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Chopper flak still flying after council vote

Councillor Darren Everard is standing by his motion to exclude helicopter flight schools from the region's airports.
Councillor Darren Everard is standing by his motion to exclude helicopter flight schools from the region's airports. Robyne Cuerel

AN EMOTIONALLY battered Darren Everard continued to weather a political storm on Thursday as he stood by his decision to prevent a helicopter flight school setting up on the Fraser Coast.

Councillor Everard looked weary as he fielded phone calls and emails from both angry and supportive residents.

A motion was moved at the Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting on Wednesday by Cr Everard to exclude the schools from basing themselves in the region.

It was carried 7-3, ending Becker Helicopters' hopes of starting a satellite base at a Fraser Coast airport.

Becker owner Mike Becker slammed the seven councillors, describing them as "piss-weak, rank amateurs".

But despite the criticisms, Cr Everard stood firm.

"I'll look back at it and say I've done the right thing," he said.

But he acknowledged he wasn't happy with the way the issue had been handled.

He said the motion moved at the council's meeting was a "line in the sand".

Cr Everard said he wasn't happy with the way Mayor Gerard O'Connell and chief executive Lisa Desmond had kept councillors in the dark while talking to Mr Becker.

"Council's a team game, it's a numbers game, it's not one person.

"One person doesn't have the right to make a decision on behalf of everybody else.

"This is my division, I thought that I would have a little bit more input into it."

But Cr O'Connell said he had only spoken to Mike Becker twice and no decision was ever made.

"Councillors were given a full briefing and bear in mind at the time this was very much commercial in confidence," he said.

"We did that on January 15. Council said we agree in principal to progress on.

"To say you know nothing is quite false."

Cr Everard questioned whether the Mayor had confidence in his councillors.

"I think he doesn't think a number of us are capable of delivering," he said.

When asked whether Cr Everard had the ability to be a councillor, Cr O'Connell said he was "sure he has".

"The best thing an elected person does is to take time, listen to advice, have a discussion and reach a decision," he said.

Topics:  darren everard, fraser coast regional council, helicopters, hervey bay, hervey bay airport, maryborough, training



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