Bundaberg election: Jack is back
BUNDABERG Mayor Jack Dempsey is confident in his lead and has called the election.
He has 64 per cent of the 49,000 votes counted so far as of noon, today.
Helen Blackburn has almost 33 per cent and has conceded defeat, while Kirt Anthony has three per cent.
Cr Dempsey thanked voters for their “overwhelming expression of confidence”.
He now focuses on “getting on with the job”.
He recognised Mr Anthony’s passion for road safety which he might consider within the next few months, but continued to criticise Ms Blackburn’s promise of a rates freeze.
Cr Dempsey said the freeze would be impossible in a valuation year.
“She ran down the council and as part of her negative campaign, she criticised council managers and departments,” he said.
“However, I thank her for serving as Division 4’s representative.”
He also observed Ms Blackburn’s criticism against increased delegation of powers to the chief executive, Steve Johnston, which she had introduced as council’s governance councillor.
Cr Dempsey said the delegations would improve bureaucracy in the council.
“At this critical time I say to council staff that you are needed more than ever before,” he said.
“Our community needs you to keep essential service functioning and to lead the recovery.
“Look out for each other and stay united.”
Helen Blackburn recognises defeat
Ms Blackburn made a statement on social media acknowledging that her mayoral campaign had been unsuccessful.
She thanked the thousands of voters who supported her plan to freeze rates and to stop a $50 council levy.
“This would have gone a long way to help local families get by during the coronavirus crisis and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to pull off a win to see this important plan implemented,” Ms Blackburn said.
“Congratulations to the current Mayor for his win and I wish him and the new council all the best for the next four years.
“It’s been an honour to serve the residents in Division 4 over the last four years, and I’m confident their new representative, whoever it will be, will continue the good fight in my local patch.”
The first 100 days
Last week Cr Dempsey introduced a coronavirus stimulus package in the council chambers, which will include a moratorium on interest for outstanding rates and charges until June, rent relief for council owned commercial retail shop leases until September, and a six-month extension of licences and permits for regulated premises and food licences.
This relied on the authority that Mr Johnston had under the powers delegated to him as chief executive, but the new council will look at the annual budget expected to be introduced in June.
Two weeks ago Cr Dempsey explained what would happen in the first 100 days of his new council, although this was before the coronavirus impact worsened.
“I’ll be getting on with the job starting with the budget and working with the fellow councillors and the community,” he said.
“I will also be talking to staff and councillors about implementing the initiatives I have been talking about over the past few weeks.”
Cr Dempsey reminded the community of his priorities for the new few months, which included:
- Keeping our community safe.
- Protect and rebuild the Bundaberg Region economy.
- Support the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.
- Assist small business and workers to kickstart the recovery.
- Keep the Council financially sound.
- Lobby the State Government and the Opposition to deliver a new Bundaberg Hospital and flood protection, and reinstate water lost from Paradise Dam.
- Play our part to address climate change and protect the environment.
- Introduce free green waste collection.
- Develop the Bundaberg Region as Australia’s premier location for bio-manufacturing and agricultural technology.
- Provide beach access for people with disabilities.
- Encourage corporate volunteering.
- Spend more money with local small businesses and pay them faster.
- Enshrine a right to farm for primary producers.
- Diversify our economy with value-adding industries to create new jobs.
- Assist young people and long-term unemployed into work.