Before today’s questions we have Dr Aniello Iannuzzi’s response to the first two articles questions. Dr Iannuzzi had been in contact with the Coonabarabran News in regards to the questions well before the publishing deadline, but the email with his responses did not arrive (though he did send it). His responses to today’s questions are included as they would have been had his email arrived.
Dr Aniello Iannuzzi’s responses –
Affiliations – What is your political affiliation, do you represent a particular party? Are you running as part of a group?
I am a member of the Nationals. However I am running on my own without any allegiances, tickets or backers.
Skills – Warrumbungle Shire runs a multimillion dollar budget that you will be responsible for. What qualifications do you offer for the community to trust you with this? What skills do you bring to the table that the council needs.
I have many skills for the job and much in the way of suitable experience. This is the principal reason for running as I felt our community needs a better skill mix on Council.I run medical, grape growing,wine production and guest accommodation businesses. My wife and I employ over 30 persons, including 10 in Coonabarabran. I have extensive experience in the government sector too, having worked in the public health system for over 20 years. I also have extensive experience in governance, having been on the board of directors of organisations at local, state and national level.I believe I bring a unique mix of skills that serves me well to work with other councillors as well as the Shire staff.
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?
Job creation and promotion of private enterprise rather than government sector jobs. Too many income earners in our shire rely on public money. We need a better mix to achieve growth and stability.
Do you support the development of large industry within the shire?
This question is too open. Large industry could be good if it doesn’t come at a high social or environmental cost.
Do you think the shire needs to do more for local businesses?
Yes. Red tape reduction. Incentives to invest. Better infrastructure.
Tourism – What is your position on tourism in the Shire?
We used to better in the past. Therefore we should aim to recover lost ground and capitalise on our beautiful National Park and friendly community.
Do you think it is an industry worthy of Council focus?
Council needs to devote more energy and money in promotion of tourism. There are some competing interests that need to be handled diplomatically, as I understand the Observatory has some demands that conflict with those of some small businesses.
Do you think the shire should encourage more tourism?
Yes. School groups have fallen away and should be encouraged back. We also need to explore better and speedier access to our Shire.
Shire – Do you think your role is to represent your town, or the WSC as a whole?
The election is for the Shire as a whole, not in wards. Accordingly, each Councillor has an obligation to do what is best for the Shire, not only one’s area.
How will you ensure you are representing ratepayers and their needs?
We have a saying in Medicine, “Look, listen and feel”. That sums it up. I am fortunate to mix with folk from all walks of life and all places within the Shire on a daily basis.
CSG and Mining – What is your position on Coal Seam Gas Mining?
I have personal experience. Our family vineyard in Broke lost over half its value overnight due to CSG. The way technology is moving, renewable energy is becoming more feasible by the day, especially with batteries that will allow storage in ways hitherto thought impossible. I don’t think CSG produces enough local jobs or delivers enough money to the local economy to persuade me. The CSG industry does not do enough to compensate land holders or local communities.
Do you approve of large open cut mines in arable areas of the shire?
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?
I believe that the the larger towns already help out the smaller towns with some services.
I believe that the council’s role is to ensure that local shared infrastructure like pools are funded, but I also believe that fundraising helps build community, and while it should not be relied on as the sole, or even the majority of funding, it is not something that should be discouraged if the community want to participate.
I believe that we are a Shire of diverse needs and each town, large or small has the right to expect Council to provide facilities and infrastructure of equal standard. I believe that Council should be proactive in seeking out funding to improve, develop and invest in swimming pools, sporting and recreational facilities and such to encourage and develop the skills of our young people and provide facilities for all ages to get and maintain fitness.
I think that funding should be based on need more than on a per head basis, it is the Australian way. Harking back to my Cooinda involvement, the community was outstanding in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars that went towards the construction of Merryula. As well as giving the project a turbo charge it pulled the community together and gave us a sense of empowerment and ownership, so I think it is a good thing if Council funds can be boosted by fund raising for certain special projects.
These are issues that I would need to research thoroughly if elected to be able to give a considered opinion. However there is a basic issue of fairness relating to the importance of maintaining the vitality of all communities in our shire both large and small.
If elected I would study our financial position and seek greater transparency for the public. Much of the funding is tied to projects and so Shire is told how to spend. It is the same argument as splitting GST amongst the states and territories; fairness, compromise and compassion have to be balanced. I will seek to find a solution that is the best fit but am not making commitments in this area.
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?
We could do both. I see no reason why Shire, community fundraising and private businesses cannot work in a mutually convenient way.With respect to the pool:There is scope for hydrotherapy run privately. There is scope for a private kiosk or dining facility. We should examine indoor and heating options to extend the season.
The council’s income depends heavily on rates from farming land which is often away from any town. Apart from grants for specific projects all revenue is consolidated and cross subsidy is both necessary and appropriate.
Obviously community fund raising should be directed directly to the areas in which it was raised but council should take into account the need to support smaller towns.
The larger towns are already subsidising the smaller areas, e.g. Water supply services to Bugaldie, Kenebri Merrygoen etc That is for the community to decide in the Community Strategic Plan review. However, Council should always preserve a healthy cash balance for unforeseen circumstances.
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?
I believe Councillors are voted in by the people for the people, and should act in the best interest of the Community under the rules and legislation the council must abide by. There is a Code of Conduct to follow and boundaries should not be crossed. Everything should be transparent and should be made public in ways that reach all ratepayers. It’s a very hard job to please everyone and something you can rarely achieve with so many interests involved, but if you can show the process of how a decision was come to, then there is less risk of gossip or out-and-out misunderstanding.
I think the council should step up and be accountable if something is broken or is at risk of being lost to the community but it needs to be a for the benefit of the community that uses that asset, and not for personal interest or gain.
Actions of council are not clear to the general public and that’s where a lot of confusion and misleads happen.
There is definitely a need to restore faith and confidence in Council, its processes, management and Councillors. There needs to be more support for existing businesses and reduction of red tape for new business development across the Shire. A pro-active attitude towards development and Shire infrastructure rather than an oppressive one. It should be easy to do business with Council not something to be dreaded. Best practice analysis needs to be applied to funding of rural roads
I would work to encourage Council be more open about what it does and consider the provision of a monthly ‘plain english’ update in the paper. This can also be available on the Shire website and social media presence – if people don’t know what is going on confidence and trust is lost. Open and honest communication is essential for transparency and confidence.
I know it would be difficult because our shire is so big, but I think the idea of evening/night council meetings needs to be explored. If it did not require time off work more people might attend council meetings and see what really happens. Phil and I have put ourselves forward for election because we strongly believe that some fresh blood needs to be injected into the Council to rejuvenate its thinking. I stand to be corrected but Phil and I are the only candidates to put our mobile numbers in our adds and on our flyers. If we are trusted with your vote we need you to keep us informed and want you to seek answers from us if you have any concerns. Speaking of ringing Councillors and the General Manager I have never made so many calls to them as I did when they attempted to take over the Coonabarabran showground. Talk about a frolic right off the reservation! The Showground trust has been run successfully for many years by community minded volunteers for FREE. WSC had no business colluding to take it over and manage it with paid staff. Similarly the cross country course to the south of the showground had been beautifully maintained for years by volunteers, mainly associated with the pony club. This cross country course is the main reason the Horse Expo is such a huge success because very few other places in NSW can match it.When I was pony club president I negotiated a signed ten year agreement with WSC to operate and manage the course. WSC unilaterally tore up the agreement with two years to run and placed paid WSC executive staff on a management committee with people who used to do it for free.
I want to create more opportunities for the citizens of the Shire to speak and be heard. I would endeavor to communicate back to citizens in such a way that they know that they have been heard and that action has been taken. Perhaps the roles and areas of responsibility of the Council need to be better communicated to citizens and I would be interested in finding better ways to do this in the future.
This is the public’s role: vote for a better mix of Councillors! the length of time for DA approvals, In a small Shire like ours, DA should be swift. I will strive to speed up the process. One idea is to vote on DA’s in between Council meetings either by quick special meetings, subcommittees or by electronic voting.
the behaviour of Councillors and other council processes? I will use my experience in governance to lead by example and remind fellow Councillors of their obligations. Do you think the council should involve themselves in local issues like the management of the Coonabarabran Showground? Unless legislation demands it, I see that Council should interfere as little as possible in the workings of private organisations. Do you think the actions of the council are seen and understood by ratepayers? Not well enough. This is a two-way street. The public needs to engage more and the Council needs to do more to be visible and transparent.
I would work very hard to help review the strategic goals and vision for our shire and gain agreement amongst all councilors to those goals and appropriate benchmarks for measuring progress against those goals. Similarly, I would encourage setting more ambitious bench marks for service delivery and turnaround time and report progress against those benchmarks.
Where community organisations are already running local facilities like the showground effectively and at virtually no cost to the community via volunteers, the council should stay out of management decisions and simply help with some of council’s resources when appropriate.
Council seems to have a strategy of imposing itself in more and more activities traditionally provided by private businesses and community groups. This is undermining the social cohesion throughout our community which has existed in the past and is creating anxiety and confusion. I would give an urgent priority to stopping this destructive approach and communicate a clear explanation of council’s role in our community.
How will you ensure the workings of council are made transparent to ratepayers, continue to ensure that the comprehensive reporting contained in the quarterly Business Review Statements that are reported as a matter of statutory requirement and to encourage people to attend Council meetings and Community Consultation meetings and to follow proceedings on the website .how will you change the current negative atmosphere about council, better communication, the length of time for DA approvals, the DA approval times are published at each council meeting. The behavior of Councilors and other council processes? Better education and mandated training for all Councillors and better communication. Do you think the council should involve themselves in local issues like the management of the Coonabarabran Showground? Council is the Reserve Trust Manager for over 75 parcels of Crown Land in the Shire. These are statutory arrangements. Council can opt out and the State Government may, as they often do, devolve the land to council for management. Council was asked by Kevin Humphries former Minister for Land and Water to take over the Showground because of ongoing issues. Do you think the actions of the council are seen and understood by ratepayers? Not always
Lastly, 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?
Division is one the biggest issue at the present time. Division between Councilors, division between Councilors and Staff, division between communities. How are we meant to thrive and be a progressive Shire with so much negativity? Everything need to be put on the table as such and sorted out. I believe being open and transparent in ALL areas will increase confidence, resilience, and unity.
The biggest issue I see is the current lack of faith and confidence in the current Council and its processes and policies. The Council is seen as apathetic, reactive and negative. It is seen as being down on development of any kind and this needs to change. There is low morale and appears to be a culture of bullying within the ranks. This must change from the top down, commencing with the new Council.
I care about the whole of the Warrumbungle Shire and seeing us move forward in a productive and positive manner with regaining faith and trust in the Council. No one individual can make the necessary changes alone but I believe that a team of strong, enthusiastic and dedicated Councillors can move forward towards making our Shire be the best that it can be. With my enthusiasm, can do attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes I can provide the community with a caring and approachable Councillor. I look forward to the opportunity to be an integral part of a new pro-active and positive team working for the whole Shire.
To quote the movie The Castle, “it’s the vibe”, and for some time the vibe at WSC has not been right.The Rotary Club told me they were expecting forty people to turn up for the Q & A session the other night, they got the best part of two hundred! That tells you something, as does the size of the field of candidates. People believe that the Council, as opposed to the staff at WSC, are not working in their best interests. A vote for myself and Phil will be a good start in putting our community’s interests at the centre of all decision making.
Across the whole of our Shire we need to support and develop opportunities for sustainable growth not just in one type of industry but across a diverse range – agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, healthy food and lifestyle, community and cultural services, and vibrant small businesses. To achieve these types of outcomes our council needs to develop policies and operations that are transparent and efficient and I would work co-operatively with councilors and administration staff to achieve this.
Youth. Drug and alcohol abuse is very disturbing. The youth need more things to do and take an interest in, both employment and recreation. Shire needs to encourage and possibly fund local organisations that connect with our youth. The youth centre needs an urgent upgrade or we start again and build something for 2016.
Having failed its first attempt to convince the State Government that our Council is “Fit for the Future” Council is faced with the urgent task of submitting to the State Government its revised plans to improve its financial position. Its new plan relies largely on either raising rates or reducing services.
We must work harder to find more innovative ways to meet our financial obligations without the need to significantly reduce services or impose burdensome rate increases. This can only be achieved by finding significant productivity improvements in the use of councils considerable physical and human resources and achieving some income increase generated by economic growth.
A sliding population base. Utilizing the built and natural assets of the shire to continue to attract business and families to locate to our Shire. Constant lobbying of Government at all levels to stop the centralization of services and leave staff in our towns. E.g. police, teachers, nurses ,department extension officers.