Let­ters to the editor

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

Ratepay­ers’ loss

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

Not political

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

No fumes

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

Our fu­ture

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

In­sur­ance is­sues

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

um re­lief.

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

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