Noosa candidates have their say
WITH the official nomination for council candidates about to open at the end of this week and close on March 3, Noosa is already boasting almost a Melbourne Cup-size field of declared starters.
And on Tuesday night 17 of the 18 candidates running for councillors along with the two mayoral hopefuls made their first open addresses in their bid to be one of the six elected to serve for the next four years.
Here in order of the speaking order ballot draw, carried out by the meet the candidates hosts the Noosa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are their pitches:
Frank Wilkie (current Deputy Mayor): “My pledge to you is, if elected I will work cooperatively with your other choice of candidates. I’ll continue to support the financially disciplined approach that has allowed a relatively small council like Noosa to not only keep the place looking great, but to tackle the major construction, social and economic development work that is helping Noosa becomes and even more resilient and prosperous community.”
He supports the new town plan and would help deliver as council priorities a process to allow residents to shape the next budget, deliver effective response and recovery fire system, hinterland projects like the adventure playground and continuing access to transport hot spots at peak times via free buses and alternative transport.
Amelia Lorentson (former operations manager in the retail sector): “It’s time we restored trust in our Noosa Council and start listening to the community. I’m driven by people and community. I’m not a property developer, I’m not aligned to any political party, I’m not part of any group and I’m not motivated by a pay cheque. I do not support over development, I support creative industry and small business, I support the Biosphere and I’m committed to the hinterland.”
She supports council fully informing its community to deliver what it wants, and delivering a planning g scheme built on fairness and equity, proper and open council governance with through consultation. She wants decisions made in the best community interest not “vested groups” and promised not to withhold any information the public is entitled to.
Phil Moran (Landcare management): “I note with some interest the promised and the pledges being put about, and I think having goals are fine. However, when you are elected to council you’re are not given a light sabre and a cape. Our goals must be achievable and as councillors we need to be fiscally responsible and fair to all our residents and visitors. I have great admiration for many people who have fought to retain Noosa’s character.”
He feels strongly about addressing the challenges of population growth, transport, increased climate variability and to protect the environment alongside the economy and lifestyle with respectful and open dialogue. He wants to diversify the economy to encourage youth to stay in Noosa, protect the Noosa planning scheme and address transport issues.
Julien Cahn (business mentor): “Since moving to Noosa I’ve immersed myself in the community. I’m a completely independent candidate, I’m a member of no group and I’m affiliated to no organisation. I’m self-funded (has had one donation in kind), so I have no axe to grind. I’d like to continue the good work that council has done recently in preserving the lifestyle that we all moved here for.”
He said the Noosa Plan has to be protected, but has to be looked at continually to adapt to changing conditions and wants a discussion on the Noosa economic plan asking the question “are we too dependent on tourism?” His mentoring group has been involved with up to 400 businesses locally and this has given insight into the local business climate.
Joe Jurisevic (sitting councillor): “This term has seen council remain in a sound financial position. We need to continue to manage the council budget and keep the rate increases to a minimum as we have done for the last six years. We have seen the increased rollout of green waste bins. Or course it goes without saying that I will defend the new Noosa Plan. The thing that makes Noosa, Noosa. I ask you once again (to) recycle this councillor.”
He said the Go Noosa transport strategy was having an impact on holiday traffic congestion, environmental achievements included the Yurol Ringtail koala project, while the Noosa and Cooroy sports precincts and the council needs to press the state to deliver on the Beckmans Rd upgrade and the key Cooroy intersections, as well as a possible Cooroy bypass.
David Fletcher (fitness centre owner): “I’ve always been heavily involved in every community I’ve been to. When running for a public position like this there are three very important things … the first one is being able to listen, the second is being able to plan and the third one is to take action and implement and that’s what I’m certainly all about. When I’m on council I will be representing every inch of our shore and every person that is in it.”
In office he would look at fuel load management, “a big issue throughout the shire” for a good fire management plan, and would oppose council’s “hopeless dream” of controlling the river management but support great co-operation with the state through a river and lakes working group “to get better collaboration between all stakeholders”.
Jess Glasgow (sitting councillor): “We have really, really good strategic dreams and goals, we have a new town plan that is super exciting. We have a diverse precinct approach that is coming to the shire … the businesses are really going to thrive. It’s going to be an exciting time from now and into the future, so make Noosa just as great as it is in 2050 as it is in 2020.”
He said with right leadership it was going to be an exciting time in Noosa and over the past four years under the current council, generally people were happy with roads and waste collections. However, on top of this council had its Zero Emissions goal with Noosa leading the way on climate change with solar on its buildings, koala offsets and new transport policy.
Karen Cook-Langdon (businesswoman): “My platform is jobs, community and sustainability. I hear people in our community say they have not been heard and they are asking questions about how the new Noosa Plan will affect their jobs. The decision to make houses in low density inconsistent to holiday let is not supported by any critical Noosa data. The average decent holiday house in Noosa Sound contributes approximately $70,000 a year to the Noosa economy.”
She said the new Noosa Plan does not address rubbish, noise and parking for residents. Her own business experience has been jobs driven, having started out with a staff of three and have grown that to 45 always with a focus on sustainability in every possible way.
Alan Lander (journalist): “In the last financial year tourism earned a billion dollars for Noosa for the first time … a fantastic result, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this year. It’s got to be another reminder that we can’t put all our economic eggs in the one tourism basket. I’m standing for a number of different things in council, but moderate economic development is one of them within the Noosa Plan.”
He said having worked for Sunshine Coast Council mayors Bob Abbot and Mark Jamieson for five years he learnt councils are all chasing new businesses. He said one that everyone was after was the digital industry. Noosa had “a little bit of a toehold” with the Peregian Digital Hub, but the next council should be talking to the SCC about the tapping into the very high-speed internet cable.
Tom Wegener (surfboard maker): “I have a vision for Noosa’s future, I see Noosa as a developing economic and cultural powerhouse. There’s an amazing diversity of business in Noosa which can grow and compliment each other. Tourism in Noosa is doing great, but there’s much more to Noosa than tourism. We are developing a circular economy, a circular economy is where money comes into the economy (from outside) and then stays here and circles about.”
He said Noosa’s green approach to doing things supports local business and creates “fantastic opportunities” for like-minded people, especially young newcomers. His first priority is to respect the Noosa Plan because the environment is the goose that lays the golden egg “every single day” and he would work to be a business facilitator.
Meghan Halverson (midwife/ koala activist): “I’ve made this my home and I will forever love Noosa. My greatest skill is probably that of listening and asking the right questions to work together to come to a viable solution. I aim for a connected community through collaboration. We must strive to grow within our environmental limits. I want to work for you and be your voice, I have two ears, one mouth.”
She understood the concerns “we all have” to keep this place as beautiful as it is and to “possibly keep our children here longer”. She stressed the need for Noosa to preserve its values to take advantage of the solar industry on the coast’s urban footprint” but especially in the hinterland. She wants to work together with business and residents groups to establish affordable housing precincts.
Patrick Lloyd (businessman): “Local government should be about making our lives better and easier. We’ve seen plenty of grand announcements, the Climate Emergency, Bring Back the Fish and pine forests for koalas. Meanwhile, I’m yet to see anything that improves our day-to-day lives. It’s supposed to be roads, rates and rubbish, but in Noosa it’s potholes, parking fines and bin police. I promise to get the focus back on service delivery.”
He said the last four years had seen millions of dollars diverted to failed green projects that would have been far better spent on building carparks, sealing road and improving waste management. He criticised the council “assault on signs”, “obscene levels of red tape” or navigating the town plan and promised to do whatever he could to help small business.
Yanni Van Zijl (creative artist): “I care deeply about this community and our environment. I want to protect and build on those things that have made Noosa the special place that it is to live in, visit and to do business. Our council must do better at listening to all of our community, it must do more to reach to the far corners of our shire. Spending on infrastructure needs to be spread across all of the shire.”
She supports the new Noosa Plan, would be encouraging other councillors to join her for regular informal meetings in the hinterland and prioritise projects that benefit Noosa most. Her aim is for responsible economic management, “value for money for ratepayers” and keeping rate rises to no more than CPI increases.
Andrew Squires (businessman): “I want Noosa to be the best that it can be, I love Noosa. Noosa is very shiny on the outside, but there’s and underbelly of inaction. Examples of this is areas around tourism, we need to have a solid plan. We’ve got a lot of people coming to Noosa now, we’ve got an international airport being built down the road, we need to manage this properly. The hinterland is an area that does get neglect.”
He wants the council to engage a lot more “so we can work as one”, and wants the economic development department of council to be better resourced to “encourage appropriate new businesses to Noosa”. He said it is time for change to action these areas and would not be all about himself in council: “it’s about you, come and talk to me”.
Nathanael Ford (SES volunteer): “My campaign since November has been focused on my primary policies which follows a basic of council, roads, rates and rubbish. The Noosa Shire still has significant steps to take to have our roads up to a basic standard. Rates are the common price we pay as members of the Noosa Shire and the total amount should not exceed a reasonable cost with increases not surpassing inflation. I’ll strive to keep our rates low.”
He said the kerbside pick-up is something that should be phased out, replaced with council vouchers for the dump in light of the Kin Kin asbestos dumping and associated costly clean up bill. He said Noosa needs to be doing more to prepare for natural disasters and he would work with local groups to deal with this issue.
Janet Kake (businesswoman/systems writer): “I’m passionate about Noosa, our whole shire. We really do have a hole in our council for representation of business. We need more of a voice for small business in this town. Our average income is $38,000 and that is just not enough. Our two big industries are aged care and tourism so I’m all about the alternative income, alternative business. We need another body for business.”
She said this body for business apart from the local business groups which do an amazing job, should focus support them and their families to help them live in the Noosa Shire. Ms Kake said the council was the largest shire employer, but more than 50 per cent do not live here. She is also keen to encourage more support for the shire youth.
Brian Stockwell (sitting councillor): “The Noosa we know and love is under threat. In this election there are candidates who want to water down the new Noosa Plan, they want to walk away from our community’s goal of carefully managed growth, which is essential to protect our environment and our lifestyle.”
He said research into the Noosa “brand” equity added 107 per cent to the accommodation and restaurant industry locally so protecting this through good planning was essential. This is unlikely to be lost through one event but “from a thousand small cuts”. The plan includes facilitating the continued resurgence of Noosa Junction and bringing medium density residential units into business centres to create village that “are alive after five”.
Karen Finzel (health care administrator) sent her apologies for being unable to attend.