Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK -

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

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