Airlie Beach's original council, Whitsunday Shire Council, was combined with Bowen Shire Council and Collinsville mid 2007 in a piece of mad Queensland State Labor government voter misdirection. Surveys in newspapers show residents trust State governments even less than they trust Local government, and little wonder.
The Whitsunday council administrative region now stretches from the tourist areas of Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday islands, the already divided country sugar and cattle town of Proserpine (the former Whitsunday Shire council seat), up through coastal Bowen with its wonderful (real) beaches, and inland out to the mining town of Collinsville. These areas have almost nothing in common, except a name. I wonder how much time Whitsunday council staff will now waste driving to meetings in areas remote from their (multiple) offices now? Proserpine and Bowen are about 60 km apart. Airlie Beach is a half hour drive from Proserpine.
$21 million deficit in former Whitsunday Shire, reads the Whitsunday Times headline on 26 June 2008. Former Bowen Mayor Mike Brunker and new Whitsunday Regional Council CEO John Finlay held a press conference on Tuesday 24 June 2008 to announce the former Whitsunday Shire Council was in debt $17 million externally, and $16 million internally. They were predicting a $21 million budget deficit for the Whitsundays for 2008/2009. In contrast, they claimed, the Bowen budget balanced. Mayor Brunker predicted less infrastructure spending, and Whitsunday area rate rises of between 5% and 10% (surprise, the TV news just said 7.5%).
Naturally Mayor Brunker's creative interpretation of the former Whitsunday Shire Council budget was hotly disputed by former council executives. There was a lengthy and interesting letter in the local newspaper.
Until this council infighting dies down, I wouldn't be risking any investment money in the Whitsunday area.
Council rate rises in 2009 are expected to cost Airlie Beach residents more than Proserpine, with rises ranging from 17% to 1%. Mayor Mike Brunker is reported to have claimed Whitsunday Regional Council is broke. Council rates will total $47 million, an increase of $3.5 million, or 8.2%.
Kerbside recycling has again been rejected in the Whitsundays in 2009. Council will review this decision in 2012, when the collection contract expires. Whitsunday Council estimate recycling would cost an additional $78 per household. Mayor Mike Brunker says household rubbish is only 3% of all garbage collected in the shire. He claims industrial waste has more impact. That makes me wonder why industry does not pay 97% of the fees?
Where the Rainforest meets the Sea, until the developers arrived, and the golden sand comes in dump trucks.