Crowd be­hav­iour the sub­ject of de­bate

Whitsunday Times - - SPECIAL REPORT – WHITSUNDAY REGIONAL COUNCIL IN CH -

THE be­hav­iour of the 700strong crowd at last week’s Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil meet­ing in Bowen has been the sub­ject of con­sid­er­able de­bate be­tween res­i­dents of all parts of the shire.

Mayor Jennifer Whit­ney, who was booed and heck­led through­out the meet­ing, claims she heard cries of “kill her” and that one of her coun­cil­lors was spat upon.

The crowd’s anger at the ru­moured clo­sure of the Bowen Coun­cil cham­bers and po­ten­tial loss of staff, spilled over into other as­pects of Coun­cil’s gov­er­nance. Bowen res­i­dent Chris­tine McNa­mara was just one of those who had an im­pas­sioned say.

“You en­gage more with the CMC than you do with the people who put you in power,” Ms McNa­mara said dur­ing pub­lic ques­tion time.

“[And] you have failed your mis­sion state­ment mis­er­ably. You have cried poor since be­ing elected and have used it as an ex­cuse to screw the ratepay­ers in ev­ery pos­si­ble way.”

At var­i­ous stages of the meet­ing, there were calls for the mayor and Cr Jan Clif­ford to re­sign, votes of no con­fi­dence in the cur­rent Coun­cil and cries for de-amal­ga­ma­tion and the ap­point­ment of an ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Cannonvale res­i­dent Faye Chap­man, who at­tended the meet­ing, de­scribed this as the be­hav­iour of a mob, say­ing she had never wit­nessed such a dis­gust­ing dis­play of bias, hate and ig­no­rance (see letters, Page 8).

Like­wise, Whit­sun­day Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Tony Moscato said the be­hav­iour dis­played last week was “not ac­cept­able”.

“Cries of ‘kill her’ – we can’t ac­cept that [and] it’s not help- ing the area,” he said.

Mr Moscato said Bowen­based mem­bers of the WRA had ex­pressed em­bar­rass­ment about what oc­curred.

“They know people are suf­fer­ing but at the end of the day, they don’t want to go back to an ad­min­is­tra­tion that’s all about mates deals,” he said.

Cr Whit­ney said the per­sonal at­tacks were “dis­heart­en­ing”.

“This had the po­ten­tial to be quite threat­en­ing, to the safety of us, the safety of my­self - so we do take this quite se­ri­ously,” she said.

UN­POP­U­LAR: Coun­cil's CEO Scott Wa­ters lis­tened po­litely while Bowen res­i­dent Chris­tine McNa­mara took the mi­cro­phone dur­ing pub­lic ques­tion time.

PROTEST­ING: Des Robertson, Rita Hamil­ton and Trevor An­der­son with anti-Coun­cil plac­ards out­side the Coun­cil Cham­bers in Bowen.

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