CANDIDATES RESPOND: Supporting business in the region

COUNCIL elections are on the horizon and now that all the candidates have been finalised it's time to unpack their priorities if elected.

For the next two weeks, we will be picking the candidates' brains on what they believe is important in their division and across the wider Whitsunday region.

The question this week was 'how will you work to support and revitalise businesses in your division?'


Division 1


Jan Clifford
Jan Clifford


"If re-elected, I will continue to support the initiatives implemented by the current council by way of keeping our rates as low as possible via good fiscal management while still ensuring we have no loss in services - vital to positive business growth.

I am also committed to providing council support to new and innovative business opportunities with discounted infrastructure charges and assisting with funding opportunities as they arise.

One of the stand-out features of our region are our magnificent festivals and events and I will continue to support those festivals particularly in Airlie Beach.

Festivals and events fill our accommodation houses, restaurants and pubs and provide much-needed cash injections into our region.

I will also be supporting and working to establish a comprehensive "drive market" promotional campaign to help fill the hole in our tourism market left by the dramatic drop in international tourist numbers, ensuring those employed by the industry have job continuity."


Jess Kelly
Jess Kelly


"Working in and around our community, I have seen a true need for representation and support within my division.

As the strong, independent voice for the community, I will work to support and revitalise business in Division 1 by ensuring I have a good understanding of the issues encountered by business in this area.

I will be active in attending meetings with business and the community.

I will consult with local business to ensure that what council is delivering is actually beneficial to the businesses here in Division 1.

One of my top priorities will be to review purchasing policies and make assessment more on the financial returns to the local economy and community rather than just price.

It is time Division 1 had a strong, independent voice working for and with the community and a VOTE for Jess KELLY will definitely deliver this."


Mark Yore
Mark Yore


"Although we're elected by one division, councillors represent the whole of the Whitsundays. Ideally, we want workable solutions that benefit everyone.

There are currently 829 fees and charges imposed by council, so why don't we simplify them? While we're at it, let's make council processes as painless as possible.

If a business has paperwork returned it's a failure of council, not the business.

We should also make it easier for locals to tender for council contracts - the Gold Coast City Council has a 'buy local' process that provides a weighted advantage for local companies. Council should be able to provide mentoring after an unsuccessful tender to help businesses with their next bid.

As for support, being a councillor is a full-time job.

I'm available for any business or resident that wants to talk, either at the markets on a Saturday or give me a call and I'll pop round."




Heidi Ward
Heidi Ward


"I believe my job as a councillor would be to support the growth of current businesses and new ones, and it is not my job to revitalise (meaning bring to life and vitality) to businesses, this is for the business owners themselves to do.

What I'd like to remind the community is, that we are not all about tourism or business or divisions we are a community, we need to look at the big picture.

Everything is a numbers game, we need to become more self-sustainable and self-sufficient across the entire region, being more resilient to outside influences.

Growth comes across the board from not just tourism but agriculture, aquaculture, industry and farming.

These all contribute to the economy of this region, by growing all sectors this will create employment growth and sustainability by ensuring community growth and pride of prosperity diversely, which in turn will deliver vitality as a whole."


Al Grundy
Al Grundy



"Firstly, we need to look a little wider than the division. With tourism directly providing one in three jobs in our local area, the first thing we need to do is rebuild visitor numbers. The last three years have presented unprecedented challenges; cyclone, sharks, now the coronavirus. More resources are being directed to domestic marketing with the focus on holiday at home to grow the visitor numbers.

The other point to make in the short term is that all businesses need to be as lean as they possibly can be and minimise their expenses.

I will continue to advocate for financial assistance to help market the Whitsundays in the short term for domestic marketing and as virus concerns diminish the return of the international visitors.

I also wrote to the tourism minister seeking support for marine tourism operators by way of relaxing the government charges on entering the marine park. Every small saving in the short term, may help a business stay open for the future."



Lachlan Queenan.
Lachlan Queenan.


"When my mum purchased a beach house here 10 years ago, I made it my home. I have seen the best parts of Australia but this is by far the best kept secret.

When I first arrived in Airlie Beach, tourist numbers were up every night of the week and the business community was booming.

I know what is important to people and I am here to ensure we put Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and the islands first.

I stand for:

- Lowering rates by ensuring council spending accountability

- Boosting tourism numbers and accountability by Tourism Whitsundays

- Promoting Cannonvale, Airlie Beach and the islands specifically. Putting us back on the map

- Engaging with the community, by responding to community needs

- Supporting the Cannonvale business district.

I put myself forward for election to work for and with the community on a journey that will be prosperous for all."




John Collins
John Collins


"Small business is one of our region's most important sectors, and I'm proud of the support council has given small business owners and tourism operators.

Having owned and operated my own small business since 1989, I understand the highs and lows of running a business in a regional economy.

Over the past four years, I've supported council's facade improvement initiative, which provides a 50 per cent contribution to business owners to help revitalise their shopfronts and tidy up our town centres.

I'm especially proud to have championed the $3.8 million Proserpine Main Street Upgrade, Lake Proserpine improvements and Proserpine RV Park, all of which have helped boost our local economy and made the town a more appealing destination for visitors.

If re-elected to represent Division 3, I'll continue to work closely with local traders and the wider community to deliver the big-ticket infrastructure projects and practical initiatives to support local businesses and make Proserpine an even better place to live and visit."



Brian Skead.
Brian Skead.



"Peter Faust Dam: stimulate and revitalise Division 3 economy.

Continue the promotion and development of the dam in its current state targeting campers and families to use the facility.

Engage with Tourism Whitsundays to directly target 15,000 defence families in Townsville as a pilot program promoting the best dam in CQ for camping, fishing and water sports.

The marketing plan to include a directory of where to park in Proserpine for shopping before heading to the dam.

To also enjoy friendly, helpful local businesses supplying from basic necessities of food and fuel, to dining and other attractions Proserpine offers.

The marketing program could then attract active families from Sarina to Townsville taking advantage of the domestic drive tourism market.

This approach will utilise the current facilities at Peter Faust Dam, while working on expanding the facilities to attract more visitors. The flow-on effect is more customers for our local businesses.

This concept would be quick and cost effective to implement."




Peter Lawton.
Peter Lawton.


"Having lived in Bowen for 30+ years raising my family, I am passionate about this region.

It has saddened me to watch businesses close and confidence slowly decline.

Queens Beach was once thriving with bakery, butcher, store, takeaway food outlet, gym and more - Collinsville a similar story - unfortunately none of them remain.

Having run my own business, I fully understand the highs and lows and maybe the healing process should have started years ago but now it's no easy fix.

To be brutally honest, I'm not sure where the starting point is but I will, with consultation with previous business owners, look for reasons.

Small business is the backbone of the economy employing locals, so we certainly need to help.

The 'shop locally' campaign doesn't seem to be working so whether it be some rate concessions or incentives for new businesses, we all need to work together to find an answer."


Michelle Wright.
Michelle Wright.


"Directly, I will endeavour to sustain and maintain economic growth and development within our region by utilising the wealth of our farming, grazing, industrial and commercial aspects of Division 4.

I will be a strong advocate, to ensure these industries are driven towards our communities to promote employment and business viability. Securing further economic development means more jobs, more opportunities, which in turn increases the essential services, which brings families to town, which means growth in schools, growth and trading increases for local businesses. Ultimately the next generation coming through will have employment choices.

Finally, no increases for rates and services placing no additional pressure on business owners to cover cost from their customers, therefore 'shopping local' is more achievable for the ratepayers.

Promoting and working for our future is my passion, if elected I will ensure strength and longevity needed to attain viable business council relationship that is transparent, fair, honest and reliable."


Brett Murphy.
Brett Murphy.


"I will work to support and revitalise businesses in our division as follows:

1. Business cost and red tape - We have a lot of opportunity, but our businesses need a helping hand. They need affordable and reliable energy, water security and decent road infrastructure. Council has too much red tape getting is the way of business.

2. Jobs and growth - We need jobs and opportunities to revitalise our communities. Division 4 spans Mt Coolon to Gumlu, and Queens Beach to the Burdekin Dam. In our division we have major new opportunities including Urannah water scheme, aquaculture projects and the HELE Power Station as a transition to renewable energy. I will strongly advocate for all of these projects

3. Roads and freight - Division 4 has over 900km of unsealed roads that need to be better maintained. We need more resources and an improved maintenance plan. I will push for better roads."




Dave Clark
Dave Clark


"The first answer that came to my mind is, 'communication'.

I will endeavour to be open and honest, fighting for growth within business.

Allowing this region to grow and prosper in every way.

With growth there is planning, development and construction and that spells jobs and a vibrant economy.

Having been with the construction industry for over 45 years this opportunity is exciting.

With regards to all of the associated businesses, I will listen to businesses' needs, to ensure council is communicable and fast track solutions to ensure that businesses maintain viability.

Tourism is another very important industry, which I will continue to support. Areas to target are the local region's drive market.

In closing, my strong and experienced voice is what I guarantee and with that ensures the future of the region to prosper.

Authorised D. Clark 5 Daniel Street Bowen for D. Clark (candidate)."


Gary Simpson
Gary Simpson


"In my capacity as councillor for division 5, I'll work towards supporting agriculture, aquaculture, tourism and small businesses.

Living and working in Division 5, I feel that I'm looking after my backyard.

As I've said in the past, I will not stand in the way of progress.

I will support development as long as it's economically and environmentally sustainable and not a burden on ratepayers.

I would encourage and support future uses of wastewater to be used for agriculture, watering of sporting fields or any other use that may arise. Local businesses require good road networks so that they are easily accessible.

Some of our major businesses in Division 5 are sugar cane, small crops and aquaculture.

Land-based tourism is also a consideration with the number of cruise ships now coming into our region.

I can see growth potential for our agricultural businesses that may want to take advantage of this."