4th May 2022
The two major party candidates for Gilmore, Andrew Constance and Fiona Phillips were questioned by Chamber President David Maclachlan on both local and national topics
The introduction by Mr Maclachlan included an overview of the area’s social and economic data together with Chamber projects which help address these challenges.
- Gilmore is the most elderly electorate in Australia, with an accelerating increase in medium age.
- The region age-dependency-ratio was almost the highest in Australia – which simply means we do not have enough younger people to look after older people and maintain a balanced community.
- The region has a net loss of young people and has difficulty retaining young families and young professionals.
- Unemployment is higher than the state average, yet business has difficulty finding and attracting employees, despite having TAFE and University training facilities.
- The region has experienced fires, flood and Covid. Not all businesses have rebuilt with re-insurance being a major problem.
- Tourism is a major industry, yet has been a reduction in hotel beds.
- The Chamber welcomes new public and private infrastructure and hope’s that essential crossover infrastructure benefitting Tourism and the community is recognised. Crossover infrastructure is also needed for the retention of young people, young professionals and young families.
The forum started with Yes/No responses to NATIONAL ISSUES as follows:
- Will you support permanent residency to 459 Visa holders already in the country? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you protect Medicare? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you include dental in Medicare? FP NO: AC YES
- Will you adequately fund TAFE to address skill shortages? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you subsidise manufacturing to bring it back on shore? FP YES: AC YES
- Would you support any plans to increase GST? FP NO: AC NO
- Do you support any increase in personal tax? FP NO: AC NO
- Do you support any increase in business tax? FP NO: AC NO
- Will you support a network of fast EV charges between the ACT, Sydney and the Shire? FP YES: AC YES
- Do you support high speed rail between the three largest cities on the East coast? FP YES: AC NO
- Are you committed to net zero emissions by 2050? FP YES: AC YES
- Do you support toll-free roads on national routes? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you support an effective Federal ICAC? FP YES: AC YES
- Do you favour strengthening the powers of the ACCC to address the monopolisation and price gouging of essential goods and services? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you increase funding and effectiveness for the aged care sector? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you support a higher percentage increase of GDP for Defence spending? FP YES: AC YES
- Do you support an increase in foreign aid in the Pacific? FP YES: AC YES
- Would you actively support the elimination of black spot areas on the Princes and Kings Highway? FP YES: AC YES
- Do you support introducing complete political donation disclosure? FP YES: AC YES
- Will you support funding for Energy Storage Systems to provide resilience to critical local communication infrastructure? FP YES: AC YES
Large Infrastructure Projects not Proceeding
A long-standing theme that major parties use local infrastructure to buy votes at the expense of major infrastructure projects, could be applied to road and rail in this region. This is a concern in populace regions which do not have significant public transport with major city connections. How can this situation be changed?
FP focused on major projects to be delivered, AC focused on segmenting major road projects and mentioned “pork barrelling”.
- It is now more than 2 years since the Black Summer fires burned throughout Gilmore.
- Business NSW, the Federal Small Business Ombudsman and other groups are concerned about insurance availability & affordability in bush fire effected areas.
- Many local businesses viability has been placed in jeopardy. Businesses throughout the East Coast who have never had a claim for 20 to 50 years suddenly have been declined property insurance.
- Premium increases for bushfire cover of more than 1000% have been quoted.
- Excluding bushfire risk, insurers have increased public liability and other risk by significant magnitudes when risk has not changed. This equates to price gouging by a number of insurance companies in bush fire prone areas.
- The current government has refused to support extending the Northern Australian Reinsurance pool for natural disasters to the East Coast of Australia.
- Would you actively support either seeding a Discretionary Mutual Fund or support a reinsurance pool such as the current scheme which operates for flood and cyclone areas?
FP supported a Re-insurance pool : AC supported a Discretionary Trust
Accessible Batemans Bay CBD
-Eurobodalla Shire Council has plans to convert the southern section of the Batemans Bay CBD to be accessible to all. This entails the raising of the footpaths to a level equal to the shop entry levels, to raise the street pavement to a similar height and to provide access between the two for wheelchairs and strollers.
o The ballpark cost of these works is $20M. Will candidates commit to this future expense? Both Candidates supported the above
Will you support funding for the following infrastructure projects for Council to sponsor?
- A Multi-use venue to assist retention of young people, young professionals and young families and tourism? People complain about lack of indoor activities, entertainment and sport facilities e.g. 1 indoor basketball court for over 20,000 people, Loss of No. 1 Trip advisor activity and other shortages. These issues would be addressed by a large format multi use space for national touring events, trade shows, art and performance space, school events, indoor sporting events and possible dual use as an evacuation and emergency facility.
- A splash pad to compliment the inclusive playground at Corrigan’s Reserve?
- A 50m salt water pool?
- Underwater Sculpture site to compliment the Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk, this has already received state support in principle and has been advanced with marine authorities?
Both candidates supported all the above projects with particular emphasis on the multi-use venue.
What are your parties plans to ensure that all business has reliable NBN coverage?
Both candidates said they would address black spot areas of the Shire.
Fireproofing critical infrastructure at Mount Wandera. Eurobodalla Council has proposed replacing timber power poles with fireproof poles at a cost of $750,000. Would you support funding for these poles and back-up power? Both candidates supported funding for the above project.
Questions from the floor not included.