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Narrabundah caravan park residents getting the boot?

By johnboy 10 May 2006 34

The ABC, via Yahoo, have a story about hard times for the residents of the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park in the ACT.

The park was sold by the charity, Koomari, to a private company earlier this year.

Resident Judy Mcdowell says despite the land being leased by residents, they are being forced out without explanation and with no alternative for relocation

Anyone know more?

UPDATE: Jacqui Burke is calling for the Minister to develop a contingency plan for where these people go.

FURTHER UPDATE: The ABC has a snapshot of dismayed reaction from our elected leaders.

What’s Your opinion?

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34 Responses to
Narrabundah caravan park residents getting the boot?
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Robert 9:28 pm 18 May 06

Oh, and whichever option is chosen, send the bill to Kate.

Robert 9:07 pm 18 May 06


Robert 9:06 pm 18 May 06


peeved 4:06 pm 13 May 06

One wonders at the organisational and management skills of a charity which “had not made money while running the park”, whilst collecting a conservative $1.5 million in site fees.

Which claims to have spent $200,000 on upgrading the electrical system (as directed by the relevant authority) and roads, when residents paid for their own electrical upgrades, and the roads have had minimal work done in the last five years.
Which had virtually no overheads in running the place, and got it for a dollar in the first place.

An organisation which exists to cater to people with physical and intellectual impairments, often accompanied by difficult and challenging behaviours, but had found the “park community …difficult to deal with.” All quotes from Koomarri president Mr John Mackay in todays Canberra Times.

Hope those entrusted to the care of Koomarri have better luck than we did.

All of which is totally irrelevant to the fact that if this park is closed, those who are able to remove their dwellings will face costs between $2,000 and $10,000 to do so, if indeed they have anywhere to relocate them to. Others will have no option but to demolish (that costs money too) and throw themselves on the mercy of the wonderfully robust ACT housing market (sic), private or government, if they are able to manage cost increases in the vicinity of 400%.

I loved the juxtaposition of two stories on ACA the other night, one on the Longstay park which spoke to the sense of community and caring here, the safety of the residents, and the ability of pretty much everyone to get on. And the other on the failed Gordon housing estate in Dubbo which is to be demolished due to ongoing violence and vandalism.

Maybe the Act government could relocate us all to Dubbo, and we’ll look after the houses there, and the Gordon residents could come down here and demolish the park for free. Wins all round! (sic)


boomacat 9:28 pm 12 May 06

Ah yes how very far sighted of Smyte et al, making sure things were in place for a whole 5 years. Who ever would have thought that something could have happened after that? I’m shocked.

Danman 12:30 pm 12 May 06

At least if they build apartments, there will be a veritable smorgasboard of beds that the local ladies could utilise. Maybe Koomari shold have thought of that….?

Thumper 8:09 am 12 May 06

And I should have added that at least you have the guts to reply in this forum.

*cough* Simon *cough*

Thumper 8:08 am 12 May 06

Thanks Roland.

Pickle 8:02 am 12 May 06

The ACT Large Business Award winner was a partnership between ActewAGL and the non-profit organisation Koomari, which supports people with disabilities.

I thought running business and employing people with disabilities was part of their game. Hence an established caravan park, no money owing, so no interest bill is a great opportunity to do just that ….

I blame Koomari, if they are that desperate for a fast buck, there must be something else to the story.

Indi 9:02 pm 11 May 06

boomacat – you need to follow the debate more closely. The ‘sale’ from govt to Koomarri was conditional and a clause was inserted that the site had to be maintained and operated as a caravan park, so the govt ensured the sale would proceed subject to the tenure of the residents being upheld.

It seems once Koomarri was released of its obligations to the 5 year sunset clause, it sort to sell the site, primarily and obviously due to the point that running a caravan park was not a key focus of its operations.

You are reacting in a disingenuous way in your reflection on the history of this sad saga. As has been pointed out previously, concentrate on how the residents can be successfully re-located elsewhere as the commercial decisions now undertaken by the current owner will not and most likely cannot, under law, be put to a halt.

Lets hope new protective measures will be in place (soon) to protect the rights of others who live in parks catering for long-stay residents.

boomacat 8:33 pm 11 May 06

You can’t blame the company that purchased the property – they’re a commercial enterprise that’s designed to make profit in the interests of their shareholders. They’re not a charitable organisation.

The fault clearly lies with Brendan Smyte and the then Liberal Govt, (includ now Senator Gary Humphries) for passing the title to the property unconditionally. This is who the residents of that Caravan Park should be angry with. Perhaps if Mr Corbell et al had done something before the sale, as Dr Foskey suggested, the problem could have been prevented.

aussielyn 8:03 pm 11 May 06


You have laid out the whole facts of the matter succinctly, good on you and Deb for standing up for the battlers from the start. Narrabundah Longstay residents must put aside their differences and unite to form a negotiating committee to see the Attorney General and talk to Paul Green, the new owner. A united community voice is absolutely essential, as we in lower Narrabundah have discovered in our battle over the Hungarian Club. A stable tenancy agreement, suitable to both sides, must be negotiated.
As I mentioned previously, residents in other caravan parks in the ACT are watching nervously.
The spectre of the bulldozers moving in and destroying these people’s homes is too horrid to imagine in a civilized society.

Roland GRNS 4:08 pm 11 May 06

Sequence of events

In 1999 The lease for the Narrabundah Long Stay Caravan Park was tranferred from the Commonwealth Government to the ACT Housing Commission.

in July 2000 the ACT Government – under present Liberal Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth – gave the park to Koomarri Inc. for nothing. There was a prohibition on the lease preventing the lessee from applying to vary the permitted use for five years from the transfer of ownership to Koomari.

The first Stanhope Labor Government was elected in October 2001.

Koomarri ran the Caravan Park at a profit for the next five years.

In February 2006 (ie: 5 1/2 years later) Koomarri advertised for expressions of interest to purchase the Narrabundah property.

Dr Foskey asked the ACT Planning Minister Simon Corbell to change the zoning for this block of land so that no-one planning to evict the residents and develop the property would be interested in buying it. He took the view that such a response wasn’t necessary, although he said he would urge Koomarri to sell the Park to someone wanting to take it on as a going concern.

28 April 2006 – contracts were exchanged with Dytin Pty Ltd. This was the highest bidder.
According to Koomarri president John Mackay, that is what you do with any asset.

The business running the next door “Sundowner” motor village also expressed an interest in purchasing the property (it would seem with the intent to continue to run it as is) but was not successful.

The Director and Secretary listed for Dytin Pty Ltd is Paul Green, of Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers

Tuesday night (secretly) letters were delivered to all occupants advising them that their occupancy agreements would not be renewed when they expired (in August or November, depending on their occupancy agreement).

Affordable housing in Canberra

there is no alternative sites for the 100 cabins and vans on site at the Narrabundah Long Stay Caravan Park. The residents have committed a lot of money to their homes and gardens, a large proportion of them live on low incomes.

Sssanta 2:52 pm 11 May 06


While I do feel for the people living at Sundowner Village, I expect that they knew full well they would be at the mercy of the oweners of this parcel of land, much akin to evey other caravan owner in the country.

Sorry, but you all made a bet, it worked for a while but the odds changed in this race, and unfortuneatl you lost out.

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