A full-time councillor commits to next term
Jan Clifford loves serving community
JAN Clifford is not what you’d call a part-time councillor.
By the time she’s travelled from one end of the Whitsundays to the other, sat on a host of committees and read up on all the meetings and courses to attend, an average working week might be up around 80 hours.
“But regardless of all the crap, of all the nastiness (that can and has happened), this is the best thing I have ever done,” she said.
“I love it – I love being of service. I think it’s really important to be engaged with the community, to be part of different groups and put something back into this amazing place we live in.”
This is why, after already serving two terms as the councillor for Division 1, Cr Clifford is putting up her hand for another run.
She’s the first to admit the past four years haven’t been “a bed of roses”, with much of the current council controversy emanating from the division she represents.
“We’ve got a lot going on in my division,” she said.
“There’s some great things happening and we’re at a tipping point – we either go forward and we prosper or we sit here and rot.”
Cr Clifford remembers all too well the days when the tourist hub of Airlie Beach was a ghost town, recovering from the GFC – and she doesn’t want to see that again.
She fears for the future if there are no steps taken now to create new tourism products, offerings and accommodation options.
“I don’t want to see skyscrapers hovering over the lagoon like something out of a comic book but with what’s currently being proposed at the four and five storeys, nothing changes,” she said.
“I’m not suggesting for one moment we go to eight storeys in the main street – I think four and six, and four around Waterson Way on the road level, but maybe in a couple of places at the back of Wanderers and Woolies a little more height to give developers a return on their investment would be good.”
“At the end of the day, I think there has to be some happy medium,” she said.
“There’s got to be a bit of give and take on both sides and that’s all I’m asking. What do you want for your kids and your grandkids?”
Of course the one particular investor currently with an interest in land on Waterson Way is Peter ‘Raymond’ Wang, whose Chinatown project Cr Clifford wants to see go ahead.
“I believe it’s an amazing opportunity for Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays and I will be really quite devastated if it falls through because I can see amazing opportunities for all the tradies that are currently under-employed,” she said.
Cr Clifford pointed to the recent VMR boat ramp upgrade, which kept a portion of the Whitsunday workforce employed for a few months.
“That was a $3 million project and this is a $300 million project,” she said, adding in her opinion she was doubtful 15 storeys was ever intended and concluding “I look forward to seeing a revised plan”.
As for the next four years in general, Cr Clifford says having been a part of the administration that had to make some tough decisions to drastically reduce Whitsunday Regional Council debt, she wants to be a part of the term that helps the community reap the rewards.
“I’ve gone out and dug the veggie garden and now I’d like to eat the veggies,” she said.
COMMITTED: Jan Clifford wants to continue working hard for the people of Airlie Beach.
Photo: Sharon Smallwood