Councillor candidates reveal their key issues: Part two

CANDIDATES’ RESPONSES: PART TWO

Karlie Brady

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Councillor candidates part two features five of the candidates running at the local election; (top) Bruce Clarke and Steve Cruickshank, (bottom) Natalie Johnson, Roy Zammataro.
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Douglas Shire Councillor candidates in the 28 March Local Government election will be focusing on a range of issues including water security, development, economic growth, transparency, and rates in their quest to capture one of four positions in Council Chambers.

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, their responses are below. This is the second article in a two-part series featuring five of the nine candidates.

1. TERRY MELCHERT

i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

I had not intended to stand in the 2020 election however after seeing the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Council’s report (FNQROC), a group of 13 northern Councils of which Douglas is a member, detailing reducing business activity in the Shire and extraordinary increases in rates and charges, as well as recognising the impact of the terrible bushfires and the coronavirus are having on tourism across Australia, I have accepted encouragement from community members and business owners across the Shire to stand for election in 2020.

If elected, I will put the interests and wishes of people and businesses in the Shire first and foremost, and work towards re-establishing a vibrant economy which delivers employment and certainty of business opportunity.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

  • Working towards stabilising rate and charge increases so they are set equal to or below the posted rate of inflation.

  • Use the skills I have acquired in managing municipal water supplies to ensure the Shire’s water supply is returned to full supply without stringent water restrictions.

  • Encourage a Public Places Greening Program so that the entries to Port Douglas, Mossman and other community areas, and sporting grounds and parks are kept green and properly maintained for the whole year. This can be readily achieved utilising a reinvigorated water supply, through the use of recycled water and the installation of irrigation systems to carefully manage water use.

  • Encourage sustainable development, and redevelopment within the context of the Planning Scheme to promote the reinvigoration of the Shire both in terms of aesthetics and business activity. In this regard, I will work hard to secure interest in the redevelopment of the Marina and the development of a fully serviced retirement village.

  • Work with the community in developing the needs and aspirations of the people rather than being guided by self-interest groups.

  • Encourage truly transparent governance through an open meeting policy, the full release of the Queensland Audit Office report on Council activities each year, and the urgent re-establishment of a community based internal audit committee.

  • Work with the community in developing strategies which reduce the carbon footprint of the Shire without threats to jobs, the financial stability of the Council or the need to retain rate and charge increases at or below inflation.

  • Support the delivery of renewable electricity in a sustainable manner for the area north of the Daintree River, and encourage a review of this pilot system to determine whether the renewable energy model could be extended Shire wide.


STEVE CRUICKSHANK

i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

My main reason to run for Council was the issue over the Carbon Credit purchase.
I went along to the open meeting on the day and was aghast at how there was a stacked deck of cards with the majority of the councillors being in cahoots with one another with only Michael Kerr standing against the proposal.

There was no consultation from the members of the public that were at the meeting on the day. We were gagged as it was from asking questions or submitting any form of rhetoric.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

  • Roads - As I drive around the Douglas Shire, I find the roads are really not up to standard and I would really like to see our Shires maintenance crews and council contractors doing the work rather than seeing our rates money going to bolster another Shires economy.

  • Rates - Being a ratepayer for the past 19 years and seeing rates rise slowly over the years was really no concern until in recent years they have skyrocketed. I was always under the illusion that the current Council would only raise rates in line with inflation. I would look at reducing rates to a sustainable level right across the Shire because at the moment we all have rate pain.

  • Rubbish - The amount of rubbish that we generate is shocking. Let’s get passionate about keeping our Shire clean and tidy. I think we could adopt a system like in various other countries, where we do the sorting into different coloured bins, i.e. all glass and tin in one bin, all plastic and cardboard in one bin, all food waste and compostable material in one bin and all green waste in another bin with only the food waste bins being collected weekly.

  • Recreation – I think we need to make our shire more user-friendly for families with more activities available for everyone. A recreation area like Muddies in Cairns would be a good start or a smaller version of the proposed lagoon would be suitable, I think.

  • Reservoirs - With the Douglas Shire growing at a steady rate, I feel we should address the problem of water supply for everyone, all year round. The Dept. of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy have already initiated a paper called Regional Water Supply Security Assessment in 2018 with a projected date our water supply will reach its capacity from Rex Creek around 2026 in Mossman and 2040 in Little Falls creek in Whyanbeel. What's being done about it now? We need to start looking at building a decent reservoir to supply all our Shire well into the 21st Century and beyond.

NATALIE JOHNSON

i) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

I have wanted to serve the public for much of my adult life. It is only now, having lived in the Douglas Shire for 20 years, marketed a successful local tourism business for 16 years and managed it for seven, and enjoyed raising a family in the region, I feel I have the broad experience necessary to represent a diverse population. We live in the best place on earth and I am motivated by the desire to continue ensuring it remains that way, believing my experience, passion, drive, and strong work ethic will contribute to securing that.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

  • Business - Douglas Shire, although heavily reliant on tourism, is not just about tourism. We must support local businesses through the provision of roads, waste and streetscape services coupled with a business-friendly attitude and streamlined administrative process. Additionally, prioritising the economic development of private assets in the public interest - Mossman Mill, Botanical gardens, Crystalbrook Marina and new agricultural opportunities to promote a diverse and thriving economy is paramount.

  • Tourism - We must continue to differentiate ourselves from other destinations and market our region as a premier and eco-certified destination. Ensuring private tourism businesses are supported through basic council functions including maintenance of local roads and paths, public health, exceptional streetscapes, continued support for new tourism offerings, walking and biking tracks, Indigenous, Agri, wellness and ecotourism together with our flagship reef and rainforest experiences will establish Douglas as having the most diverse and unique offering in Australia.

  • Families - Ensuring solid delivery of basic services to our Shire through the regular maintenance of parks and playing fields, cost-effective waste services, library services, the installation and upgrading of equipment suited to our tropical lifestyle and multi-age child demographic including a children’s water play facility, teenage friendly equipment (half courts, pump tracks), fitness equipment, water stations, seating, shelters and barbecues together with the continued offering of community services and grant-funded activities for all residents fosters positive social interaction, health and strong families.

  • Water - Water security is on everyone’s mind given our rapidly changing climate conditions. The creation of a circular water economy is paramount to limit waste of this precious resource. Increased use of recycled water, lobbying the State for access to the home Water Tank rebate scheme, continuation of a solid maintenance program, increased education and the potential creation of a leisure-based water storage facility are all opportunities to be considered.

  • Communication - Communicating with approximately 11,700 residents is challenging. For those seeking more consultation, the introduction of new engagement strategies including mobile and/or rotating meeting times and targeted email notifications of consultation opportunities combined with continued social media and weekly updates in the media and the possibility of introducing Councillor portfolios similar to the State and Federal System are all on the table. Ultimately, face to face is the best way to communicate, so I will be visual in the Shire and participate in as many diverse community activities as possible, ensuring I am accessible, approachable and available to listen.

BRUCE CLARKE

ii) What is your motivation for running for Councillor?

Bruce Clarke has decided it is time to stand for election once again as he feels he has a lot to offer the Shire in experience, common sense, and a conservative attitude.

He served in the first Council following de-amalgamation with Cairns – 2014-2015 and part of 2016 – and but felt it was not enough time to give back to the Shire.

ii) What are your main Platform issues?

  • Increase in residential housing - There are a lot of people who would like to come to live in Douglas Shire. The biggest obstacle in their way is the lack of residential properties available. An increase in residential housing increases our growth rate, increases our ratepayer base, and stimulates businesses.

  • Upgrade of water treatment plant - The plant itself is not the problem. The problem is the intake, which can't deliver enough water to the plant for the Shire's normal daily use. A permanent solution is to source another appropriate intake supply.

  • Upgrade of sewerage treatment plant - The Port Douglas Sewerage Treatment Plant has only a very short time before it reaches maximum working capability. The only way through this problem is to either, upgrade the existing Port Douglas Plant or build a new Plant at another appropriate location.

  • Extensive public consultation - All major decisions should be made with extensive consultation with the residents and ratepayers of the Shire.

  • Urban road network - The Urban Road Network is an essential part of the Shire's access to all properties throughout the Shire. Constant maintenance on these roads is a must in order to keep up the reliability of clear road transport in all locations at all times.

  • Lagoon - A project that will happen but will have to be put on hold for a few years until the Shire's Economy increases to a stage where construction and ongoing maintenance costs are affordable. In spite of all the advantages and disadvantages of a lagoon, it is quite an achievable project for us which requires patience, a little time, and most of all common sense.

  • Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce - Around 80% of the Shire's income is from Tourism. Tourism has declined Australia wide, however, we should not use the national decline as the total excuse for the decline in the Shire. We must stay in the loop with tourism organisations so as to get the up to date information on where their efforts are being targeted to catch as much of this decreased market as possible. The downturn in tourism also very much affects business in the Shire. The Chamber of Commerce then becomes a very important advisory organisation to the Council. Council should have automatic grant funding each year in the budget, as has been done in the past, to help the Chamber of Commerce. They are then charged with the task of advising the Council as to the rise and fall of business in the Shire so the Council can direct appropriate funding in the right direction.

  • Environment - We are all environmentalists as none of us want to destroy the place we have chosen to live. Moderate residential housing and the environment can go hand in hand. We can't throw a noose around the Shire and tighten it up so that no more people are able to move to the Shire. One of the most natural environmental activities is for new homeowners to landscape their new surroundings by planting trees and gardens on their new property. People who still own vacant blocks north of the Daintree River should be given their building rights back. They would then be able to plant Rainforest species trees on the remainder of the block around their house.

  • Sports - We are lucky to have so many top sportsmen and women in the Shire. These sporting clubs and athletes must be recognised at all times, as the sporting events that are held in Douglas Shire attract athletes from around the world. These events all add to the Shire's economy. It is so good to see that the sporting clubs in Douglas Shire all have junior clubs as well. We must make sure that this continues.

ROY ZAMMATARO

Incumbent Councillor Roy Zammataro is re-contesting his position in 2020. He was contacted for comment but was unavailable.


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