Candidates keen to put their point of view

September 8, 2008

All of the 20 candidates running for the Gwydir Shire Council elections attended the Meet the Candidates hosted by the Bingara Advocate recently.

The evening, chaired by Don Capel, allowed each of the candidates five minutes to give a brief explanation about why they are standing for Council, before questions were taken from the floor.

Catherine Egan said her first term on Council had given her knowledge, and she enjoyed becoming a team member.  She said the roads remain Council’s highest priority, and that decisions are made in the interests of all residents.  Mrs. Egan said she will continue to work with honesty and integrity, and is just as committed and passionate about working for the betterment of the Shire as she was four years ago.

Claude Nichols said Council is like a jigsaw puzzle. Councillors need to put all the pieces together, like roads and waste management.  "Let’s grow the community. Every little piece needs to fit correctly. We need committed people to place those pieces," Mr. Nichols said.

Philippa Morris said the shire needs unity of purpose in order to progress.  A balanced development, she said, is in everybody’s interest. Ms. Morris said she would like to see sufficient development in the Shire with infrastructure without overwhelming the community. This would be achieved by encouraging a range of small business, which in turn provide a range of employment opportunities.  My three ‘Rs’ are Regeneration, Recycling and Recreation.

Clem Gordon began by saying he expected a larger roll-up.  He said he was pleased to see MPS developments in both towns, increased aged care and doctors’ facilities.  "I would like to see closer cooperation between medical facilities of both towns," he said.  Dr. Gordon’s vision for Gwydir is to make it more attractive place to retire to.

Ian Grieve stated he will not support any rate increase over the CPI.  It is, he said, critically important to maintain Bingara and Warialda communities. If the population decrease, Council will go, he warned.  "We have to ensure the community has everything we need," he said.  Rural addressing and supporting community development are also on his agenda.

Bob Charlston said the community has an expectation of change and a desire to develop potential.  He said the community is calling for strong leadership.  Mr. Charlston said he hopes to use his business skills to help develop that potential.  He is keen to see Council pursue alternative power generation and tourism.

Peter Caskey outlined the role of a councillor, and talked about the importance of impartiality, honesty and the need to work for the shire.  His commitment, he said, is to the ethos of public service.

Laureen Hall talked about a ‘them and us’ attitude between the two major towns.  "There is much more to the shire," she said.  Councillors, she said, must communicate and be approachable to residents. She wants to be a part of a team deciding how ratepayers’ money is spent.  "I have an interest in tourism, will listen and help residents of the whole shire," she said.

Peter Pankhurst said his top priority is to the advancement of the shire, including roads, health and aged care.  He said he will continue to make himself available to represent the people as he has always done.

Garth Skinner said he would like the opportunity to give something back to the community.  "Council must plan to grow in partnership with the community," he said.  "We must continue to improve infrastructure to attract new people and attract new businesses.  Improved tourist facilities and social development of older children are also high on Mr. Skinner’s agenda.

David Rose said that with nine years experience on Council, he has the experience to do a good job.  He is proud that he was instrumental in getting 67% of funding for water works in Bingara.  State government, he said, has a new water policy which won’t be released until after September 13. Water utilities are going to have to be self-funding and run as a business.  He said he has a common sense approach as well as the financial experience to lead Council forward.

Angela Doering talked of the success of the small rural community of Crooble. She is standing to represent the northern part of the shire.  She enjoys working for the betterment of the community.

Sharnie Kent has experienced the need for long day care and facilities for youth. She says a safe environment is not enough for youth. Strategies are needed to promote business growth and attract new business. She called for equal distribution of funding across the shire.  "We need people on Council with vision for the future," she said.  "2008 is the year for change."

Laurie Smith said more land needs to be made available for housing and industry.  He said he would like to see an increase in population, more youth facilities, and support for local police so people are safe.

David Conway said that with cooperation and communication, Council could achieve a great deal. He stressed the need to work together to maintain the Gwydir Shire.  "If there is no cooperation, we will be split and you’ll never see the GM or the engineer," he said.  Mr. Conway noted his family and farm take first priority.

Erik Ozols believes the Council has been well managed over the past four years. He said he would remain approachable and dedicated. 

Craig Gilkison focused on the need to retain youth in the area for the future to work looking after the elderly.

Vera Reardon said she was running on a platform of fair and equitable treatment of all ratepayers.

Bob Tremain said he was concerned about what he perceives as power of the General Manager. He claimed the voice of the elected representatives has declined.

Rod King said that as trustees of the community’s well-being, Councillors had to be accountable.  He said he was interested in the financial situation of Council, and with a passion for business and finance, feels equipped to contribute. Communication, he said remains a challenge.