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Airport, Sekisui, Bunnings all up for debate at forum

FULL HOUSE: THE election forum at Coolum attracted massive crowds.
FULL HOUSE: THE election forum at Coolum attracted massive crowds.

A PACKED Coolum Civic Centre saw Division Eight and Nine candidates put under the grill on issues ranging from Sekisui House to a proposed Bunnings development on the town's edge.

Questions from Sunshine Coast Daily readers put at the You Decide forum last night also covered off on the proposed airport expansion, a bid to develop sections of Peregian Springs Golf Club and key infrastructure priorities.

Division Eight councillor Jason O'Pray hung his hat on the stance he made with the community against the push to have the Sekisui House development approved outside the planning scheme.

Division Nine councillor Steve Robinson in turn was skewered by one of his opponents Scott Larsen for his apparent failure to stand with it on the same issue.

Cr Robinson declared himself as being interstate at the time a packed Coolum Civic Centre opposing the development inspired Mr Larsen to stand for council.

And he defended staying mute saying it could have led to a legal challenge if he had opposed the controversial project six months out from the council decision at which he voted against the development.

The issue still rankles because the project was pushed heavily by then Premier Campbell Newman who apparently wasn't constrained by the same considerations and Mayor Mark Jamieson, who was effusive about the need for a five star resort.

Whatever the price Sekisui paid for the Yaroomba site neither Cr O'Pray or Cr Robinson, whose shackles apparently have been released by council being in caretaker mode, declared they would not support any fresh application above planning scheme heights to a four-storey maximum.

Cr Robinson, Mr Larsen and the Greens candidate Angela Wilson would all oppose the latest Bunnings application for a hardware store on the Sunshine Motorway entrance to Coolum opposite the state school.

Cr O'Pray gave a short opening address listing as his achievements sizeable increases in the economic benefit derived from event tourism under his watch to the point they will deliver 150,000 additional tourists this year and getting the little things right including ping pong tables in public parks and enhancement of parks across the division.

But he said it was his willingness to listen to the community on the Sekisui application and to protect the Town Plan.

However he picked a fight with residents' group OSCAR declaring it responsible for putting "disclosure.org" stickers on his election signs.

Neither he nor Councillor Robinson will declare their donations to the OSCAR site saying they already do so under their council pecuniary interest register.

However those declarations only indicate amounts over $500 and don't specify the amount received.

Cr O'Pray's sole opponent

Adriana Adamska-Bland said community safety was her number one priority. She's been endorsed by Sunshine Coast Safe Communities, executives of which were in the front row to offer support.

Ms Adamska-Bland said the region's environment, lifestyle and beaches were economic assets that required protection to attract new business.

She declared she would help improve people's lives rather than just approve new projects.

Cr Robinson said despite perceptions the council had voted "no" to his divisions big three issues being the Yandina Creek quarry, the Lake Weyba subdivision and Sekisui House.

He staunchly defended the proposed airport redevelopment and the need to keep some of the financials secret from ratepayers.

And Cr Robinson justified a Build and Benefit scheme which rebated $2.8m to developers declaring it essential to kick start the economy.

He said the region was now in the top five performing local governments in Australia.

Mr Larsen said he was the one to fight for the Town Plan and the division's lifestyle and urged those in the audience to consider who would have their back to represent the community and to stand up against inappropriate development.

On the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion Cr Robinson, who is the portfolio head of economic development, was firm on the benefits and unwavering that all the issues had been addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement to the Co-ordinator General.

But the position ignored the Co-ordinator needed to request an additional EIS to cover matters missed and that final approval is still to be granted.

He challenged Ms Adamska-Bland on an apparent conflict between her concerns about the project last night and her position the night earlier at a Twin Waters Residents' Association meeting.

Mr Larsen would opt for widening the existing runway as a step towards the airport reaching capacity domestically before considering the $345m east-west proposal, funding for which remains problematic.

Division Eight candidates Cr O'Pray and Ms Adamska-Bland both ranked the Bruce Hwy as the region's greatest infrastructure priority followed by rail and then the airport.

The program of questions put to candidates was as packed as the civic centre but apart from an early interjector who left before the action started, candidates remained civil although willing to stand their ground and to question each others' responses.

Ms Wilson appeared to want to placate perceptions the Greens would say "no" to everything, arguing that the economy should not be sacrificed for the environment or vice versa.


BROADCAST LOCATIONS

The Daily is joining with Hot 91.1 to host a series of election outdoor broadcasts

Today: The Old Ambulance Station, 80 Howard St, Nambour

March 16: Cnr Palkana Dr and Nicklin Way, Warana

 

*All broadcasts will be held between 6-9am

Topics:  coastcouncil2016 scdiv82016 scdiv92016


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