Council candidate weighs in on Reef Partnership decision


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Kym Rowley has thrown his hat in the ring for next year's Council elections.
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A leading business entity, who will be vying for one of the four Douglas Shire councillor spots in the 28 March 2020 local government election, said today Council has lost its way.

Kym Rowley, General Manager of The Tin Shed, said Council has lost its way and needs to get back to what its role is: responsible for providing a range of public services and utilities.

“Individual views of Councillors should not play a part in taking Council away from its core roles and responsibilities,” he said.

Rowley’s comments come in the wake of a Council decision on Tuesday to participate in a carbon off-setting partnership with Qantas Future Planet, GreenCollar and Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD).

The partnership enables Council to become carbon neutral by purchasing premium carbon offsets located in Rawbelle, Queensland. 

“I understand there are various views on the subject of Carbon Offset Credits and the proposal that was put forward to Council at their recent meeting.

“However, for something that is so contentious as this to be pushed through Council with no consultation or prior notification to rate payers is appalling,” said Rowley.

Rowley said there are several questions that needed to be asked of our elected representatives regarding this matter:

  • What part did Mike Berwick have in the proposal and what payment has he or will he receive?
  • What is the connection between GreenCollar and Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG) of which Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu, Councillor David Carey and former shire mayor Mike Berwick are members; and what input did these organizations have in initiating the proposal?
  • Why was the proposal put to an Open Council meeting last Tuesday, but the financial aspect hidden at a closed meeting?
  • Why was an organized meeting by Council to discuss the proposal by invitation only – to those who would support such a proposal – and not open to rate payers?
  • How can Council commit to $600,000 of rate payers’ money over three years, which is not the real cost as an audit is yet to be carried out, at a cost to rate payers, on what our Carbon Footprint is to ascertain the full cost?
  • What supporting evidence does TPDD/DSC have, that this will have, in increasing tourism in the Shire; or is it another so called ‘influx of Chinese tourists’, which was found to be flawed; another vison of TPDD/DSC?

Tuesday’s decision was heavily criticised by Warren Entsch, the Federal Member for Leichhardt and the Coalition’s Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef. He said he was “gobsmacked” when he heard the decision.

The majority of Newsport readers who commented on the decision expressed their dismay and dissatisfaction.

Perhaps the most unexpected retort came from Councillor David Carey, an elected official who represents the shire and its rate payers.

Cr Carey chose to use a laughing “haha emoji" reaction on Newsport’s Facebook page under a story headlined: “Gobsmacked Entsch calls on Douglas to vote for change”. This was posted on 19 June.

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