Monday, May 16, 2011

It's your turn, Lachlan

THIS month's meeting of the Derwent Valley Council will be held at the Lachlan Community Hall at 6.30pm this Thursday. A community forum will be held immediately before the meeting, starting at 5.45pm. The forum provides an informal opportunity for residents of the local area to ask questions or raise matters of concern.

A public question period is also available during the formal part of the meeting. These must be submitted in writing at least 10 minutes before the start of the meeting and the council requires that the questions be asked in person. A copy of the public question policy can be download here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Willow Court talks

A FULL and frank discussion on the realities of the Willow Court site was held during a Special Closed Council Meeting on Thursday night. Strong views were expressed by those present (two councillors were absent). I voted against the meeting being closed to the public.

Councillors did not support my motion to make public the decision of this meeting, but they did agree to a follow-up motion to issue a public statement to the effect that the council was writing to Heritage Minister Brian Wightman in regard to future options for Willow Court and was seeking his urgent attention to the matter. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Time to review Willow Court position

I HAVE asked that a special council meeting be held this week to review the council's position on the handback of the Willow Court site. The mayor has agreed and the meeting will be on Thursday at 6.30pm in the courthouse at New Norfolk. My reasons are as follows:
  • The council has spent a year unsuccessfully negotiating to return the remainder of Willow Court to the State Government
  • The State Government clearly has no intention of fulfilling its election promise to resume ownership of the site
  • The council has done nothing with the Willow Court development strategy (the MacDonald report) it received two months ago
  • The mayor's failure to convene a promised meeting with its Willow Court Committee to discuss implementation of the MacDonald report 
  • Continuing vandalism of heritage buildings on the site as reported in last week's Derwent Valley Gazette.
UPDATE - May 10: Having received a copy of the agenda documents in today's mail, I was disappointed to learn that it had been decided to hold this week's Willow Court debate in closed session. Willow Court has been mired in secrecy for too long and the council seems to have learned little about the public's desire for information and action.

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    LegCo election - How we voted in the Valley

    THE Tasmanian Electoral Commission has published the provisional polling place figures from today's Legislative Council by-election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Michael Aird two years into his term. Results from local polling booths follow. The electoral commission will re-check its figures tomorrow morning before conducting a provisional distribution of preferences.

    Phillip Bingley 4
    Jenny Branch 10
    Craig Farrell 13
    Deirdre Flint 25
    Ray Williams 17
    Informal 5

    Bingley 31
    Branch 47
    Farrell 77
    Flint 30
    Williams 74
    Informal 23

    Bingley 16
    Branch 7
    Farrell 18
    Flint 44
    Williams 37
    Informal 10

    Bingley 16
    Branch 23
    Farrell 62
    Flint 42
    Williams 35
    Informal 11

    Bingley 78
    Branch 117
    Farrell 167
    Flint 108
    Williams 113
    Informal 48

    Bingley 12
    Branch 23
    Farrell 30
    Flint 49
    Williams 36
    Informal 4

    Bingley 3 
    Branch 19
    Farrell 30
    Flint 53
    Williams 21
    Informal 2

    Bingley 86 
    Branch 52
    Farrell 111
    Flint 47
    Williams 69
    Informal 23

    Bingley 24
    Branch 48
    Farrell 215
    Flint 61
    Williams 101
    Informal 26

    Bingley 28 
    Branch 13
    Farrell 41
    Flint 6
    Williams 37
    Informal 11

    Bingley 49
    Branch 38
    Farrell 117
    Flint 26
    Williams 41
    Informal 17

    Bingley 205
    Branch 220
    Farrell 737
    Flint 247
    Williams 272
    Informal 98

    Bingley 74
    Branch 158
    Farrell 610
    Flint 167
    Williams 202
    Informal 80

    Bingley 11
    Branch 20
    Farrell 41
    Flint 69
    Williams 51
    Informal 8

    Bingley 32
    Branch 23
    Farrell 52
    Flint 37
    Williams 36
    Informal 10

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Candidates questioned

    ABOUT 30 people attended tonight's public forum for candidates seeking election to the Legislative Council seat of Derwent. The function was held at the New Norfolk District Football Club, where club president Steven Dixon welcomed those present and congratulated moderator Ngaire Glover on her initiative in organising the event.

    Mrs Glover welcomed candidates Craig Farrell (ALP), Phillip Bingley (Greens) and Ray Williams (Independent) and advised that the two remaining independent candidates (Deirdre Flint and Jenny Branch) had other commitments and were not able to attend.

    Each candidate was then given five minutes to introduce himself before the forum moved on to a question and answer session. Some of the questions were:

    Do you support the mandatory detention of asylum seekers? Mr Bingley was the only candidate to specifically answer this question, stating that he did not support mandatory detention.

    Do you support container deposit legislation? All three candidates answered "yes".

    Do you support the clearfelling of native forests? Mr Williams and Mr Bingley answered "no", while Mr Farrell said he supported selective harvesting in native forests.

    How would you promote employment in the electorate? Mr Williams said he would lobby parliament and businesses for improved inland irrigation for increased agricultural production. He said Willow Court needed increased government funding to become an employment generator. Mr Farrell said there was no magic solution to employment but it was important to build on what we already have, in particular in tourism. He saw Willow Court and the Derwent Valley Railway was potential tourism employment generators. Mr Bingley said he would advocate the provision of government mentoring services to support private enterprise. He spoke of the success of the Agrarian Kitchen which had grown from a start-up business only a few years ago to now employing eight people.

    Do you support cuts to state health and education budgets? Mr Williams said he had not seen the government's budget figures but had been concerned to read that cuts maybe made at the New Norfolk Police Station . Mr Farrell said those budgets should not be cut and said there was a need for increased support for policing and education when times were tough. Mr Bingley said front line services should be quarantined from budget cuts.

    Do you support the linking of the Derwent and Huon Valleys by road? All three candidates said they supported this concept and the benefits it would bring to tourism in both regions.

    What specifically are you going to do to get projects like Willow Court off the ground? Mr Williams answered "whatever it takes" and Mr Farrell said Willow Court deserved all that could be put into it, but noted that the Callington Mill redevelopment at Oatlands had taken about 30 years. Mr Bingley condemned the State Government for allowing the neglect, decay and vandalism at Willow Court to occur and said the involvement of private enterprise was needed. 

    Given what went wrong with Willow Court how can voters put their trust in you? This question was addressed to Mr Williams as a former Derwent Valley Councillor and Mr Farrell as a serving councillor. Mr Farrell said Willow Court's problems began when the government handed the site to the council without proper support. He said he did not carry all the responsibility for what had gone on and he did not have all the answers. Mr Williams acknowledged being on the council "when the lack of action was about" but said he had not been given the information he should have received as a councillor at the time. In particular, he did not know wages were being paid from Willow Court funds. While the question was not directed at Mr Bingley, he said he believed the recently completed report by Malcolm MacDonald provided a way forward.

    Where would your office be situated? All three candidates answered that they would have their electorate office in New Norfolk.

    Please note: By law, comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published during the election period.