Friday, 2 September 2016

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

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 third post in this series.


Sue Hughes

I have been a Councillor since 2008 and my vision for the next term of Council is for unity and financial sustainability. I want to see Councillors work together for the betterment of our community, for the entire Clarence Valley and not just in their own backyard.   I have lived in Yamba, Grafton and on the banks of the Mann River and I currently work in Maclean, Gulmarrad, Lawrence and all over the Clarence Coast. I believe I am a true representative of the Clarence Valley. I feel privileged to represent you the ratepayers and residents and treat my role seriously and with a professional manner and always with the highest integrity.

Being a Councillor isn’t just about attending Council Meetings, it’s about working within our community, representing our community and being a leader in the community.  Councillors should be advocates for the broader community and make decisions based on what the majority of the community want and not what the minority want.  It’s about keeping the community’s best interests in mind and listening, engaging and being active with our residents and ratepayers.

During the past term of Council, we have had to make some very tough decisions around rates and budgets etc. And our role can be very difficult as we try and balance the expectation from the community with the financial and budgetary constraints that we are faced with.  It is very much an ongoing challenge. All the financial indicators demonstrate that Council needs to increase the level of funding it has committed, to the renewal and maintenance of its building and infrastructure assets.

I want to continue with the hard work that has been undertaken in the past term of Council, continue to make those challenging decisions whilst listening to our community AND finding that balance I mentioned earlier.

I strongly believe that Council is heading in the right direction for long term sustainability, we just need to ensure that those decisions we make have an impact on our long term not just the short term. 

During my term on Council over the past 8 years I been involved with the following committees, the Saleyards Committee, the Tourism Advisory Committee, Clarence Roundtable, Clarence Valley Business Advisory Committee, the Gallery Advisory Committee, the Sports Marketing Australia Committee, Australia Day Committee and have Chaired the Environment, Economic and Community Committee of Council.

I may be the least outspoken Councillor on Council but I sure as heck have the community’s best interest at heart.  I demonstrate this daily by my involvement with voluntary roles such as President, Yamba Chamber of Commerce, President, Light up the Darkness (Mental Health Advocacy Group), and I, MC at events and festivals when invited to do so. I also have volunteered with the Gallery Foundation for the Grafton Regional Gallery, Art in the Paddock and Gate to Plate events. In addition I’m an inaugural member of the Surfing the Coldstream Festival and inaugural member of the CV Business Excellence Awards.  I also created and manage five different Facebook pages dedicated to promoting our lifestyle and showcasing our natural beauty around Yamba, Maclean and Lawrence.

I am passionate about the Clarence Valley, passionate about business and economic growth, passionate about tourism, arts and culture and I’m passionate about making a difference where I live.

The next 4-5 years are critical in the Clarence Valley, with the Pacific Highway upgrade, the Grafton Gaol, the Bridges and the Blueberry Industry we need to not only take advantage of the economic boom but put strategies in place for when the projects are completed and there is a nose dive in activity.

We need to continue to foster existing businesses and help grow and encourage new businesses to our region and most importantly keep them here.

Should you vote for me on 10th September, I promise to continue to work hard and represent you the ratepayers and residents of the Clarence Valley to the best of my ability, it is indeed a privilege. 

Text and photograph supplied by Sue Hughes



Flyer supplied by Keith Bates



                                                                     Ursula Tunks

We are facing a dire financial situation, the new council needs to face this issue head on; with integrity. If elected I will advocate for the new council team to immediately contract an independent Auditor to undertake a thorough internal audit of the Council’s finances. Should that auditor recommend that the new council be removed and replaced by an administrator I will support this recommendation. My aim is purely to ensure that the CVC survives the current fiscal crisis without inflicting the absurd SRV on our community.
Should an auditor find that the new council can continue operating my priorities are:
 Approaching the State Government for support in rectifying their ill thought out amalgamation process and establish their liability to our community for the resulting chaos, seeking their commitment to contributing to the recovery of the CVC to a functional and viable local government body.
 Work with the CVC Management, as part of the team, to rein in spending and to include all staff in an urgent analysis of areas where cost savings can be achieved.
 Work with the newly elected council to establish a strategy and subsequent plan to achieve a positive cultural change in the CVC’s organisational identity. CVC staff and ratepayers MUST insist on an organisational culture which focuses on the support of the staff and community and immediately removes the fear and control management style that has been permitted to flourish without check for the past few years.
There will be a need to focus the CVC on the ‘core’ service delivery over the term, an obligation that it MUST meet. I will advocate for cuts, which will be unpopular, however popularity isn’t our answer. If we are truly committed as a community to improving our local government governance and service delivery then we must brace for a four year period of reigning in spending. To this end I will be advocating that a process be established to support those groups which may be subject to funding cuts, to identify new income streams, private and government funding. My commitment will be to ensuring that where CVC is unable to continue to support groups that we assist those groups in identifying new support and funding sources.

My voting preferences are:
1. Ursula Tunks
2. Ian Saunders
3. Margaret McKenna
4. Brett Tibbett
5. Peta Rogers
6. Andrew Baker
7. Joy de Roos 

Text and photograph supplied by Ursula Tunks

Ian Saunders                                        
Ian Saunders

To build a fairer, more equitable, more inclusive and more humane Council that is a part of our community rather than behaving like its ruler. 
  • ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS: Bachelor of Engineering; Master of Engineering Science; Graduate Diploma in Management - electives in Project Management, Contract Law, Public Finance.
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 40 years of professional experience in Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and The Seychelles including 14 years of Local Government experience with Brisbane City, Logan City and 4 years with The Clarence Valley Council
  • EMPLOYER & CLIENT ORGANIZATIONS: Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp., AusAid, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Queensland Electricity Commission, Water Resources Commission, Queensland Alumina Ltd., Munro Johnson & Assoc (later Parsons Brinkerhoff).
  • TASKS FOR THE NEW COUNCIL: Independent internal audit of Council, particularly the Trust funds; Review the role and authority of the GM and HR Manager; Public disclosure of employment contracts for executive staff and amounts paid in out of court non-disclosure agreements; Mandatory project review for all CVC projects that over run budget and completion dates.
Changes to the Local Government Act to bring it into line with State and Federal governments regarding issues such as Council meeting procedures and the protocols and conventions observed in Westminster Democracies; The pre-election "caretaker mode" to prevent the awarding of contracts like the Tyson St Depot contract, immediately prior to elections; An immediate moratorium on public assets sales. No SRV, in fact rates reductions should be possible after a complete overhaul of Council operational strategies; Finally, a reconstitution and restructure of the Tourism Advisory Committee and its funding.
I'm not into election time motherhood statements and I’m not trying to be an apologist for the last Council, particular the majority five Councillors who so frustrated the minority four. But trying to do one full time job guarding the chickens from the foxes as well as working another to earn a living is “Mission Impossible”!  That said, Root Cause analyses of almost ANY of the issues confronting Clarence Valley Council keep returning the same result: Clarence Valley Council is the product of a hopelessly bungled amalgamation. It’s one thing to merge a bunch of little country Councils into a multi-million dollar public corporation, but to then walk away leaving them floundering under the Legislation designed for the little country shire is reprehensible. The State Government caused the problems and it’s the State Government that needs to sort them out starting with the $127M debt. The Minister will need to bring out the cheque book he used for the recent bout of forced amalgamations; the one that CVC didn’t see in 2004.  Successive Ministers sat back in Sydney for 12 years and watched this disaster unfold and they did absolutely nothing! It’s time to “pay the piper”. Then there needs to be a new Local Government Act Mk 2 that will fit the needs of the big amalgamated Councils. We don’t want another 9 elected mushrooms and a despotic CEO with a watering can and a bucket of manure running the entire circus. A skills audit to identify the glaring gap between what we need and what we have now in Councils executive, management and staff, and a strategy to fill that gap would also be helpful. Maybe then, a new debt free Council might have a slightly better than even chance at delivering some stability, economic sustainability, some semblance of a representative democracy, and the prosperous future the Valley people deserve. 

Text and photograph supplied by Ian Saunders

Previous posts in the 2016 Clarence Valley local government election candidate profile series:

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