COUNCIL Q&A: Candidates reveal vision for the future
THE future of the Southern Downs will be decided at the local government elections on March 28.
Prospective councillors don’t require any formal qualifications but the Queensland Electoral Commission suggests an active interest in community issues, good communication and negotiation skills, and business or financial management skills.
In the lead-up to the mandatory elections The Daily News aims to provide daily insight into candidates’ experiences, ideas, visions and priorities.
Candidates will receive a question each weekday, for which they will have 24 hours to respond, within a word limit, before the paper goes to print.
Should these councillors receive the public vote, they will have no shortage of issues with which to contend.
Fires, drought and potential flooding posed complex problems for the region over the past 12 months, and with a global pandemic looming, there are greater challenges to come.
The second question asked,
“What’s your vision for the Southern Downs over the next 10 years?”
“My vision is for our region to be a destination of choice for residents, businesses and tourists; where each community grows and develops in-keeping with the goals of the residents who live here. I would like to see our lifestyle protected while at the same time ensuring our residents have access to affordable services and facilities, that create community pride for families and young people. I would also like to see our residents become more involved in community projects and adopt more sustainable practices to ensure we are efficient and effective in managing our water, energy, waste and our environment.”
“Part of My vision for the next 10 years would be to build more dams and weirs, built with hydro generation plants in the pipe lines, with dams being built with the Federal Governments green energy fund, which in turn will help with water security for towns, farms and Businesses to help grow our shire. Which will help attract more business, employment and so on. ”
“I have a vision of Warwick as a vibrant unique city, with traditional values of a rural lifestyle intermixed with a tech savvy hub of innovation with many smart businesses, conducting internet business, manufacturing and shipping from here. Strategically located at the intersection of major highways, making transport between major regions is fast and convenient. Young tech savvy families can bring up children away from the congested cities, yet close enough to catch a plane in a few hours.”
“I dream of a Southern Downs where people want to come and live, work, rest and play.
I dream of a council that puts people first, of a council that facilitates great outcomes, because we have a culture that focuses on “Customer Service” throughout the organisation.
I dream of a council that has a reputation where investors trust us and want to come here to do business and where local investment drives our economy.
I want to restore relationships, be transparent, and open the doors, prosperity will come when we get the culture right.”
BARTLEY, Ross Trevor
“Building confidence and resilience in our Region by continuing to upgrade and construct water storage infrastructure, to address prolonged dry periods. Retention of existing water allocations, both rural and urban, and increase the urban allocation. Strengthen the industrial sector that will provide employment and qualifications for future generations of our younger residents. I envisage vibrant and viable rural production, which in turn creates the similar viability for commercial enterprises within all our communities. The Rural and Tourism sectors will continue to complement each other, which in turn attracts visitor spending. Make this Region a great place to work, live & play.”
“Secure water for our population, farmers and industry is of utmost importance. Potable water for every resident of the SDRC. We should have more walking paths, bike path and good signs. Pool covers for winter. Lower debt, a smaller council, reduce the number of assets from 880 and the region’s library services extended. We should have recycling companies in the SD, and reduce our waste. Attract more industry investment, farmers support, have a low level of pest infestation. A growing Tourism Industry. Proportional lower rates. A driving community where we look after the vulnerable and we support success. A place where we care.”
“As a proud resident, business owner and community advocate, I believe we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We have to move forward: support farmers and businesses, protect and enhance our unique natural environment, ensure reliability of water, and open our arms to the possibilities of innovation and cost effective technology.
We have so much to offer with tourism and local business which we will support to grow a dynamic, competitive and sustainable future. We will look for opportunities for our youth, to attract more boutique and large businesses and develop our region.
The community deserves a Council with vision for the future and a voice for residents and businesses.”
“My vision for the Southern Downs is to have more growth and tourism potential over the next 10 years, resulting in economic stability for the whole of the region. Agriculture should still be the backbone of our region, and being supportive of this industry with new infrastructure will achieve this vision.”
“I envisage the Southern Downs and the Granite Belt as being
both cultural and tourism meccas with an emphasis or twist on
sustainability. As we progress into the
next decade, we will follow in the same footsteps as other regions are currently
by attracting local and international visitors to our region. Our beauty, our vision and our unique diverse
agricultural pursuits all in one area will see the area flourish and boom. However,
we must pay respect and homage to the land. Drought proofing, fire mitigation
and tight controls on Invasive pests are essential elements to maintaining our future
“To continue to be a great place to live and raise a family, but with more connectivity to the southeast and more diversity in employment and educational opportunities for our children and grandchildren.”
“Council Debt eliminated.
Good seasons, wider prosperity, industry and business growth, more vocational training to lure young families to the area.
Promoting our paddock to plate reputation. Festivals and Events. Local communities exploring local ideas, inviting us all to buy locally.
Tourism – Outlying towns are the gateways to our region. They deserve significant visitor welcoming areas – exploring RV Friendly possibilities.
Tourist Routes throughout the region should continue to tell their stories to visitors in an uplifting and easily accessible fashion.
Roads, parks and infrastructure are of a quality that inspires travellers.
Residents, both old and new, who inspire us.”
“The Southern Downs and Granite Belt has huge potential. Sustainable growth with good development is a key outcome we should be looking for. The right support and infrastructure both community and commercial will be the cornerstone for moving forward. Affordable options for public space, events and tourism will compliment a steady growth in commercial opportunities. With private and state and federal government investment industry and agriculture will recover from the drought as we all aim to return to normal as the weather allows it. Our community is resilient and strong and by working together we can keep our future bright.”
“For the Southern Downs to be an outstanding place to live, work, conduct business and to relax in and for Council to achieve this by working collaboratively and innovatively with and for the people, organisations and businesses.
For the Council to be seen as an employer of choice because of the quality of its work and the manner in which it operates.
For the Council to be a trusted and efficient body because of its honest, open and timely interactions with the community, community groups, businesses and business organisations.”
“•Satisfied informed rate payers who feel their opinion is valued & are genuinely being heard via open true consultation who have regained trust in council.
- Permanent water infrastructure well under way
- Major development & industry providing jobs, creating prosperity for small business & the economy, encouraging youth & trained professionals to remain in the region.
- Council leading the way in sustainable renewable energy projects for self-sufficiency & savings
- A brighter positive work environment for SDRC employees, happy employees are productive employees
- A tourism strategy where operators have a major say in direction
- Well maintained green space & service delivery in every town.”
HARROLD, Amanda Joy
“My vision is a region that is economically diverse with secure water storage to help grow industry and the community. A council that recognises all the regions unique community needs and creates an environment where de-amalgamation is no longer wished for. A council that is transparent and connected to the community and is a place where people want to work. A region that is promoted as “the region” to live in and be part of for work, play and retirement. A region where my three children can stay and create a successful future for themselves and hopefully their families.”
“My vision for the Southern Regional Council for the next 10 years is to continue the present policies put in place, to create additional employment opportunities for the younger generation, in guaranteeing a positive future for the region.
Water is no doubt a strong focus to strengthen our economy to enhance the backbone of our region, that being the agricultural industry. If we don’t ensure the viability of the land and its landlords, then we might as well “shut up shop”.
Tourism has now become a competitive industry across all sectors of Australia, so it is important that we build on what we have we have achieved.”
JENSEN, Michael Damian
“A vibrant region that continues to be favoured by residents as a place to raise a family, start or grow a business, with greater employment opportunities, a cohesive community and a Council that continues to support ALL parts of the Southern Downs. Empowering the community and its residents to make a difference, by listening and learning from groups and individuals in our region about their ideas and aspirations. Identify new revenue sources, other than rates, to assist with the replacement of ageing infrastructure throughout the region and to assist with the development of new and sustainable industries throughout the region.”
JOHNSON, Gregory Glenn
“Lack of water is devastating for our agricultural industry, it impacts our residents directly and also impacts our tourist industry. So it all starts with the water. I am so pleased that Emu Swamp dam on the Severn river has been given the go ahead for our farmers, but we need connecting pipes. We need a regional water grid. If we can secure that over the next ten years then we will have water for our farmers, our residents and our tourists. Then I would like to grow tourism. I would like our residents to come up with ideas for new attractions for the Southern Downs that will bring more visitors to enjoy all the our beautiful region has to offer.”
“My 2030 Vision Southern Downs is to see a more connected and caring community that celebrates diversity, creativity and transparency. A community that is committed to sustainable practices with a focus on renewable solutions. A community that receives high quality local government services and meaningful consultation processes. A community that provides opportunities for our families and our businesses to grow and prosper. A community that encourages visitors to come and experience our stunning natural environments and to participate in our world class tourism and event opportunities.
My 2030 vision is to encourage all residents to be brand ‘Southern Downs’ Ambassadors.”
““Shaping Southern Downs” outlines the vision for this region. Its objective being the Southern Downs and Granite Belt will be a prosperous, diverse and growing community because it is a sought after location for people to visit, live and invest.
The clearly defined vision seeks to drive population growth to 50,000. It is a 4 pillar plan of Grow the population; Connect to surrounding places; Prosper for sustainable growth, community wellbeing & economic diversity; Sustain to protect natural assets & landscapes supporting the region’s environmental systems.
I will continue contributing to the delivery of this vision if re-elected.”
“My vision for the Southern Downs is for it to become a more diverse, progressive and vibrant region. I hope to attract new businesses to the area, at the moment we broadly lean toward tourism and agriculture but attracting and encouraging technology development and manufacturing in the renewables sector are the sort of new progressive businesses that will provide much-needed jobs, which are vital for getting cash flowing in the community. This will have a positive effect on the economy and encourage new people to move to the area. The council’s roll in improving the liveability of the region is to simply play their part in providing services.”
“If elected, my vision will see the Southern Downs become an RV friendly destination and tourism in general blossom to equal places like Margaret River, WA or Daylesford, Vic. We have the potential to become great, just need the dedication. Attract the people who have desires to come to district like this. Develop bike trails, coffee shops, eateries, unique gallery places. Attractive functions for locals and visitors alike. It has started, now continue!
Add to that, our food bowl destination will continue to shine, to supply SE Qld and further with beautiful fresh produce that gives pride to our name.”
“The drought has unfortunately taken a large toll on our region over the past few years. The Southern Downs Regional Council should focus on the following policies over the next term;
Secure water infrastructure (short, medium and long term),
Regional business development,
Regional youth development and training; and
Support for the agricultural sector to regenerate after the drought.”
“We need population growth in our Region and this can be achieved by investment from existing businesses and the encouragement of new business into the Region, which will create new jobs and more people choosing to make the Southern Downs home. This growth will ensure our economy will be resilient and support major infrastructure upgrades, like water, waste, sewerage, roads, arts and culture, sporting facilities, parks etc. This in turn will provide more work opportunities for our youth and young families to stay in our Region.”
“My vision would be: A reliable water supply for growth and prosperity, new industries to be established, incentives to help relocate businesses and government offices into our area to create more secure jobs for families and our school leavers.
Superfast internet so more people can work from home.
I will advocate for: more renewable energy, an electric vehicle charging station for Stanthorpe, a waste to energy plant, a new Art Gallery, shade or cover for swimming pools and upgrade: village and rural roads, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, parks and park runs with lighting.”
“I support a scheme addressing invasive pest control.
Having said that I feel a commonsense approach must be taken when implementing such a scheme given the pressures landholders are experiencing regarding drought and other hardship.
Communication is vital with farmers, as is relief and support in times where the region’s agricultural industry is under significant pressure.
While I support a scheme, our farming community don’t need further pressures as they work to reignite their operations.”
“Attract entrepreneurs to establish new industries and opportunities by making it easier to do business with Council.
New industries = new job opportunities.
NEW RESIDENTS working in new industries, further diversify and strengthen the fabric of our community.
Attract young families looking for a safe, welcoming environment with excellent schools & facilities.
CONTINUE with water conservation measures.
JOIN THE South-East QLD water grid, where water can be directed where it is needed most.
CONTINUE TO LOBBY the Queensland Government for a commitment to fund new infrastructure, like dams.”
“My vision is a region that is happy with it’s Council. Where rates don’t rise excessively, where rates are well spent and the debt has been eliminated. A region where Council is respected, where the staff are happy and where the public has good access to Councillors and management. A region where the Council has an honest dialogue with the community and where governance is transparent. A Region with good water security for town and rural users. A place where people love to work, rest and play because prosperity exists.”
Council candidate Russell Wantling did not provide a response to this question.
“My vision is based on Council’s Shaping Southern Downs document. It embraces the themes – Grow, Connect, Prosper and Sustain which summarise a vision for the region’s future and is used in conjunction with Council’s Strategic Plan and Corporate Plan. These are reviewed on a regular basis, to keep up with changing trends. They play an important role in the way in which we shape the future of this region. We, as a community, must work together, in order to achieve these aims.
We must have continued debt management, and, strong financial planning, to achieve any, short or long term, plans.”