Frequently Asked Questions

In meeting with community members, local business operators, community groups and a range of other interested parties across the shire over the past months I have been asked a range of questions. Here are some of the more frequently asked ones as well as my views and responses:

 

Why made you decide to stand?

I have been working closely with local government for over 12 years now and have always been passionate about being an active part of our community. I knew that I would stand for Council one day but didn’t really think about it seriously until a few recent experiences with our council made me think it was time. The main one was the Local Laws review process where the community were clearly an afterthought not a first consideration. This complete lack of respect for democratic governance made me angry and think time to put my ‘money where my mouth is’. The other main issues that motivated me to run for council were the lack of council support for fire fighting and community safety and the negative attitude towards people building in the bush.

 

Does being an independent candidate disadvantage you?

No, I see it as a real strength as I don’t have the interests of a single group or poltical group driving me or any political pressure or viewpoints that I need to respond to.

 

Rates are continuing to rise. How do you believe you could influence rate rises?

Council have the authority to approve the Council budget and rating strategy. If rate rises are proposed at an unacceptable level then the decision at Council level should simply be that the CEO and organisation need to come back with an amended budget that identifies cost efficiencies and suggest reprioritisation of activities and/or projects. Council then make the decision about the final rate increase figure. I have seen this happen at other councils I work with across the state, so why doesn’t it happen here? Yarra Ranges Council has a massive reserve of funds but its too good to spend on people..??

 

Mobile reception with the Shire is questionable. Do you have any ideas which could improve communication within the Shire and are you opposed to the construction of mobile towers?

During Black Saturday bushfires telecommunications were a real issue – read the Royal Commission findings and ask any CFA or SES member in the valley:they were totally inadequate. Yet our past local councillor has rejectd telcos building new mobile towers here….??  Our community is made up of thousands of  small businesses – including myself – many who work from home and can’t run their businesses without ‘reasonable’ mobile coverage. For many of our community members mobile telephones are the only option for communication due to the huge cost of installing a landline on rural properties.

I am not opposed to the construction of mobile towers and find Council’s proposed local planning telecommunications policy a mystery. It seems that the main objection is “protecting the natural environment” but further reading shows that the policy aims to make it impossible to comply – height can’t exceed tree canopy, must avoid visually exposed sites and minimise vegetation removal. If visual impact is the main issue then there are lots of solutions overseas that could be looked at rather than simply saying ‘no’.

The Minister for Planning has responded refusing an amendment to the planning scheme but this doesn’t prevent Council from making it very difficult for applicants – as we all know. If part of the next Council I would strongly push for a commonsense approach to this issue that focuses on community need and solutions to overcome issues rather than just blocking things. I note that in July this year Council committed to consult with the community about this issue and that only just last month was a request for comment posted on the YRC website.

 

Do you support a sustainable timber industry in our native forests?

Considering the fact that logging is a State Government controlled issue I think council’s role in this debate is limited. I do however see there is opportunity for Council to examine ways in which it might help the community resolve the debate between conservationists and loggers with a win/win outcome for all rather than a winner takes all outcome. We need discussion and debate and compromise all round. I can help achieve that as a councillor if there’s willingness from each side of the debate to bury the hatchet, preferably not in our neighbour’s back!

Authorised by Bruce Argyle, 36 Old Fernshaw Road, Healesville 3777