The Noosa we know and love hangs in the balance

OPINION by Noel Playford. Former Noosa Mayor for 11 years.

Voting for the future of Noosa starts tomorrow. 

That might sound dramatic. Some no doubt will say alarmist. But look how resident amenity and quality of life for so many has gone backwards during the last four years. 

The reason is simple. The Council we elected four years ago couldn’t get its act together.

Why not? Simply a lack of leadership.

The first and most important job of a Mayor is to create a team approach within the elected council. But our current council never developed an agreed vision for the future, nor a commitment to a team approach. 

So the whole organization was effectively directionless. And still is.

No one should be surprised that the last four years has left the community with a demoralized and rudderless council organization of over 400 employees. No wonder service delivery has suffered.

We now have another chance to elect a new Mayor who can create a team approach again. So let’s have a look at the four candidates asking for our vote.

Two candidates have no local government experience. They seem to be relying on their business experience to back up their promises. But a council is not a business, it’s a government. And it’s also a monopoly. 

By far the best experience for this complex role is to learn the ropes as a Councillor. A totally inexperienced mayor is a huge risk.  For the first time in living memory Noosa elected a mayor with no council experience four years ago. 

That hasn’t ended well.

The two other candidates, Ingrid Jackson and Frank Wilkie, have experience as Councillors.

Noosa cannot afford Ingrid Jackson as Mayor despite her four years as a Councillor. Or maybe that should be because of her performance during much of the four years. 

Ingrid showed she could not work with other elected members when she was a Councillor from 2016 to 2020. Her response to losing votes 6-1 on many issues was to publicly blame the Mayor and other Councillors. 

Not only that, she has kept her blame game narrative going in the public domain for the last four years. No hint of teamwork there.

The other experienced candidate is Frank Wilkie, Deputy-Mayor for the last 8 years. 

Most people who know him well or have worked with him during his many years of community activity will agree that he has the capacity and temperament to create a team approach.

We need a Mayor who understands that what’s needed is not a whole new agenda but some leadership stability so the organization has the breathing space to rebuild cohesion and capability. 

We desperately need a people-person mayor, not self-indulgence, grand-standing and playing to the camera and minority groups as we see in State and Federal Parliaments. There’s been too much of that in Council during the last 8 years. 

Frank Wilkie is our only chance of achieving a council team that agrees (as much as possible) on a desirable future for Noosa to guide them in their decision making. 

Add a competent new CEO to lead the organisation, and together they can turn the ship around for the benefit of us all.

(Authorised by N.Playford. 12 Daybreak Ct., Castaways Beach)

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    To fellow residents in the Shire of Noosa Heads: it behoves us all to value our vote and apply due diligence before gifting it to the right candidate. Onya Frank.

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    Noel makes a lot of sense.On the issue of planning and development, experience with the system is essential if you are to be effective. As the council’s solicitor for many years (up to 2020) I had the good fortune to work with councils which understood the importance of their planning scheme and the importance of consistency in applying the scheme to the many development proposals which came their way. As a result the council achieved the respect of the planning court judges and that was reflected in Court decisions which, almost invariably, supported the development priorities embedded in the schemes.In my view, the experience and team approach of Councils (led by the Mayors and supported by staff) going back to the 80’s is a key reason for the superior development outcomes and environment Noosa enjoys today.The alternative of ad hoc decisions leads to poor court outcomes thereby undermining the Council’s and community’s planning strategies and effectiveness. To avoid this, in my opinion, experience at the top of the organisation is essential.This is not business experience but government experience and anybody without that experience is simply going to waste their time and a lot of ratepayers money. To be an effective Mayor one must have prior council experience and understand how the system works. It is just common sense. Frank Wilkie has years of experience dealing with planning and legal issues. He is a sensible balanced person to work with and takes a team approach. I struggle to see anyone in this field of candidates who remotely compares.

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    I wholeheartedly agree with what you have written. When I found out that Ingrid had voted in council against the Noosa 2020 plan I knew where I wanted to place my vote.

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    I concur having attended and watched Council meetings where Frank Wilkie is in the Chair. He’s fair, professional, on top of procedure, and calm. In short, he knows the job. It’s not the time for inexperienced leaders or divisive individuals who comment from the side. The Council needs stability and experience.

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    Another consideration should be that all councillors have a knowledge in town planning. The town plan was ignored when commercial airbnb businesses were allowed to operate in “residential ” zones. This illegal granting of “existing rights” to run businesses in residential zones should be revoked. They bought in residential zones and the ONLY rights are to use the house in a RESIDENTIAL manner. Residential means reside. Airbnb do not reside here, they holiday here. They should stay in purpose built and on-site managed accomodation in Tourist mixed use zones.

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    You’re so right Noel – a Council is not a business, and it takes an experienced Councillor to understand how that works. We cannot afford to waste another 4 years while a businessperson tries to get used to the way it works. I also agree that Ingrid Jackson is not leadership material, and never will be. Frank Wilkie is the only qualified candidate. It’s a no-brainer for me.

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    Hard to disagree with Noel’s perspective given his own experience. Frank Wilkie is the only qualified candidate, measured against the skill set required to influence and achieve in Local Government. If you believe that the best predictor of future performance is past behaviour, Frank should be our next Mayor.

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