New coun­cil ready to work

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

DOU­GLAS has voted and the new Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil will be rep­re­sented by Ju­lia Leu as mayor and coun­cil­lors Abi­gail Noli, David Carey, Bruce Clark and Terry Melchert.

While the vote of­fi­cially con­tin­ues un­til next Tues­day, more than 80 per cent of the roll has been counted and it ap­pears th­ese women and men are the five who will rep­re­sent Dou­glas from next year.

With a com­po­si­tion of new faces and old, al­most 90 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in lo­cal gov­ern­ment be­tween them and fresh blood with new ideas to rep­re­sent the re­gion, the Dou­glas Shire seems to be in good hands.

All of the elected coun­cil­lors and mayor ex­pressed their grat­i­tude to all those who voted for them and all said they felt ‘‘hon­oured and priv­i­leged’’, in­clud­ing elected mayor Ju­lia Leu, who was thrilled to be elected the first mayor of a new coun­cil and the first fe­male mayor in the his­tory of Dou­glas.

‘‘Con­grat­u­la­tions to Abi­gail, David, Bruce and Terry and I also want to pay trib­ute to all the can­di­dates, in­clud­ing those who were un­suc­cess­ful. It is not an easy thing for peo­ple to put them­selves up for the con­sid­er­a­tion and scru­tiny that an elec­tion cam­paign de­mands,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m very much look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture where we have an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate or es­tab­lish a mod­ern in­clu­sive coun­cil, with en­thu­si­as­tic and com­mit­ted staff.

‘‘In the next few weeks the ac­tual fi­nan­cial po­si­tion of the new coun­cil will be clearer and my ab­so­lute first pri­or­ity will be the con­sid­er­a­tion and adop­tion of a fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble bud­get for the first six months of 2014 – un­der the ex­ist­ing de-amal­ga­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion this has to be adopted by Jan­uary 31.’’

New to the work of coun­cils is Abi­gail Noli, who re­ceived the high­est in­vidi­vid­ual vote for coun­cil.

‘‘It’s a very nice feel­ing to know peo­ple be­lieve in me and I will bring a dif­fer­ent way of think­ing be­cause I haven’t worked in a coun­cil be­fore,’’ Ms Noli said.

‘‘I have a new way of think­ing, a younger way and I have a lot of life ex­pe­ri­ence and I lis­ten to ev­ery­one’s opin­ions so when I make a de­ci­sion hope­fully it will be the de­ci­sion of the peo­ple.’’

As a for­mer Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil CEO, David Carey hopes to bring all of his ex­pe­ri­ence and skills to his new po­si­tion.

‘‘I am will­ing to work for the best in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity,’’ Mr Carey said.

‘‘Fi­nance is go­ing to be the first pri­or­ity, I am look­ing for­ward to see­ing the draft bud­get for the first six months, and ob­vi­ously the is­sue of staff num­bers is a pri­or­ity and one that needs to be dealt with in a sen­si­tive man­ner.’’

First-timer Bruce Clarke said his pri­or­i­ties are also about the bud­get and get­ting the Shire’s fi­nances on the right track.

‘‘I hope I can make a dif­fer­ence to the new Dou­glas Shire and will be sup­port­ing any­thing coun­cil de­cides to do as a whole,’’ he said.

‘‘In this first stage I want to make sure on­go­ing works are not af­fected and we don’t have to do any cut­backs. My main pri­or­ity af­ter that is to the aged care fa­cil­ity.

‘‘Even though it’s not a coun­cil is­sue, more the gov­ern­ment’s, I will be work­ing with Marj Nor­ris and can lobby the gov­ern­ment on her be­half. Also the botan­i­cal gar­den is big on my list.’’

The big­gest draw­card will be Terry Melchert’s am­bi­tion to stop any rate in­crease when the new Dou­glas Shire comes into power on Jan­uary 1.

‘‘I will sup­port no rate in­crease, to give ratepay­ers and busi­nesses a chance to catch their breath in an eco­nomic sense,’’ he said.

‘‘I feel re­ally hum­bled and priv­i­leged to serve the com­mu­nity for a new and dif­fer­ent Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil and bring a long-term un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.’’

In­duc­tion, brief­ings and work­shops will be ar­ranged for all coun­cil­lors in the next few weeks, to be pre­pared as much as pos­si­ble for the coun­cil start date in the New Year.

Pic­ture: ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

NEW SHIRE: Terry Melchert, Abi­gail Noli, Ju­lia Leu, David Carey and Bruce Clarke

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