The Fassifern Guardian offered Division 5 candidates the opportunity to advise readers of the three major issues they will have foremost in their focus if they should be elected as the Councillor for Division 5.
One of the immediate issues is how Council responds to the current health crisis in support of its communities and asked the candidate to address that first.
We also asked them to cite two more issues that they plan to address when the community returns to the ’new normal’ when the crisis is over.
As the unprecedented situation of COVID-19 continues to evolve, my first and foremost thought is for the safety of all our residents in the Scenic Rim.
If elected, I will consult with councillors and the Mayor as well as federal and state members to continually keep our residents informed and prepared for any further development.
This includes ensuring our region abides by rules and precautionary measures set out by the federal and state governments for our safety.
Keeping council running to ensure our community is able to access essential services will be important but will need to be achieved with council staff’s safety in mind.
Looking at options for temporary measures to work from home, distancing of staff and increasing phone services.
Economically, COVD-19 will have a huge impact on local businesses and it will be important to provide support and access to stimulus offers on hand.
Council may need to look into rates and fee structures and when the time comes to get back to normality to invest in promoting our region.
Roads within the Scenic Rim are a major priority, a notion of which has only been confirmed through engagement with the local community where it is a common complaint evident in all areas of the region.
If elected I will be working hard to ensure the council budget clearly covers our expansive road network to continually improve the safety standards and efficiency in which we repair and build roads.
Looking at modern technologies in road construction to assist the longevity and safety of our roads through not only normal wear and tear but our floods and droughts as well.
Streamlining application processes and improving timeframes within the planning department is of priority to encourage businesses and development in the Scenic Rim.
Too many new and existing business owners have been discouraged from investing in our region because of our complicated planning scheme coupled with large fees and charges.
In order for employment growth and opportunities we need to make it easier to do business in the Scenic Rim.
As a Councillor Candidate for Division 5, I am focused on supporting our rural communities to provide the jobs and the infrastructure that will keep families and young people living and working in the Scenic Rim region. Our agricultural and tourism industries have long been the engine room and key drivers behind our local economy, and I want to ensure these industries continue to grow. Supporting community considering the global Coronavirus health crisis will require immediate action if we are to remain a strong, unique and prosperous region.
To facilitate and lead a strategic plan for Division 5, I have outlined several priorities I seek to address as we transition through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.
Advocate and apply for additional funding through the Federal Government’s Stimulus Package $66.4 Billion. It is important for small business to know there is support available to help navigate the crisis. The stimulus package and plan have several key elements including:
An increase in the instant asset write-off scheme. The threshold jumps from $30,000 to $150,000.
A 50% accelerated depreciation deduction. This is over and above existing deductions.
A 50% wage subsidy for apprentices. This will be $1.3 billion in support payments to keep almost 120,000 apprentices employed.
Eligible not-for-profits & small business will receive a tax-free, cash payment of between $20,000 - $100,000.
A one-off stimulus payment of $750 for people receiving benefit payments. This includes pensioners and those on Newstart, the disability support pension, carers’ allowance, youth allowance, veterans support payments and family tax benefits.
A regional and community support fund. This will support businesses and communities who would be particularly affected by an economic downturn.
Infrastructure projects are key to facilitating job creation and emerging economic opportunities. Road works, drainage, foot paths and bike tracks to improve community connectivity within the Scenic Rim. i.e. Upgrading Boonah Rathdowney Road, Yeates Ave Boonah, Boonah to Kooralbyn road, Infrastructure upgrades to Boonah Airfield, camping facilities, Community Education and Recreation hubs (Culinary School).
Advocate for community transport options and apply for additional funding for NBN and mobile black spots throughout the region addressing social isolation.
Julie de Visser:
On Sunday 22 March the Premier and the Minister for Fire and Emergency Services approved the declaration of a Disaster Situation under Section 69 of the Disaster Management Act 2003 for the whole of the State of Queensland.
As local governments are primarily responsible for managing disaster events in their area this is going to be a busy time for the Scenic Rim Council and the Local Government Disaster Management Group.
Our knowledge and understanding of our local social, environmental and economic issues will be very important.
I had extensive experience in 2007 when the horse industry was shut down for 6 months due to the imported Equine Influenza (horse flu).
During this time, I represented 38,000 Queenslanders as the President of the Qld Horse Council, having involvement in the Government crisis meetings and briefings.
This event caused great economic hardship and took years to recover from and it was only one sector of the Australian economy.
Additionally as a rural fire fighter I was involved in the flood recovery in 2011 and the bushfires this season.
I have been involved both on the front line and in incident control.
I have experience with disaster management and leadership which will be essential to help our community during the next few months.
It is anticipated that it will take the region some time to get back on its feet.
Helping the community rebuild will be a priority.
Bringing visitors back to the region so that businesses can grow and employ more staff will be very important.
Reducing red tape and application fees to encourage suitable businesses to our region is important for both jobs and the economy.
Business as usual
This will allow us to focus back on the Council basics of roads, rates and rubbish.
Our roads need constant repair; I’d like a review of the current arrangements.
I would like school bus routes to be bitumen not gravel.
I would like to see grass on gravel roads mown to reduce bushfire hazards and improve visibility and safety for drivers.
I would like to see more items recycled and more sustainability plans introduced.
There is only one very important issue that the community is discussing with me, the economy as a result of Covid19. This is my action plan once elected as the Councillor for Division 5.
Councils Local Disaster Management - on Alert! Define this so that the community understands what SRRC is doing.
Improve the Council website, which is too focused on events rather than information sharing of the virus.
Increase media responses on radio, newspaper as Facebook is not used by all our residents.
Work closely with LDM so that I can be confident that Division 5 and the region stay better informed.
Ensure that council continues to adapt services, focusing on protecting public health and vulnerable people as the top priorities.
Council’s focus and actions must be aligned with state and federal advice.
We need to encourage our community to seek the most current advice from Queensland Health, stay at home and reduce social contact, stop panic buying so that those less financial and able can purchase basics and look after each other in particular the vulnerable.
Growth in the economy
Revision of council budget and where the expenditure is focused – does it improve on long term sustainability whilst creating some immediate growth in the economy.
Promoting Council to buy locally to ensure the dollars we ratepayers contribute are spent where it is needed most here.
Attracting tourism visitation from South East Queensland, so we get through the downturn in interstate and overseas tourists.
Work with State and Federal Government for stimulus packages to ensure we get our fair share to assist in budget spend and improving the economy of the region.
Revision of the maintenance program including flood and fire damaged areas, roads and footpaths in particular frequency and cost so that it provides more work for local contractors and generates jobs, whilst improving the safety of our rural roads and the repair of our precious and unique environment.
Assisting in agriculture and local businesses with bureaucratic red tape especially in these times of need whether it be through expediating their concerns, assisting in the understanding of the process and fighting for their business.