FINAL DAYS OF ELECTION RACE
Candidates answer last questions before vote is decided
THE race for a seat on the Whitsunday Regional Council has almost reached its conclusion, with just days left for residents to cast their votes.
In the lead-up to the election, the Whitsunday Times has been asking the candidates a series of questions so readers can gain an understanding of their priorities and how they would operate if elected.
The final two questions have been put to the candidates this week, which asked them how they would help support the region through the coronavirus crisis and what they believe the residents in their division want, and how they will deliver this.
DIVISION 1 Jan Clifford
“IT is really about treating each individual business sector differently and, within council’s limited capacity, how we deal with a displaced workforce.
We are going to see serious shortages of farm workers who will be in high demand, so training, in the short-term, hospitality workers in farm skills, perhaps even help Whitsunday Transit run buses daily to deliver a workforce to farms.
There will be a need for council to use its major tourism asset, Whitsunday Coast airport, to reconnect with the tourism and travel industries.
If, at the end of the day, council can help stimulate flights, this is the best we can do for tourism within our limited scope.
And we can lobby government at all levels to support the jobs and small business which is the lifeblood of our economy.”
WHAT PEOPLE WANT
“At present, I think they need calm, steady and experienced leadership in this time of unprecedented crisis.
They need councillors who will support our mayor, not work against him, and the team that got us through the cyclone and guided our recovery is the team needed right now.
Clearly our town needs its workforce employed, it needs to retain the people in the region who know just what it is our visitors need and it needs a council that can be as adaptable as possible in a very fluid situation.
In times of great challenges, experience matters, and I believe I bring that to the table.”
DIVISION 1 Mark Yore
“TWO of our four industries, agriculture and tourism, will be profoundly affected with a huge drop in tourism demand and labour shortages in seasonal agriculture.
Council can make a real difference with:
– Bus subsidies to take residents between low-work and high-demand areas;
– Rate relief for local businesses;
– Reduce council payment terms from 30 days to seven days after invoice for local suppliers;
– Increased funding for tourism advertising within Australia;
– Examine all fees and charges and remove or reduce those impeding job creation;
– Pause all council enforcement activities except for the worst breaches.
Council is going to have to work effectively with federal and state governments to target relief, forgoing some revenue and making tough decisions on expenditure.”
WHAT PEOPLE WANT
“Concerns people have raised with me include vegetation, business confidence, parking and “the vibe”.
– Let’s plant more native trees – for shade, for wildlife, to improve visual amenity;
– Business needs certainty and the belief that council is working for them;
– Part of that confidence means making it easier for people to shop and making it easier to park. Plan for temporary parking while looking at long-term solutions, like the introduction of resident parking permits.
– Locals and visitors have fond memories of Airlie as a party town. Recent changes have impacted the amenity of Airlie, we have to go back to what makes our area special.”
DIVISION 1 Jess Kelly
“CORONAVIRUS may have consequences far beyond what our community anticipates. Being proactive, forward thinking and following safety recommendations will help all of us to plan for and work through the unknown. To support the region, I will: Work with state and federal governments and inform the community of benefits available; Make ALL local government purchases local in order to help keep our money local; Put measures in place to check on elderly and those most vulnerable; Ensure disaster centres are ready and available for worst case scenarios; Fight to increase bus services to cater for the social distancing required to reduce the spread of coronavirus; Put a hold on rate payments and abolish penalty interest for late payments; Have more involvement in promoting our region domestically.”
WHAT PEOPLE WANT
“We are lucky to live in one of the most unique environments in Australia. We also pay one of the highest rates in Queensland. Lowering rates to make it more affordable for members of the community is essential. One easy way would be to reduce unnecessary, wasteful spending within council. Having groups within our region working together alongside each other to achieve quality benefits for the entire region. We need to be unified in our approach to promoting the Whitsunday coast and events within our region, rather than competing against each other. Listening to the community and being a representative of and voice for the community. I believe in having an open and accountable council so the community is aware of what is really happening in our region. I will be truthful to the community so trust can be established in me, your representative.