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.