Fo­rums played wor­thy part in shire’s de­bate

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

THE elec­tion fo­rums in Cow Bay, Port Dou­glas and Moss­man haved proved a valu­able op­por­tu­nity for the com­mu­nity to meet the coun­cil hope­fuls, ahead of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions which con­clude on Satur­day.

The fi­nal fo­rum, in Moss­man on Tues­day, was not so well at­tended as the one in Port Dou­glas. It’s doubt­ful the rain was en­tirely to blame.

For many in the au­di­ence it was their first chance to get a look at the can­di­dates, sev­eral of which are new to lo­cal pol­i­tics.

Though in­evitably business-driven in their mo­ti­va­tion and topic, the ques­tions that had been sub­mit­ted by cham­ber or com­merce mem­bers did cover the most press­ing of the is­sues that had emerged dur­ing the elec­tion run up (sup­posed run­away rate rises, the Ma­rina ne­go­ti­a­tions, sup­port for the Moss­man nurs­ing home, coun­cil ser­vice de­liv­ery and re­spon­sive­ness, among oth­ers).

The pop­u­lar­ity of mayor, Ju­lia Leu was one of the ob­vi­ous things to emerge from the fo­rums south of the river.

At the same time, coun­cil­lor Melchert seemed to rel­ish the Moss­man au­di­ence a bit more than in Port Dou­glas, or per­haps he was sim­ply warm­ing up as the fo­rums went along. In any case he put in an in­vig­o­rated ap­pear­ance on Tues­day night, and, no­tably, en­dorsed Donna Gra­ham, Peter McKe­own and Bruce Clarke.

Among the can­di­dates, a stand out was Mr McKe­own, Moss­man busi­nes­man and first time can­di­date. In both fo­rums he ap­peared con­fi­dent, per­son­able and in­tel­li­gent, and his in­de­pen­dent sta­tus is likely to add to his ap­peal.

Michael Kerr put in strong per­for­mances on each oc­ca­sion, draw­ing some dis­tinc­tion to him­self for clearly be­ing able to state all the things he stands for. Such a suc­cinct plat­form eluded some oth­ers.

Those of us who sat through the two events run by the cham­ber were treated to a lengthy set of wish­lists and/or vague feel­good mes­sages.

But Donna Gra­ham was ar­tic­u­late. Her “we are at a cross­roads” speech went down well ev­ery­where for its re­fresh­ing pur­pose­ful­ness.

Roy Weavers, al­ways com­fort­able as a speaker, was quite pointed in his mes­sage (wor- ried about rate rises, more business brains needed on coun­cil), but strug­gled to put for­ward any­thing bold and imag­i­na­tive enough to top­ple such a well en­trenched op­po­nent as the cur­rent mayor.

In con­trast, Mrs Leu was on the front foot over the achieve­ments of the coun­cil un­der her lead­er­ship and her re­but­tal of the at­tacks on coun­cil’s fi­nances.

Ex­pe­ri­ence

also showed with David Carey, who could point to 28 ini­tia­tives and ideas he had brought to coun­cil, many of which had be­come pol­icy. Roy Zam­mataro spoke well, espe­cially when deal­ing with a ques­tion about the need, or not, for more car­a­van parks. Like­wise, Melinda Cox, who could only at­tend the Moss­man fo­rum due to fam­ily mat­ters, did best when re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about what she learned from her for­mer term on coun­cil.

Abi­gail Noli pressed a case for the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion of our main streets (at the Moss­man fo­rum), and Paul Snel­grove thought (at Moss­man) that there was enough for young peo­ple to do, and pub­lic trans­port ser­vices were lack­ing.

Vivi­enne Ruf­fles al­ways re­in­forced her em­pa­thy on so­cial is­sues, espe­cially the sup­port and in­fra­struc­ture needed for the shire’s fam­i­lies.

Pictures: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Peter McKe­own at the Port Dou­glas fo­rum

Paul Snel­grove

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