Councilllor Hilary Smerdon. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times
Councilllor Hilary Smerdon. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times Renee Albrecht

What Hilary Smerdon said before we voted him in

OF 30 eager candidates who faced voters at the last Gympie Regional Council poll, there were only places for nine in the chamber (eight divisional councillors and the mayor).

Here's what the winners told The Gympie Times in a special pre-election series published in the paper.

These answers told us what kind of candidates they were and what they stood for.

One year into their term of office, we have now asked them to comment on the progress achieved so far in implementing those sentiments and promises.

Their self-assessment report card will be published next week, but today we report on what they said way back then, before we voted for them. They were answering questions which seemed at the time to sum up what people were asking us and which we had heard raised from the floor at candidates' forums.

The questions which we think retain the most continuing importance are:

1. What do you rate as the three top priorities for the current Gympie Regional Council?

2. What facilities and services does the Gympie region need more of?

3. What is your position on rates in this region?

Division 6 Councillor Hilary Smerdon

Q.1

Top priority is to regain the trust of the electorate and deliver a cost efficient, accountable council that listens to their electorate and treats all divisions equally, returning services to the outer areas of the region. Not everyone lives 10 minutes from Gympie and deserves just as much recognition.

Restructure our council management. Too many decisions are being made by council staff without the knowledge of councillors. We have a good field staff and they should be managed better, which would result in cost savings to the council. Too much work is being done by contracors in this region at a greater cost to council.

Page Five

Try and create more employment opportunities in the area by making this region more attractive for new business to move to this area. Other council regions have successfully achieved this by giving business incentives to move to their regions. We need to identify suitable future industrial estates. The more businesses we can get to this region, the more jobs we create.

Q.2

This region needs more tourists facilities, overnight stopovers for caravans in our smaller towns. One example: There is scope for greater use of the Kilkivan showgrounds, an equine stadium like many other centres have done would be of great benefit. Gympie needs a bus terminal which could be combined with a decent tourist information centre, what we have now is an embarrassment to the region.

Q.3

Rates are a necessary evil we have to have for this region to operate. They are high but this is a big region with a smaller population and a lot of government land that does not pay rates. It would be nice to reduce rates but that isn't possible so the next best option is a better managed council, putting less pressure on council coffers.