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Shute Harbour Marina on agenda at first council meeting

By Mark Beale

Council has resolved to create an economic development strategy and advise the State Government it has no objection to the issuing of a lease for the Shute Harbour Marina development.

All councillors voted for engaging a specialist consultant to develop the region-wide economic strategy at the first Whitsunday Regional Council meeting since the election yesterday.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said the strategy would determine how council could best use its funds to improve “struggling” businesses and towns in the Whitsunday region.

“With the recent separation of Tourism and Economic Development from the former Whitsundays Marketing and Development, council recognises the need to take the lead and work with industry and government partners that can help us to advocate and deliver on the priorities that we identify in a new strategy,” he said.

In the meeting, Councillor Jan Clifford asked how the strategy would be funded. Cr Willcox said funding was expected to come from the office of the CEO and Mayor.

The proposed Shute Harbour Marina development was a hotly debated topic at the meeting.

Cr Clifford moved that council advise the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to refuse the issuing of a development lease over the project.

“The history of this proposed development goes back to 1988… This has been going on and on,” she said. “There are currently 200 marina berths empty in… the Airlie Beach / Shutehaven area.

“I would contend that if we were going to support another marina it should be in Bowen.”

Councillor Mike Brunker said the State Government could approve the lease, whether or not council voted for it.

Cr Clifford’s motion was lost, with only Crs Petterson, Clifford and Collins voting in favour of it.

Councillors then voted as per the original motion, with no objection to the lease.

During public question time, former deputy mayor Rogin Taylor asked council to release the full itemised costings of its “collapsed” joint venture for an international airport. He asked that costs of the former mayor’s related travel and consultations be included.

The question could be answered at the next council meeting.

Also during the meeting Cr Willcox moved for council to release the independent analysis of Whitsunday Regional Council, undertaken by Ernest & Young in 2012.

The report was delivered to council on December 21, 2012, but hasn’t been publicly released.

“I have asked the CEO to seek legal advice in this matter, and also the approval of Ernest & Young to release it,” Cr Willcox said.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Cr Willcox said he was committed to new “culture” of council. In the afternoon councillors attended a ceremony at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre to welcomed 22 new Australian citizens.

SOURCE: WHITSUNDAY TIMES

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