Saturday, October 17, 2009

Address to today's "meet the candidates" function

All this week I’ve been unsure about exactly what to say to you today. But just this morning, as I drove over pot-holed streets and dodged the giant planter boxes, it occurred to me that despite it all, I really do love this town. I love the valley that surrounds it. I love the drive to Strathgordon at the far end of our municipality. I love to visit Mt Field, and I love taking visitors to the snow at the top of the Lake Dobson Road.

I love being able to do business where I know the shopkeepers and they know me.  Our business people are not anonymous folk seeking to make a quick buck. They are local people like us, with a long-term commitment. They are Tony and Michelle, Susan and Graham, Leigh and Pauline, Joanne, Shane, Jill, Ray and Lesley, to name a few.

I love our place in the nation’s history as one of the oldest settlements in Australia. I love knowing that Ikey Solomon and other convicts walked the same streets as I do. And I love the fact that we have Australia’s oldest hospital right here on this site, but that’s where the love affair ends.

As a community we have been let down by our council. We have been embarrassed by our council, and the responsibility lies with some of my fellow candidates here today, as well as those who are not here.

Developing Willow Court is not beyond the abilities of our community. But the council has not wanted the community to help. And what a mess the council has made on its own. Money has been lost, wasted and worse.

I am ashamed of the state of our streets, roads and footpaths. We must rebuild our roads in the proper fashion, and not the lick and a promise they have received over the last decade.

We must take pride in our town and rebuild our infrastructure so it matches the beauty of our natural surroundings. We must stop the removal of trees that enhance the natural beauty of our district, and we must plant more trees.

Every day should be Clean-Up Australia Day in the Derwent Valley. Council vehicles travel the Lyell Highway every day, but for more than a week a mattress has been lying in a culvert near the motor yacht club. Give us the tools and we can all help keep our valley beautiful.

As a journalist, I have an inbuilt hatred of secrecy.  I am seeking election to the council in order to open it up. If elected I will encourage the council to issue a regular newsletter. If it does not, I will do it myself. I will also communicate via my own website and through advertisements in the Gazette that I will pay for myself.

Many of you here today already know my story. Some of you know me as the baby born at the New Norfolk Hospital; or the student of our local schools; or the member of Mrs Butterworth's drama club; or the keen watcher of movies at the Plaza Cinema; as the young customer of Hunter’s Shop, returning Coke bottles to raise 20c for a bag of mixed lollies; as the cub scout; as the St John Ambulance man; as the amateur historian; or as the writer of your story in the Gazette or the Mercury.

You know that I am an honest person who will do my best to represent you on our council. I will not let you down and it will be my honour to be of service should you choose to elect me.

I thank Ngaire Glover for her great initiative in organising this event and I thank you for listening.

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