None of the Division 3 or mayoral candidates mentioned the word environment in their policies or vision for the future.
The lack of planning at the high biodiversity area of Mission Beach has seen the destruction of a lot of natural areas
with development being approved in an ad hoc manner which has further degraded and fragmented important wildlife corridors particularly important for the endangered cassowary. The cassowary is barely mentioned in any Council planning discussion nor in tourism promotion.
The importance of good planning cannot be understated. Mission Beach needs detailed local area planning. This could be achieved by all stakeholders workshopping a vision for the future which includes branding, identification and protection of important habitat corridors, detailed planning of the urban footprint and addressing the impacts to the endangered cassowary including dogs and vehicles. Such planning would identify appropriate 'growth' for our region. There would be compromises by all sides but it would serve to unify the community, give sureity to the conservation and development sectors and give a clear vision for a sustainable economic future incorportating the needs of agriculture, tourism, the community and environment.
Any approval of development in our high bidiversity area should be based on the lowest possible impact on the natural values.
Many people have told me they do not vote because it would be chosing the best of a bad bunch. Voting is very important - how can you complain if you don't have a voice to be counted.
Voting for a representative who understands and repsects the value of our natural ennvironment and one who sees the economic value in protection and appropriate presentation of those values is going to be a very hard choice this year. We can only hope that any representative is open, willing to listen and be informed by those in the community who make an effort to be involved regardless of their affiliation with particualr groups.
The current Mayor has proven his lack of understanding of the natural environment over and over as outlined in the blog post below. Mayor Bill Shannon has often said one thing and then acted contrary to his word, in particular his commitment to sound environmental planning. His acumen as a good fiscal manager is acknowledged
Nathan Mood's push for deamalgamation is an unrealistic backward step, he talks about not pandering to self interested minority groups. Nathan has stated the Spit at Dunk Island has had extra protection placed on it and talks about National Parks being too 'locked up'. In fact the private management of the spit has degraded the values so much that options presented in the public consultation for the Island management suggested a reduction of status from National Parks to Conservation which would allow for high visitation. On the MDA at Clump Point Nathan seems to have not understood the process that is taking place to determine the future of Clump Point and any boating infrastructure. This is an issue he should be familiar with as it is crucial to his business. Nathan wants 'growth' and support for business for the area to supply jobs for future generations without explaining how that is possible.
Wayne Kimberley also sees growth and business expansion as a poriority without a vision. He believes some people have obtained their patch of paradise and now don't want others to come here. He also talks of self interested minority groups. There is over 1500 lots of available land sitting vacant and unkempt. Wayne was a high profile councilor in the failed Johnstone Shire Council.
Graham Couper-Smith is an unknown but with his financial background could lead the Council with good fiscal management. He has been happy to discuss issues, seems to have an appreciation of and recognises the importance of the environment and has stated he will listen to community groups.
Alister Pike is the only candidate who chose not to respond to the question, has not returned my call as promised and stated "At the end of the day the questions need to be asked, “Which group best represents environmental interests in the Cassowary Coast if they are philosophically on different pages?”. Alister also is confused about the bureaucratic process currently underway to determine the future of Clump Point and boating infrastructure as demonstrated in his facebook communication. Surpising since this is also crucial to the future of his business. Alister sees Mission Beach as a 'growth' area without a vision of how this can be achieved while protecting the natural values. It would be hoped that any council representative would be prepared to talk to anyone who takes an interest in and is active in whatever capacity within in their community.
Jason Benn also says he will will not pander to self interested minority groups that hold up progress. He has been very accessible and quick to respond to any questions asked. His response on most issues concerning the environment appears to be well informed and he has been open for further discussion.
Lindsay Jukes joins the others in his criticism of the self interested minority groups. Although his repsonse to the question posed was broadly supportive, his public addresses have been less inpiring. It is hoped that any candidate would have a strong stand on local environment issues when wanting to represent such a special area.