Tess Haynes and her daughter.
Tess Haynes and her daughter. Contributed

'They'll arrest me on Monday': Bundy Sugar locks mum in home

A MOTHER and her teenage daughter are facing arrest for refusing to leave their childhood home.

Tess Haynes, 40, and her 14-year-old daughter live on the banks of the Kolan River in a home built by their grand and great-grandfather.

The three-bedroom stumped weatherboard house has been home to MsHaynes's family for generations.

But now, that long history could be frozen in the past forever, with Bundaberg Sugar demanding the mother and daughter move out on Monday.

"We got a letter from them about four weeks ago telling us they'd changed the locks on the gate to get in and out of the property," MsHaynes told the NewsMail.

"And then on Thursday a Bundaberg Sugar representative turned up with police.

"When I asked what was going on and why we couldn't just talk, one of the officers said 'Well, they've told you to get out'.

"They called me out and said I'd damaged the gate they'd locked.

"I tried to tell them, 'Guys, I'm locked in, I'm not going to step out of line. I wouldn't do that'.

"It all comes down to months of misunderstandings and long periods where everything went quiet on Bundaberg Sugar's end."

NOWHERE TO GO: Tess Haynes says she will be locked out of her home today, as Bundaberg Sugar will not renew the properties lease. The home has been in her family for 70 years.
Tess Haynes and her 14-year-old daughter have been locked in their property for close to three weeks after the owner of the land, Bundaberg Sugar, changed the locks to the front gate in an effort to get the pair to leave. Contributed

In July 2013, Bundaberg Sugar sent a letter to residents living on its private land that they had "identified a risk ... and said they wouldn't renew (leases) in 2018."

This prompted a handful of people to leave their shacks behind between May and June this year.

"But our place is not a shack. It's a house," MsHaynes said.

"We were always willing to do what they wanted but we had a big house and the others were all tin sheds.

"We just needed more time."

Bundaberg Sugar changed the lock to the gate several weeks ago, after MsHaynes allegedly cut it.

She told the NewsMail they had not been given a new key since the change.

Bundaberg Police's Sue Dammash confirmed the visit from police, saying two officers responded to a wilful damage complaint made by Bundaberg Sugar about 6.30am on Thursday.

"They went out at 8.35am. The gate had allegedly been damaged after the resident was given a notice to leave," she said.

"Investigations are ongoing."

NOWHERE TO GO: Tess Haynes says she will be locked out of her home today, as Bundaberg Sugar will not renew the properties lease. The home has been in her family for 70 years.
Tess Haynes and her 14-year-old daughter have been locked in their property for close to three weeks after the owner of the land, Bundaberg Sugar, changed the locks to the front gate in an effort to get the pair to leave. Contributed

But Josh Haynes, 33, said his distressed sister, who had called him immediately after the early-morning visit, would never have damaged the gate.

"Why would she damage the gate when she's trying to live there?" he said.

"They pretty much said they were going to arrest her. She has to be out on Monday, or she'll be arrested.

"Since the lock was changed about three weeks ago, my sister and my niece have been locked in.

"And as of yesterday they've got a security guard out there too, so no one can come in or out."

Mr Haynes said he had touched base with his solicitor but that things were spiralling fast.

"We asked for another three months two weeks ago but we haven't heard back.

"If we get nothing it will break us. That's home. We were both brought up there.

"She's (Ms Haynes) just going to have to cop it. She'll have to be arrested."

Ms Haynes is a field worker in the Bundaberg region. She has not been at work in three weeks.

Her daughter has missed about 15 days of school.

NOWHERE TO GO: Tess Haynes says she will be locked out of her home today, as Bundaberg Sugar will not renew the properties lease. The home has been in her family for 70 years.
Tess Haynes and her 14-year-old daughter have been locked in their property for close to three weeks after the owner of the land, Bundaberg Sugar, changed the locks to the front gate in an effort to get the pair to leave. Contributed

"She, like me doesn't understand it," MsHaynes said.

"My daughter is shattered. We don't know what's going to happen to us come Monday."

Since the gate was locked they have not been able to leave their house for essential supplies either.

Instead, MsHaynes's grandfather has been bringing them their groceries.

The desperate family said they had tried everything to "barter with" the sugar giant.

"We've tried everything we can, and they still ... turn around and say we haven't contacted them," MsHaynes said.

"I've asked to buy the place. We understand it's their land but it's our house. We were both brought up here as babies."

Ms Haynes is unsure of how she is going to get their belongings out in a single day.

"The police said I was probably going to be arrested on Monday because I'm trespassing," she said.

"We're being made into criminals, but we've done nothing wrong."

Bundaberg Sugar was contacted for comment but a response was not received by deadline.