Yesterday we published part 1 of Ratepayer’s Questions Answered . Today we look at four more areas the candidates were asked about. Part 3, the final part, will be published tomorrow.
Growth + Development – Do you think the Shire needs to grow? If yes, in what areas do you think need focus and what will you do to help? Do you support the development of large industry within the shire? Do you think the shire needs to do more for local businesses?
I am a huge believer that for the shire to survive we need not only to stop our communities shrinking, we need to reverse the trend . And that means growth all over the shire, not just in Coonabarabran and Coolah. This will not happen without good reasons for people to come here. We must attract new people to the shire by creating and maintaining Good services, Good infrastructure, Diverse local businesses, Welcoming Communities. Jobs and quality opportunities for the people of the WSC will naturally follow as the population expands. Growth and my other focus, development, go hand in hand. I will work hard to encourage innovative thinking around who we are as a Shire and how we can use our current assets to encourage new people to see us as a progressive shire that is looking to the future. I look forward to working with the communities to build on their current identities – why can’t we have towns that represent the best food, art, technology and tourist attractions in regional NSW? Why can’t we be the #1 Tree Change destination in the country? Why can’t we have world class Disability facilities, retreats in our natural settings? I will work hard to encourage not deter investors, new business, in the shire. We need more quality local business for growth and employment.
The Shire certainly needs to grow. We need new industries, which can provide employment opportunities for young people as well as others. However, we need to provide the population across the Shire with efficient basic services such as water, sewerage, recycling and regular garbage services. We need leisure, recreational and sporting facilities to be developed and maintained across the Shire for the good of all. I support the development of industries that will create employment opportunities but not destroy our beautiful and unique environment.
Council needs to support local businesses by as far as possible and as far as economically viable shop locally. Local businesses should have the option to bid on jobs and contracts rather than see the spending go out of town.This should be a priority in the Shire procurement policy as should be educating local businesses on how they can do so. It needs to be easier to do business with Council, who needs to be more proactive and enabling rather than finding problems they need to help find solutions. There needs to be more community consultation and Council needs be more open so incorrect information is not disseminated.
Growth. Development and Tourism go hand in glove
If we are not growing we are going backwards I believe, and I think the beauty of our region lends itself naturally to tourism. Recently there has been talk of combining with Coonamble and Gilgandra Shires, the NPWS and the ANU at Siding Spring to form a body to push for our area to gain ENESCO Eco Park status, a first for Australia. People travel the world seeking out places to visit that have this certification. I support the further investment of time and money by WSC to investigate this exciting possibilty. WSC needs to pressure the ANU to open the Visitor Centre at Siding Spring & days a week to keep faith with a community that goes out its’ way to keep the night skies as dark as possible. I feel very strongly that WSC should not use its’ financial muscle to compete with local private contactors. This has led to people being laid off, and in my opinion on very spurious financial grounds, the cost savings are overstated and there appears to be very little account taken of flow on community costs. When someone wants to invest their money in one of our towns WSC should shake them by the hand, sit them down and say ” let us help you get this going”. Referring back to our importation of machinery from Canada, we almost did not go through with the first one because our Customs service was too hard to deal with. Multiple forms, faxes 10 feet long coming out of the machine wanting answers to questions that we did not understand. Phone call after phone call to AQIS were met with the same answers, “no you can’t do that, that form is not filled in properly”. That was until one day a sympathetic and helpful person in the same organisation answered the phone and the process became suddenly quite easy. WSC can do better if it adopts an approach that encourages people that we are all in this together, and together we can thrive. Following the business theory of my running mate Phil that you what you measure you get, and you get what you reward the measures of success in WSC could be expanded to include population numbers as a whole and town by town, visitor numbers and total private employment numbers.
Yes the Shire does need to grow but sustainably not through any boom and bust cycles. As a farming/agriculture based Shire we need to keep this focus but find ways to diversify and link into the clean, green and healthy “foodie” revolution as well as build the infrastructure needed for traditional agriculture of the Shire. For current and new local business development the Shire needs to push hard for better, reliable technology services. Renewable energy development on a large scale is occurring in other Shires similar to ours This would be a sustainable industry with the potential to generate environmental, social and economic benefits.
I believe strongly that the shire needs to grow. The areas that could be pursued would include; Tourism, Any new environmentally safe and sustainable industries of any size, Increased Agricultural output,Aged Care, and Education.
The council should have ambitious targets for measuring the growth and diversity in economic activity.
Growth+ Development- Do you think the Shire needs to grow? YES. If yes, in what areas do you think need focus and what will you do to help? Continue to attract business to the shire utilizing the current and planned infrastructure Do you support the development of large industry within the shire? YES. Do you think the shire needs to do more for local businesses? If the business operators are willing to participate, a gap analysis would be beneficial to determine what is needed and what can be done to assist business to access various agencies.
Tourism – What is your position on tourism in the Shire? Do you think it is an industry worthy of Council focus? Do you think the shire should encourage more tourism?
The other focus of growth and development is our tourist industry. It is our second largest income earner and is consistent in good harvest years and bad. We need to work hard in the shire to develop reasons why visitors will want to stay one more night, buy one more meal, pay for one more experience. Every extra dollar spent by visitors in local businesses keeps the shire from shrinking further.
I strongly believe that the Shire should support more tourism. Tourism, along with agriculture, is currently one of the most important industries in the Shire and needs to be encouraged, supported and developed. We need to encourage the development of other industries as well.
[EDITOR] See previous answer as combined response
Tourism is already an important part of our Shire’s economy. There is enormous potential for more development that will have a major impact on the economic development in the future. I want to see council develop policies to assist and facilitate businesses trying to establish new ideas and infrastructure in the tourism space. I will create an environment for “Healthy tourism” in our Shire. Community and visitors can interact and explore our natural environment in a physical capacity. Eg: Rail Trails, Park Run, Hiking, Cycle ways, Geocashing.
Tourism is the most obvious opportunity for growth in shire. I believe council should be pursuing this area with more vigour than has been the case, including forging closer ties with National Parks and Siding Spring observatory.
The council should have ambitious targets for increasing visitor numbers and length of stays.
Tourism- What is your position on tourism in the Shire? Highly focused on tourism. Do you think it is an industry worthy of Council focus? Yes, I have been heavily involved in the establishment of the first Dark Skies Park and now the first GEO Park in Australia. Which has the potential to tap into an enormous worldwide experiential travelling tourist and create more business opportunity. Do you think the shire should encourage more tourism? Yes
Shire – Do you think your role is to represent your town, or the WSC as a whole? How will you ensure you are representing ratepayers and their needs?
I will represent the shire as a whole. We are geographically so large, and still feel friction from the combination of the Coolah and Coonabarabran Shire and this adds to some of the negative feelings that are evident about the current council. Every town has specific, and sometimes conflicting, needs; I want to help create a single community that spans the whole of the Warrumbungle Shire.
I look forward to meeting as many ratepayers as possible during my time as a Councillor if elected, through community meetings and when council is sitting.
I believe that the job of a WSC councillor is to support and represent all ratepayers and their diverse needs. Certainly, you are going to be more in tune with the issues in your own local area but a Shire Councillor needs to represent the whole of the Shire as equitably as possible. To do this, a Councillor needs to be available, accessible and open to the opinions of all throughout the Shire and be prepared to take the issues on board.
When my father’s family first came to the area 90 years ago they were sharefarmers in the Purlewaugh area. They bought their first farm south of Binnaway , then moved to Ulamambri before selling that place and moving to west of Baradine. Some years after that they bought back into the Ulamambri area where I now live with my family. Our son and his wife have just bought a farm just west of the Warrumbungles north of Baradine. All of those moves have given our family a wide orbit of friends and an understanding that the WSC extends a long way out from the corner of John and Cassilis Streets Coonabarabran. If you read our flyer “6 reasons to vote for Doolan and Johnston” you will see this is point number 1.
As a councilor of the WSC your responsibilities are for both levels – for your town of residence but also importantly for the ways that issues affect the whole of the Shire. It is important to research, listen to people’s concerns across the Shire and take decisions in a considered and fair way.
I absolutely believe my role should be to represent the whole Warrumbungle Shire. We need to be aware of the different needs and different contributions each town or village can make and integrate all those factors into the planning for the Shire.
Do you think your role is to represent your town, or the WSC as a whole? Whole Shire How will you ensure you are representing ratepayers and their needs? Continual community engagement
CSG and Mining – What is your position on Coal Seam Gas Mining? Do you approve of large open cut mines in arable areas of the shire?
I am passionate about preserving our environment. While at a local government level there’s not much we can do but add our dissenting voice to destructive mining practices such as CSG and open cut mining in arable farmland, we can ensure that we maintain focus on preserving the natural assets we have. It’s the reason that so many visitors come here. It’s good business to look after what we have. If I become a councillor I will be ensuring that decisions are made with those things in mind.
The Council has already passed a resolution back in 2011 against CSG operations within the Shire and has this year requested that currently expiring and previously expired leases not be renewed. I see no reason for a change to current Council policy. Coming from the country and having grown up on the land I am strongly committed to maintaining our agricultural land for that purpose not for mining. Farming has always been the backbone of the Shire.
As I have said before my stand on CSG is that we should keep on standing on it- leave in the ground where it is. A weed just a plant in the wrong place, mines can be ok in the right place but that place does not include the liverpool plains.
I do not support CSG in our Shire. The project currently in our neighbouring shire of Narrabri will significantly impact our Shire if it expands as planned. Unconventional Gas can only be developed economically if it moves out of Pilliga State Forest, into the surrounding Shires including ours. Coal Seam Gas and coal mining development will have significant and detrimental impacts on our underground water, environment, health, cultural heritage, community, economy and infrastructure.
The Shire needs to find ways to grow which do not include mining or gas. Large open cut mines in arable areas in our shire would be madness and I would never support it.
What is your position on Coal Seam Gas Mining? Do not support it. Do you approve of large open cut mines in arable areas of the shire? Definitely not
Tomorrow’s questions to be answered are
Funding – Do you think Coonabarabran (being the largest centre in the shire) should contribute funding to the smaller towns. Do you think large projects like improvements to the Coonabarabran Swimming Pool should come from consolidated council funds or should that community raise money for improvements?
Council Transparency – How will you ensure the workings of council are made transparent to ratepayers, how will you change the current negative atmosphere about council, the length of time for DA approvals, the behaviour of Councillors and other council processes? Do you think the council should involve themselves in local issues like the management of the Coonabarabran Showground? Do you think the actions of the council are seen and understood by ratepayers?
The BIG Issue – what is the single largest issue that you believe needs to be addressed in the WSC and what will you do to bring about a solution?