Beach areas lose out
DIVISION 2 Councillor Kieran McCarthy has spoken this week of his frustration at representing the beach in an 'unbalanced' Council.
Cr McCarthy, a councillor for close to 10 years, said he was almost "driven to distraction" in his early days representing the beach.
"The boundary for the beach, which is Paluma Road, is ridiculous," Cr McCarthy said.
"You've got hundreds of people west of Paluma Road who are stuck with rural representation.
"The 'us and them' phenomenon is a lot less now than it used to be, but the issue is _ the Council is still unbalanced."
There are three divisions in the Whitsundays Shire _ Division 1, which is the town of Proserpine, has two councillors; Division 2, from Paluma Road east out to the islands, has three; and Division 3, the areas between Paluma Road and Proserpine, has two.
Cr McCarthy said the Division 1 and 3 councillors have traditionally supported each other.
"Even if the beach councillors stick together, you've always got a four to three imbalance," he said.
And this imbalance has caused heated friction for years.
"When you have a shire with two mutually exclusive industries and unbalanced representation on Council, there is bound to be rivalry about where funds get spent," Cr McCarthy said.
He said Mayor Mario Demartini has supported the beach at some crucial times.
"The Mayor over the years has used his casting vote to stop some of the most outrageous scenarios, to his credit," Cr McCarthy said.
He said the scrapping of divisional boundaries is one such outrageous proposition; as due to the lack of people who vote in the beach areas, rural and Proserpine councillors have much bigger voter support bases. Cr McCarthy said council amalgamations would only further erode the influence of the beach.
"The most important issue at the moment, regarding all this is that any amalgamation or broadening of the shire boundaries will lessen representation at the beach and should be strongly opposed," he said.