FI­NAL DAYS OF ELEC­TION RACE

Can­di­dates an­swer last ques­tions be­fore vote is de­cided

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA THOMAS

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.

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