Thursday, March 7, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Conservation Concerns Debated At Mayoral Forum

Over 60 local residents attended a lively Mayoral Candidates Forum held by the Whitsunday Conservation Council at the Reef Gateway Hotel last Wednesday evening.

Candidates Phil Batty, Richard Evans and Ry Collins all took to the stage to answer questions given by facilitator and well-known local environmentalist, Tony Fontes.

The fourth candidate, Peter Hood, was invited to participate but chose to sit in the audience, saying that his position as an accountant forbid him take part.

In making this assertion, Hood caused quite a disturbance during the opening speech, standing from within the crowd and yelling toward the front.

Organisers quickly instructed him to sit down and asked him to leave unless he could remain seated and listen like everyone else.

The rest of the evening progressed in a civilised and democratic manner with each candidate taking their turn to inform the audience of their views on seven different questions.

There were seven main topics which included liveability, the reef, sustainability, biodiversity, town planning, the village atmosphere of Airlie Beach area and Council transparency.

Phil Batty held the current council account, producing a range of documents that supported his assertion that the Council had funding and permission to implement certain projects but had failed to do so on several occasions throughout the years.

Richard Evans spoke frankly and earnestly without needing to refer to notes, instead offering case studies which showed how he had sent his time actively communicating with the general public over the past few weeks.

Ry Collins gave evidence of his passion for community, liveability, and environment, illustrating well-prepared and thorough answers addressing the key issues with sound knowledge and consistency.

Afterwards, Tony Fontes asked several impromptu questions gathered from the community and given to the candidates.

These covered similar subjects, but narrowed in on some of the key issues.

Each candidate was given two minutes to deliver their responses and a bell would ring 30 seconds before the end so they could conclude within time.

Open to everyone in the community, the forum attracted a broad spectrum of people who were all interested in making an informed decision about who they would vote for next Saturday.


1: Mayoral candidates – Phil Batty, Richard Evans and Ry Collins at the Whitsunday Conservation Council Mayoral Candidate Forum last Wednesday. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

2: Mayoral Candidate Peter Hood disrupts the forum but is soon asked to take a seat. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

In other news