Friday 1 February 2008

A new opportunity for Kuranda

CairnsBlog contributing writer Sid Walker puts his money, and his heart, where his mouth is...

The last few days events, reported in CairnsBlog here, and here, has served to strengthen my determination to stand for the position of Councillor in the Division 8 electorate of the new Tablelands Regional Council.

I admit to some trepidation. I’d like to do this job – and I’d like to do it well. It’s an enormous challenge and requires full attention from successful candidates. But what’s involved?

The Tablelands Regional Council transitional website puts the responsibilities of a Councillor succinctly:

"Serving as a councillor offers the opportunity to deal directly with community issues and make a difference at a grass roots level. Success as a councillor requires you balance your energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the community with a proper knowledge and understanding of the Local Government system of administration."

I haven’t had experience on Council before - and if I took an exam on the Queensland Local Government Act today, I’d fail. On the other hand, I’ve had previous experience translating ideals into reality as a lobbyist, negotiator and manager in the environment movement. In that capacity I dealt mainly with State and Federal Governments.

I certainly have a lot to learn about the workings of local government. It will be essential I learn fast. This is a new ‘game’ for me. Only those who know the rules of a game can hope to play well.

But there are times when a fresh view is helpful – and this may be one of them. Old practices and customs can become ossified. Stupidities can become ingrained practice. I’m not shy of asking questions and I’ll be asking plenty - to clarify what’s been done previously and examine whether things could be done better.

Now to what drives me…

I believe I do have plenty of “energy, enthusiasm and commitment” for better local government in this region. I’m determined to seek better outcomes for the people of this area. I want a prosperous, resilient, harmonious and genuinely sustainable FNQ. I want local democracy that’s open, accountable and consultative. I want excellent representation for this very special electorate, an electorate that includes the ‘greater Kuranda’ area as well as a significant number of constituents in north-eastern Mareeba.

How to achieve these outcomes? Clearly, well-thought out policies are needed – although only a fool or charlatan would proffer the kind of firm policy commitments made by political parties seeking government at a higher level. If elected as an independent Councillor, I’ll have just one vote on Council and will need to persuade a majority of colleagues to ‘win’ debates. In any case, many key issues are decided at a higher level of government.

The strongest pledge I can reasonably make on most matters is to consult widely, consider deeply, try to find the wisest and most appropriate course of action and then promote that - within and outside Council meetings - to the very best of my ability.

Even so, I have developed some policies. They are on a new website

I invite anyone interested to take a look. Feedback is welcome. I reserve the right to fine-tune this policy work as I go. The whole idea is to engage in meaningful dialogue with the electorate. Other candidates, incidentally, are welcome to plagiarize these policies. I hope they do!

The website refers to some region-wide policies and commitments on style of consultation and other general matters – but it is mostly, as the name suggests, about the greater Kuranda area. That’s where I’ve lived for most of the last decade. It’s the part of the new Tablelands Regional Council Division 8 that I know best. I feel I have a better grasp of the issues confronting Kuranda than the districts of eastern Mareeba also in this Division.

A different approach will be necessary with Mareeba. My first priority is to meet and consult. I’m extremely interested in hearing from residents of the Mareeba end of the electorate. As I learn more from people of that area, I aim to draft realistic and appropriate policies addressing their concerns as well.

For years, Kuranda area residents had no sitting Councillor on the old Mareeba Shire Council. To an unacceptable extent, the Kuranda community felt left out of decision-making by Councillors who lived in distant communities and were not overly sympathetic to our concerns.

Kuranda now has the opportunity to elect a Councillor on the new Tablelands Council who lives in the Kuranda area. It’s important that constituents in Mareeba who are part of the same Division do not now suffer the same fate! I know what it’s like to feel inadequately represented and I don’t wish it on anyone. That’s why I emphasize my need to meet and consult with the eastern Mareeba electorate.

There’s plenty more I could say here, but why clog up this blog?

Anyone interested can check out my initial campaign website.

I’m proud to launch my candidacy with this article in CairnsBlog. As the 2008 local elections approach, I believe CairnsBlog can lay claim to being the FNQ’s cutting edge news medium.

From time to time over the next six weeks, you may see advertisements on CairnsBlog supporting my campaign. Be sure I intend to pay for them, in cash. I think CairnsBlog and Michael Moore deserves support. Those of us who want responsive, creative and independent local media in FNQ need to back it with advertising dollars and/or other financial help.

I encourage other candidates at the forthcoming local elections to do the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck Sid. I think you have what it takes. All the best.