Meet Your Candidate Forum

By November 26, 2021News

Eurobodalla Council Elections 2021

A candidate from each group represented in the Eurobodalla Shire Elections was asked to present their groups platform with questions and answers at the Batemans bay Soldiers Club on November 24, 2021.

Candidates were asked to consider the following Chamber advocacy items followed by a QandA session attached.

  1. Retention Strategies for Young People, Young Families and Professionals.

    We recognise that our Shire has an accelerating increase in mean age (average age 54yrs) and one of the highest age dependency ratio’s in the country (556 out of 563 Shires).

    Currently there are many businesses and particularly tourism businesses struggling to attract and retain staff, despite our unemployment rate of 8.3% compared to the Regional NSW rate of 5.4% (June2021). While training is available in many areas through Business, TAFE, UOW etc., retention has not significantly changed.

    Past community engagement has indicated that there is a shortage of infrastructure for these demographics, moving forward we would like to work with Council to see facilities including the following facilitated in our region:

    • Indoor sporting facilities (soccer, basketball etc).
    • Entertainment infrastructure and  “Funland”, “Bowling” type facilities.
    • Indoor recreation spaces.
    • Mini golf, go-karts, artificial dive/ snorkel sites, theme parks similar to the Gold Rush Colony or other outdoor recreational infrastructure similar to the Mogo Adventure Hub.
    • New Event strategy with broader event support.
    • Over-coming the limitations experienced by current hospitality/dining enterprises.
    • In addition to this we believe we could improve the relationship between local businesses and school age children looking at career paths in the region.

    Young people, young professionals, families and tourists have many common infrastructure aspirations which improve quality of life and incentivise retention.

    Retention strategies are possible and we believe it is critical to encourage these.

  2. Affordable accommodation and rentable accommodation strategies.

    We believe that Council could encourage diversification of residential accommodation in new developments. We would encourage future Councillors to seek advice from experts in this field and to explore solutions in this area.

  3. Community Strategic Plan (CSP)

    The CSP for the previous administration stipulated community indicators to allow assessment of the plan for future CSP use. Prior to the CSP workshop in 2016 the community indicators for the previous 4 years were not assessed. The 2016 CSP community workshop floundered to the point where a vote was taken on whether to continue.

    We believe Council’s current CSP could be improved by the inclusion of more specific and measurable goals for the future, rather than generalist aspirations. Chamber would encourage the use of evidence-based strategies that address the needs of the community and economy, thus producing DP/OPs with emphasis on qualitative KPIs indicating whether a strategy was worthwhile or not in the eyes of the community, rather than quantitative KPIs such as how many meetings were conducted.

  4. Reinstate mechanisms to ensure industry and community connection and input to Council.

    The Chamber proposes the following:

    • Reinstate the Tourism Advisory Committee.
    • Reinstate the Business Advisory Committee.
    • Convene a Strategic Planning and Development Committee.
    • Revise the Public Engagement Strategy.
    • Return livestreaming and change the vetting process for public speaking at Council meetings.
    • We suggest Councillor participation and nomination of advisory committee membership to ensure representation of voter/ratepayer choice.
  5. Outsource Tourism, Events and Business activities to ensure reconnection to industry.

    Tourism and Events was a major electoral item at the last election and is becoming the same for this election. After the last election there was a tourism and events shake up at Council. A Destination Management Plan was created and designed to be industry based and led with KPIs centered around increasing infrastructure and overnight visitor spend. Unfortunately, for tourism the restructure marginalised industry input and events.

    • The re-structure saw an Executive Leadership Team for tourism position annulled.
    • The Tourism Advisory Committee was disbanded.
    • The underlying objectives of an industry led DMP have not been actualised.
    • The Planning Department has been allocated the responsibility for Tourism and Events.

    The overnight visitor spend prior to the fires continued to decrease as did tourism infrastructure. Currently across the South Coast there has been a resurgence in visitor numbers and investment. We acknowledge Councils work on the Mogo mountain bike trails as well as the new Pav in the Bay, as these will be beneficial to attracting tourists to our region.

    After the discontinuation of the Tourism Advisory Committee, Organisations and Chambers have established programs such as:

    • Love The Bay
    • Visit Batemans Bay
    • Visit Mogo
    • Visit Moruya
    • Marketing etc

    In response to Councils Tourism re-structure we have seen the establishment of privately run structures to fill the void namely South Coast Tourism, and Eurobodalla Tourism.

    Given the current disconnect between Community and Council and the excellent work that the community has already done, we would like the new Councillors to support an outsourced tourism and events unit similar to the Bega or Hunter Valley tourism model.These are successful well-connected industry led organisations and if adopted in Eurobodalla, it could save our Shire ratepayer significantly while ensuring better tourism business outcomes.

  6. Planning and Activation Strategies incorporate genuine Community and Stakeholder Engagement Processes which guarantee early stakeholder ownership and local expertise.

    This is in response to bush fire recovery issues in Mogo and place making and other strategies which lack community and stakeholder ownership. Mogo Adventure Trail Hub and Mogo Activation Plan highlight stakeholder concerns over a lack of ownership which stalls small business investment decisions. This proposal is also born out of concern that the bulk of grant monies have been spent on planning strategies while infrastructure has suffered.

Questions to be asked with a show of hands from Candidates- results below.

  1. Do you support Council membership of the Local Government Association?
  2. Do you support a retention strategy primarily for Youth and Young Workers but also families within the Community Strategic Plan. The aim being to address the Aged Dependency Ratio and accelerating median age?
  3. Would you support any Special Rate Variation over the next term?
  4. Do you support retention of bequeathed and other recognised community properties?
  5. While there is always some discontent with every Council, do you acknowledge there is a general disconnect between Council and the Community that needs to be addressed?
  6. Do you support an effort to change Council culture?
  7. Councils Community Engagement Model informs Council of the importance of genuine dialogue. The perception that the increased disconnect and distrust experienced by the community indicates little value in the current model. Would you support a new model which ensures genuine dialogue?
  8. Would you move or support a motion to ensure genuine stakeholder engagement at the early stage of a planning strategy either as part of a new Community Engagement Model or separate mechanism?
  9. With current community concern about secrecy, transparency, and limitations of the current FOI mechanism, would you move or support a motion for expanded disclosure through a more accessible Freedom of Information or similar mechanism?
  10. Do you support the re-establishment of the public access component of live streaming and importantly, changing the vetting system applied to speakers and their presentation content in order to allow more access?
  11. Do you support reinstatement of the Business Advisory Committee and Tourism Advisory Committee?
  12. Do you support the outsourcing of Tourism and Events to an industry led body?
  13. Would you prioritize the establishment of a Planning and Development Advisory Committee?
  14. Do you support a New Events Strategy, with a view to be more inclusive?
  15. With concern about housing, urban sprawl and encroachment on natural amenities? Do you generally support infill strategies to better utilise infrastructure, services and provide denser accommodation options?
  16. Do you support each Councillor having the option to nominate a person on each committee to ensure ratepayer/voter driven decision making?
  17. Many candidates have expressed their support to a collaborative meeting to find commonality and strategy prior to official commencement at Council, would you be happy to be part of that meeting?
  18. Have you looked at comparisons and benchmarks of this Shire compared to other Shires of similar size on the Local Government Website?
  19. Do you have online policies and strategies that people can access?
  20. Would you agree to hold off on any further decision making regarding Mogo activation plan and infrastructure development until Mogo residents and Mogo associations believe some semblance of genuine and reasonable dialogue has been achieved?

This is a snapshot only – Candidates qualified their responses to some answers particularly Q.12 and 16.

QUESTION GREENS LABOUR A MAYNE R POLLOCK T HARRISON M HATCHER J THOMPSON
1 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR DID NOT
2 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR ATTEND
3 AGAINST AGAINST AGAINST AGAINST AGAINST AGAINST
4 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
5 FOR FOR FOR AGAINST FOR FOR
6 FOR FOR FOR AGAINST FOR FOR
7 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
8 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
9 FOR FOR FOR AGAINST FOR FOR
10 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
11 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
12 FOR FOR AGAINST AGAINST FOR FOR
13 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
14 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
15 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
16 FOR AGAINST AGAINST AGAINST FOR FOR
17 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
18 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
19 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR
20 FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR