Anyone who casts their eyes over these pages might be tempted to wonder why, apart from the odd letter to the Editor of the Bowen Independent, I haven’t been at the forefront of discussions about community matters in the past.

Actually, if it wasn’t for a belief that issues starting to emerge need to be talked about, I probably wouldn’t be doing this now.

Frankly, I don’t need another obsession, my interests tend to be specific rather than general, and I don’t like knocking on doors, asking for donations and most of the other stuff that goes with local politics.

At the start of 1984 I was sitting in Townsville, surplus to requirements at a school where the enrolment had dropped by about a quarter and wondering where I was bound.

It could have been anywhere, but it ended up being Bowen.

I arrived towards the end of the boom years that went with the initial construction at Abbot Point and I’ve been here ever since.

I liked the place the way it was then, but I’m realistic enough to accept that it isn’t going to stay that way.

We’re bound to see discussion about all sorts of matters over the next couple of years, and the last thing I’m interested in is an examination of the issues involved with industrial development at Abbot Point. As far as I can see, significant development out that way is inevitable.

If, for some reason, that development doesn’t go ahead, perhaps some of my concerns may not apply any more.

If it does go ahead, there’s one issue I’m very worried by.

If the town’s population is going to double or treble over the next quarter of a century, what are the implications for the current downtown area, which is a short walk from where I live?

In attempting to figure that out, I’ve done some crystal-ball-gazing and taken the liberty of making a few observations about what happened in the past.

If there are other issues that I seem to have missed, perhaps they lie outside the pretty limited parameters I’ve set myself, namely:

Assuming this development takes place, what sort of place will the portion of the old Bowen Shire that lies along the highway be?

Where will he extra people live?

Where will they work? Where will they shop?

What areas of open public space will they be able to access?

How will they travel between those places?