Responses to Fraser Coast Chronicle questions:

Q. What are you most proud of in your role as a public figure and member of the Fraser Coast community? 

A. Being in a position to consult and represent people across the entire Fraser Coast who haven’t had a voice would be at the top of a long list of achievements. I am proud of all the people who believe strongly in the right outcomes and sought my support through community advocacy. Together we protected Pialba Memorial Hall and Maryborough Original Township Site, we had council meetings live-streamed, mobility beach mats purchased, Cenotaph State Heritage listed, formed partnerships with all levels of government and community groups are among some of the great outcomes we have achieved. I have coordinated, organised, participated and attended many events, forums and alike. More recently in the #water4life campaign in Maryborough and asking the Government not to frack the Fraser Coast. Water security is paramount.

Q. In the past you have run as a candidate in various elections – why do you continue to put your hat in the ring and what do you think is different this time around?

A. I am driven by my passion for people. I am serious about change and I must stand in the elections to achieve this. Elections stretch access and connectivity to more people, providing a community driven vision. The difference this time is people are seeing my commitment in following through and not disappearing in between elections. Daily service to the people across the entire Fraser Coast and beyond creates awareness and education, strengthening trust.

Q. What new ideas would you bring to the council which have not previously discussed or promised in earlier election campaigns (given those platforms have not been enough to get you over the line)? 

A. We are right in the middle of a food bowl, by 2050, 9 billion people will be wanting to be fed, we should be tapping into this right now. I support our commercial fishing industry and believe there is room for recreational fishing also, but both must be subjected to the same legislation. We need infrastructure that complements sustainable industries that value add across many portfolios. Decentralisation of government departments would be welcomed here.We are right in the middle of a food bowl, by 2050, 9 billion people will be wanting to be fed, we should be tapping into this right now. I support our commercial fishing industry and believe there is room for recreational fishing also, but both must be subjected to the same legislation. We need infrastructure that complements sustainable industries that value add across many portfolios. Decentralisation of government departments would be welcomed here.

Q. For Ms Dean, you have been a vocal supporter of Chris Loft. If elected, how will you go about working alongside councillors who might now share your view?

A. There is so much unrest in council chamber, with current councillors not getting along. I will not engage in the rot and abide by the Local Government Act. If we follow this, we will work alongside each other on any matter. All decisions must be informed and in-line with the wishes and expectations of the people that elected them.

Q. We are running a story on preferences for this by-election for the paper tomorrow and online. With that in mind, I would like to know who you will be preferencing in this by-election and why.

A. I will not be preferencing any candidate. I’m telling people to Vote 1 in the second box down. If people want to preference it is entirely up to them, making their own personal choice from undertaking their own research.

Q. Should one of the sitting councillors be elected mayor, do you think it is fair the region go to another by-election to determine a second councillor for the Fraser Coast?

A. There is no provision under Act for this to be an option. Either we have compliance of the Local Government Act or we don’t. If there is a requirement where the seat has to be filled, I support full compliance of the Local Government Act.

Q. Do you think sitting councillors should resign from their position when they contest by-elections? If so, why?

A. Again, we must fully comply with the Local Government Act. If the Act states sitting councillors can contest a by-election then that is; what it is. If people don’t agree with that, then through a consultative approach, the legislation could possibly be amended in the future.

Q. Now, possibly more than ever before, the Fraser Coast community needs a leader who can unify the council and take the region forward. With this in mind, why do you think that you are the leader the region needs, and what qualities do you think you will bring to the role?

Integrity is key. As Mayor I will listen and respond. Listening will be a full-time job when you consider the uncertainty embedded in Local Government and the on-going changes taking place within Council. As Mayor I will ensure each team member of Council is able to thrive and become a contributing member of our Council. No matter the scope of someone’s position, they have the same value as everyone else. If they can’t succeed, we all can’t succeed. If they fail, we all fail. Being a successful leader means recognizing the importance of each member of the team to the whole – then ensuring every single person is not only keeping up but flourishing and growing alongside. All decisions and planning will be transparent to the public, so they are aware of where ratepayer money is being spent with a focus on the entire Fraser Coast.

Q. What procedures/policies could be implemented to ensure councillors properly understand and follow/comply with local government legislation?

A. Councillors must fully comply with the Principles underpinning the Local Government Act. Sections 4 and 12 are Councillor’s job description. All should read this and understand it in its entirety. As Mayor, I will ensure Councillors comprehend and action all practices in regards to the legislation, so everyone is fully aware and know what is required. Breaches in compliance will be noted and addressed immediately. Councillors require interpretation of the impact of legislative changes on council procedures and knowledge of relevant legislation for compliance, internal communication channels, local government structure, staff roles and responsibilities.

Q. Some in the community have raised concerns about the process by which the council’s internal complaints register is handled, claiming it was used to wage a “campaign” against the former mayor Chris Loft – if elected, will you implement any changes to the complaints register?

A. Complaints are an important way for the management of Council to be accountable to the public, as well as providing valuable prompts to review Council performance and the conduct of people that work within and for it. The register needs to identify whether the complainant was internal or external and any complaints made about an executive or management team member to be also included.

An effective complaint handling system provides three key benefits and as Mayor, I would see issues raised by a person are acknowledged in a timely and cost-effective way. Review the information provided with a view that will lead to improvements in service delivery. Where complaints are handled properly, a good system can improve the reputation of Council and strengthen public confidence in administrative processes. Council policies must be adhered to.

Q. Many in the community have repeatedly suggested the council has been divided based on political allegiances and a so-called “voting bloc” among councillors – are you or have you ever been a registered member of any Australian political party in the past?

A. For the Federal Election in 2016 Glenn Lazarus approached me to join his party with all the rights of an Independent; this provided a bigger platform and opportunities to network further afield and speak of the issues that affect us all. This was a three-week campaign.

Looking at the scathing CPEM report regarding bullying and acknowledgement of failure to meet basic legislation. The Report highlighted the problem did not start or end with the previous CEO, it was justifiably chastising of the Councillors, Executive and Management Team. Look at which Councillors voted to keep the previous CEO after multiple non-compliance matters. While the findings reinforce a State Government report, they go further to identify “councillor behaviour of in-fighting, political game playing” and “significant risk around psychological safety across the organisation” and many other issues. These problems are not in dispute. No matter what you read, they are not working together. Which Councillors as reported in the paper are meeting with the ex-CEO while there is a current $3 million court case against them? Playing more games with ratepayer money?

As an Independent my focus is on serving the people of the Fraser Coast and aim to stay that way. It is fair comment from community suggesting Council is divided. It is more divided than it ever was and in many people’s eyes far worse since the release of these reports. 

Q. What assurances can you give to voters that political preferences will play no part in your mayoral campaign or term as mayor if you are elected?

A. This is a statement of fact – I am here to serve, the residents are my priority. There is no room for party politics in Local Government. I will serve the people, with full compliance and abide by the 5 Principles underpinning the Local Government Act. I am completely self funded and do not accept gifts or donations. I am beholding to no-one other than the people I serve.

Q. Throughout the past two years the council has been plagued by disharmony and infighting – how do you plan to address this if you are elected?

A. As Mayor I will be enacting a clean slate practice. All previous behaviour and actions that have hindered the Fraser Coast in the past will be forgotten; however that also means that there will be a zero tolerance practice where anyone breaking the law, acting unethically or abusing any system will face disciplinary action. That is what voting me in will mean. Transparency and community consultation on all local government matters to foster trust and confidence from the community. 

Q. Some in the community have voiced their concerns about the current state of the region’s parks and public spaces and the council’s mowing schedule – if elected, will you make any changes to current policy on up-keeping in public spaces?

A. The concept of regeneration is meaningless unless someone identifies what was there before. The critical term is “BALANCE” between the practical amenity of the area and environmental sensitivity.

One ratepayer has waited 40 years to have the road graded and still waiting, another 30 years for slashing, plus many areas across the entire Fraser Coast waiting for some action. Do we have a scheduling issue? Do we have sufficient equipment? Do we have sufficient members on the work crews? There certainly is a problem going by the number of complaints I have heard.

Q. What strategies will you implement to improve the region’s roads? Will this include more funding for road projects/improvements or lobbying the State/Federal Governments for assistance with these roads?

A. Local Councils have responsibility for the management of assets like road pavements, kerbs and channels, road shoulders, pathways, bridges, retaining walls, traffic management infrastructure such as roundabouts and speed humps, signs, pavement markings and street furniture such as bollards, seating and bicycle racks; with this in mind the focus must be on prioritising the worst for upgrades and improvements. Work with State Government to join the road from Tin Can Bay to Maryborough value adding to many portfolios. Plan for future parking requirements. Trial a new road with waste products. Lobby State and Federal Government for all the assistance they can on what is required for the Fraser Coast.

Q. If elected, will you implement green waste bin collection on the Fraser Coast?

A. Definitely. Too much recycled rubbish to fit in a fortnight pickup for many households, so some ends up in the general waste bin each week. Council complain about contamination. We need a system that encourages recycling, so weekly pick up of recycled bins would be a great start.

With the Container Deposit Scheme commencing in November 2018 we need to be looking at the employment opportunities this would bring to the Fraser Coast. Further to this with the recent announcement Councils are looking at stopping recycling; so it will go into landfill is going to be very costly. I believe this is a backward step and sets a dangerous benchmark; it comes down to a responsible Council with improved planning. Residents and visitors alike, all play a role. India are building their roads from plastic, is this an opportunity to export?

Q. Will you implement any changes to the current schedule on rubbish collection on the Fraser Coast?

A. Would like to see an introduction of two hard rubbish collections per year. Review Tip Fees. Restrictions on throwing ‘junk mail’ from moving vehicles onto nature strips. Two vouchers with Rates Notice to help stop illegal dumping. Some rural residents are saying they don’t need a recycle bin as they utilise it all on their land and feel they could do without it and get a reduction in their rates. To implement any or all of these and any others that are raised, we must consult community. Recycle bin collected weekly.

Q. If elected, what do you want to implement in your first budget?

A. Removal of $75 Infrastructure Levy Fee – this is what our rates are for. Look at how the base rate was introduced and revert back to cents in the dollar on the value of land. Further to this, it has been proven by the Queensland Ombudsman, Council has charged fake back flow fees back to at least 2008 and are still refusing to refund those ratepayers affected in full. If cat registrations can be refunded then why can’t these fake fees? Not one Councillor has tabled a motion, however, as Mayor, I will table a motion at my first meeting on the refunding of proven fake back flow fees. 

Q. Will you commit to a zero per cent rate rise or a rates rise under the consumer price index in your first budget?

A. There is no need for any increase at all. 80% of ratepayers pay the minimum rate. If we reverted to cents in the dollar 40% of ratepayers would benefit immediately and this would lower their rates. This requires only a slight amendment to the legislation being the only fair way to go.

Q. What will be a major focus in your first budget? (E.g. infrastructure)

A. Vital Infrastructure – instead of beautification, the focus will be on practical application. Ensure compliance of the Local Government Act and validate rates with appropriate motion at Council meeting. 

Q. What is your current stance on the Fraser Coast Sport Precinct in Nikenbah?

A. Because of the controversy, this subject will be settled once and for all by conducting a community poll/referendum. Being the Chief Petitioner against the Sports Precinct, I continue to ask questions. Where’s the Business Plan? Will it go out to community consultation? Has the privately-owned residence been sorted yet that was overlooked by the previous CEO? How will children safely access this site? What benefit is there to the other 91 towns and regional localities across the entire Fraser Coast? 

Q. If elected, what do you plan to do with the development of the Sport Precinct?

A. Dependent upon the outcome of the community poll/referendum. If it is to proceed, full disclosure of the development will be provided to the public with opportunity for community consultation as this particular site has not been to community consultation – this will need to take place. Dual purpose i.e. entertainment centre so all can enjoy not just sports lovers. People came from all across Australia to see John Farnham.

Q. Many in the community have complained about the lack of employment on the Fraser Coast region – how will you bring investment into the region to encourage job growth?

A. Fraser Coast has an abundant amount of untapped resources that have been known to the past council and not acted on. Using these resources jobs will be created.

Q. What are some of the main projects or ideas you would bring to the council that you feel has not been already suggested or proposed?

A. Sustainable New Industries. We are right in the middle of a food bowl. By 2050, 9 billion people will need feeding around the world. We are in a prime location to support our farmers, boost our economy and create employment opportunities for many. All three tiers of Government must support this to bring an unprecedented growth into our area. This growth will open our region to the world and dramatically increase sustainable small to large business opportunities. We need to invest in infrastructure that supports and complements this including transport logistics for trade. 

Industrial Hemp could change the Fraser Coast and many other regions along the south coast including many regional locations across Australia. We could be taking the world monopoly in the market place for these products and we all know our quality and standards are fantastic. Creating jobs, jobs and more jobs in a sustainable industry, value adding to every portfolio.

We should be phasing out plastic and replacing everything hemp, reducing the multi millions of dollars on landfill etc. All this plastic stuff has to go somewhere and will NEVER biodegrade. Uses third less water than sugar, farmers could use as a rotation crop, replacing nutrients lost, build our roads at a third of price and vital infrastructure – little to no maintenance, saving millions on maintenance and easing budget pressures. Fuels, textiles, medicine, the list goes on and let’s not forget the stop of deforestation with 3 crops a year – all things paper.  Effectively start to clean up our planet, protecting #water4life, agricultural land, flora and fauna. Million $ Crop Trillion $ Industry.

Medical Cannabis – People sit and beg for permission to live, to be healthy, to have quality of life, to use a plant that was put on this earth for all to use. How is it possible that we have enabled a society in which the majority of people feel that they have to beg some other human, who happens to wear a suit and live a life of luxury, for permission to do ANYTHING at all?

It is entirely hypocritical that cannabis is not available to treat a multitude of human problems. Cannabis medicine should be made available to all those that may benefit or need them. Cannabis is one of the most valuable natural plant medicines. Good for Glaucoma, epilepsy, asthma, insomnia, eating disorders, muscle spasms, cancer and the list goes on.

Cannabis prohibition is not a drug issue, it’s not even a health issue (well yes it is but…) first and foremost it is a human right’s issue! #FARMacyNOTpharmacy

With a flick of a pen this could be available immediately, pretty much wiping out the black market overnight. It’s only a matter of when, so we need to be the leaders in the market.

Decentralise a Government Department to the Fraser Coast. 

Q. If elected, how will you encourage developers to invest in the Fraser Coast at a time where developments in the region appear to be declining?

A. Developments have been declining outside of Hervey Bay because of the focus on Hervey Bay. By working together to improve the relationship and regain trust from the community,  with a renewed focus on the growing the region, developers will be encouraged to invest in a piece of the massive growth instead of heading to Bundaberg or Gympie. Would like to review developer fees and charges and the incentive scheme. We should be rolling out the red carpet and growing the region. If we implement a new sustainable industry, there will be more than plenty of work for developers.

Responses to Fraser Coast Residents

Sue Brooks: So how do we stop the growing population? Cause too many people is not a good thing.

It was believed that once you reach a population of 100k, would be self sustaining. The fact is Sue no amount of planning can be successful in coping with an endlessly growing population. If all plans aim to accommodate a specific range of population load then further growth renders obsolete both the plans and the costly infrastructure built to deliver them.
A good plan must be implementable, which means it must be affordable. Enough infrastructure for rapid population growth is simply unaffordable. Most regional towns do not have enough reliable water to support significantly larger populations.
Some residents want the growth, where others do. Nor are there competitive options to create sufficient employment.
Very costly government programs in the past have failed to change the distribution of growth and we see this here on the Fraser Coast. i.e. new home purchase scheme for Hervey Bay, yet not for anywhere else. Sue Brooks: Jannean Dean Well,said.

David Christopher: I would like to know a bit more about what type of jobs jobs and more jobs you have stated that can be created as we have a high unemployment rate of non skilled labour and also we have a lot of people with disability s that also want to work.

There should be no reason why employment opportunities are not created with everyone in mind. Everyone has something to contribute. We all have skills or gifts that can be utilised. Whether it be a young person straight out of school, a person with a disability or a daily challenge and we must not forget out elders of excellence who have so much knowledge and experience. The aim is to work out what skill set suits an individual and make it work for them. Inclusive of all.
If we can get this up and running with support from State and Federal Governments and attract private enterprise by ticking all the boxes for them, then their would be little to no need for anyone to be on Newstart. Further to this David, building the appropriate infrastructure to ensure fruition, will create more skill based jobs. David Christopher Well that sounds fantastic if the right people are in control and have local employment in there engender at all times.

Ray Harry Long: Are you a green?

If you mean do I want water security – then the answer is yes Ray. I do not agree with development on public land in an erosion prone zone, nor do I agree with the 4 lines of defence being removed without proper planning and implementation of same. I do not support fracking the Fraser Coast, nor do I support Colton Coal Mine wanting to release unfiltered waste into the Mary River. #water4life
Times have changed and if we look at jobs for the future, they are all about self-sustaining and having a positive influence on the world around us. We have to recognise the change that’s ahead of us and start to design the new types of jobs that will still be relevant in the future. 
We need to start taking steps right now to change the nature of work, where we create environments where people love to go to work and generate the innovation that we need to replace the millions of jobs that will be lost to technology. Human centred jobs where people are invited to bring more than the title of their job.
As David Lee says “Our imaginations are the birthplace of new products, new services and new industries”.

I am not affiliated with any party and completely independent. I am self funding and do not accept donations nor gifts.

Bridget Smith: I would like to know how animal management is going to be managed under a new Mayor. Registration of animals, desexing, harsher penalties for backyard breeders. Actually hiring more compliance officer who aren’t just running around dealing with day to day phone calls, because they don’t have time to investigate anything else, because there are not enough of them. How about employing officers after hours to collect dogs, especially on weekends, as currently there is no service available.
How about longer hours for the Adoption Centre to be open (10 to 1pm during the week is not enough to encourage people to adopt). Thank you.

Fines should definitely be a deterrent and reflect a zero tolerance policy on mismanagement of animals.

It is clear that de-sexing is working but I believe more needs to be done. In particular social media. Firstly, I believe it is important to stop the trend of buying and selling animals and even giving animals away for free on sites which are not monitored on Facebook. There are other ways which are safer for the animal which can bring the animal to its forever home. When selling or giving an animal away through a buy and sale website the seller is not giving the animal the best chance it deserves.

It is hard for the seller to check out the appropriateness of the potential home and it is hard for the buyer to know exactly what they are getting. Unless Facebook can confirm the homes are pet checked and safe then this should be illegal. I would like to stop this inhumane way of selling and re-homing animals. However, I do agree with Fraser Cat Rescue when they say “I don’t think any of us have issue with the sale of animals using the internet, as long as it is done in a professional and ethical manner, like all of the rescue’s do. There are applications to be filled out, animal ownership history, intended vet details etc, all to ensure the animals in care are going to suitable homes. We even do home checks if we aren’t 100% happy with an application. 
“Free to a good home, need gone asap” is simply not good enough, and this attitude needs to change. Animals are not a trade commodity, but living sentient souls.”

In 2013 I recall Instagram being under fire for allowing thousands of live animals including cats, puppies and snakes to be sold through website and apps. Animal Aid has been calling on this social media, which is owned by Facebook, to ban this ‘careless slave trading’ of animals. I urge everyone of conscience to not to play host to this careless, selfish and thoughtless trading of animals. The site’s terms of use at the time did not have any guidelines on the advertisement of items for sale and did not mention the sale of animals. By contrast, the leading online sales sites eBay and Amazon both strictly prohibit the listing and sale of live animals.

I would support those willing to put proper processes and terms and conditions in place on all social media. This would also need to be monitored. As you know this would be difficult but not unachievable, probably create some jobs. which is sadly lacking on the Fraser Coast.

A caring society ensures good animal welfare standards. It promotes responsible animal care and use and helps ensure animal welfare standards meet public expectations.

I would as Mayor work closely with Biosecurity Queensland who administer the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the ACPA) as part of its Animal Welfare project. While protecting animals, the ACPA has strict accountability mechanisms to safeguard the rights of individuals and ensure investigations are undertaken in a fair and objective manner. This would include routine checks.

It is in my opinion to work in partnership with rescue groups and volunteers to ensure we have the best outcomes for our region. 

Compliance officer numbers, the hours they work and the duties they perform must be considered Bridget Smith. Increased hours to the adoption centre must also be reviewed.

A number of matters raised from the community i.e. Toogoom Rockwall, Economic Development for entire Fraser Coast, De-amalgamation and many others that have been spoken about must be transparently examined and resolved or the Council cannot move ahead. Such transparent examination must be free of party politics. The desire of council to hide the truth about a number of issues that people want exposed. The common comment is; “I’m not going back there”. That is simply not good enough.

I’m not sure there are easy answers to any of these questions, but it feels as important as ever to be asking them right now. I do believe strongly that if we’re willing to ask and answer these questions, and if we have the courage to engage with each other in a productive way, it’s going to take an enormous amount of authenticity by all of us.

We’re in this TOGETHER!