Election 2024: Will the alleged ‘boys club’ be replaced by an alliance of ‘mean girls’?

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know any of the candidates in next month’s Noosa Council election. Never met them. Never rubbed shoulders. Never knowingly broke bread or clinked glasses with them. 

Indeed, the wannabe politicians are probably all fine, upstanding people with pure, unselfish motives for standing. Yeah, right! And King Herod was a deeply misunderstood supporter of better childcare. Thanks to my lifetime in the newspaper trade, I’m with Mark Twain: “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”

Yet, hand on heart, I wish each of them well. As individuals. But there are whispers that some candidates, if elected, will form a voting bloc, a cabal that could effectively control the future of Noosa.

Of course, it would not be the first time that either a political party or an action group of some kind has run multiple candidates. Think NM’s very own Noel Playford who stood with Michael Gloster under the unofficial moniker ‘Residents Team’ in 1982 (wouldn’t that be welcome in 2024?). The Team ended up with 4 councillors elected out of 13 in those days, well short of a majority.

And, not to brown-nose the guy who, incidentally, does not pay me a bean to write for this fine organ, but he/they did a pretty good job over the next decade or two. Setting the pop cap, creating a Town Plan, limiting building heights etc. In fact, they did such a great job of making Noosa a piece of paradise that more than a million bloody tourists now come every year to admire their handiwork. Thanks guys!

And now another loose alliance of people may be vying next month to gain collective control over the council. It happens that this time they are all women. All, on the face of it, with a common, pro-business agenda. They include mayoral candidate Ingrid Jackson who was secretary of the Noosa Chamber of Commerce, existing councillors Karen Finzel and Amelia Lorentson, and would-be councillors Alecia Staines and Leigh McCready who have ties with the LNP. Jackson and McCready worked together until recently on the executive committee of the CWA. And McCready and Finzel were both part of the “Future Noosa” team that contested the 2020 election. Join the dots.

If, say, at least four out of these five ladies are elected, then the successful quartet could have a chokehold on the seven-person council for the next four years. I should note that there are five other female candidates on the councillor ballot paper.

Ingrid Jackson, a councillor from 2016 to 2020, has described the Council as a “boys’ club”, with male councillors engaging in “intimidation, disruption and deplorable behaviour.” As John Wayne would say, “Them’s fightin’ words!” And BTW, potentially defamatory. 

I’m not sure how it accords with her own declared desire to put an end to dirty politics. And it begs the following questions: did the outgoing Council’s four blokes vote as a bloc on all issues? Or collaborate with secret handshakes and nods and winks to ensure Mayor Clare and the two female councillors were marginalised? If so, that would be unacceptable. Perhaps Ms Jackson needs to provide more details in support of such allegations.

In the interests of fairness, I should point out that former deputy mayor and now prospective mayoral candidate Frank Wilkie has refuted her charges, saying that “expressing a different point of view during debate or discussion is not bullying”.

But even if there has been masculine malfeasance and misogyny, voters surely would not like the alleged boys’ club to be replaced by a “mean girls society”? If Ms Jackson truly believes in transparency as she avows, she should make it clear before the election what her relationship with the other would-be female councillors currently is. And whether they would subsequently form a de facto voting bloc that would dictate all future decision-making. 

In other words, are the ladies in cahoots?

Now that may or may not be a good thing, but we voting customers should know in advance what we’re buying before sharpening our poll booth pencils. Many residents, including myself, believe this election represents a seminal moment for Noosa. A tipping point. A crossroads. If the right people are elected and they do the right thing, we could save the joint from going down the gurgler … of losing our status as a unique, iconic place in Australia’s affections. 

If the flipside happens and the wrong people are elected and do the wrong things, then all I can say is let the last pissed-off resident leaving the town please switch off the lights. 

In summary: Those elected will hold the beating heart of Noosa in their hands like a cardiac surgeon. And, with that clumsy thought in mind, I urge them to heed the Latin phrase attributed to the Hippocratic Oath: Primum non nocere. “First, do no harm.”

And to make that a personal motto: “I will first consider the possible damage that any action or intervention that I sponsor or support might do to the residents of Noosa Shire.”

I wish all the candidates the best of luck. We, the Noosa ratepayers, may need it.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Avatar

    A great article, Terry. And depending on how cynical we’re feeling (or optimistic), Mark Twain also said “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

Leave a Reply