Candidate’s views on council’s economic direction
GIN Gin builder Paul Bongioletti said he wanted to offer a “fresh approach” in the economic decision making in the Bundaberg Regional Council chamber.
He intends on running against Cr Wayne Honor for Division 3, saying that he would like to see spending more streamlined to reflect the local economy.
“We’ve got a very big corporate empire down at the council that none of the councillors really want to rock the boat,” Mr Bongioletti said.
“I’m a bit upfront, I’m a straight shooter.
“Sometimes in politics people don’t say what they think.
“I see myself as a young 60 year old, right. I’m 60 but I’m fit, active, a little bit on the hypo side, I’m energetic … I know that sounds self-flattering but I’m being honest.”
Mr Bongioletti already ran against Cr Honor in 2016, who won with almost 72 per cent of the vote.
But Mr Bongioletti believed the recent emergence of another candidate, David Ferguson, would change the dynamic against Cr Honor this election when considering optional preferential voting.
Mr Bongioletti was also critical of the council’s economic policies of the last term, including the leasing and renovation of the top two floors of the Auswide Building for council staff.
“Shops are vacant in Bourbong St and council has a Taj Mahal office,” he said.
“I think they’ve got the cart and horse in the wrong order.
“We need a business model that fits with the economy, not the other way round.”
Mr Bongioletti said rates placed an additional strain on local businesses, particularly if they increased while property value did not.
“Business is tough, you’ve got to be open like eight days a week,” he said.
“Really, you’ve got to be niche or really energetic yourself.”
Mr Bongioletti said there was much potential for Gin Gin, and imagined that it could be branded as a “boutique-hinterland town” similar to Maleny.
He said the council had done well in its development of the area.
But when he was asked what Gin Gin needed, Mr Bongioletti said, “this is the problem. When you’ve got divisions and there’s one economy, it’s a bit of a loaded question, because … there’s only so much money to go round.”
But he said the council needed to work with businesses to increase ways to encourage students to enter the local agricultural workforce.
Mr Bongioletti said there was a stigma that agricultural work was for the non-educated, which he said had to be challenged in schools.
He did not believe all students should complete Year 12 for the sake of it, and should consider entering the agricultural sector and develop their skills through practical work.
“We’re doing a great disservice by letting all the backpackers do all the work,” he said.
Mr Bongioletti said he agreed with mayoral candidate Helen Blackburn’s views to reign in spending and limit rates, but the details of how this could happen needed to be tested in a mayoral debate.
He would not choose to endorse a mayoral candidate.
“I know both people well, I have to be careful,” he said.
“I’m not a fence sitter but sometimes you have to work out how you say your words.”