.
A fourth-generation family of peanut farmers in Kingaroy and one of their former top executives are now in the crosshairs of the corporate cop.
A story that shocked the South Burnett, the ACCC charged Alkaloids of Australia Pty Ltd and previous export manager Chris Joyce each with 33 criminal price fixing and other cartel offences spanning nearly a decade.
Alkaloids of Australia Pty Ltd is owned by the local Crumptons family.
The ACCC alleges that Alkaloids conspired with unnamed overseas suppliers of SNBB “to fix prices, restrict supply, allocate customers and/or geographical markets, and/or to rig bids for the supply of SNBB to international manufacturers of generic antispasmodic medications”.
Tragic news that sent shockwaves through the community was the death of an eight year old boy in Wattle Camp.
Police details revealed he was riding his motorbike around a private property before colliding with a tree, suffering critical injuries.
He was treated at the scene by paramedics awaiting a rescue helicopter, however the young boy sadly didn’t survive.
Both lanes of traffic between Nanango and Kingaroy on a section of the D’Aguilar Highway were temporarily closed after a head on collision killed a woman and put a man in hospital.
On July 10 traffic came to a stand still as emergency services rushed to help the victims of the horrific crash.
A woman was killed and a man in his 70s was injured.
The South Burnett Regional Council underwent a major shake-up earlier in the year after ECQ announced the results from the local government election held on March 28.
Residents voted in a new mayor plus several new councillors to guide them through the next four years, playing an integral role in key decision making for the region.
It took ECQ more than two weeks to decide the outcome for the mayoral position of the South Burnett Regional Council.
Brett Otto was up against Keith Campbell with the vote count leaning towards Otto (39.75%) with Campbell (36.61%) conceding defeat before ECQ declared a successful candidate.
A report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare identified the Burnett region as having the highest rate of suicide in Queensland.
Between 2015-2019 suicide claimed 67 lives across the South, Central and North Burnett.
The South Burnett Times spoke with multiple people impacted by suicide as well as front line workers who exposed the broken system.
Earlier this year Central and North Burnett Times Journalist Sam Turner took a deep dive into the shocking history of car crashes on the Burnett Highway.
He uncovered between 2001-2018, 37 lives were lost on the Burnett Highway, with two of those alone happening this year.
The notorious stretch of road is used as a gateway to several large regional hubs including Bundaberg, Gladstone and Maryborough and the 542km stretch of motorway is regularly a scene of tragedy
The increase of the standpipe water price by the council was one of the biggest decisions of the year, causing significant unrest in the community.
The debate over the price of water also caused a divide between councillors at the June general meeting.
Mayor Brett Otto said the Water and Wastewater Department advised that council increased the price of drawing water from the standpipes from $4.10 to $10 per kilolitre.
The 150% increase caused significant backlash with communities members starting petitions against the action, writing to politicians for support and even creating songs about the issue.
Deb Frecklington urged the council to reconsider their decision as the region continued to battle with one of the longest droughts in history.
After an exhausting three hour long debate, the South Burnett Regional Council voted to reduce the price of standpipe water in the region from $10 per kilolitre down to $6 per kl for potable water and $5 per kl for non-potable water.
At the council‘s June meeting, the topic of water caused a divide as division five councillor Kathy Duff opposed the proposed standpipe increase of $4.10 – $10 per kilolitre.
Following a motion put forth by Cr Duff to reset the price of the regions standpipe water to $4.10 per kl until the December 31 review, the council found agreement in a Cr Gavin Jones‘ amendment to the temporary snapback.
The news came as a small win for the community who had spend months opposing the price increase.
As the coronavirus pandemic restricted activity across the region, Cherbourg was sent into lockdown to stop all unnecessary movement in and out of Cherbourg in an attempt to protect the community.
A checkpoint was set up on Cherbourg Murgon Rd and a temporary store was been established so residents had access to essential food items and other important essentials such as health and medical items.
A man was granted bail after he was allegedly seen dragging a young woman down a Kingaroy street before raping her, a court heard.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had his case mentioned in Murgon Magistrates court on October 20, after he was charged with one count of rape.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Pepe Gangemi said “the actions of this particular individual were predatory in nature”
According to Sgt Gangemi, one of the four witness recalls hearing someone “call out”, which caused him to investigate the commotion.
A 30-year-old Ipswich man was killed at the scene and three children travelling in the vehicle – a school age boy, preschool age boy, and baby – were all been taken to hospital in serious but stable conditions.
Initial investigations indicated around 1.35pm, an SUV was travelling northbound on the Burnett Highway when the vehicle has left the roadway and hit a tree.
The fatal crash came one week after a 72-year-old woman was killed in a single-vehicle rollover on the Burnett Highway at Nanango.
Ambulances and police were called to a serious rollover on the Burnett Highway/Henry St in Nanango at 11.37am on September 19.
Tragically, the driver, a 72-year-old Glan Devon woman, was declared deceased at the scene.
Police said shortly after 11.30am, the driver of a Mitsubishi Triton utility, travelling on Henry Street lost control of the vehicle which then left the road and crashed.
A dog was also in the vehicle and survived.
A local mung bean farmer, who police allege sexually assaulted a foreign backpacker, was committed for trial in Kingaroy District Court.
Wayne Robert Green was formally charged with sexual assault, in relation to an incident which occurred back in 2013, where police allege the defendant appeared before the complainant naked, groped her breast and demanded “sexual favours” from her.
He entered a plea of not guilty.
Eight witnesses provided evidence before Murgon Magistrates Court, in relation to the alleged incident that occurred while the complainant and her partner were working at Green‘s Mondure farm.
In November bail was granted to a Nanango man charged with manslaughter, after an alleged fight between two brothers resulted in an untimely death.
Gregory Jason Krause, 48, appeared before Kingaroy Magistrates Court from jail via video link, having spent 240 days in custody.
Krause was granted bail under the condition he not contact any of the witnesses, meaning he must avoid several members of his own family.
His case will be heard before the Supreme Court at a date yet to be determined.
Just two and a half weeks after the execution-style killing of a notorious motorcycle gang member Shane Bowden, police charged two South Burnett Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) members with firearm and drug offences as part of a statewide operation targeting OMCGs.
Officers from Task-force Maxima, with the assistance of the Kingaroy CIB, executed multiple search warrants at residences in Kingaroy, Proston and Memerambi.
As result of the searches police allegedly located quantities of cocaine, cannabis, firearms, other weapons, clothing and paraphernalia associated to the Finks and Rebels OMCGs.
A beloved Kingaroy optometrist will be remembered as a “lovely and funny man” after he was killed in a tragic car crash on the D'Aguilar Highway.
Malcolm Lee See died after his car collided with a tree along the D'Aguilar Hwy on Tuesday morning, only a few weeks before his 69th birthday.
The South Burnett community was mourning the gentle optometrist who cared for his patients.
A man was sentenced to a suspended jail term of 18-months after facing Kingaroy District Court in relation to a child pornography investigation, which took place between June 9 and August 21 last year.
On August 20, 2019, police executed a search warrant of Mitchell Holmes‘ South Burnett property.
During the search they located a laptop, which was running at the time of the search and had five open tabs on the internet browser.
The tabs depicted pre-pubescent and pubescent girls in varying states of undress.