BOAT RAMP OPEN AT LAST

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

BOB Spees will now be able to en­joy the school hol­i­days with­out wor­ry­ing about safety on the Whis­per Bay boat ramp.

Since a five-year-old girl was nearly killed on the ramp five years ago, the lo­cal fish­ing guru has led the charge to have the fa­cil­ity fixed.

On Mon­day morn­ing he backed his boat down the newly re-aligned and widened ramp, shel­tered by a rock wall, and breathed a sigh of re­lief.

“It’s al­ways been about the safety of ev­ery­one here – there’s been so many ac­ci­dents,” he said.

The fight to build a break­wall as shel­ter from the northerly winds started when Mr Spees went to for­mer Whit­sun­day MP Jan Jar­ratt, whose La­bor Govern­ment had a fea­si­bil­ity study done.

“Then all we got was prom­ises,” Mr Spees said.

Sick of see­ing noth­ing done, Mr Spees joined forces with an­other lo­cal iden­tity, Kevin Collins, and to­gether the pair mus­tered the fish­ing fra­ter­nity and held a protest march along the main street of Air­lie Beach.

The 2012 elec­tions were filled with more prom­ises and a boat ramp com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing Greg France and cur­rent coun­cil­lor John Atkin­son was formed.

While La­bor can­di­date Bron­wyn Taha wasn’t elected to the seat of Whit­sun­day, her party won govern­ment in Queens­land and be­fore long the promised mil­lions came rolling in.

Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney, who has also sup­ported the pro­ject since its on­set, said part of the rea­son it be­came pos­si­ble was the work Coun­cil did to re­duce the fa­cil­ity’s cost.

“The orig­i­nal $10 mil­lion was way out of our reach so we’ve been work­ing as a coun­cil col­lec­tively to get that price down,” she said.

Coun­cil­lors Jan Clifford, John Atkin­son and for­mer Cr Kevin Collins all said Mon­day’s open­ing was some­thing they felt proud to have achieved.

“Our post­code – 4802 – has the high­est boat own­er­ship per capita in Aus­tralia and now we’ve got fa­cil­i­ties to match,” Mr Collins said.

Ms Taha mean­while de­scribed it as “quite sur­real” to be fi­nally look­ing at the fin­ished prod­uct this week.

“This wasn’t about an elec- tion com­mit­ment – it was about a nec­es­sary bit of in­fra­struc­ture for the Whit­sun­days and La­bor de­liv­ered it,” she said.

Clearly emo­tional, Mr Spees said he wanted to thank ev­ery­one who had played a part. “Ev­ery lit­tle bit counts and it just shows what we can do when peo­ple stick to­gether,” he said.

MAGIC MO­MENT: Bob Spees, John Atkin­son and Kevin Collins, Bron­wyn Taha, Jan Clifford, Jen­nifer Whit­ney and Ray Cook and Jodie Davies in the back­ground, cel­e­brate the open­ing of the Whis­per Bay boat ramp on Mon­day.

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