Councillor candidates reveal their key issues: Part one

CANDIDATES’ RESPONSES: PART ONE

Howard Salkow

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Councillor candidates part one features four of the candidates running at the local election, Peter Mckeown, Lisa Scomazzon, Abigail Noli, and Kym Rowley.
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Councillor candidates in the 28 March Local Government election will be focusing on a range of issues ranging from greater transparency, water infrastructure, growing the economy, rates and basic services in their quest to capture one of four positions in Council Chambers.

And to better understand what each candidate stands for, their motivation for running and their major platform issues, Newsport has invited them to elaborate on why they are seeking office. This is being done in a two-part series with this article featuring four candidates. The other candidates will follow in the final part of the series.   


1. INCUMBENT DEPUTY MAYOR AND COUNCILLOR ABIGAIL NOLI


i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

As I was born here, I have a great desire to give back to the community that has supported me all my life.

In addition, I know the challenges that growing up and living here are. Because of this I wish to work through the challenges and systematically improve the value and quality of life for the people and communities of Douglas.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

The better that I come to understand this position, the more difficult it becomes to answer this question.

A councillor must be able to keep their eye on the overall long-term strategy while maintaining control over topical issues that pop up along the way. An example would be that four years ago there wasn’t the urgency of water security, but this year there is. Safe drinking water is important so that is an example of an issue that needs to be prioritised accordingly.

However, for me, I believe that one goal would be over the next term is to look internally and scrutinise ourselves; meaning Council must consider continual operational improvement. This may mean decreasing excess bureaucracy, streamlining internal work practices, improving service delivery and its efficiencies and continual customer interaction improvement.

Another very important goal for me over the course of the next term is to see to fruition the vast array of projects that I have been part of starting. To date, there is an assortment of initiatives that vary in degrees of completion. I want to see them finished to the standards or desires that I know the public wants – and I know because I have been part of these projects and initiatives from the beginning.  

2. LISA SCOMAZZON 

i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

It’s time for the Douglas to take a different direction. It’s time for open and transparent Council operations and decision making for everyone’s future.

It’s time to come together as a whole under the genuine umbrella of Douglas Shire Council.

Roads, rubbish, parks and basic services need to be DSC’s daily tasks, then we can genuinely promote this Shire as “clean-green”.

While we have a Daintree that lacks rubbish bins and world quality facilities we are not delivering such basics.

Our parks and areas of beauty need tidying up and made welcoming for all, not just for visitors but inclusive of all who live here.

Delivery of basic services for our youth from bus shelters to broader sports and most importantly for our founders of this Shire: the elderly. The current Council has lost sight of most core responsibilities, evidenced by the state of both our roads and parks and the lack of basic infrastructures despite ever increasing Council rates. Rates which post de-amalgamation were not to increase above CPI, but have.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

1. Council Transparency – only have closed door meetings for meetings designated such under the LGA.

Cease consultation with minority groups that secretly influence core plans for this Shire. Decisions on big ticketed budget items need to be in openness with the whole constituent.

2. Shire inclusion- bringing us all under one umbrella to ensure that rates are spent openly and appropriately across the entire Shire.

3. Water Security – I would like to focus on extra water catchment initiatives for the whole Shire attracting fresh alternatives to genuinely deliver security of water supplies for all forever including future developments beyond the current 72 hour vision.

4. I will be supporting the Shire with any initiative that reduces reliance on fossil fuels, ensuring greener, cleaner solutions for both tourism and our northern residents. I want to influence the delivery of other basic services starved north of the Daintree River such as road upgrades and a regular rubbish collection.

5. The visual pride of our Shire in general is a priority. Our parks need a makeover and regular maintenance such as replanting, mowing and cleaning up the graffiti and rubbish. The overdue Daintree Gateway overhaul can possibly even be achieved through the profitable ferry fund, if it remains legal to make a profit from this essential service.

3. Kym Rowley

i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

I believe that Council has lost its way and has been too focused on matters that, yes should be looked at, but only after the basic council issues have been addressed. The turning point for my decision was some two or three years ago when Council would not consider the Retirement Village/Resort on the western side of the Captain Cook Highway as it did not comply with the Town Plan.

The needs and the benefits of the Shire should have been enough for consideration and possible approval.

It would have created employment, spending and most of all provided facilities for those who do not want to leave the Shire as they grow older. The anti-development stance taken by our Council is not good for property owners, residents or businesses.

There needs to be a balance between the needs of the Shire and environmental issues that front us for the Shire to go forward. The neglect of our roads, paths, etc., continues. The lack of transparency and communication; especially the dealings with Qantas and the purchase of the land.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

1. Basic Services – first and foremost Council needs to get back to what Councils are all about: providing basic services, maintenance and improvement of Council infrastructure, etc. We also need to investigate our future needs.

2. Complete Review of Funding of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree – I feel TPDD has become an arm of Council and has been heavily influenced by our current Mayor who is also a Board Member. When you look back at the Qantas fiasco and then the land purchase for carbon credits, TPDD was telling us how good this was and how it would attract tourists, which was exactly what the Mayor was telling us. I support the funding of TPDD. However, a complete review needs to be undertaken of the organisation.

3. Bus Service – the possibility of a subsidised Bus Service linking all parts of the shire, which would have several major benefits for businesses, allowing those people without transport a means of getting around, which would reduce carbon.

4. Infrastructure Requirements – I believe that not only our water supply is in a major need of maintenance/upgrade but also our sewage, roads, footpaths, etc. Due to our Council concentrating on having a balanced budget these items have been neglected and require urgent repairs/upgrade, which unfortunately will fall to the incoming Council. We currently do not have the infrastructure to cope with our current population let alone any future increases. Council must investigate future infrastructure needs to ensure that we have a secure future.

5. Review of Town Plan – The current Town Plan, which I believe was heavily influenced by DSSG, not a complete review as it has been found to be too restrictive and difficult to override when required. I am not for open development, but a Town Plan should give Council the opportunity to approve selected developments if it benefits the Shire.

4. PETER McKEOWN

i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

I am putting my hand up for election as I believe we need sustainable growth and would work with other elected candidates to get this going in the right direction. I have been in the Douglas Shire for 35 years and in various businesses in the shire for 30-plus years.

In the last five years, our Council rates and costs have increased by 28.1%; double that of any shire in the northern regions of Queensland. Yet, we don’t seem to have a lot to show for it.

Our water infrastructure has so many leaks, that in a recent survey it was quoted that we are using four times the water per household than that of the people in Brisbane, which is ridiculous. We suffer water restrictions, fines for excessive water costs and are surrounded by World Heritage.

And what of the other infrastructure? Where have the rates gone and how are we suffering a $11.4m financial debt over the past five years? According to the current Council, we are heading for our first year since de-amalgamation of a positive balance sheet. Great, but according to those same plans, we will achieve this by increasing the rates this year by three per cent and spending $2m or 17% less on infrastructure than what was spent per year over the past three years. Not what I would call a positive strategy for growth.

Investors and prospective new business owners do not have confidence in growth or prosperity in the Douglas Shire.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

1. Transparent and consultative council that will involve ratepayers and residents in decision making. (No longer will we allow a handful of people to make significant financial decisions without first consulting with ratepayers. Council investments need to be in the interest of all our residents and generate employment for our local people rather than being contracted out to those from outside our region.)

2. Encourage and develop economic strategies to create sustainable development and employment. (Only then can we further invest in developing sustainable employment opportunities so that our children have somewhere to live and grow.)

3. Water security and infrastructure.

4. Improve the provision of basic services that Council provides.


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