Views from Bundaberg’s three mayoral options
IT IS day one of the election campaign for who will lead the Bundaberg Regional Council for the next four years.
This morning the Electoral Commission of Queensland formally called the election for March 28.
Although it has previously indicated it was likely to do so, it now means the council officially enters into caretaker model, which limits the decision making that it can take.
It also means candidates can formally nominate for a councillor position until March 3.
Three people have publicly revealed they would run for Bundaberg Mayor, but there could be additional candidates that will nominate.
The NewsMail has checked with the current mayoral candidates what their position will be coming into the election.
There were also 19 people across 10 divisions that have shown interest in nominating for a councillor position, including those currently in the role.
Electoral commissioner Pat Vidgen reminded Queensland citizens above 18 years to check their enrolment details today, to ensure they were on the voting roll.
Applications were due to be returned to the AEC by 5pm, February 28.
INCUMBENT Mayor Jack Dempsey said his re-election platform would contain a positive and confident agenda to grow the Bundaberg Region.
He said that this local government election was the most important in the 12-year history of the Bundaberg Regional Council.
“Voters have the opportunity to choose stability or change, confidence or uncertainty, steadiness or volatility,” Cr Dempsey said. “I have the experience, knowledge and determination to represent the Bundaberg Region strongly and independently without ties to big business, unions or a political party.”
Cr Dempsey said his experience in leadership was important for the sake of consistency, particularly with major issues such as the new Bundaberg Hospital, the 10-year Flood Action Plan, and replacing the water lost from Paradise Dam.
“There are important State Government issues where we need to make our voice heard … the future is ours to shape and create.”
He said there would be more detail about his re-election campaign on his Facebook account this afternoon.
But his policies will include free green waste collection, and building a community centre in Moore Park Beach.
“The emergence of new industries in composting and biofuels make green waste collection viable,” Cr Dempsey said.
“Council worked hard to attract and encourage these emerging industries.”
He said Moore Park Beach was a growing area that needed a community hub, and he would seek support from councillors to make it a priority project in future budgets.
“I will also support the Moore Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club in developing a new base for their operations.”
MAYORAL candidate Helen Blackburn said the Bundaberg region needs change.
“It was frustrating for me over the past four years to be inside a culture that stifles free speech and makes it hard for women to rise into leadership roles,” she said.
Cr Blackburn is the incumbent Division 4 councillor and carried the governance, sport and recreation portfolio.
But she criticised the current council leadership, and said it had pursued “fanciful ideas” in the past four years such as a new port and an international airfreight airport.
“We need to be realistic and focus on our local area.
“Under current leadership there has been tension with our state and federal members.
“We need to be working with them.”
Cr Blackburn criticised the direction taken by the council owned website Bundaberg Now, which she said had become a “propaganda machine”.
Cr Blackburn’s policy also included rate relief for people who were struggling with the cost of living.
“If elected I will push for agreement with councillors on a zero rate rise and abolishing the $50 community and environment levy,” she said.
“Council should be helping people, not slugging them.”
Cr Blackburn was also critical of the delegation of powers which had been appointed to the council’s chief executive in recent years.
“Councillors are elected to set the agenda and make decisions, not the CEO.”
She said that all the divisions in the local government area needed to feel a part of the council area.
The area was bigger than Bundaberg and Bargara, she said.
Cr Blackburn said there needed to be more focus on buying local products. .
SECURITY guard Kirt Anthony is a newcomer in Bundaberg’s politics, and has reflected unconventional ideas which undoubtedly will challenge the status quo for council staff.
But on the first day of his mayoral campaign, Mr Anthony’s main emphasis is on local road safety and to find ways of decreasing risks of liability against ratepayers.
He had limited time to discuss his policies, as he was working in security at a drag racing event near Gladstone yesterday.
But Mr Anthony said he wanted to change the marking of some roads at risk of being washed out, and colour them yellow to give motorists warning of unsafe conditions.
He said that a higher portion of rates needed to be spent on improving local roads.
But neither did he want to increase the number of council staff to complete the work.
Mr Anthony said other issues he wanted to raise included improving public transport as well as increasing footpaths.
He said he was excited to be able to have the opportunity to debate further policies at a future forum hosted by CQUniversity.
But one issue that Mr Anthony has emphasised on is the design of roads near the Bundaberg airport.
He said an aerial view of the design looked like a phallic symbol.
Mr Anthony acknowledged that many people were sceptical about his concern.
He had brought it to the attention of other mayoral candidates and had shown them aerial images.
“All I hear is denial from council,” he said.
Previously he had commented about rate increases, saying; “I don’t know why our rates have been going up in the first place.”