Q and A with Mayoral candidate Bron Larner
WE ASKED Bron Larner a few quick questions about Southern Downs politics.
Q: What is your view on some of the big issues on the council agenda such as Emu Swamp Dam and the Stanthorpe streetscape?
All proposals must be considered in the light of our current $30 million debt and our inability to borrow.
I note that our current Council neglected to prepare a business plan for SKD, which has hampered applications for funding.
The Streetscape Proposal is actually a good investment, because it is staggered (bit by bit, as it can be afforded), and ready to run should a major government grant be available.
We need to be ready when opportunities arise.
Governments do not generally hand out money to communities who are not organised and professional and just present a wish-list.
On a personal level, I would dearly like to see long-term planning. Not platitudes, but real long-term planning. Not wish-lists, but real and practical and visionary planning.
At the moment we seem to be taking a band-aid approach, and we are wallowing in plans which sound good but do not really address the future.
Q: What credentials and experience would you bring to the council?
I am a landowner in the district with a vested interest in agriculture.
As a teacher, I have experience and empathy with youth.
As a university lecturer, I am capable of doing research and getting information about challenging issues which is useful for decision making.
I can research matters: write reports, and present them professionally.
Public speaking and vision are both important assets.
As a facilities manager for various local government councils, including the Gold Coast and Lismore, I have been responsible for millions of dollars in assets and have been expected to run these facilities on very tight budgets.
I have never gone over budget in my entire working career.
As an innovator, one of my projects was to encourage an international internship program to Lismore, which brought in over $120,000 to the local community as a side-benefit.
I am committed to unity in management, and believe that one of the important roles a mayor can play is to ensure that participants work together for the common good.
To summarise: I am an experienced motivator and public speaker: an innovative thinker, and wholly committed to responsible economic management.
Q: How do you feel about the performance of the current council?
I would like to see a ward system providing better local representation, a more economic approach to expenditure, and a united Council working with Council staff for the betterment of the whole community.
I feel that we need to prioritise agriculture and tourism as our mainstays.
Employment is also a priority.
I would prefer to back small enterprises and expand existing businesses rather than build a $50 million gas pipeline to attract factories.
We need to concentrate on the things we value and are good at.
After all, the Southern Downs is quite a special place and for over 100 years we have been a cold climate tourist and health resort area.
We need to enhance our unique attractions and enable people to start small businesses without excessive red tape, excessive development fees and extraordinary bureaucratic requirements.
Small is good.
I have difficulty with Council when they chop and change policies and I would prefer strong, consistent and rational decision making.
Q: What would change if you were elected to Southern Downs Regional Council?
Transparency and accountability. And an emphasis on team-building both amongst Councillors and with Council staff
We are all in this together.
I would introduce ward representation and fortnightly meetings for Councillors.
I would seek to open up economic and employment opportunities across the board, especially with a re-assessment of some of our local laws which prevent rural landowners from earning extra-income from associated farm businesses.
And above all, I would be concentrating on getting the budget back on track.