Fraser Coast branch UDIA president Daniel Poacher has applauded mayoral candidate Gerard O’Connell’s comments.
Fraser Coast branch UDIA president Daniel Poacher has applauded mayoral candidate Gerard O’Connell’s comments. Alistair Brightman

Mayoral hopeful wins support

THE Urban Development Institute of Australia has applauded mayoral candidate Gerard O'Connell for speaking out over the council's fractured relationship with developers.

"The Fraser Coast Branch of the UDIA agrees with Cr O'Connell that the FCRC got it wrong when they voted to adopt the new planning scheme policy on infrastructure charges in 2009," said president of the Fraser Coast branch Daniel Poacher.

Cr O'Connell said that a pre-existing stand-off between old Hervey Bay councillors and developers culminated in the decision in 2009 to hike infrastructure charges by 80%, poisoning an important relationship that has taken years to rebuild.

"It was very disappointing that a number of the current councillors chose to ignore the facts presented to them by the UDIA and voted to implement such a poor policy at the time. These councillors who voted for this policy after the extensive consultation and submissions made, carry on their shoulders some the fallout from their decision at the time," Mr Poacher said.

"Obviously some of our current councillors heard the logic in the UDIA's concerns and fears and they are to be congratulated for making the right decision."

The vote was 6-4 in favour of the increase, with Councillor Anne Nioa absent from the meeting.

Mr Poacher dismissed queries that rates would rise if infrastructure charges did not.

He said that theory showed "a complete lack of understanding in how infrastructure charges are applied throughout the Fraser Coast".

Mr Poacher also said the arrival of a new executive team was a catalyst for turning the relationship around.

"We are blessed to be able to work with a CEO, director and development assessment team that now wants to roll out the red carpet to encourage investment and development on the Fraser Coast. The dark days of a negative and risk-averse nature are behind us and we currently enjoy a fantastic relationship with the CEO and directors," he said.

"We would encourage the council candidates to ensure they have a real understanding of the importance of our industry."

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