Shane Waldock, Mal gear, Michiel Pratt, Colleen Miller and Terry McMullan under the microscope at council election forum
Shane Waldock, Mal gear, Michiel Pratt, Colleen Miller and Terry McMullan under the microscope at council election forum

COUNCIL ELECTION: Division 3, 4 candidates have their say

FRUSTRATIONS with Gympie Council’s spending, its planning system and support for local business were laid bare Wednesday night as the first batch of divisional candidates went under the microscope.

Candidates for Divisions 3 and 4 (and one from Division 5) revealed their concerns and plans in front of a crowd of more than 100 at Gympie State High School’s Hamilton Hall. And a few sore spots were exposed.

Division 3 and 4 candidates under the microscope at Tuesday night’s election forum.
Division 3 and 4 candidates under the microscope at Tuesday night’s election forum.

Businessmen Michiel Pratt, Shane Waldock and Rob Burns said their own experiences with the council and planning department had made it clear something needed fixing.

Mr Waldock said one of his applications had stalled because the needed signature “was on leave”.

Terry McMullan said the council needed a “business promotion body” to help growth, and Colleen Miller said it needed to be made simple to let businesses “go about their business”. Incumbent Mal Gear also supported a cut to red tape. Wayne Sachs – a former councillor – said it was within the council’s ability to “override (planning) and make decisions they want to improve the region”.

Division 3 and 4 candidates under the microscope at Tuesday night’s election forum.
Division 3 and 4 candidates under the microscope at Tuesday night’s election forum.

Rae Gate, another former councillor, said a swift review was needed as the process “was not a good one. “The checklist is there, I believe, but every time (developers) … think it’s ready to go they’re ask for yet another report and that’s just not good enough”.

Bruce Devereaux said it “feels like the red tape is just to get more money from small businesses. We’re gutting them”.

He had similar concerns with rate rises, which incumbent Daryl Dodt said in his re-election pitch averaged about 1.8 per cent a year over the past four years.

Mr Devereaux said some were forking out more than their fair share. “To try and keep their election promise (of low rates) … a few people on the fringes pay more,” he said.

Dr Dodt strongly defended the council’s controversial spending of reserves, including $41 million on long overdue infrastructure, as “your council spending your money on you”.

“We have not borrowed … our financial position is sound.”

Division 3: Mal Gear, Colleen Miller, Shane Waldock, Michiel Pratt, Terry McMullan

Division 4: Daryl Dodt, Rae Gate, Bruce Devereaux, Wayne Sachs.

Division 5: Rob Burns