Roads is a big issue raised by the region’s council election hopefuls.
Roads is a big issue raised by the region’s council election hopefuls.

Q&A: Gympie candidates grilled on region’s biggest issues

IN the lead-up to the March 28 council election, The Gympie Times put a number of questions to the region’s candidates.

Today, the 30 men and women fighting for one of the nine seats on the next Gympie Regional Council reveal what they believe are the biggest issues facing the divisions they are standing for.

MORE ELECTION NEWS

All responses presented in divisional order, and in the sequence candidates’ names appear on the ballot papers.

Mayoral

Glen Hartwig

I’M a mayoral candidate, therefore the region as a whole would be my priority.

Mick Curran

MORE work needs to be done to reduce the imbalance of having a large region, by land mass, with a low rate base. This can be achieved through sustainable development and growth. We need to improve our tourism and visitation activities. We need to positively market our region so that we can grow our community.

Tim Jerome

THE biggest priority for the Gympie Region is for us to enjoy our region without us going into big debt. That means good and fair budgets. With my background of working as a business advisory person and communication skills as a teacher. I believe I bring a good mix of experience if elected. I believe I will bring good and fair budgets and be able to communicate this to the public.

The health service was another popular choice.
The health service was another popular choice.

Division 1

Jess Milne

Health services. Although seen as a state government issue, council can be involved with advocacy to relevant governments/departments and provision of healthy living infrastructure and initiatives. Footpaths, walking trails, suitable pool, maintained parks and open space all provide illness prevention and recovery opportunities. Incentives such as negotiated material change of use, infrastructure and other council imposed fees to assist with new facility establishment so providers/GPs want to choose here instead of another area.

Ash Little

WITHOUT hesitation Division 1 residents have identified access to health care services as a priority. It is a councillor’s role to effectively lobby state and federal governments to assist in improving health services. Cooloola Cove would provide an ideal central location for a medical precinct. With over 50 per cent of Division One residents falling into the most vulnerable category by age (0-9 and 60+) it is not OK to say “This is not a local issue”.

Mark McDonald

WITHOUT being selfish my list is long.

Phil Feldman

The single most important item in Division 1 is a lack of access to a doctor and related services. We need to attract doctors to our region using incentives offered by council and state and federal governments to attract doctors to rural and regional areas. Indeed, if Gympie Region can attract tourists, why can’t we attract a few doctors?

Eight of the seats up for grabs.
Eight of the seats up for grabs.

Division 2

Dolly Jensen

Division 2 misses out on a lot but being the kind of country people that we are, our first concerns are rates, roads and rubbish. I’ve been talking to lots of people in the division and they don’t care about a flash new swimming pool or a $65,000 Christmas tree or a skatepark. What they want is to be able to see the road and not hit huge potholes while getting to the highway. They want their kids to be able to get off the bus and be seen.

Leonora Cox

THERE’S never just one. Roads, planning for the future post bypass, planned balanced development of Curra and areas northeast of Gympie, sporting shooters, environment, and more.

Gympie Town Hall
Gympie Town Hall

Division 3

Mal Gear

THE biggest priority for Division 3 is roads. I am so proud that in this term there has been a lot of road upgrades done, but I want to see more, Old Maryborough Rd needs to be upgraded from David St right through to Nash Rd past Victory School and I also want to see Rammutt Rd upgraded to make it safer for this growing area and for the increase in heavy vehicle movement.

Terry McMullan

The biggest priority for the division is solid, effective representation, knowing that you are able to pick the phone up and talk to your councillor and know that action will result.

The roads within the division are a constant issue also, residents are challenged driving on these roads when dealing with large vehicles and road failures.

Additionally, addressing the core responsibilities of council, rates and rubbish need focus and attention.

Shane Waldock

Division 3 resident’s face many of the same challenges that all Gympie ratepayers are facing; increased rates, poor services and wasted funds. However, one area that I feel very strongly about is the need to upgrade our local roads to meet the current traffic volumes. We see council approving new residential developments but then failing to invest in the roads to service those new homes. People deserve to drive on safe roads.

Michiel Pratt

My biggest priority will be understanding my constituents’ needs and ensuring that we as elected representatives are communicating their concerns and suggestions to the new council. I intend to increase transparency and accountability within the council. I firmly believe that we need to support new development within the division and region as business growth within the area will drive employment and opportunity within our area.

Colleen Miller

I think local roads are a real issue in Division 3. Having driven most of them over the last few weeks, it’s obvious there is more work needed to be done in the in the entire division.

Jobs continue to be a hot election item.
Jobs continue to be a hot election item.

Division 4

Bruce Devereaux

I think the priority for Division 4 residents is the same as for most other residents of our region – they want to stop having to think about local politics. Hard to do when your rates seem to be funding a moon shot. We have the lowest hourly rate in Australia, so why is council building pools and parks like we’re all living on a Gold Coast canal? I want to give people their lives back.

Rae Gate

Supporting jobs growth. Each year we see many young people leaving this area after finishing high school, heading off to further their education and/or looking for work. The USC campus does assist some but not all. Encouraging more businesses of varying sizes would certainly assist. Council planning department would play a role in this. Our ageing population also requires more facilities and services.

Daryl Dodt

Being on the front foot when the highway realignment is complete. We have a chance to either prosper or falter and this will depend solely on the sound management of this transition. Our town is good but it must be great within five years, or the advantages we could reap may be lost. The economic future of our division hinges on smart and imaginative forethought and decisive action. Choose the candidate best equipped to deliver this.

Wayne Sachs

The biggest priority for Division 4 at the moment is the completion of the Upper Mary St project as soon as possible. It is a priority in the sense of the work needing to be expedited to prevent ongoing business disruption. I would also like to see a 50km/ hour speed limit implemented throughout the Gympie CBD.

The region’s infrastructure is still an issue.
The region’s infrastructure is still an issue.

Division 5

Rob Burns

Roads in two aspects, firstly in Division 5 there are far too many second rate narrow roads, some have had add hock repairs and for want of a better word, upgrades. Most have been neglected add to this, with them being skinny and many with hills and bends, the lack of vegetation management compounds the danger factor greatly.

Dan Stewart

I have a list that centres on roads including: widening of busy single lane bitumen roads; complete the road seal between Mothar Mtn and Tandur; improve intersections at Mt Pleasant and Traveston; lobby State Government for intersection upgrades on Brisbane Rd and sealing of Kin Kin Rd; better footpaths in Monkland and along Ashford Rd; the expansion of sporting fields; minimising the impact of the possible Gympie Gateway project and the Traveston water extraction business on residents and farmland.

Chelle Dobson

Roads and bridges, in particular approaches to them. This needs to be priority based, with published criteria so people are aware of the priorities. We need to set a standard for our rural roads, two lanes for all roads that are thoroughfares and a program needs to be established to asphalt dirt roads.

The Goomeri pool, currently closed, is a key item in Division 6.
The Goomeri pool, currently closed, is a key item in Division 6.

Division 6

Hilary Smerdon

Mine is such a large division I think there are a few priorities, Goomeri has their town water and pool problems. Aged care is another big problem, rural roads and the list goes on. I think Division 6 residents basically want it shown that they are part of Gympie Regional Council and get treated accordingly with their basic services.

Brian Thomas

The biggest priorities to Division 6 are employment, aged care, Kilkivan and Goomeri’s town water supply and our gravel road network, which has fallen into disrepair.

Mikki Lawson

Fix our infrastructure.

Southside, Gympie.
Southside, Gympie.

Division 7

Donna Reardon

The citizens in Division 7 deserve real representation of their mandate in council, someone who they can relate to, someone they can trust with their concerns, then I’m that councillor. I believe I can bring consistent effort, lateral thinking, diversity and vibrancy to the council. I would encourage divisional meetings to speak with those who had concerns and creative positive input however if you see me out and about I would be happy to speak with you.

Bob Leitch

I will be supporting the recommencement of the Southside sewerage project, the appropriate development of the Southside as the division grows and further infrastructure development.

Warren Polley

There are priorities and there is what can be easily done. Sewer connections are a priority but this will be hugely expensive. Footpaths for walkers and joggers may not be a priority but they can cheaply and easily constructed and have an immediate positive impact.

The Mary Valley.
The Mary Valley.

Division 8

Bob Fredman

The biggest priority for Division 8, in my opinion, is stopping the rate rises and giving ratepayers better value for money. This will mean less spend on big, expensive things that look flash but don’t improve our daily lives, and a renewed effort by staff in responsiveness to requests for service or assistance. I hear regularly from residents that they would be happy if we just did the basics, like road maintenance and grass control, well.

Trent Mitchell

The common theme on the street is not being heard. Rates, roads and rubbish is a very big issue and the more remote you go it’s grass, roads and rates. But what bothers them (the people) is when they complain they are just treated like an isolated case and nothing gets done.

Lyndall Ensbey

More “bang for their buck”. Ratepayers and residents feel the council needs to be more accountable with public money. They expect the provision of basic services with a slice of the “city perks” for the regions.