Letters to the editor
I COULD not believe that four councillors (Whitney, Clifford, Atkinson, Collins ) could fall for the old “pea and thimble” trick.
As ratepayers we owned the airport that contributed to general revenue and that made our exorbitant rates a little bit less painful with financial returns such as plane landing fees, car parking fees etc.
As shareholders as we will now be called, this new company under a local government corporation will be run by our public servants with an interest in aviation, but as directors they will keep all money generated for building international airport extensions but pay no bonus to us, the owners, over probably the next 10 years.
Winners: public servants’ career path, losers: ratepayers .
Another thing that these four councillors should answer: the money to freehold the airport land – what budget does this come out of?
Also, the private investor that is not part of this new airport company – do they want a very large “break fee” because the structural checks and protections were not put in place?
The campaign of misinformation by a few business people to flood the streets of Airlie with tourists at the expense of all the shire’s ratepayers is noted.
Please think about what costs and restrictions these four councillors have placed on future budgets when you vote next month.
Brian Magill Bowen Credit where it’s due
I WOULD like to thank Jennifer Whitney for doing a great job in her term as mayor for the Whitsundays.
She inherited a very difficult financial situation and has been subject to a lot of personal and unpleasant attacks during her term in office.
Despite this she has handled herself admirably and I believe she is a credit to her position.
I do not necessarily agree with all of council’s recommendations, particularly building heights in Airlie Beach, which I firmly believe should not exceed five storeys in the main street of Airlie Beach.
However, I hope that she is successful in competing for another term in office as she has worked tirelessly for the good of the whole shire.
I am also appreciative of the work that Margaret Shaw (Citizen of the Year for Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and Proserpine) has undertaken voluntarily on behalf of all of the community in regard to insurance.
She has been very successful and in my view, with the experience and tenacity she has gained in the past three years of dealing with officialdom, she has shown the capacity for being an excellent councillor.
I would like to encourage her to stand for a position on council in the coming election and wonder if others in the community share my views to encourage her to stand.
Marlene Reiffel Airlie Beach Stop the whinging
CAN the people in Bowen who are complaining please stop writing to the newspaper that they have nothing to do with and stop making themselves look like people who only want to whinge and complain about council?
It’s pretty easy to see through the reason why they are doing this.
I would love to hear some positive comments from anyone in Bowen please?
Mark Beale Airlie Beach
I WAS excited to see the advertisement that community groups could join Malcolm Turn- bull for afternoon tea on Monday, February 15 in Mackay, but absolutely shattered to book in and be told our group WRAD is not a community group but a political group and therefore not invited.
This group is made up of members of the community who are passionate about our Great Barrier Reef, which provides us with most of our jobs.
We are the stepping stone to the Whitsunday islands and the reef and believe it needs to be protected for the tourist industry that employs us and also our children.
We are also in the process of lobbying our council to become plastic bag free so as to begin the recycling project which we don’t have.
We work extremely hard in many areas of our community.
What is a political group and who can make this decision?
We are made up of grandparents, divers, fishers, teenagers and a wide mix of voters for Liberal, Labor, Greens and even the Car Club.
Mr Christensen needs to be advised many of these members may have voted him into his current position in parliament.
We have been labelled “extreme greens” by our local member George Christensen, however if being passionate about our jobs and community makes us extreme we are happy to wear this label. We have not got any ties with any political group, and strongly object to being left out of this event.
We have over 1000 members now and are all part of Mr Christensen’s electorate. We would like it if he gave all his electorate equal time – if not, this event should have been called a “friends of George” afternoon tea with the Prime Minister, because it seems that if you are not a friend of George you are not allowed.
My commitment to the community has been and still is in the areas of: school support, homelessness, community housing, crisis centre, clean up days, Meals on Wheels and sports.
I am a current committee member volunteer of four local groups.
I was awarded life membership of two local community groups for years of service. I am the recipient of two council awards for volunteering in the community.
I am a current community educator in schools and at festivals for Fauna Rescue whilst being a carer of native animals.
I am a grandmother of 15 grandchildren, all of whom grew up in this electorate, contributed and won community awards.
This is a personal letter not on behalf of any group that I belong to.
I was merely trying to book a place for two people to meet with the Prime Minister.
I do not belong to any political group.
Barb Adamson Cannonvale
Time to move on
WITH regards to Peter Lazarus’s letter I would like to point out that the WRA is not political as Mr Lazarus suggests.
The ratepayers’ association’s main aim is to fight for fairer rates for all ratepayers in the region. To that end, if the association seems a little “political” to Mr Lazarus perhaps he should come along to one of WRA meetings where he will see debates about buses, free parking, boat ramps and footpaths, on behalf of the whole community.
Mr Lazarus is right, we should be looking to the future and not to the past.
The upcoming election is the region’s chance to vote for a council that has the region’s best interests at heart and will lead us into the future.
We are now in a position to go forward like never before and I for one will be voting for proven knowledge and honesty. Ken Miller Airlie Beach
AS STATED on previous occasions, Whitsunday Transit buses do not “belch diesel fumes through the centre of town” (Rod Johnston Whit
sunday Times, February 11) as their emissions must comply with Australian standards (the most stringent in the world) to be registered.
This means they do not emit any fumes at all. Karina Shim Cannonvale
EVERY potential voter has a chance to meet and question standing council candidates on Friday.
We still have an open position on building heights and this “new strategic Town Plan” is still undecided and up for discussion.
These height issues will now be decided eventually by our new council when elected. We know more now and we have more time to decide.
The decision of Deputy Mayor Andrew Willcox, and Crs Clark and Ramage, to dismiss the Chinese investment in a “Chinatown block” is one they have all taken a huge gamble on and we stand to have lost some $300 million in investment in the shire, so urgently needed to get our young families back to work.
In these difficult economic times where may we now get a new investor from and then how long might it take to get any such totally new project up and running and employing locals once more?
“Northern Councillors” voted to refuse a settlement extension over the Chinese New Year period and thus have effectively ended the whole project.
This is a terrible gamble with the future welfare of so many of our working, semi-working and unemployed folks here in our entire shire. David Brooks Airlie Beach
MARGARET Shaw (Property mitigation, February 11) misses the point on mitigation and resilience.
Strengthening properties prevents or reduces serious damage during cyclones and tropical storms. Property owners and the community then avoid the emotional and financial heartache that is too often felt following a cyclone in North Queensland.
And lowering the risk of damage lowers insurance premiums.
This is the logical and sensible premise of the Insurance Council of Australia’s A Third Way proposal, developed by consultants Urbis.
The ICA proposes that the Federal Government would pay up to 75% of the cost of retrofitting the roofs of low-income residents. The scheme would run for just over seven years and cost about $50 million a year.
Participating households would be eligible for a home insurance premium rebate of 20 per cent for up to two years while work is undertaken, and lowering the risk of damage will result in ongoing premi-
This is a terrible gamble with the future welfare of so many of our working, semi-working and unemployed folk... - David Brooks
Research conducted by Crosby Textor found 80% of North Queenslanders would be willing to take cyclone-proofing measures if it resulted in a reduced home insurance premium.
The facts are not as Ms Shaw chooses to portray them. She will no doubt have read the three Australian Government Actuary reports into insurance pricing in North Queensland and Northern Australia.
The most recent report says insurers paid out $1.40 for every $1 they collected in premiums in the eight years to 2014. The reports identify cyclone risk as the main reason premiums are higher in the region than in other parts of Australia. Further, property owners in North Queensland are five times more likely to lodge a claim than in capital cities.
Government intervention on prices will not solve the problem of older homes and poorly constructed properties being damaged in cyclones and storms. Fixing the properties is the most sensible and sustainable solution. Rob Whelan CEO Insurance Council of Australia
JENNIFER Whitney has been in a privileged position as mayor of the Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC) and part of her job therefore should be to maintain a squeaky clean approach to the way she does council business. With three significant wage rises in the first term as mayor, ratepayers trusted that she could at least pay her own way, rather than putting herself in an “actual” compromising position with an organisation she is doing business with.
One can only guess that the admission of the “perceived” conflict of interest was sincere and not a convenient way of removing herself from having to vote on whether to allow the contract between Chinatown Investments (WCI) and the WRC to continue.
I am guessing WCI have paid only a small deposit for the $2.5 million Waterson Way site, but were baulking over the payment of a $1 million guarantee that would ensure the development would happen in a reasonable time. The WRC (with all councillors in agreement) imposed this guarantee to prevent land banking.
However in the scheme of things this $1 million guarantee is not a significant amount for the development of Chinatown. This was the third time WCI approached the WRC for a variation of this bond.
So that request for a variation, together with the delays in bond payment has left WCI breaching the contract.
Deputy Mayor Andrew Willcox wouldn’t have been looking after the interests of the locals had he voted for an extension of the contract.
WCI may or may not have been able to finance the development, but something to remember, is that WCI has prevented other bona fide tenderers from starting their development on time.
After the election, tenders for the Waterson Way site will probably be called for, but let it be made clear to future developers that the height limits are what they are, the building regulations are what they are, and the council financial requirements are what they are. So please don’t lodge an application that ignores these community requirements.
Had Mayor Whitney not placed herself in this compromising position she could have saved face with the ratepayers, but more importantly, would have saved them a considerable deal of money and lost opportunity. Kevin Poschelk Bowen
Looking after us
ABOUT three years ago Mayor Jennifer Whitney and Councilor Jan Clifford were approached after a function at the Queens Beach Hotel and given information about our Fixerz barrier-fencing product.
Subsequently a number of emails we sent to mayor Whitney’s office. Fixerz were designed in Bowen and are manufactured in Australia.
Fixerz is used to support public safety barrier fencing around building sites, and on road and rail construction sites.
It saves on both labour and material costs, but the real benefit to the community is that it significantly reduces plastic waste, and plastic pollution. It also helps support silt traps to reduce soil erosion. Arguably Fixerz could prevent more plastic waste from entering the oceans than Coast Care can remove on their community clean up days.
It has been used on many sites in and around the Whitsundays, however even though the mayor’s office has been contacted on numerous occasions, there’s not been enough interest shown by the mayor or council to even objectively trial Fixerz.
From her 2012 profile I read and now quote “One particular point that Jenny would like to emphasise is to encourage not only the council but all local residents to support each other.”
It is so frustrating that Mayor Whitney, who is also a board member of Reef Catchments (an off-shoot of Natural Resource Management), failed to showcase a product that was developed in her own backyard. Robert Lowcock Bowen