Forums played worthy part in shire’s debate
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.
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.
Peter McKeown at the Port Douglas forum