Bundaberg election: Cooper targets second term
DIVISION 8 councillor Steve Cooper revealed he will campaign for re-election, saying that two years in the role had not been enough time.
His confirmation comes after two months of ambiguous comments, in an effort to reduce the length of his campaign leading up to the March election.
He was voted into the vacant position in February, 2018, after David Batt transitioned into his current role as Bundaberg’s State MP.
Entering the council chambers two years after the other divisional representatives, with the exception of Cr John Learmonth, had been a “fairly substantial learning curve”.
He said his dealings with the council during his years as a hardware store owner helped him to be familiar with local government process, particularly in the finance portfolio.
But he noticed his role as councillor was changing substantially due to local government transparency laws including the Belcarra Legislation.
He preferred working as part of a united council, which he considered more effective in driving policy, and was satisfied that the administration led by Mayor Jack Dempsey achieved that.
“You can bang the table … but if you don’t have five people that agree with you, you’re not going to achieve too much,” Cr Cooper said.
“If I haven’t got the support it’s pointless trying to pursue it, until I get the support.
“Respecting other people’s views is part of getting the best outcomes.”
He said the key areas he focused on in his division were roads, rates, and rubbish, and more work was needed to improve a neglected drainage system.
Cr Cooper’s list of future work he wanted to complete included a pedestrian crossing in Dittmann Rd, near the Church of Christ, a Branyan water storage and treatment plant, sealing of Jenalyn Crescent in Toft St.
Cr Cooper said that in the finance portfolio he delivered two of the lowest general rate increases in 10 years.
In the 2019-20 budget the rate revenue increased 1.8 per cent.
“The council’s budget is in a very good shape to move into the future,” he said.
“We lived within our means and budgets, and our ambitions haven’t overstepped what we could afford.
“And we’ve been very successful in pursuing funding.”
Cr Cooper said the retail sector across Australia was being challenged by a change in local shopping habits. Bundaberg was not immune to a toughening economy also affected by disasters, he said.
He said the council could best help the business community by revitalising the CBD.
“It has been proven in other places and it can be proven here,” he said.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t just happen overnight.”