A fresh face, fresh ap­proach

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

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.’’


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