Noli responds to open letter

Monday February 9 2015, 10:15am

Douglas Shire Council Deputy Mayor Abigail Noli has added her voice to an ongoing flare-up between council and an alliance of the Douglas Chamber of Commerce and Douglas Inc. 

In her own open letter, Cr Noli said she is committed to ‘pragmatic’ use of council’s ‘limited’ funds and that she would prefer to see money spent on local community development such as public toilets, shade sails or the Clink Theatre instead of funding the ‘self-appointed’ Douglas Inc. 

Cr Noli’s letter means now all of the Douglas Shire councillors have responded to the original Chamber/Douglas Inc letter, in which the authors criticised council for not focusing enough on business development and tourism planning since taking office at the beginning of 2014. 

While Mayor Julia Leu, Cr Noli and councillor David Carey have defended council and criticised the Chamber and Douglas Inc for their comments, councillors Terry Melchert and Bruce Clarke have admitted some of the criticism directed at council is valid and that council can improve.

The ongoing saga is highlighting a growing divide between council and elements of the Port Douglas Business community over attitudes toward business development, conservation and the role of council’s administrative branch, headed by CEO Linda Cardew. 

The Chamber and Douglas Inc are expected to release a second letter on Tuesday morning.


Cr Noli’s letter is reproduced below in its entirety:




Douglas Inc. and Douglas Chamber of Commerce:

Dear Gerry and Phoebe,

I believe many of the points that you have raised in your open letter have already been well answered in the letter from the Mayor.  She has articulated more than adequate responses to your concerns and questions that were so voiced by your self-nominated group.  Financial figures, capital works examples and other specifics have been cited.  It is interesting to note that much of what was explained can be seen on our website or through our various forms of media.  The new Douglas Shire Council is endeavouring to be as transparent as possible and has taken as many steps as conceivable to keep the public informed.  On a personal level, I will never withhold any information (that isn’t confidential) to anyone who asks.  I am very open and honest even in times when the truth might be difficult.   I have however some points that I would like to add alongside those of the Mayor’s.

I am personally committed to try to sustain economic viability AND an economically viable Council and Shire.  I emphasise the second part of the above sentence as being my priority above all in the delicate situation we as a new Shire Council have found ourselves.  Economic viability in a region goes beyond the responsibility of just the Shire Council but the economic viability of a council remains within the sole reins of the Councillors.  

It should be remembered that economic viability of a region is bigger than a shire council alone, the wealth of a region is strongly held within the private sector and growth is often laborious not stellar.

On a side note, anyone, on any level, wants to have a sustainable viable economy in the region.  Who wants themselves personally or the region where they live to not be economically viable?

As a group, Council met with Douglas Inc. and listened to your proposal and ideas and I also met with you later on to listen impartially to your proposal again and ask more lingering questions. After discussions and consideration Council decided not to fund the large sum to Douglas Inc. as it was decided that it could be better placed.  Not because the intentions were bad, I think the idea is honourable but because at this point in time that was not the best direction for Council to go.  Saying this, there might come a time that in the best interest of the Shire, Council decides to donate money to an organisation such as yours but the last 12 months wasn’t the time and I don’t believe that the next 12 months will be either, at least the way it appears at the moment.

Personally at this moment I would prefer to increase our Community Grants or Arts Development programs, give money to kick starting a nursing home, improve building such as the Clink Theatre or DAB (to name but 2), improve our public sports grounds, put shade sails over all our playgrounds, have more public toilets-should I go on?  Not because I am not working towards a strong economic region as a Councillor but because I believe that if we have $160k this is the best (pragmatic) way forward at this time.  

Referring to you 7 negative points; Points 1 to 4 I believe have been adequately answered in the Mayor’s letter but I might comment on the others.

Point 5 I find quite interesting.  You don’t find a more pragmatic person than me and as a Councillor I have to make a choice where the Shire’s money should be directed.  As money for a small council is a finite resource I pragmatically decide where it should go quite often.  I know there is a large group of Pt. Douglas business people that consider me to have integrity, be pragmatic, honest, trustworthy and wise.  Giving money unthinkingly to a group would make them angry and annoyed.   Council has many rules that is must follow and when something is finalised letting the public know about what we have achieved is not ‘spin’.

Point 6.  Interestingly this is not the feedback that I have received from businesses or individuals and I have a large and important friend set amongst Port Douglas residents.  Concerning this, as a Councillor I am representative of the whole shire not just Pt. Douglas so we are working on the whole not just partially. I don’t favour one part over another, I love it all equally.

Point 7.  Phoebe did you share my short and sweet email that I sent you as president of the Chamber of Commerce to everyone else?  I am doing my individual part also, or trying to.  I sent that email because I believe as a Councillor I am probably better placed than most to help achieve something working as an advocate for the joint Mossman/Port Douglas business community.  A small step that if achieved would be quite invaluable to the region.

However, this is not the forum to continue with what I have achieved or done for the community.  I am always so happy to speak with people and try to help them with their concerns, big or small.  I see most of you semi-regularly when we can speak but if I don’t please feel free to contact me should you wish.  

Lastly, Douglas Inc. has questioned our efforts over the last year and I thank you for that because it has given me supplementary inspiration to do more.  Well done, I really like it because concerned, active residents of a shire are truly invaluable.

Abigail Noli.

Deputy Mayor DSC

0447018967 or