News

Council took one year to become climate change 'hero'

PARTNERS: Kingsborough Mayor Steve Wass with Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox.
PARTNERS: Kingsborough Mayor Steve Wass with Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox. Jacob Wilson

TWO councils from opposite ends of Australia have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will allow them to work together on climate change.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox and Tasmania's Kingborough mayor Steve Wass, have committed to what has been described as a ground-breaking agreement.

Climate change adaptation consultant Donovan Burton has been working for both councils as well as the QLD government and said this was extraordinary in that it wasn't a federal or state-led initiative but initiated entirely by the two local governments.

He said in terms of their attitude to climate change Whitsunday Regional Council had gone from "zero to hero" in 12 months.

In 2015 Mr Burton visited the Whitsundays to see how much climate change was being factored into the decision making process, noting "it wasn't being considered formally"

"I had 15 key indicators and they (council) pretty much scored zero on most of those," he said.

But in the last 12 months the Whitsunday council has not only created a climate change strategy but also an adaptation policy.

"Very few councils in Australia actually have one (of these), actually Kingborough I think is the only other council in Australia," Mr Burton said.

Whitsunday Regional Council CEO Barry Omundson said it was mid-way through last year he heard about the work being done by Kingborough in Tasmania.

"Once I came on board as CEO and saw our score from (before) and also the score they gave Mackay which wasn't very good either... I said, 'which council is leading with climate change? Because someone has to take charge, we can't wait for the state...," he said. 

UNITED: Monica Regan, Donovan Burton, Adam Folkers, Julie Wright, Andrew Willcox, Kylie Drysdale, Steve Wass, Jan Clifford, Ron Petterson, Renae Faust, Barry Omundson.
UNITED: Monica Regan, Donovan Burton, Adam Folkers, Julie Wright, Andrew Willcox, Kylie Drysdale, Steve Wass, Jan Clifford, Ron Petterson, Renae Faust, Barry Omundson. Jacob Wilson

Mayor Wass said his council had recognised "that many of our coastal towns were living precariously waiting for the perfect storm, the perfect storm being a high tide and extensive heavy rains".

"We've seen that our weather has changed," he said.

Choosing to become proactive, Mayor Wass and his team have been addressing issues such as how the elderly in nursing homes survive power outages when there are heat waves or bitterly cold spells following southern storms.

They have looked at potential problems with other infrastructure, addressing the question of "when to retreat" in terms of moving water, sewage and NBN cables further inland.

"We don't have the money - and I'm certain Whitsunday Regional Council doesn't have the money to do those things tomorrow - so we're looking ahead - one to protect our community and two to protect our infrastructure - and most importantly by acknowledging climate change is here I believe we can take the community on the journey with us," he said.

Mayor Willcox acknowledged the work Kingborough had done saying: "If you're going to hitch your wagon to someone you may as well hitch your wagon to the best and that's what we've done".

Whitsunday Regional Council has received $500,000 under the LGAQ Q-Coast 2100 funding program, which they are supplementing with $300,000 of their own.

Mayor Willcox said this money would be spent on forward planning about how to protect the more than 700 kilometres of Whitsunday coastline under increasing threat from rising sea levels, increased cyclonic activity, increased cyclone intensity and higher risk of storm surges.

Mr Burton said this was "probably the largest (climate strategy) adaptation budget that exists in Australia at the moment", noting climate change was now recognised as a global economic risk as much as an environmental one, with key figures, such as Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England now on board.

Topics:  andrew willcox climate change kingborough memorandum of understanding steve wass whitsunday regional council


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

The world is invited to Whitsunday SESsions

Gavin "Butto" Butlin, Ellie Hanlon, Rob Cole, Mark Connors, Troy Jones and Kieran McCarthy (back) and Courtney Anderson, Daniel Moss, Leigh Munro (front) are ready to rock for Whitsunday SESsions.

Whitsunday SESsions will be live streamed across the world.

Council counts the cost of Debbie

The Airlie Beach Lagoon was closed due to damage from Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March.

It's a high cost to get the lagoon back to its original state

A warm Whitsunday welcome to Today Show

HANDS UP: Today Show weather presenter Natalia Cooper with Airlie Beach locals at Abell Point Marina yesterday morning.

The Today Show was welcomed to the Whitsundays this morning

Local Partners

New design coming to Airlie Beach roundabout

WHEN the Airlie Beach main street roundabout was stripped of its starfish one year ago, the question arose of what would replace it.

Debbie's graveyard: Major auction to clear written-off cars

Auto Repair and Towing Service owner Shane Muntelwit at the salvage yard behind Mackay Airport, which has become a graveyard for about 150 vehicles destroyed or written off by Cyclone Debbie.

A salvage yard has become a makeshift graveyard

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Rebel Wilson says she didn’t have to lie to make it

I’M not glamorous, but that doesn’t make me a liar: that’s the message from Rebel Wilson on her second day in the witness box.

All bets on Judah to win battle to become the Voice

Judah Kelly from The Voice.

Judah Kelly is the clear favourite to win the competition.

Pirates in Whitsundays

ON SET: Pitaes of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, filming on Whitehaven Beach in July 2015.

The fifth instalment hits cinemas on Thursday

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

Kim Kardashian's tribute to Manchester didn't go down well

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

A warm Whitsunday welcome to Today Show

HANDS UP: Today Show weather presenter Natalia Cooper with Airlie Beach locals at Abell Point Marina yesterday morning.

The Today Show was welcomed to the Whitsundays this morning

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!