Friday, 26 August 2016

Policy Platforms of Candidates in the Clarence Valley Local Government Elections, Saturday 10 September 2016 - Part One

North Coast Voices contacted as many Clarence local government election candidates as was possible and issued an invitation to supply their policy positions for our readers.

Here are the first four candidates in this series.



Peter Ellem with wife Susan and daughters, from left, Lily, Tess and Zoe

Yamba resident, Walkley Award-winning journalist, editor of  The Daily Examiner and Coastal Views newspapers from 2001 to 2007 before becoming the Grafton-based policy/media adviser to the former Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin from 2007 to 2013.

In November 2011, Mr Ellem gained further political experience by standing as Country Labor's candidate in a by-election for the State seat of Clarence. He is running as an independent candidate for CVC and funding his own campaign.

Mr Ellem said his forebears had helped pioneer the Clarence Valley from the 1860s, and he was motivated by a desire to serve all local communities to make the Valley the best possible place for families and individuals to prosper.

Mr Ellem and his wife Susan have raised three daughters Zoe, Tess and Lily here in the Valley.

“Clarence Valley Council is our largest employer and its staff do a lot of good work in the community, but its long term financial position is unsustainable and should be of concern, particularly to ratepayers, but to all residents,” Ellem said.

“As an editor, I led the popular Not A Drop campaign against moves to dam and divert the mighty Clarence River westward, and campaigned for the Grafton Base Hospital redevelopment, fast tracking of the Pacific Highway upgrade and second Grafton bridge crossing.

“I managed multi-million dollar budgets for a top 100 company, and I would bring the same common sense approach to the real challenges facing the council.

“As a public servant, I liaised with five Northern Rivers councils to successfully lobby for major infrastructure projects and grant programs, and to keep capital works projects on track and to budget.

“CVC needs some new blood – progressive councillors who will try to ensure good governance and greater transparency wherever possible.

“We need to encourage appropriate development under existing planning controls to protect and create local jobs. However, growth should not be at the cost of our wonderful environment or existing industries like tourism, fishing and farming.

“This is why I will fight to stop the proposed mega-port from swamping and destroying the Lower Clarence. I have also consistently opposed coal seam gas exploration and mining in the Valley and the wider region.”

Fighting for the Clarence Valley
* Strong financial management to keep rates low
* Sustainable development for local jobs
* Support communities in sport and culture
* Protect the Clarence River from mega port, diversion and CSG

How to vote for renewal:

Novak, Debrah - Independent

Clancy, Greg - The Greens

Kingsley, Jason - Independent

Ellem, Peter - Independent

De Roos, Joy

Text and photograph supplied by Peter Ellem



Margaret McKenna

I was born in Grafton, went to school here and then "did my time in Sydney" before returning to start a family in this beautiful part of the world.

My first taste for politics was when I was the Mayor of Grafton Junior City Council in 1977.  I have spent many years involved in charity work locally and overseas with Rotary and other community groups and when I sold my Accountancy Practice in 2008 I decided my next "charity work" would be as a Councillor.

I was elected in 2008 and again in 2012 and I feel privileged to be able to represent my community to shape the world we live in.

My years as a Registered Tax agent has demonstrated my ability to understand complex financial matters but also my ability to explain things in a "down to earth" manner to people of varying backgrounds. 

My interests would be exemplified by some Council Committees I have chaired.
Heritage Advisory - protecting our natural and built heritage, Tourism  Advisory,  and the Clarence Regional Library Committee.

I am the current Chair of the Coast & Estuary Advisory Committee. This has given me the opportunity to work conscientiously to get the Coastal Zone Management Plans for Brooms Head and Wooli to the Minister for approval. I want to see this completed to give these communities security and protection.

I am opposed to the Yamba Mega Port.
There may be an argument that the mega port will provide Economic benefits but the River already provides economic, social and health benefits.
- It is a potential for environmental noise and visual pollution.
-Tourism is one of the Lower Clarence’s major economic assets. Recreational fishing is a big part of our water based tourism and is a multi million dollar industry (and one of our major industries in the Valley) and will be destroyed. ‘
- Fishing - both Recreational and professional will suffer. Currently the commercial fishing industry is worth at least $90m annually, and generates over 400 jobs
- traditional owners must be respected
- our environment and Eco system has a delicate balance and should be respected. 
A mega port will damage the environment and ambience for tourists but most importantly,  and frightening to think of, how our local residents will be affected.

My proudest moment in the past 4 years?  Standing up for the Maclean residents who needed me to fight for the survival of the camphor laurel trees in McLachlan Park. It certainly wasn't a successful battle but I faced fierce criticism and very strong opposition from 8 Councillors and I faced it head on and didn't give up on the trees and the community . It wasn't about what I wanted or what I thought was right, it was that after listening to the community I decided they need strong representation. I proved to myself and others that I would stand up and speak up for our community and those with no voice

My future priorities:
-  financial sustainability without a Special Rate Variation
-  continue my push to get the Grafton Riverfront Plan substantially commenced, to see the McLachlan Park redevelopment completed and then continue the Maclean Riverfront Precinct Plan.
- ensure CVC water supply remains available and affordable by ensuring water assets at Nymboida are owned by CVC, not sold off by the State Government.
- further investigate free overnight 12hour camping where there is no commercially available facilities 
- provide shade over all our parks with swings and all council owned eating areas
- Increased recycling incentives to minimise dumping on our roadsides and waterways

Our River is for Tourism, fishing and for our children."

Text and photograph supplied by Margaret McKenna


Greg Clancy

A Clarence Valley resident for almost 40 years, I have played a major role in the environment movement, from the Washpool and pulp mill campaigns to today’s mega port proposal. 
I am standing for Council to represent those who care about social justice and environmental issues. I will work to ensure meaningful community engagement in Council’s decision-making.  I chose to be a Greens candidate because I share and will be guided by the core principles of ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence of the Greens.

My vision for the Valley is a healthy, prosperous and united community respecting our natural world. Social and environmental values are not at odds with a good economic base. Development and employment need to enhance our Valley not degrade it.  Ecotourism and renewable energy have great potential.
Small businesses and the self-employed, the backbone of the north coast, need to be allowed to prosper, bringing work and self-respect to our many unemployed.
The ongoing loss of public sector jobs from Grafton is disturbing. Tertiary educational facilities such as TAFE need to be maintained. While the reopening of Grafton Gaol is good for jobs, we need to address the reasons why there are so many inmates.
Mining threatens the Clarence Valley. Proposed Gold and Antimony mines should not be allowed in our catchment. Coal Seam Gas, although put on hold, could rear its ugly head again in future. I oppose schemes to create a mega port at Yamba and to dam the Clarence to divert its water west. Water running to the sea is not ‘wasted’ – it supports the health of the estuary and our fishing industry.   

I believe I would make a good councillor. As a consultant ecologist who also has experience working for various government departments (including planning), I have an extensive knowledge of relevant planning and environmental legislation. My doctorate is in wildlife ecology and I was the Ecological Society of Australia’s scientific representative on the Clarence Regional Vegetation Committee.
  • No mega port at Yamba
  • A healthy dam-free Clarence
  • Keeping the Northern Rivers free of gas mining
  • Local biodiversity protection through full implementation of the Clarence Valley Biodiversity Strategy
  • Sustainable employment and industry, including ecotourism and ‘clean’ small businesses
  • Support for minority groups, Aboriginal communities and outlying villages.
I have had over 30 years’ experience in running a small business. I have also been heavily involved in many community groups, including:
  •  Susan and Elizabeth Islands Recreation Trust,
  •  Coutts Crossing Tidy Towns Committee,
  •  Clarence Valley Branch of the National Parks Association,
  •  Grafton District Services Country Music Club and
  •  Grafton District Services Big River Jazz Club.  
How to vote:

Clancy, Greg The Greens

Tibbett, Brett Independent

Kingsley, Jason Independent

Ellem, Peter Independent

Ellem, Trevor Independent

Hughes, Sue Independent

McKenna, Margaret – Independent

De Roos, Joy - Independent

Text and photograph supplied by Greg Clancy


Karen Toms

I am self-employed. I have served two terms on Council and represented Council on many committees covering a range of issues.

If I am re-elected I will continue to work hard representing my community and getting our finances in order. I want a Council that treats its residents with respect. One that answers questions quickly respond to enquiries quickly. I want to help build back trust. I want a Council that listens even when it is a complaint, especially when it is a complaint.

We have an enormous amount of infrastructure that needs attention and yet we are still spending millions on new things.

I did not support the previous 37% Special Rate Variation application. Even IPART didn’t approve. They approved the variation for one year only, the application was for 5. Even so 5 councillors wanted to try again and have set it up to apply again after the elections. This time for a WHOPPING 41% Special Rate Variation.

I assure you if I am re-elected I will not support this proposed increase in your rates.

I’m certain a rate rise of 41% over 7 years will put financial pressure on our families our retirees and our residents who rent.

The stupid thing about the excessive rate increases is they will not fix the problem we face. Even the experts agree.

I am also concerned by our huge debt of $130 Million. Some of this debt is good debt (sewerage water) BUT WE MUST WORK ON REDUCING THE BAD DEBT. OUR General Fund is actually like having a credit card with no limit. It is a trap to think it is our money sitting there to be used. It is borrowed money generating interest bills our community have to pay.

We pay millions of dollars in interest, which could be put to better use if we reduce debt. We own an enormous amount of unused property that could be sold to reduce debt, and reduce our maintenance backlogs. Instead we have had majority of Councillors who have supported charging the ratepayers excessive rates rather than taking another course of action.

More of the same will not improve our financial situation. Experts Ernest & Young advised Council to reduce debt to a manageable level. We’ve had TCorp tell us we have gone from a weak outlook to a neutral outlook. They also say they are not sure about some of our modelling and want it checked. This is nothing to be happy about, in my opinion.

I will continue to work and challenge all unjustified spending, analyse every cost/benefit before commitment.

I will not support building new infrastructure unless a strong business case is put forward that proves it will not burden the ratepayers further.

During my 8 years on Council, I have earnt a reputation for asking questions and being a strong advocate of scrutiny and transparency.

I will continue standing up for you. Please give me your number 1 VOTE and support those who will do the same.

Thank you

Text and photograph supplied by Karen Toms


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