A fresh face, fresh approach
RIGHT from the start Abigail Noli looked a bit of a dark horse in the race for a council seat. Though she was a novice candidate, her longstanding family ties in the Mossman community meant she was well known and came to the election with a great deal of goodwill behind her.
Her strong showing in the poll – her 10.83 per cent result was second only to Julia Leu’s landslide victory – is a ringing endorsement of her independent stance and a wide perception that she is her own woman, a practical and capable person who brings plenty to the table as a councillor.
Given that the likely makeup of the council could sometimes see a polarisation of camps on issues, it could mean the 42-yearold former soccer professional and now flower farmer may be in a pivotal position with a deciding vote. Ratepayers will be wondering what Abigail thinks. So what does she think? ‘‘I’m just going to try to do the right thing, just make the best decision on what’s placed there.
‘‘I’m conservative just slightly, in the sense that I think you do the small things correctly first, and then you go and do the fantastic, wild ideas. If that makes me conservative I may be trending that way a bit.’’ What’s her position on the tourism levy? ‘‘Of course tourism is terribly important but I really don’t want to really bleed people dry just to raise rates for a tourism levy. I think it’s interesting that tourism has reportedly gone well this year, on the same amount of funding, so perhaps we need to look at why, why has it gone so well this year, and perhaps we can emulate that again.
‘‘There’s no doubt we need a formal push on tourism in the next few years. But how can it be done smartly so we don’t hurt people too much with a levy, rate rises, whatever?’’ Critical issues for the shire? ‘‘I really think we need a renewed push for the aged care – not that we didn’t before but maybe new energy might make the breakthrough this time. And there has to be the right balance between development, what people want and what’s good for the shire, what’s good for the future of everybody.
‘‘And of course the budget. You have to get it right and go from there.’’
Youth issues are a priority for Ms Noli, but as to other things she has no hard agenda. Her thinking may change as issues unfold. She points out that she is a newcomer, it is a new shire and ‘‘we don’t know what the budget position is yet’’.
What if she finds herself in the middle between two camps which include councillors who were associated with the pre- amalgamation shire?
‘‘Of course this is a possibility, as there are always possibilities of disagreement between any set of councillors.
‘‘But maybe disagreement can be a positive thing as this might ensure that the best possible decision or conclusion will be arrived at. My grandfather’s shire in Italy actually specifically appoints two councillors a year to play devil’s advocate on every issue to help guarantee that the right decision is made.
‘‘I would try to confront every issue, speak to all the experts, and if there are disagreements or animosity on either side of me, I’ve just got to try to be stronger than that and work through it.
‘‘I can see pros in each argument and each can make a good argument. But I hope I can make my own decision on sound thinking and not because someone has persuaded me.
‘‘I really want to be strong on that, and to make sure things are done for the right reason.
‘‘I’m really not associated with any of the other councillors in particular.’’ So is she is optimistic about the council? ‘‘Of course, you have to be. And I’m very excited. If we come across problems let’s work through them. There’s nothing else I can do. Let’s start off right, as a combined group, and go from there.’’
IMPRESSIVE VOTE COUNT: Abigail Noli