It's hard to be country on urban-dominated council: Pahlke
THEY say it ain't easy being green but David Pahlke says when it comes to being on Ipswich City Council, it's hard to be country.
Cr Pahlke looks after the biggest council division by area and his argument is it is treated as the poor cousin by the urban-dominated council.
His division includes parts of Yamanto but it's largely farming areas where many residents have to settle for unsealed roads.
"It's not easy being a country councillor in a city council," he said.
"We can find $13 million for Robelle Domain but can't find $100,000 for road funding in my area.
"I'm 70% of the area and division 10 is going to get bigger next election."
By comparison, the inner-city division seven takes up only one per cent of the council area.
"I get no extra resources because of it; I get no extra road funding yet I've got all the gravel roads," Cr Pahlke said.
"When they put in for government funding it's the Norman Street Bridge - $300 million - it's the performing arts centre - $90 million.
"My residents say, 'You can afford to do that, why can't you bitumen my road?
"I'm in my 25th year as a councillor and I find that's my biggest issue; and time and distance.
"I get a new car every 10 months - they sell them at 40,000km - because I clock up so much mileage."
Cr Pahlke has built a reputation in council committee meetings for butting heads with the other councillors and council officers.
He says there's no malice involved but he gets frustrated trying to get his voice heard over the urban noise around him.
"Behind the scenes we all get along really well but if I want a gravel road I know they're not listening; I've got 80% of the gravel roads in my division," he said.
"So when the Mayor, in his 2012 election campaign, promised to kerb and channel the city, I said: 'Paul, that's not my priority. Mine is flooding and gravel roads - and footpaths and parks.'"
The pledge to channel council money into roadside works made a big difference to all councillors.
"We used to get $1.2 million a year divisionally - and that saves a lot of arguments - to spend as we want," he said. "It's now $600,000. They took $600,000 out and put it towards kerbing and channelling."
But again, he said, the country/city divide came into play with city people's wish lists contrasting with rural folk's simple tastes.
"Division two is going to get $60 million of kerb and channelling and I'm going to get $30 million. So where's the equity?" Cr Pahlke said.
"Ipswich central subsidises the rural areas but the rural areas aren't looking for performing arts centres, all they want is basically a road to drive on.
"That's the number one service. Most of them don't even want wheelie bins.
"Springfield already has roads and footpaths so they start looking for feel-good stuff like Robelle Domain."