HOW WILL YOU VOTE: Coronavirus has changed the political landscape, bringing up unforeseen challenges. (AAP Image/Darren England)
HOW WILL YOU VOTE: Coronavirus has changed the political landscape, bringing up unforeseen challenges. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Mayoral candidates reveal plans for economic revival

THE future of the Southern Downs will be decided at the local government elections on Saturday, 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.

This week, in light of the pandemic sweeping the globe and the hundreds of thousands of jobs expected to be lost nationwide, The Daily News turned to the mayoral candidates for a longer response to the question of coronavirus.

This question asked,

“If elected as mayor, how will you help the Southern Downs economy through the coronavirus crisis and “over the bridge”?


Tracy Dobie
Tracy Dobie

DOBIE, Tracy

“Cashflow for our residents and businesses is already an issue due to the drought and will be more so now due to COVID19. The first priority will be to work with Council to develop an economic package that will support our residents and businesses by addressing rates, fees and charges, payment periods, discounts and other measures. This will be undertaken in consultation with all Councillors, with input sought from local businesses.

Adjustments will be made to the 2019/20 Third Quarter Review to account for reduced income and the increased expenditure resulting from COVID19 response actions. The draft 2020/2021 FY Budget was already being developed based on a minimum-to-no rates increase; and measures will now need to be implemented to further support ratepayers.

I will also work with Council to submit projects for funding through the State and Federal Government Stimulus Packages to ensure continued employment opportunities and income for our region.

In the short-term I urge individuals and businesses to seek support if they need it. The COVID19 Portal on the SDRC website has information on the virus itself but it also has links for individuals seeking Federal government support and links for businesses seeking State government support. This financial support is available now.

I will ensure Council continues to provide as many services as possible to our community enacting the Business Continuity Plan that has been developed.”

Joe Doepel.
Joe Doepel.


“As Mayor I would work with state and federal governments to have infrastructure jobs ready to start as soon as we are able to go back to work like dams, rail and road. As a lot business will be gone or start back up with minimal staff and red tape will have to go. There are going to be lots issues to work through and they will be on going. Would most likely start up with smaller projects to help business get back on they feet. But we will have to have large scale government funded projects to create long term employment to help everyone in the whole shire recover form this virus and the last 3 years. As of now no one knows how long this will go on for.

As Mayor and council we will have to do as much as possible to help out, and it might be ways that council as never done before or they might of done in war time. This is a war within our boundaries and I hope we will all come out on the other side fit and well, ready to start up as we have in the pass, we live in one of the toughest Nations on earth. That ‘s why we are Australians from the heart.

God Bless to all.”

Peter Kemp.
Peter Kemp.

KEMP, Peter

“This coronavirus (COVID-19) has been announced by the World Health Organisation as a Pandemic, an epidemic that’s spread over several countries or continents and affects a large per cent of the population. As Mayor I would lead by constant contact with the relevant Health Authorities and disseminating as much information to our region by way of newspapers, social media, podcasts and a new help line manned 24/7 to offer support to all our residents. It is important our residents know and understand how to identify and what to do if you have symptoms. If we pull together and help each other, we will come through this crisis. The closure of businesses will have a major impact on the region, and the Federal Government will be issuing stimulus packages. Council can assist with any providing current information on help for the large numbers of residents who cannot work because of this crisis and businesses forced to close. Council can assist residents by helping to fill out forms for assistance, a daunting task for elderly people. An Emergency fund can be set up by council to be used to help our most vulnerable, who have slipped through the net and need urgent assistance. When this has subsided, council can assist residents and businesses with lower fees and charges, actively marketing the region, and returning our lifestyle to normal as quickly as possible.”

Vic Pennisi.
Vic Pennisi.


“I believe what we need now, more than anything else, is clear, calm, rational leadership. Leadership does not mean making snap decisions designed to look like action, to look like doing something is better than doing nothing. Real leadership, in my opinion, is having an actual presence that reassures the community that law and order is in place. Snap decisions made against higher authority that create panic in the community have to be avoided for all our sake.

What we need to do, is the same absolute consistent actions from the prime minister to the citizens, all the way down, through every layer, in the same direction, at the same time. “Top to bottom unity”, “strength in numbers”, “together we stand”, “pull the rope in the same direction” however you want to say it, it all means the same thing. If we as individuals and governments take matters in our own hands, against proper advice, we are partly responsible for the stripping of shelves and society panic. It is time for calm, measured, trusting leadership.

I do not pretend to know more than the national and state principal health advisers, but I wonder if the current mayor thinks she does. At times like these, what we really need is trust in our leaders. Put politics aside and have trust, we have to trust someone.

When the health crisis has passed, you will want a mayor you can still trust – one who can listen, one who can engage, one who has empathy and sympathy and genuinely cares. I hope you believe that’s me.”

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