UNITED WE STAND Meeting to bring community together over building heights
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.”