MIKE BERWICK’S EULOGY AT PAUL LUCAS’S SERVICE
There wasn’t a lot Paul and I did not agree on. Paul was left and green leaning, I was green and left leaning. Together we through turbulent times. During my five terms and Pauls four there was only one council that was friendly to the values we aspired to, the one Marg Norris and Jo Dau were on, so we were often a united minority, god forbid both green and left in a community often divided between left and right, green and prodevelopment. They were heated times, the community often firmly and passionately divided.
In politics though sound administration and great visions can come from any side of politics and I’m confident we changed the shire forever and for the better.
We were fiscally conservative, we took care of the community and of the environment. Douglas won environmental and planning awards, it was outrageous and successful, ironically promoting the very growth Paul and I wanted to put the brakes on.
But Paul was thoroughly independent, we had our differences which surfaced when Paul took a people first view and I took and environment first view. I was happy for thick vegetation to hide buildings and crowd the footpath, Paul’s priority was for people to use the footpath.
He was sharp too. In the boom years before the global financial crisis Port was booming, strata titled units going up everywhere, selling to people in Melbourne and Sydney who wanted a unit in a beautiful place, even though it was usually a lousy investment. That huge volume of development applications demanded close scrutiny and Paul never missed a thing, nor was he bothered if his view cost the developers or pissed them off or cost him a few votes. Thank goodness for Paul in those times.
Oddly, another of the council icons, the late Don Watson, firmly on the right side of politics, close friend to several of Joh Bjelke Petersen’s ministers, thought the world of Paul and I think the other way too – Paul had a huge respect for Don. They were both able to put aside politics to make a decision in the best interests of the community.
I remember Don saying to both Paul and I “…you’ll find me co-operative in government but watch out when the elections come…”
It was people like Paul and Don — intelligent, principled, determined — that made council the success it was in environment, in business and in our society. That we had some bitter battles was not a problem when councillors could argue, remain independent, vote and move on, friends again till the next hot issue arose, and there were plenty of them.
Douglas fought Woolworths, McDonalds and other developers far bigger than Douglas with its tiny budget a little over $20m. We won those battles.
I remain eternally grateful to Paul for his contribution to this shire. I made plenty of mistakes, we all do and I needed a wise head like Paul’s to steady me up. I wished he’d stayed on in Council and realised how much I missed him in that final term, the one when the state threatened to sack us all. That would never have happened had Paul stayed on, the wise head would have helped us avoid that kind of debacle.
In our last term together, which finished in 2004, Paul told me he wasn’t standing again, that he was getting too old. He’d lost Ruth, his wife that everyone else loved too and it was devastating to him. But he was tough, he dealt stoically with that tragedy.
After Paul left Council we bumped into one another occasionally. My life was ridiculously busy and still is. I never took his support for granted, so in those tough years after Paul left I was comforted by the odd word of encouragement when we did meet.
Paul has left an enduring legacy we can all be grateful for and I thank him deeply for for his contribution to public life.
Mike Berwick, Diwan
Paul Lucas and Joe Muia watch the Crocs at the first home game of the 2008 season