Candidates reveal: What are the biggest local govt issues
AS THE Gladstone Regional Council election campaign heats up, The Observer has asked every candidate what they think are the most important issues facing local government.
Common responses included maintaining the region's roads and facilities, the importance of job creation, and the need to lobby for funding from different levels of government, while also stressing the importance of proper financial mamangement.
Here are the mayoral and council candidates' reponses, in ballot order.
Supporting our local economy, local business and attracting job-creating industries to the region is what I do every day. A number of small projects and major projects are either under construction, approved, under EIS or in the final investment decision phase. Ensuring our community receives its fair share of state and federal funding has always been my priority. I have an excellent working relationship with governments. Every dollar returned to our community from higher levels of government allows us to continue to provide services and infrastructure.
The local government should concern itself with local government. To address this they should be working and concentrating on local government issues.
Top priority is paying down council debt to reduce interest currently owed. Consult with health professionals and lobby all levels of government to fund services to address the mental health issues, youth suicide and the associated problems in our community. Recycling - can we do it better? Driver awareness and education on how to navigate roundabouts in our region to reduce driver frustration - not exactly a local government issue but an issue that affects us all. The council needs to be proactive in lobbying all levels of government to improve the local health services in our region.
Maintenance of roads and public areas. Roads are the most important matter as they affect user safety, and the matter of speed is involved. Roads need to be maintained as solid, smooth surfaces, with edges cleared of overgrown vegetation. This aids visibility of oncoming traffic. I have heard from many citizens that they have voiced concerns about unsafe roads in their area, so listening to them would be a cost-effective means to identify where work is immediately needed.
Attractive and welcoming public areas, including parks and footpaths, enhance liveability.
Appropriation of budget directed to careful spending and eliminating wasteful spending. This can be achieved by efficient management, costs and appropriate planning.
I would be seeking to push on developments of infrastructure, aged care facilities and retirement villages for retention of our elderly.
Also, due to the decline in population I would greatly support attracting more people to reside in Gladstone.
I would advocate and lobby for more funding from upper tiers of government for continued development and growth of the region.
Making sure the issues are addressed in a timely manner and that the community have their say on issues, I am driven by what the community have expressed. The continuation of council's vision and the continuation of the project set out in the "long-term financial plan".
Maximum council support for advancing projects that will provide sustainable growth and employment, including bringing the Inland Rail to the Port of Gladstone. The long term work opportunities to locals will be enormous, it will not be boom and bust. With respect to retirees leaving Gladstone, we need Philip Street other Retirement Village and Aged care providers to present proposals. We have to stop our retirees from being forced to vacate Gladstone, which ultimately leads to the children and grandchildren following then never coming back.
My aim is to enhance and bring new ideas to an already vibrant council. I would like to see council working with local small businesses, acting as a mentor or big brother helping the businesses grow and prosper.
Keeping rates increases below inflation for this term by focusing on core services and increasing efficiencies. Reviewing policies to give locals a fairer chance of securing council work. The community should be included in the review process. Increasing apprenticeships and traineeships in council by ensuring new or replacement positions consider trainees/apprentices. Advocating for state and federal funding by building relationships. Supporting tourism, business, agriculture, youth, aged care, and sport and recreation initiatives. Reviewing council's long-term financial plan.
I'm concerned about the shifting of responsibility from elected councillors towards the corporate side. For example, a change made in July 2018 means projects under a threshold of $500,000 within council's budget can be authorised by the CEO, up from its previous limit of $200,000. This limits council's ability to represent the people of the region. Council could pass a motion to reduce the threshold back down to $200,000. I'm also driven to help improve youth engagement. Council should continue to support its Youth Council.
I'm working hard to help the region's most important asset, our people. I take pride in the work our people have been doing. I'm focussed on families, arts & culture, youth development, disability & health services, aged care, sports & recreation, road safety & development, and community wellbeing.
I am experienced, excited and energised that there is more to be done. I will continue to be a strong voice of common sense for our region; the wellbeing, the safety, the community spirit, and the liveability of our city, towns and rural areas.
Flood-proofing the access to the Discovery Coast, creating the Boyne Valley Rail Trail and planning and commencing a public pool at Tannum Sands for its 11,000-plus residents. All of these drive economic growth and community wellbeing. The flood-prone roads to Discovery Coast need to be raised or works done to allow water to run off quicker. The rail trail needs government funding to make bridges and crossings safe, and then most of the issues are fixed. Government funding would be needed to construct the Tannum pool, with the council to take on management or outsource it.
The long-term vision and strategic planning for our region. Our industry and port are our heart, and the arteries that flow from that must include economic development, roads, aged care, health, tourism, our environment, social services and jobs. These arteries are integral to the long-term sustainability of our region as a whole and must flow to all outer limbs in our region supporting our rural industries and rural towns. One region, one soul, one goal. To be inclusive, respectful and the economic powerhouse of the nation. Ongoing lobbying submissions and collaboration are the keys to success.
Community safety, rates, library services, town plan, conservation policy, cemeteries, road maintenance & gravel roads, advertising spending policy, community hall subsidy, disaster management, community facilities, staff & work programs management, aged care facilities, the Port Access Road, health services, public transport.
Taking on the role of councillor is not a volunteer position and requires real understanding of the limitations and responsibilities. Most local government decisions are guided by state- mandated legislation, making the process a case of rubber- stamping proposals or going to court. Then there are the times when councillors make decisions on behalf of all of us. This may require placing the community's health and wellbeing above personnel interest or political gain. Recommendations put forth by experts, representing our science and medical fraternity, need to be listened to and acted on.
I have been out listening to Gladstone region residents to ensure I can be the voice of their concerns. The following issues resonated with me:
• Increasing youth engagement to retain the next generation
• Community development throughout the whole region
• Increasing visitor numbers, length of stay and expenditure
• Aged care and retirement living.
I believe improved strategic and cost-efficient planning, collaboration with stakeholders and other levels of government, as well as community engagement, will assist in my priority issues being addressed.
Reducing cost pressures to ratepayers in a world of increasing costs is always at the forefront of my mind. Councillors need to understand all the respective communities within our region have differing needs, and work to plan and deliver those needs. Attracting investment in aged care will be my focus so we can keep seniors in our region. My first wish if I'm returned to council will be to invite aged care/retirement living stakeholders to work with us to identify the barriers to investment in this sector and what council can do to alleviate some of those
These are truly local government issues that council is responsible for: streamlining expenditure using efficiency; reducing the impact of rates; reducing waste to landfill and waste education; attracting big business to the region; disability access; strategic project design and development; local roads. Council will advocate for: the ageing population; aged care accommodation and associated health services; tackling mental health and domestic violence; small business becoming more sustainable; port access road; and infrastructure upgrades to agricultural corridors and inland rail to port.
It is not what issues I am most concerned about, although they will affect me, but what people have said most concerns them. I've alluded to the fact that councils should be involved in the three R's: rates, rubbish and roads. If council concentrates on them, everything should fall into place. Other big issues include attracting investment for aged care facilities and reducing landfill by looking at alternatives, including a cost analysis of a high-temp waste-burning furnace that can also produce power. After the last year, a fire-management plan should be considered.
Rates are an important issue for all ratepayers and we need to reduce the increases. Mental health and domestic violence - what can council do to assist in improvements to these areas. Parking for travelling caravans - if there is nowhere to park they will not come in. More needs to be done with the disabled and aged care in the region, and local business should be a priority for council. If I am voted in I would be very keen to work with other councillors on ways of improving these areas. It won't happen overnight and we could start with reducing wasteful spending and red tape.
Lorraine 'Lori' May
It's important that local government works towards building and maintaining an inclusive community that identifies the needs of all our residents including our aged, those living with a disability, and more remote regional residents. It's important to support not-for-profit groups that not only make for vibrant, healthy, resilient communities but contribute hugely to local economies with state and federal grant-funded projects. We must have community meetings, focus groups, surveys and online engagement. I place high importance on councillors personally connecting with our diverse region.
Responsibilities key to our local government include effective asset management, community inclusiveness and adequate and fair service delivery. If elected I look forward to working hard to deliver our capital works program to maintain roads, facilities and water assets in top condition to face the challenges of today. In addition, I will focus on improving our current facilities such as beaches and park assets, youth activities and advocacy for aged care. These issues can be addressed with effective, financially smart and honest leadership and a council that is in constant touch with its residents.
Kyle 'Ocka' Beale
I am committed to the long-term prosperity of the local region and its people. To do this we must plan today for tomorrow. Long-term planning is vital to address what has been the cyclical nature of the Gladstone economy which, while delivering great opportunities, has also hurt locals in the slower times. Planning and delivery are vital. As the level of government closest to the people, council can proactively work with locals to ensure services and infrastructure are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner. We can also plan for long-term growth that will deliver jobs and apprenticeships.