Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas closure details

THE Derwent Valley Council office and depot will be closed from noon this Wednesday, December 24, until 8.30am on January 5, 2015.
  • Garbage and Recycling Collection will operate as normal.
  • The National Park Waste Transfer Station will operate as normal.
  • The Peppermint Hill landfill site will close at 11.30am on December 24 and will be closed on Christmas Day. The site will reopen on Boxing Day.
  • New Norfolk and Bushy Park swimming pools will be closed on Christmas Day.
  • The Valley Children’s Centre will be closed from December 24 and will reopen on January 5.
The council’s emergency telephone number is 6261 8500 (24 hours).
  • For police, fire and ambulance emergencies call 000.
  • For non-emergency police matters call 131 444.
  • TasWater, phone 136 992
  • Aurora Energy, phone 132 004

Latest council newsletter

THE latest issue of the Derwent Valley Council newsletter (Spring 2014) is available for downloading from the council website here.

Latest advertisement - December

BELOW is my latest councillor update, published in the Derwent Valley Gazette on December 10, 2014.

Click image to enlarge.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bronte House

Bronte House mid-restoration this year.
TONIGHT'S council meeting gave in-principle support to a proposal to lease to the Derwent Valley Community House part of the building known as Bronte House at Willow Court. It was not an easy decision. One councillor voted against the move and I can understand why. But the decision was not a knee-jerk reaction as one person remarked when leaving the meeting. Neither is it a fait accompli. The parties involved still need to negotiate a lease agreement and that document will have to come back to the council for approval in the new year.

It needs to be said that the Community House is not being forced to relocate from its current premises just along the Avenue and still within Willow Court. Neither will the move result in the "loss" of Bronte House as some have stated. The Community House has been looking for new premises for several years and despite being offered accommodation at Carinya Education Park (my preferred option) the board of the Community House has consistently expressed its desire to remain in the general area of Willow Court and in particular reasonably close to its community garden.

The council has been involved in discussions with the Department of Health and Human Services (the principal funder of community houses) for some months and in September the department made a formal offer of funds for infrastructure and capital works associated with moving the Community House into Bronte House, subject to the council offering a long-term lease.

A special meeting of council was held in early October to discuss the various options for the use of part of Bronte House and I raised a number of concerns including the apparent abandonment of the original concept of Bronte House being the visitor services hub at Willow Court. That meeting was attended by a number of members of the Community House board of management and after considerable discussion with them, the council resolved to seek architectural drawings and costings for two designs; one providing for spaces that could be shared by the Community House and the Willow Court visitor services (toilets, kitchen etc) and the other having no shared spaces.
The proposal was considered by the Willow Court Conservation Special Committee at its meeting in November. The committee noted the positive aspects, including the significant investment of additional funds to complete the refurbishment of the building as originally planned. But it also noted the need for some public space, including display space within Bronte, in order to provide basic services and information to general visitors to the precinct. In the end the committee formed the view that those requirements should be able to be accommodated in conjunction with the use of Bronte House by the Community House.

Work inside Bronte remains incomplete.
And so the proposal came back to the council meeting held tonight. Several members of the public expressed their opposition to the plan and I understand their reasons. Unfortunately the funds available for Willow Court are all but exhausted. Much work remains to be done and there is no further funding on the horizon. While considerable work has been done in Bronte House to prepare it for the provision of visitor services, large parts remain unusable and proposals for a commercial kitchen have been shelved due to lack of funds.

The only money presently on offer for any part of the council-owned section of Willow Court is that from the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of hosting the Community House in Bronte House. With that in mind I put the following motion to the meeting:
  1. That council give in-principle support to the use of part of the Bronte Building for a community house pending successful negotiation of a lease agreement to be approved at a future council meeting.
  2. That the necessary structural alterations be at no cost to the council.
  3. That the area of the lease be based on the plan labelled Option 3, without the visitor kitchen installation and subtracting the area described as "reception".
  4. That a front entrance ramp be provided along the front of the building for entry to the community house and that a retractable concertina-style wall be installed across the dining room.
  5. That two accessible toilets be installed in the council visitor services area rather than a single accessible toilet and two standard toilets.
This motion was seconded by Cr Barry Lathey and when put to the vote it was endorsed by all councillors but one. Before the council decision becomes a reality, a suitable lease will need to be negotiated and then approved by another council meeting. Everyone with an interest in this matter - for or against - will have another opportunity to be heard at that time.

Co-locating the Community House in Bronte House is going to mean some changes to the arrangements for visitor services at Willow Court, but those arrangements had changed already through the decisions of the Conservation Committee. Despite my misgivings about the proposal, moving the Community House into Bronte does not mean it is a building lost. It is a building saved. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Workshops, AGM and monthly meeting

Council Meeting, AGM and Workshops for December 2014

Council Workshops will be held at the Courthouse, Circle St, New Norfolk, at 6.30pm on Thursday, 4 December 4, 2014 and Thursday, December 11, 2014.
The new format for council workshops is an open session which the general public is invited to attend for the first half-hour. The remainder of the workshop is closed to the public. This is an informal workshop of council and no agenda is provided.

The Derwent Valley Council's Annual General Meeting will be held at 5pm on Monday, December 15, 2014, in the Courthouse, Circle St, New Norfolk. The items to be discussed at the AGM are:
  •  The 2013/2014 Annual Report.
  •  Responses to submissions received on the Annual Report.
Matters relating to the Annual Report will be open for discussion at the meeting and members of the public are invited to attend. Written submissions on any matter contained within the Annual Report are invited and should be received by Friday, December 12, 2014. Copies of the Annual Report are available from the Council Office, Circle St, New Norfolk from Thursday, December 4.
An ordinary meeting of council will be held at the Courthouse, Circle St, New Norfolk, at 6.30pm on Monday, December 15. The public is invited to attend and the agenda will be available at the Council Office, Circle S, New Norfolk, from Tuesday, December 9.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Motions on notice

THE agenda for the first meeting of the newly-elected council included a few Motions on Notice from me. There was a good discussion around most of them and I thank my council colleagues both for their comments and their unanimous support.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Lathey
That a list of all land and buildings owned by the council be provided to all councillors.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Graham
That the council's land sale committee be requested to review potential asset sales to fund ongoing works at the Willow Court historic site.

The background to those first two motions is that the available funds for Willow Court are practically exhausted and no further State Government support is on offer. The previous council informally discussed the sale of surplus land as a way to fund urgent works at the historic site. This has been expanded to include a review of all council-owned land and buildings. When the Land Sale Committee meets, it should be open to the public.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Shaw
That the General Manager investigate and report on loss of grant funding for a footpath at Westerway.

Background:  In 2013 the council secured grant funding of approximately $100,000 to build a footpath at Westerway. More than a year later there is still no footpath and councillors were recently advised that the funding had been withdrawn by the State Government. The general manager's report should determine how the money was lost and what procedures have been developed to ensure no further grant funds are lost.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Pearce
That the General Manager investigate and report on the Glebe Road reconstruction carried out last year.

Background: Major works were carried out on Glebe Rd between Lachlan Rd and Poulters Rd last year. For reasons not explained to councillors, the centre line was repainted way off centre, forcing west-bound traffic onto the extreme edge of the road. This has resulted in extensive edge breaking, which is ongoing. The general manager's report should determine why this happened and who is responsible for rectification works.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Graham
That the council continue its recent practice of holding councillor workshops on the first, second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Shaw
That these workshops be advertised and open to the public for the first 30 minutes.
Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Triffett
That a councillor social function be held when a month has a fifth Thursday.

By way of background to the above three motions, in recent months the council has held councillor workshops on a weekly basis and this resulted in an improved flow of information. Continuing the practice will benefit the incoming council. Organising a regular social function was a stated aim of the last two councils but no action was taken to bring it about. During discussion I was asked about the cost burden of advertising and my comment was that no additional advertisements should be necessary as each month's meetings and workshops should be able to listed in a single advertisement.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Belcher
That the Council Planner be invited to conduct a briefing for the new council, covering the Development Application process and the new planning scheme.

Background: Planning matters are often the most complicated and controversial items dealt with by
councillors. A briefing from the planner would be most worthwhile.

Minister's statement on amalgamations

29 November 2014

Peter Gutwein, Minister for Planning and Local Government

Next Step in Voluntary Council Amalgamations

The Liberal Government has begun formal discussions with councils about voluntary amalgamations.
This week, I wrote to all 29 mayors to invite them along with their Deputy Mayors and General Managers to regional meetings early next year to discuss voluntary amalgamations.
We know from informal discussions that there is an appetite for structural reform in Local Government to deliver improved services to communities.
With the elections concluded, now is the time to take the initiative and consider how we can improve councils' strategic capacity, financial sustainability and service delivery.
There's no doubt potential amalgamations are a big step and we need to take a careful and considered approach to developing options.
The next step in this process is bringing all councils together on a regional basis to discuss amalgamation opportunities in early February.
These meetings will allow the Government to outline the proposed process and discuss timeframes. We recognise councils would need to conduct feasibility studies and these meetings will allow us to discuss how the government can support the process.
As we've previously said, there are some very clear principles that must be met before we would consider an amalgamation proposal. Amalgamations must:
  • be in the interest of rate payers;
  • improve the level of services for communities;
  • preserve and maintain local representation; and
  • ensure that the financial status of the entities is strengthened.
We want to work with Local Government to make Tasmania the place to live, work and invest. A conversation about voluntary amalgamations and resource sharing is a good starting point.

(published without alteration)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Appointment to committees

IT'S been said that laws are like sausages - it's better not to see them being made - and the same could apply to the biennial appointment of councillors to committees. This lengthy process was carried out at the new-look Derwent Valley Council's first meeting last night and it's fair to say some in the full public gallery grew restless as the lengthy list of committees, statutory bodies and associations was worked through.

I have been appointed or reappointed as the council representative or proxy on the following:
  • New Norfolk Historical Information Centre Special Committee
  • Derwent Valley Youth Future Action Team Special Committee (proxy to Cr Triffett)
  • Bushy Park Swimming Pool Special Committee
  • Environmental Management Special Committee
  • Friends of Frescati Special Committee
  • Willow Court Conservation Special Committee
  • William Hazlewood Reserve Special Committee (Magra)
  • Derwent Valley Visitor Information Centre (proxy to Cr Graham)

I'm also pleased to have been reappointed to the following:
  • Plenty Link Rd working group (along with Cr Lathey, Cr Shaw and Cr Belcher)
  • Council website working group: (additional members to be appointed)
  • Industrial/Medicinal Hemp working group (along with Cr Graham, Cr Evans and Cr Shaw)
  • Land Sale Committee (along with Cr Triffett, Cr Graham and Cr Pearce)
  • Maydena Community Association
  • Community Grants Committee (along with Cr Lathey, Cr Belcher, Cr Shaw and Cr Triffett)
  • Code of Conduct Panel (along with Cr Pearce and Cr Belcher. One councillor is selected to assist with independent chairman as required.)

*Subject to confirmation of the minutes next month.
** No offence intended to the purveyors of fine locally-made sausages..

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Four decisions from last month's meeting

LAST month's council meeting considered four motions on notice I had submitted for the agenda. I am grateful to my council colleagues for their unanimous support of all four motions, which were as follows:

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Shoobridge
That the council acknowledges the efforts of Ruth Howie and the co-operation of Woolworths in the development of the Community Card concept.
That the proceeds of the frequent shopper points collected via the Derwent Valley Council's Community Card during 2014 be allocated to the St Vincent de Paul Society for distribution to residents of the Derwent Valley municipality in need this Christmas.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Lathey
That the council take immediate steps to follow the recommendation of the Federal Minister for the Environment and apply for National Heritage Listing for the Willow Court historic site in consultation with the office of the Federal Member for Lyons.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Shoobridge
That the council adopt the name Lee's Corner for the park to be developed on the corner of High and Burnett Streets in New Norfolk, in recognition of the business that occupied the site for much of the 20th century.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Lathey
1. That council notes the request of the Magra Recreation Reserve that the land (title reference SP26169/9) be known as William Hazlewood Reserve.
2. That Council refers the proposed name (William Hazlewood Reserve) to the Nomenclature Board and provides the following information in support of the proposed name (in recognition of the Norfolk Island evacuee who once owned the land).

First meeting of the new-look council

THE first meeting of the Derwent Valley Council in its new form will be held tomorrow, Thursday, November 20 at 6.30pm. The public is invited to attend the meeting, which will be held in the courthouse in Circle St, New Norfolk.  Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting, please do get in touch. The meeting agenda is available online.

The members of the incoming eight-member council have already been declared elected but the first order of business at tomorrow night's meeting will be the official swearing-in. According to the agenda documents, it will be done in the following order:  Cr Martyn Evans (Mayor), Cr Ben Shaw (Deputy Mayor), Cr Barry Lathey, myself, Cr James Graham, Cr Julie Triffett, Cr Paul Belcher and Cr Frank Pearce.

Before the outgoing council is consigned to history, I would like to acknowledge the service of those councillors who were not returned to office:
  • Cr Judy Bromfield OAM (served from 1991-96 and 1998-2014)
  • Cr Tony Nicholson (served from 1998-2009 and 2011-14)
  • Cr Wayne Shoobridge (served from 2001-02 and 2011-14)
  • Cr Scott Shaw (served from 2005-14)
  • Cr Chris Lester (served from 2011-14)

This photo of the outgoing council was taken last month, with myself at the far left, then Cr Scott Shaw, Cr Chris Lester, Cr Barry Lathey, general manager Stephen Mackey, Cr Martyn Evans, Cr Judy Bromfield, Cr Tony Nicholson, Cr James Graham and Cr Wayne Shoobridge.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thank you notice

My "thank you" ad in this week's Gazette. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thank you

My sincere thanks to all those who supported my re-election to the Derwent Valley Council for a second term. I will keep sharing council news via this blog and by advertising in the Derwent Valley Gazette and urge you to get in touch with me whenever there is something you want to know about council business.

The overall election result shows a clear desire for change. All sitting councillors had a reduced vote and five of my colleagues will not be returning to the council table. I wish them well and I offer my congratulations to the four candidates elected to replace them. Following the recent decision of the Local Government Board we are now an eight-member council rather than nine.

Please let me know what priorities you would like to see pursued by the new council, using the comment function below or by sending me an email or giving me a call. I will raise your concerns at a council meeting. I also encourage you to attend council meetings and community forums. Ask questions. Lobby your councillors and respond to requests for public comment.

I hope that candidates who were not elected will maintain their interest in council activities and play a role in keeping all councillors to their promises. My first term on council flew by and the next election will be here before we know it.

Full election results

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Very last chance to vote

THE time has now passed for popping your council ballot papers into the post, but there is still a chance to have your say by dropping your papers into the ballot box at the Derwent Valley Council Chambers in Circle St, New Norfolk by 10am today (Tuesday).

At the time of writing, just over 52% of eligible voters have returned their voting slips by post. This puts the Derwent Valley in 17th place out of the 29 councils and just ahead of the state average of 49.85% participation in the election.

Counting of the votes will start later today and early results should be available mid-evening. Results will be available online at

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fourth and final campaign advertisement

Click image to enlarge
IT'S a simple message this week: please vote.

As of today's mail, 3331 votes in our council election have been received by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission. This is a participation rate of 46.61% which means about half of those eligible to vote in our election have not yet done so - and I'm one of them.

As I understand it, the return rate does not include those votes which have been lodged at the Derwent Valley Council Chambers, so the tally is probably somewhat higher than suggested. We are slightly ahead of the state average, which is running at 44.29%.

Today's statewide voting tally.
Click image to enlarge.
In the Derwent Valley we all have a lot to say about our council. Council elections provide the best opportunity for you to express your opinion and as the polling period draws to a close I urge you to have your say in the most powerful way. Please vote.

Voting in council elections is not compulsory but it is easy. Your ballot pack contains your voting slips, a booklet with information about each candidate and an envelope to return your vote. If you have misplaced your booklet, you can read the candidate statements here. If you have not received your ballot pack, please contact the Tasmanian Electoral Commission on 1800 801 701 or call at the council chambers in New Norfolk on Monday.

Voting closes at 10am on Tuesday, October 28. If you miss the post on Monday, there is a ballot box at the Derwent Valley Council Chambers. I'll be posting my vote this weekend and I hope about 3000 fellow residents of the Derwent Valley municipality will be doing so as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Next council meeting

A REMINDER that the final monthly meeting of the Derwent Valley Council in its current form will be held on Wednesday, October 22 at 6.30pm. The public is invited to attend the meeting.  Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting, please do get in touch.The meeting agenda is available online.

Third campaign advertisement

This advertisement appears in this week's issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette.
Click image to enlarge.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second campaign ad

Click image to enlarge.
MY second campaign advertisement appears in this week's Derwent Valley Gazette and deals with two issues very close to my heart. These are my independence and my belief that a properly restored and developed Willow Court historic site will rival Port Arthur and bring visitors in droves. I also had a little bit to say about council expediture too.

There has been considerable discussion about the increasing role of party politics in local government, in particular since the State Government changed the law around eligibility for election as mayor a few months ago. I don't believe there is any place for party politics in councils. If you want an independent councillor you should ask how "independent" your preferred candidates are. I have no party and no backers. I authorise my own campaign statements and have accepted no donations. I have not asked for or accepted any offers to display signs or posters and took some convincing to allow a very determined friend to letterbox some of my surplus leaflets to areas outside the main distribution area. You can read more about candidate disclosure here.

Council expenditure remains a real concern to me. I am sure we can do better, but it requires a majority of councillors to be of a like mind in this regard. We have tinkered around the edges and saved a few dollars by ceasing the catering at councillor workshops but we have not been able to direct sufficient funding to the reconstruction of our roads in particular. I'm not sure we can achieve the improvements we would all like to see if we eliminate increases in the rates and reduce some of the charges as proposed by some candidates. Hypothetically speaking, if you have a 0% rate increase when inflation is running at 2.5% per cent, the budget is immediately at a disadvantage. That said, rate rises aren't the only way to increase the council's revenue, so I'll be keen to hear what any new councillors have to say on this.

Which brings me to Willow Court. The council's complete mishandling of this historic site was my main reason for seeking election in 2009. I won't go over old ground here, but the new council didn't exactly get off to a great start on this either. Then, in 2011-12 I put a new plan for Willow Court to the council and the outcome is that the first stage of the redevelopment is nearly complete. One wing of the Barracks and most of Bronte House has been restored and will soon be opened to visitors. This is largely due to the efforts of the Willow Court Conservation Committee appointed by council in 2012. Next month will see some preliminary work done in advance of an archaeological investigation that will start in Willow Court early next year and has the potential to go on for several years. This will include the colonial tunnel or sewer that connected Willow Court to the River Derwent via Burnett St and I'm really excited about this. I think the word "passion" is over-used these days, but there's no doubting that Willow Court is something I am passionate about and the job is far from finished.

Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published. Comments or questions not intended for publication can be emailed to me directly.   

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

More council reforms proposed

COUNCILLORS elected in this month's Local Government elections will have to deal with two of the big issues facing the state following announcements by Local Goverment and Planning Minister Peter Gutwein today.

Municipal amalgamations are back on the agenda, with Mr Gutwein saying he will talk to Tasmania's mayors about this after the council elections. While the minister has not yet shared his thoughts with councils, I heard his remarks on ABC Radio this afternoon. I support a reduction in council numbers and have long held the opinion that there should be a single council along the length of the Lyell Highway from Granton to Derwent Bridge.

Mr Gutwein also announced that the State Government would introduce new laws to create a single, statewide set of planning rules.  He said these Bills would go before Parliament in the first half of next year. Under the expert guidance of our council planner, councillors have done a lot of work on a new Derwent Valley Council Planning Scheme over the last two years to replace the 20-year-old New Norfolk Planning Scheme and to my knowledge this is awaiting ministerial approval to progress from "draft" to "interim".

Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published. Comments or questions not intended for publication can be emailed to me directly.  

End of an era

Next Council Meeting - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The final monthly meeting of the Derwent Valley Council in its current form will be held on Wednesday, October 22 at 6.30pm. The public is invited to attend the meeting.  Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting, please do get in touch. The meeting agenda will be available online from the afternoon of Thursday, October 16.

Monday, October 6, 2014

All the candidates and more

THE Tasmanian Electoral Commission has published a booklet containing statements from each of the candidates contesting this month's council election. A printed copy of the booklet will be sent to each voter in their ballot pack next week, but an electronic version is available for downloading from the TEC website now.

The booklet also contains the following information:

This year, for the first time, the entire Derwent Valley Council is being elected for a four-year term. The mayor, deputy mayor and councillors you elect will all serve until 2018.

Successful candidates for mayor and deputy mayor must be also elected as councillors to be able to accept the office of mayor or deputy mayor.
There are three elections being held for the Derwent Valley Council:
• Eight Councillors – 19 candidates
• Mayor – five candidates
• Deputy Mayor – seven candidates

As well as the printed booklet of candidate statements, your postal ballot pack contains:
• Two sheets of ballot papers (one for councillor positions, the other for mayor and deputy mayor positions)
• A ballot paper envelope
• A reply paid envelope

Saturday, October 4, 2014

First campaign ad

Click image to enlarge
THANKS to everyone for their kind remarks about my first campaign advertisement in the Derwent Valley Gazette this week. As with my first campaign in 2009, I won't be littering the landscape with election signs.

I really appreciate the support of those who have offered to place a sign in their yard, but I will be sticking with press advertising, a leaflet and this blog.

Communication was one of the two big issues behind my decision to stand for council five years ago. The flow of information between council and the community could still be better, but a great improvement has made during the last few years. It is easier to obtain the documents for each council meeting than it was before; the public is asked for its input into council decisions more often than before; and a council newsletter is issued three or four times a year.

More can be done to improve council communications and you would be surprised to know how often councillors are left out of the loop too. Most councillors were given no information about the stage of the Tour of Tasmania being held between Strathgordon and New Norfolk earlier this week, despite our council being a major sponsor.

Communication will remain one of my key issues. I commit myself to continue the upkeep of this blog and my advertising in the Gazette, and I will seek to improve the distribution of the council newsletter. Communication is a two-way street, so let's hear from you too.

Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published. Comments or questions not intended for publication can be emailed to me directly.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Council candidates

A GREAT field of 19 candidates has been announced for next month's election for the Derwent Valley Council. I wish all candidates the best of luck and a good campaign. The candidates are listed below in the order provided by the electoral commission:

Councillor - 19 candidates (eight to be elected)
BELCHER, Paul, of Magra
BESTER, Damian Rodney, of New Norfolk
BILINSKI, Joe, of Lachlan
BINGLEY, Phillip, of Lachlan
BROMFIELD, Judy, of New Norfolk
EVANS, Martyn, of Magra
FARRELL, Kylie Anne, of Molesworth
GRAHAM, James, of New Norfolk
HILL, Jamie, of New Norfolk
LATHEY, Barry Keith, of New Norfolk
LESTER, Chris, of Magra
MORRIS, Tim, of New Norfolk
NICHOLSON, Tony, of Lachlan
PEARCE, Frank, of Black Hills
SALT, Anne, of New Norfolk
SHAW, Ben, of Lawitta
SHAW, Scott Darrell, of New Norfolk
SHOOBRIDGE, Wayne, of New Norfolk
TRIFFETT, Julie, of New Norfolk

Mayor - five candidates
BELCHER, Paul, of Magra
BINGLEY, Phillip, of Lachlan
EVANS, Martyn, of Magra
LESTER, Chris, of Magra
PEARCE, Frank, of Black Hills

Deputy Mayor - seven candidates
BILINSKI, Joe, of Lachlan
LATHEY, Barry Keith, of New Norfolk
MORRIS, Tim, of New Norfolk
NICHOLSON, Tony, of Lachlan
SALT, Anne, of New Norfolk
SHAW, Ben, of Lawitta
SHOOBRIDGE, Wayne, of New Norfolk

Council elections are conducted by postal ballot. Election material (including the ballot paper) is mailed directly to each elector. This process is due to start on October 14 and every elector should have their ballot packs by October 17. Voting is not compulsory but to have your vote counted it needs to be returned to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission by 10am on October 28.

Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bicycle Tasmania

TODAY I have responded to a survey from Bicycle Tasmania. I understand the same request has been made of all council election candidates. The three questions asked, and my answers, were as follows:

How have you supported cycling in the past?
I support cycling for sport, recreation and transport. The Derwent Valley Council in partnership with the State Government has recently improved bicycle facilities at New Norfolk's main car park/bus station, and the council has sponsored the Tour of Tasmania for several years. Funding has also been secured for the upgrading of New Norfolk's main walking and cycling track.

Do you support the infrastructure projects proposed by BT in your Council area?
While I have not had a recent update on the proposed Derwent Valley Rail Trail, I support the general concept particularly for the benefits it could bring to the Upper Derwent Valley. 
Do you support increased car parking in your local CBD?
Parking requirements have not been specifically surveyed as far as I'm aware, but recent development projects in New Norfolk mean there is probably no immediate need for increased car parking in the town's CBD.

Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Funding and disclosure

TONIGHT I have lodged my registration and declaration with Funding and Disclosure Inc. This is a relatively new group with the following objectives:

  1. To lobby for legislation requiring timely disclosure of all political donations and gifts at all levels of government. 
  2. To facilitate voluntary disclosure of political donations and gifts.
  3. To provide forums for discussion of matters relating to political funding, funding disclosure and related topics.
The group has a website and Facebook page and it gained some mainstream media attention when announcing its intentions earlier this month. It invites all candidates in the 2014 Tasmanian local government elections to register, declare any donations or gifts received in the last 12 or 24 months, and then make progressive diclosures of all donations and gifts received during the election period.

I am a self-funded candidate and have not received any donations over the $100 threshold proposed by Funding and Disclosure Inc. I don't believe I have received any donations under the $100 amount either, although I was once given a bottle of wine (not Grange and sadly not Derwent Valley).

Funding and Disclosure Inc also asked about political party affiliation. I have none, and never have. My impression is that those councillors who have hitched their wagon to one party or another have generally ended up pretty much disappointed by the experience. I prefer to tread my own path. In this election I'm once again offering myself to serve the residents and ratepayers of our municipality, equally and without fear or favour.

Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Illabrook Dam discussions

FOLLOWING yesterday's report in the Derwent Valley Gazette about Illabrook Dam, I was contacted by the owner of the land surrounding the reservoir. He was keen to discuss the comments made by councillors at last week's council meeting, which were accurately reported in the Gazette.

The dam was built by the council many years ago and provided New Norfolk's water supply for several decades. It was taken over by the State Government prior to my election to council and is now owned by TasWater. Over the last few months there has been growing concern for the future of this asset and speculation that it was to be decommissioned or removed.

Last week's council meeting debated and approved a proposal to form a working party to investigate ways to keep the dam intact as a recreational facility if it is no longer required as a domestic water supply. It has been difficult to get a clear picture of the issues at Illabrook, so I was particularly pleased to hear from the landowner and invited him to meet with councillors. A great discussion was held tonight and there was an agreement to keep talking about the future for the dam.

It should be understood that the dam is surrounded by private property and neither I nor the council encourage anyone to trespass on that private property to access the dam.

Great news in education

THERE was great news for local students today with the announcement of a $300,000 Federal Government grant for a project known as "Tree2Sea".  The money comes from Medicare Local via the Tasmanian Health Assistance Package.

A boat-building project developed in partnership by the Derwent Valley Community House, Derwent Valley Council, New Norfolk High School and Workskills Employment, it will involve students in the construction of kayaks and sailing boats under the supervision of a skilled craftsman.

Through the project, students will learn more about health and nutrition, boat and water skills and safety, boat building and project development, website development and multi-media skills, literacy and numeracy, kayaking and sailing. Participants will learn about the environment and sustainable practices in protecting waterways and forestry and the project will also help them to identify possible future employment pathways.

Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this project to our municipality, including the councillors and council staff who have been assisting over the last year or so. The funding will be provided until June 2016.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Consulting our committees

THE agenda documents for our council's monthly meetings are a lot like Forrest Gump's proverbial box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. And so it was last Friday when I received my papers for last night's meeting. A fortnight after receiving a draft revision of the Terms of Reference for the council's Special Committees, there it was in the agenda - up for formal consideration without having been seen by most of those committees.

The draft document proposes considerable changes to the rules governing our committees and it is only fair that the committees and their members are asked to comment. So I'm grateful that my fellow councillors supported the motion I put to the council last night: "That the item lay on the table for one month to allow for consultation with council's Special Committees before a decision is made on the new terms of reference."

These were my speech notes: "Mr Mayor, having waited a year for this report, it has now been rushed through without consulting those it will affect the most - the members of our Special Committees. There are several items in the proposed Terms of Reference that I find to be more than a little worrying but the first problem is in the area of consultation.

"The general manager's report states that consultation with the community, experts and stakeholders is not applicable. It is applicable, and it is always applicable when we are proposing to change the rules we expect people to abide by. I should not need to remind council that we should be grateful for the voluntary work carried out by our Special Committees and the very least we owe them is the right to be consulted.

"Last month's decision to determine the new Terms of Reference no later than our October meeting still allows ample time for consultation before a decision is made. I have already sent a copy of the proposed changes to the committees I serve on, and wonder how many other councillors have done the same."

In my closing remarks I asked that the draft Terms of Reference be sent to all our Special Committees (there are about 15) with a request that feedback be returned as quickly as possible. The report containing the Terms of Reference can be read by downloading a copy of the agenda document here. Anyone wanting to discuss them is welcome to contact me or their designated councillor representative. A list of most of the Special Committees and their councillors can be found here.

Last night's council meeting also received the first minutes of the recently-established Magra Recreation Reserve Special Committee and approved three new members for the Friends of Willow Court Special Committee.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Frescati garden looking good

A quick photo after today's working bee at Frescati House.
ANOTHER successful working bee was held this afternoon by the Friends of Frescati. The group is a Special Committee of the Derwent Valley Council and it's been my pleasure to be their councillor representative for the last year or so.

The Friends get together every second Sunday afternoon to work in the garden around the house, which occupies a prime site opposite the Barracks at Willow Court.

A big focus has been the discovery and restoration of a pond in the lower garden, while nearer to the road the group has successfully nursed the neglected heritage hedge back to health. Much work has been done around the hedge over the last few months and as I was leaving this afternoon I stopped to take in the surroundings and snapped a quick photo which you can see above.

The Friends of Frescati are always looking for additional helpers in the garden and I would be pleased to put anyone interested in touch with the group if you would like to drop me a line.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Council elections approaching


Local government elections approaching
THE Local Government Amendment (Mayoral Candidate Eligibility) Bill 2014 has passed the Legislative Council and now awaits the Royal Assent.
The effect of the Bill is that mayoral and deputy mayoral candidates will no longer be required to have previously served on a Tasmanian Council for 12 months.
The Notice of Election for all 29 Tasmanian municipal areas will be published on Saturday 13 September 2014, after which time nominations for all 263 councillor/alderman positions, 29 mayors and 29 deputy mayors will open.
Nominations will close at 12 noon on Monday 29 September 2014 and will be announced at noon the following day, Tuesday 30 September.
A Candidate Information Booklet and the nomination form are now available on the TEC’s website, or in hard copy by calling the TEC on 1800 801 701.
This year’s elections will be Tasmania’s first “all-in, all-out” local government elections.
Voters will next get a say on who represents them in local government in Spring 2018.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Next meetings

Notice of Council Workshop - 4 September 2014
A council workshop will be held at the Court House, Circle St, New Norfolk, on Thursday, September 4, at 6.30pm. The format is an open session with the general public for the first half hour. The remainder of the workshop is closed to the public. This is an informal workshop of council and no agenda is provided.

Notice of Council Meeting - 18 September 2014 
The next monthly meeting of council will be held at the Court House, Circle St, New Norfolk on Thursday, September 18, 2014, at 6.30pm. The public is invited to attend the meeting.  Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting, please do get in touch. The meeting agenda will be available online from the afternoon of Friday, September 12.
Thinking about standing for council?
I encourage anyone thinking about seeking election as a councillor next month to come along to the next couple of council meetings and workshops. This really is the best way to get an insight into the way the council operates and to get a clearer picture of how you can play your part - elected or not. So come along, ask some questions, and get a feel for it. And if I can help you in any way, please do get in touch.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Four more years?

My first term as a councillor is nearing its end. Council elections are about two months away and I have this week announced my intention to nominate for re-election and to offer myself to continue as your representative on council. My advertisement published in yesterday's issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette appears below.

There were several prospective election candidates in the public gallery at tonight's council meeting but none raised any issues during public question time, which was disappointing. I really encourage any intending candidates to come along to the last few meetings prior to the October election, to become familiar with the way council meetings are conducted and hopefully put some questions to the council. Not everyone would agree, but I love it when some curly questions are lobbed in from the public gallery. You do need to lodge your questions with the general manager 10 minutes before the start of the meeting.

Some very useful information is also available in the Tasmanian Electoral Commission's candidate handbook which can be downloaded from here.

Good luck to all intending candidates.

Click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

National Park news

THE monthly meeting of the Maydena Community Association last week featured a guest speaker from Mt Field National Park who addressed some issues of concern to both the local residents and members of the wider Derwent Valley community.
Some very good news is the recent increase in visitor numbers at Mt Field after some years of decline since the introduction of entry fees to Tasmania's National Parks. It was reported that 141,000 people had visited Mt Field in the last financial year and this was described as an all-time record. Mt Field National Park is now fully encompassed in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and this is expected to bring even greater recognition and visitation.
The meeting also heard that the centenary of the park's founding is now just two years away and big celebrations are being planned. Mt Field, along with Freycinet, is Tasmania's oldest national park and reportedly the third-oldest in the world, behind Yellowstone in the US and Royal National Park in NSW.
The following issues were also addressed:
  • The Parks and Wildlife Service now has responsibility for the Eagles Eyrie near Maydena and is looking to lease it out via an expression of interest process. It was not clear what stage that process had reached.
  • The Creepy Crawly Trail is not closed. It has been reconfigured and is now a walk in, walk out arrangement rather than a circuit.
  • Junee Cave is open and will remain so. The structure going into the cave is being regularly inspected and does have a limited life and access to the cave may change.
  • Access to Growling Swallet is available by borrowing a key ($1000 deposit) which needs to be booked via the visitor centre at Mt Field.
  • Marriott Falls is open to visitors and access has been improved thanks to the good work of the Friends of Mt Field.
There was a discussion about where parks entry fees apply and the meeting was advised that any use of the park required payment of the relevant entry fee. This included:
  • Use of the barbecue areas
  • Driving up to the ski field
  • Visiting the Waterfalls Cafe
  • Using campsites at Lake Pedder such as Teds Beach.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ministerial statement on mayoral elections

August 6, 2014

Peter Gutwein, Minister for Planning and Local Government

Encouraging Greater Democracy in Tasmania

The Liberal Government will bring on a Bill when Parliament resumes to remove the eligibility requirement for candidates to have completed at least 12 months service as a councillor before standing for the positions of mayor or deputy mayor.

The Liberal Government plans to amend the Local Government Act 1993 to remove the 12 month requirement so that any person who is eligible to be elected as a councillor can also stand for the position of mayor or deputy mayor if they wish.

Candidates obviously need to be elected as a councillor as well as winning the deputy mayoral or mayoral election before they could take on the position. These elections are conducted concurrently.
The current legislation is a classic example of Labor bureaucracy which serves no practical purpose. It prevents qualified people from having the opportunity to put their name forward to serve their community.

This requirement is especially restrictive with recent changes. At the 2014 local government elections, mayors and deputy mayors will be voted in for four-year terms rather than the previous two-year terms as part of new four yearly all-in, all-out local government elections. If the eligibility clause is not removed it effectively means that most people would need to be a councillor for four years, before being eligible to nominate as a candidate for the office of mayor or deputy mayor.

This proposal received support at last month's Local Government Association of Tasmania conference and will bring Tasmania into line with other State jurisdictions and encourages greater democracy with local government. The amendment is planned to be in place before local government elections scheduled for October 2014.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Notices of meetings

Notice of Council Workshop - 7 August 2014
A council workshop will be held at the Court House, Circle St, New Norfolk, on Thursday, August 7, at 6.30pm. The format is an open session with the general public for the first half hour. The remainder of the workshop is closed to the public. This is an informal workshop of council and no agenda is provided.

Notice of Council Meeting - 21 August 2014 
The next monthly meeting of council will be held at the Court House, Circle St, New Norfolk on Thursday, August 21, 2014, at 6.30pm. The public is invited to attend the meeting.  Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting, please do get in touch. The meeting agenda will be available online from Friday, August 15 afternoon.

Winter newsletter

THE latest issue of the Derwent Valley Council newsletter (Winter 2014) is available for downloading from the council website here.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A preliminary look into the tunnel

Looking into a ventillation shaft at
the side of the sewer. Click to enlarge.
AN initial investigation of New Norfolk's now-famous tunnel or sewer was carried out earlier today by a geophysicist from South Australia. A colonial-era sewer runs from Willow Court to the River Derwent via Burnett St but the questions around it include where it starts and ends, how big it might be, and is it in fact the secret "tunnel".

Today's preliminary exploration was conducted mainly above-ground, using sensitive equipment that detects underground infrastructure and archaeology.

I encountered mayor Martyn Evans in Burnett St, where he was discussing next year's full-scale investigation with archaeologist and geophysicist Dave Ross. Mr Ross is associated with Flinders University, which will conduct a full-scale investigation early next year, but he is presently in Tasmania on a private holiday and made contact with the mayor early this morning. He took some photos and made some measurements that will assist with later work.

It was great to meet Dave and his partner and I believe there will be further exploratory work later this year before the full-scale investigation is started next year by Flinders University.