UNITED WE STAND Meet­ing to bring com­mu­nity to­gether over build­ing heights

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

JOHN Hill was at the PCYC on Septem­ber 24 when Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil held a pub­lic meet­ing to out­line its draft plan­ning scheme.

And as the anger in the room rose higher than the pro­posed new build­ing heights, the Shute Haven res­i­dent didn’t like what he saw.

“I was just dis­gusted it could end up in such a rab­ble,” he said.

“I re­alise the is­sues are emo­tive, but what was get­ting me up­set is it would ap­pear this is be­ing po­lit­i­cally driven by peo­ple who want to drive a fork into the com­mu­nity.”

And over the past couple of months Mr Hill has watched the sit­u­a­tion worsen.

“This is­sue is set­ting friend against friend – there are some peo­ple who’ve been friends for 25-30 years and they’re not even speak­ing to each other,” he said.

“It’s tear­ing the fab­ric of the com- mu­nity apart... and it’s just rub­bish – life’s too short for this sort of thing.”

De­cid­ing this had to stop, Mr Hill has done what the com­mu­nity wanted when coun­cil agreed to fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion – but with only six com­mu­nity groups. He’s ar­ranged a pub­lic meet­ing in Air­lie Beach.

The meet­ing, at the PCYC from 7-9pm on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 7, and open “to all in­ter­ested par­ties”, will be chaired by for­mer Mem­ber for Daw­son De-Anne Kelly and at­tended by Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney.

Mr Hill said he came to the con­clu­sion a pub­lic meet­ing was nec­es­sary af­ter step­ping back from the sit­u­a­tion and think­ing “what the hell is hap­pen­ing here”.

“I think most peo­ple re­alise there’s (an elec­tion com­ing up and) a po­lit­i­cal agenda be­hind this,” he said.

“One of the old­est strate­gies in war­fare is di­vide and con­quer – if you bang on long enough about some­thing and you dis­credit peo­ple enough, peo­ple will start to be­lieve it.”

Cr Whit­ney, who also feels there’s pol­i­tics at work, con­firmed she would definitely at­tend the meet­ing and agreed “I think it’s im­por­tant to be there”.

“We need to go to the com­mu­nity, tell them what the town plan can de­liver and give them the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion,” she said, adding that mis­in­for­ma­tion, com­ing from within Coun­cil, had been fu­elling the fires.

As for how he would stop the meet­ing from de­scend­ing into an­other heated tirade, Mr Hill said he was ap­peal­ing to peo­ple to leave their anger at the door “and speak ra­tio­nally about the things that are really up­set­ting them”.

“Talk about the is­sues but don’t make things per­sonal,” he im­plored.

“If we can bring peo­ple to­gether and they can air their griev­ances, maybe they can see they’ve got far more in com­mon than they have diffe- rences.”

Mr Hill will open the meet­ing be­fore hand­ing over to Ms Kelly who will in­vite in­di­vid­u­als and group rep­re­sen­ta­tives to speak.

Mr Hill said peo­ple should be am­ply pre­pared as, “if they’ve been think­ing on it at all since Septem­ber, they’re sure to have a very clear pic­ture of what their po­si­tion is.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.