Heated speech at council sparks response from Airlie group
Tensions have flared between a community group and Whitsunday councillor over the future direction of the Airlie Beach.
Save Our Foreshore released a statement after a heated speech from Councillor Mike Brunker at the final council meeting for the year.
In the meeting, councillors were discussing the Airlie Beach Local Plan and its inclusion in the major amendment to the Whitsunday Planning Scheme 2017.
Save Our Foreshore secretary/treasurer Faye Chapman sent a question to councillors on behalf of the group, querying why a statement was added to the Local Plan which read: "Redevelopment in the main street and or adjoining the foreshore is encouraged at higher density".
The group also questioned why a statement that previously was in the Local Plan, and applauded by the community, was removed.
This statement urged the character of Airlie Beach be maintained, including its "vital, small town scale, tropical climate, pedestrian neighbourhoods, compact Main Street form, blue views to the sea and green views to Airlie Hill, visually penetrable buildings and heights and lush landscape elements".
Through the letter, councillors were urged to read the major amendment carefully, saying Airlie Beach did not have to become the second Gold Coast.
In the meeting, the councillors voted to include the Local Plan in the major amendment, but on the proviso the above statement that was removed be put back in.
This means the local plan will be included in the major amendment, but the councillors have not yet approved the local plan. Adding it into the amendment would mean the local plan would go to public consultation.
However, before the vote Cr Brunker spoke out against "naysayers", suggesting they "hold your gunpowder" because they would have an opportunity to have a say.
"They're against everything the whole way through," Cr Brunker said.
"I'll stand on the side of those kids that are graduating at the Whitsunday College who might have to go and get a job in the Gold Coast and these kids over here at the Proserpine State School who might have to go to Brisbane to get a job and become an engineer to do the parking surveys or be a consultant.
"You've got to go down there and do it.
"Because we've got people who are retired wanting to lock up Airlie Beach as their own personal piece of paradise."
Whose views do you support?
This poll ended on 20 December 2020.
Save Our Foreshore
Cr Mike Brunker
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Cr Brunker said the councillors were going through the required processes.
"They've got plenty of time to swoop down the markets again and do whatever and beat up whatever fear they want," he said.
"But I tell you what, this is a natural progression of Airlie Beach and it's something that I support, this plan.
"I think Airlie Beach, to its credit, is a good tropical metropolitan - you can put any tag you like on it - but I tell you what, if people didn't like the place they wouldn't be turning up here."
In the statement released by Save Our Foreshore after the council meeting, it claimed others had been heavily influenced by the "anti-Airlie Beach community bias" displayed by Cr Brunker at the council meeting for too long.
"Cr Brunker chose to attack 'the beach' community through Save Our Foreshore by accusing the grassroots volunteer organisation of being anti-development, selfish and retrogressive," the statement read.
"He was responding to a SOF appeal for all councillors to astutely and carefully read major new amendments to the Airlie Beach town plan.
"Changes would include encouraging high density development along the foreshore and main street.
"We merely asked that councillors protect the unique character and drawcard charm of Airlie.
"SOF told WRC that high rise, high density buildings are acceptable on hillsides but not on the foreshore.
"Perhaps, former mayor Brunker should start listening to all Whitsunday constituents, even those who live in and around Airlie Beach."
The statement went on to say there were currently applications for developments at Port of Airlie on prime waterfront land that do not comply with the town plan.
"A looming 12 storey building on the foreshore would change our beachside town forever and remain in place long after Cr Brunker moves on," the statement read.
"A town dependent on tourism needs decisions made by those who know modern tourism trends.
"The Whitsunday community has a proud history of keeping the foreshore low rise and public lands in public hands.
"Protecting our low rise foreshore, encouraging appropriate development where views and ridge lines are unimpeded means our economy, social stability and growth is assured.
"Isn't that a local council's job?"
In response, Cr Brunker said suggestions he was anti-Airlie Beach were "rubbish" and the council needed to keep the economy going.
"I believe we can have a great little community there that provides services and everything," he said.
"It's our job to make sure we've got a community that's sustainable and liveable."