Friday, July 30, 2010

One surprise as candidates are named

THE Australian Electoral Commission today released the names of candidates contesting the August 21 Federal Election. There was one surprise amongst the candidates for Lyons, with the Secular Party of Australia endorsing Mr Lucas Noyes to contest the seat held by Dick Adams since 1993.

In the order in which they will be listed on the ballot paper, the candidates for Lyons are:
  • Lucas NOYES, Secular Party of Australia
  • Eric Russell HUTCHINSON, Liberal
  • Dick ADAMS MHR, Australian Labor Party
  • Karen Frances CASSIDY, Australian Greens

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Election watch

NEARLY two weeks into the 2010 Federal Election campaign, no commitments have been made to the preservation and restoration of New Norfolk's historic site of national significance - Willow Court. Here's a handy tally:
  • Labor: minus $750,000 (Promised at the 2007 election & withdrawn last year due to council inaction)
  • Liberal/National: Nil

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another disappointment

DESPITE our council knowing for some weeks that applications for the current regional infrastructure grants close at 5pm this Friday, I was today told there is "no time" for a properly constituted meeting to consider and vote on suggestions received from the public. Instead, this will be done without public scrutiny at a "discussion" hosted by the mayor on Thursday night - and yet another rushed grant application will be put together by 5pm Friday. A similar process led to the new "sound shell" at Tynwald Park having no shell. Sigh. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Conduct panel recommends a reprimand

THE Derwent Valley Council's independent Code of Conduct Panel has recommended that I be reprimanded in the matter of a complaint lodged by Mr Ian Brown of Risdon Vale. Significantly, the panel found "that there was no positive proof of premeditated and deliberate intention to embarrass, discredit or malign Mr Brown" and there was no need for a personal apology.

The panel took the view that I "should have been aware of the possibility of of personal offence and acted in a more caring and sensitive manner". To this end, the panel recommended that I "attain an understanding" of Councillor Code of Conduct obligations as follows:

  1. will act honestly and in accordance with the law, the Code of Conduct and relevant Council policies and administrative procedures;
  2. will show respect and courtesy when dealing with other Councillors, Council employees and the public, and refrain from any form of conduct which may cause any person offence or embarrassment;
  3. will exercise reasonable care and diligence;
  4. will act impartially and in the best interests of the community;
  5. will be responsive to community views and seek to communicate these to the Council.

While I object strongly to the suggestion that I do not already act in accordance with those principles - both as a councillor and in my life generally - it is not my intention to appeal the panel's recommendation of a reprimand.

If no appeal is received from myself or the complainant by August 4 or thereabouts, the panel's recommendation will be considered firstly by a closed council meeting and finally by an open council meeting. 

Comments will not be published until this matter is concluded.
  • Last night's council meeting considered a raft of recommendations on the subject of a review of the Councillor Code of Conduct. As the above complaint remains live at this stage, I thought it best to declare an interest and leave the room. Cr James Graham also declared an interest and left the room. My formal declaration appears below.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friends, lend us your ideas

AN unexpected $89,000 has been made available to the Derwent Valley Council on the condition that it meet certain criteria set by the Federal Government. On June 18, then prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that additional funding of $100 million for the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program (RLCIP) would be made available.

This funding will assist councils to build and modernise community facilities including town halls, libraries, community centres, sports grounds and environmental infrastructure and is aimed at strengthening our communities during the economic recovery by supporting local jobs and provide long-term benefits to communities by renewing and upgrading local infrastructure.

Applications for this third round of the RLCIP scheme close at the end of this month. Despite the short timeframe, Mayor Martyn Evans agreed to my request that council seek public suggestions for suitable job-creating projects. Please send your ideas to the general manager at the council chambers, or by posting a comment to this blog or email

The Federal Government small print:  Eligible projects must be additional (or additional stages of current projects), and represent value for money. Additional projects are those which have not been included in the council’s budget for 2010/11, are new or can be brought forward as a result of RLCIP funding. Projects need to be ready to begin construction within six months of signing the funding agreement. Projects which represent value for public money are those which, in the context of the objectives and outcomes of the project, add value by achieving something worthwhile for the community that would not occur without grant assistance.

Councils are responsible for community consultation and the consideration of the community benefit for potential infrastructure projects within their jurisdictions. Councils are encouraged to consider projects that:
  • address the needs of the local indigenous population;
  • address environmental sustainability , and how their RLCIP activities will promote green building technologies, design practices and operations and preparing for climate change impacts; and
  • Involve collaboration with neighbouring councils including joint-projects.
Councils can also sponsor projects on behalf of not-for profit community organisations.

Eligible categories of infrastructure
Funding will be provided to councils for community infrastructure, including new construction and major renovations or refurbishments of assets such as:
  • social and cultural infrastructure (e.g. art spaces, gardens);
  • recreational facilities (e.g. swimming pools, sports stadiums);
  • tourism infrastructure (e.g. walkways, tourism information centres);
  • children, youth and seniors facilities (e.g. playgroup centres, senior citizens’ centres);
  • access facilities (e.g. boat ramps, footbridges); and
  • environmental initiatives (e.g. drain and sewerage upgrades, recycling plants);
Funding can be used for:
  • construction for new or upgraded facilities; and
  • refurbishment and fit out.
Ineligible projects
Projects must provide a clear and direct benefit to the local community. Examples of projects that are ineligible for this reason include those which support council operations (such as an upgrade of council offices), those which make a direct contribution to private businesses (other than those which provide a direct community service, or those which benefit specific individuals (such as the renovation of a caretaker’s residence). Funding will not be approved to bolster funding for existing projects which have exceeded their original budget forecasts. Funding cannot be used for:

  • ongoing costs (e.g. operational costs and maintenance);
  • roads or related infrastructure covered by the Roads to Recovery or Black Spots programs;
  • artworks;
  • information technology and communications hardware and software;
  •  non-fixed infrastructure [e.g. above ground irrigation systems]; or
  • project management costs.
 So, go to it. What would you like to see done with the $89,000 available to our municipality?All ideas I receive by Thursday afternoon will be presented to the council meeting that night.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Code of Conduct update

EARLIER this evening I appeared before the Derwent Valley Council's code of conduct panel, to respond to an allegation that I failed to show due respect to a staff member while attending my first council meeting last November. I dispute the allegation but do not deny any person the right to take action if they feel they have been failed by me in my role as a councillor.

Comments will not be published until this matter is concluded.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Economic renewal group looks to the future

MAYOR Martyn Evans, deputy mayor Craig Farrell and myself attended a board meeting of the Derwent Valley Economic Renewal Group (Valley Vision) earlier this evening, accompanied by general manager Stephen Mackey. After being responsible for Willow Court matters for about 10 years, the group is now looking to return to its roots and re-engage with the community.

Contrary to suggestions that the council had shut down Valley Vision, it has in fact renewed the lease on the Valley Vision office in High St, and maintained its previous funding allocation of $26,000. During tonight's discussions, general manager Stephen Mackey offered to provide clerical support for about six months. I encouraged the DVERG board to use this period to investigate options to source funds to employ new staff to replace those who resigned earlier this year.

Productive discussions were had with board members Sandy Carmichael, Anker Fuglsang, Sharon Hutchison and Tim Last, and Rivers Run tourism representative Roger Zantuck and I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation at the next meeting.