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.