Mayor’s meeting snub comments branded ‘a bit rich’

DAINTREE

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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STRONG WORDS: (L-R) Daintree Rainforest Power Committee chair Russell O’Doherty with Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch. IMAGE: Supplied.
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DOUGLAS Shire Mayor Julia Leu has hit out at not being invited to meetings held at Heritage Lodge and Spa in the Daintree last night where the locals were provided with an open forum to air their views on two key significant issues.

The ongoing struggle to obtain power and be connected to a power grid attracted more than 50 people who unanimously agreed that power in the Daintree is a necessity. This meeting was open to the public.

The second involved the future of the ferry and what options were available. This meeting was by invitation only, but produced lively debate and there was clear consensus that time is not on anyone’s side and something had to be done, and quickly.

Warren Entsch, the Federal MP for Leichhardt, attended both meetings. Councillor Michael Kerr was at the power gathering, but stressed he was there in his personal capacity.

In stating that the Douglas Shire Council had not been invited to the Daintree forum, Mayor Leu said that hosting an invitation-only event for a small group of people and dressing it up as community consultation is completely inappropriate.

“Council works extensively with the whole community so it is disappointing to be left out of this forum,” she said.

“It demonstrates a bizarre intent to not only lock out Council, but the wider Daintree community.”

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Cr Leu said the possibility of employing a second ferry, along with a range of other matters, will be investigated before the current contract expires in 2021.

“Widespread public consultation that will include the whole community is expected to start next year,” she added.

But Betty Hinton, who organised the meetings and owns Floravilla Ice Cream Factory, said there was no thought of knocking out Council.

“The objective was to hear people’s view in an uninhibited environment and once we had a clear understanding of where we wanted to go, we would be requesting a meeting with Council,” she said.


TOMORROW ON NEWSPORT...SEE A FULL REPORT ON THE DAINTREE COMMUNITY FORUMS


“We thought we handled this in a professional manner and the meetings were successful, positive and achieved a lot.” 

Russell O’Doherty, chair of the Daintree Rainforest Power Committee and has been fighting this cause for more than 15 years, said the Douglas Shire Council was not invited because it was an invite-only community forum.

“The community should be able to hold a meeting to discuss issues that severely impact on the community without having to include the Council in the discussion,” O’Doherty said.

“At this point it is a bit rich for the Mayor to now start wanting community consultation when there was no or very little consultation over the ferry debacle.

“The comments made by the Mayor, is not at all what you would expect from a Mayor.”

O’Doherty said the ‘ferry debacle’ is a prime example of the lack of community engagement by the council with the community until they were pressured into some form of consultation.

“There was no bizarre intent to lock out council. I find the comment both bizarre and offensive,” he said.

“The consensus of the meeting was that community engagement needs to start now not in 2018/19.

"What if council decides to extend the current contract as previously done without community input?” 


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