We need arts, not developers

Michael Melling wants a different future for Ipswich.
Michael Melling wants a different future for Ipswich. Claudia Baxter

COUNCIL candidate Michael Melling wants to shift Ipswich's focus from development and turn towards the arts and multiculturalism.

Mr Melling is contesting Division 5 in the election despite living in Division 7 and running a business there with his wife.

But after growing up in East Ipswich, part of which is in Division 5, he says the issues he advocates go beyond divisional boundaries.

"Ipswich has an amazing multicultural community and a thriving arts community. A lot of people are scared about what is going to happen to the arts community under Campbell Newman," Mr Melling said.

"Ipswich's future must focus on the arts and multiculturalism.

"As far as development goes, a lot of people are concerned about development for development's sake."

Having a shop in Division 7, he said he "didn't want to have any perceived conflict of interest" by running against Cr Andrew Antoniolli.

"So Division 5 was the logical choice. I grew up in the area and know the area," he said. "I've had people from across the city saying, 'Why don't you run for my division; I'd vote for you'."

Once he decided to run for council, he set out to gauge the mood of the division that sits on either side of the Warrego Hwy.

"Once I hit the ground in December, I walked every street in every suburb to ascertain what people felt, what their needs were, what their hopes were," he said.

"A lot of people who live on the Karalee side are very angry and frustrated and upset with their representation. I think Ipswich like the rest of the state is ready to embrace change."

Current Division 5 councillor Heather Morrow said there was nothing wrong with promoting the arts, but councillors needed a wider perspective.

"I respect Michael's views; I have absolutely no animosity towards Michael at all. It's a democracy and I welcome him as a candidate. I just think that experience shows that Ipswich is not just one aspect. You have to have a broad view and cater for everybody," she said.

Cr Morrow also argued it was important to live in the division a councillor represented and she stood by her record of representing her community.

"I'm a long-term resident of the area, I've reared a family here and I believe I have the knowledge of what the area needs to progress," she said.

"I believe my strengths are that I am dependable, I'm committed to the area and I have given a true honest representation over the past 12 years and I'm asking the community to again support me.

"I've worked very closely and been very supportive of community groups and have a wonderful working relationship with the community. I'm not one of the Dave Pahlkes of the world. I'm not flamboyant. I don't seek publicity. I work for my community."

Topics:  arts michael melling multiculturalism

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