A dairy farmer hoping to save his struggling family farm is facing a huge $180,000 fine after a battle with the local council over opening up his scenic backyard to holiday campers.
The Sunshine Coast Council issued the fine to Shane Paulger for not complying with council regulations or getting his campsite approved.
Mr Paulger told A Current Affair he was just trying to save his farm and pass it on to the next generation, a task made very difficult by the poor state of the dairy industry.
“It’s life or death for us,” he said.
“The kids want to farm and I’m very lucky they do.”
The property, at Kenilworth on the Sunshine Coast, has been in Mr Paulger’s family for 60 years.
Mr Paulger said they had started letting people camp by the river about 30 years ago, with the only advertising being word of mouth.
But when the bottom fell out of the dairy industry, the family decided to ramp up the camping business.
They put up a sign at the front gate and set up a website – finally catching the attention of the Sunshine Coast Council.
After 12 months of back-and-forth with the council over regulations and complaints from neighbouring campsites, the Council demanded Mr Paulger comply with regulations or face fines of up to $183,000.
Mr Paulger labelled it a “money grab”.
“We have asked for nothing from Council, not one bin.”
‘They just want to smash us…unfortunately the council now want to jump on our necks and squeeze all the air out of us and fine us $180,000,’ Mr Paulger said.
He revealed in an emotional plea that his sole intention is to maintain the family business, so he can one day pass the farm down to his children, who are proud to continue the family tradition.
However Mr Paulger has claimed his farm has been welcoming campers for over 30 years and believes the latest move from the council is a ‘money grab’ while reminding them he hasn’t requested anything from them during his latest endeavor.
Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer said he sympathised with Mr Paulger’s desire to save his farm, but said he needed to comply with regulations like other campsites in the area.
“What Shane is doing on his property up in Kenilworth is operating a business that doesn’t have approval,” Mr Dwyer said.
“The sooner Shane realises that he’s got the rules to follow like every other person in Queensland…the better for everybody.”