24 February 2024

Candidate sings for remote Cook Shire representation

| Lyndon Keane
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Portland Roads resident Jayson Watkin says he has nominated as a councillor for Cook Shire Council to give remote parts of the vast local government area a voice in the council chamber. Photo: Supplied.

Progression, not regression, for some of Cook Shire’s remotest communities will be on the agenda after 16 March if one outspoken candidate has his way.

Of the 19 candidates who have nominated to fill one of the six councillor positions electors will vote on at next month’s Queensland local government elections, Portland Roads resident Jayson Watkin said he was proud to be the one flying the flag farthest from Cooktown.

Best known around Cape York as a musician, Mr Watkin laughed when asked to describe how he saw himself professionally.

“I’ve got a bit of a motto up here when they ask what I do, and it’s ‘I do whatever it takes’,” he explained after announcing his candidacy last week.

“You need to be multiskilled to live in a place up here like this.”

With the Cook Shire local government electorate – the biggest in the state by area – covering 106,000 square kilometres, Mr Watkin said while he acknowledged the representation issues associated with the tyranny of distance, he believed successive terms of the council had failed those who called the far north-eastern part of it home.

“The biggest thing for me on council will be being a voice for this part of Cook Shire,” he said.

“We just need a voice up here to go to local government, and to tell them ‘this is what the people of Cape York need’.”

READ ALSO Cook Shire mayor calls time on 20 years of community representation

Mr Watkin went on the offensive when asked what he believed the key issues were for remote Cook Shire residents, citing economic stimulation and completing the seal of the Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR).

“We virtually become a separate continent up here during the wet season,” he told Cape York Weekly.

“It’s just a ludicrous situation.

“[The PDR] is the main arterial where people are making a living, and they’re suffering because of the lack of infrastructure through one of the biggest shires in Australia.

“Let’s just get the bastard sealed; it’s either cut off, or the other months, its totally unacceptable for most parts.”

Mr Watkin said he “absolutely” believed the state of the PDR, and a lack of focus by the council on regions beyond Cooktown were hurting remote businesses and residents.

“We do need development up here,” he said.

“At the moment, we’re not progressing, we’re regressing.

“We’re residents, we’re taxpayers, and we’re ratepayers, even though there aren’t that many of us.

“We need someone who actually understands the issues up here; it’s pointless having representation from someone who doesn’t actually live up here, and doesn’t understand what it’s actually like living up here.”

With consulting experts and working groups par for the course in government in 2024, Mr Watkin said his leadership approach, if successful when voters go to the polls next month, would be to bring local knowledge to the decision-making table.

“You want someone on council who’s got an interest and wanting to get involved, because the decisions will impact us, and you have to be invested,” he explained.

“I’m trying to short-circuit all the bureaucracy by just [getting the council and governments] to ask locals.

“Just ask the locals; we know where the roads wash out [and] we know the black spots.”


Order as per Electoral Commission of Queensland candidate nomination listing

MOESSNER, Walter Anthony
MORRIS, Marilyn Joyce
WATKIN, Jayson
DEAR, Gavin
HOOK, Stephanie Patrea
FENG, Hongyu
PARKER, Melinda

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