MBI Talks To MBRC Division 1 Candidates About Bribie Island

In our Feb 3 posting, MyBribieIsland outlined what it believes are the major issues for Bribie Island in the State and Council elections being held in 2012.  MyBribieIsland issued 10 questions to each of the candidates for Division 1 that cover some of those major issues and these responses are published in this week’s posting.  These responses are posted in the order that they were received.  Where candidates did not respond, the questions are posted without answers.

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TEN QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATE

Denis Johnson – Candidate for Division 1 Councillor

Denis spent the bulk of his career in heavy machinery sales.  He has been a long time resident of Bribie Island and operates a small business on First Avenue.  He has been concerned for some time with what he sees as the direction Bribie is moving, and has decided to run for elected office to help change those directions

 

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Denis indicates that between running his business and running an election campaign and attending all the candidate forums, he has had little time to answer the raft of questions sent to him by various organizations.  So in lieu of answering the questions from MBI, he sent the following notes that outline his policies and views.

  • Denis has operated his own business for years on Bribie Island, and has got the necessary experience
  • Denis understands the rising costs are hurting
  • Denis stands up to bureaucracy when the situation makes it necessary
  • Denis is looking forward to Div 1 moving ahead with Council support rather than lack of support
  • Denis has noticed the lack of maintenance of Div 1 over the past years
  • Denis wants a bigger share of funding for Div 1
  • Denis will seek reductions in Council costs to all
  • (Denis is) ……. a person seeking transparency from local government to make a healthier council
  • (Denis is) …… a person very much aware that the elderly need care as they are the most vulnerable in our society
  • (Denis says)……… Its time for change!!  Come on and get with me and enjoy life!

For more details on Denis, he invites people to call him on 0418 159 116 or visit his business at 15 First Avenue, Bongaree

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TEN QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATE

Rick Williams – Candidate for Division 1 Councillor

Rick has a degree in financial planning and has worked for many years as a Certified Financial Planner.  He currently operates a small vehicle recovery business here on Bribie.  Rick has been visiting Bribie for decades and came to live here permanently a few years ago.  He and Cheryl have six adult children.  Rick supports many local community organizations and is keen to ensure that future generations can enjoy the unique lifestyle that he and Cheryl have enjoyed on Bribie.

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MBI:  What attracts you to want to enter political life?

A:  I value the unique lifestyle we enjoy here on Bribie.  I am concerned that our lifestyle is being destroyed by some poor decisions by Councillor Parsons.  Everyday I see waste and misuse of power.  I want to do something about that and representing Division 1 on Council gives me that opportunity.

MBI:  What do you believe are your special strengths that you bring to the task of being Councillor for Division 1

A:  I have a strong background in finance and management. I know Division 1 and its people very well.  I own and manage a successful local business which has brought me in contact with so many people. I have spent many hours volunteering to help people in need.  Residents have made me very aware of the needs of Bribie Island.  I bring that knowledge and experience to the task of being Councillor.

MBI:  What do you regard as the major challenges on Bribie Island that need to be addressed

A:  In my campaign leaflet, I outline my three highest priority areas for action

1)    We have to reduce Council charges.  People are hurting financially on Bribie but Council charges keep going up at a rate greater than inflation.   We have to stop waste and give people value for money

2)    We have to protect our lifestyle on Bribie.  Property values will continue to decline if people see the quality of life on Bribie continuing to decline.  If people see that the “Bribie experience” is disappearing, they will stop coming here for holidays by the seaside and our tourism industry will decline even further.

3)    We have to plan for the future.  There is no plan for Bribie.  Councillor Parsons is just lurching from one failed expensive idea to the next, without research.

MBI:  Lets get your thoughts on some of the major MBRC initiatives on Bribie in the last four years……………

  • Woorim Master Plan:  To date, MBRC has spent about $15m on this.  Work included: conversion of public open space into new car parks for visitors and hotel patrons; conversion of some Class 5 park areas (requiring occasional maintenance) to Class 1 areas (requiring weekly maintenance); removal of many mature habitat trees; new traffic roundabout at Arcadia; and a new skate park adjacent to residential areas.  What was achieved by this project?  Was this money well spent?  Would you do anything differently?   

A.   This promised to be a good Plan but it was very poorly executed.  It set out to take advantage of Woorim’s location and natural beauty, but failed to develop a business plan that would justify that massive expense.  Residents didn’t benefit.  Businesses didn’t benefit.  If we are going to spend such large amounts of money, we need to have a good business plan to justify it.  I will never allow funds to be spent in an ad hoc manner like that

  • Woorim Master Plan again……   Residents say this $15m did not result in any facilities they did not enjoy prior to the project.  It has added over $1m per year to MBRC’s maintenance costs.  One cynic commented that all it has brought is more traffic, more hoons, more garbage and more drunks urinating in public places.  Businesses do not appear to have benefited either as two of the major businesses in Woorim (along with a number of smaller businesses) have closed since this project was completed.  Who was supposed to benefit from this project?  And if residents and businesses (who paid for it all) have received no benefit, then who did benefit?

A:  Visitors to Bribie benefited.  Residents, got very little.

  • Woorim Beach Shoreline Erosion Management Plan (WBSEMP):  MBRC has spent ~$5m implementing the recommendations of this Plan, but a survey in 2010 claims that virtually none of the consultant’s recommendations has been implemented as outlined in the Plan.  This has resulted in some major environmental downgrading that will cost millions more to stabilize and repair.  Why do you think the WBSEMP recommendations have not been followed?  How will you go about the repairs and stabilization that are now required?

A.   I have no idea why Cr Parsons didn’t insist that Council follow the WBSEMP recommendations.  I understand that once the consultants issued the WBSEMP Report, their services were never used again.  Maybe Council thought it knew better.  Oh well just another failure.  We now have all this damage to repair as a result.  It will cost millions.  Council is now hiring even more consultants to review the past work of other consultants to decide what should be done.  We need to stop this nonsense.  Get the experts in and stop messing around.  And start talking to the locals and getting their input too.     

  • Vegetation:  The sign at the end of the Bribie Bridge says… Bribie Island Sanctuary – Fauna and Flora Protected.  In the last four years MBRC has removed literally thousands of trees and shrubs all across Bribie –  including many massive habitat trees.  Virtually nothing has been replanted.  So what does this sign mean?  What is being protected?  Would you change anything in this area of MBRC’s activity?

A.     Judging by what Council is doing, that sign means very little.  Nothing seems to be protected.  Anything can be cut down.  Council removed dozens of enormous habitat trees because one person complained about leaf litter.  Bribie desperately needs a vegetation management plan that outlines what can be removed, what must be protected, and what must be replanted.  The so-called Vegetation Plan that Council is currently working on that Councillor Parsons has constantly referred to in this election campaign, is just a guideline to the Maintenance Department about cutting trees down.  There is nothing in there about preserving vegetation or guidelines for replanting.

MBI:  When it comes to executing major projects, MBRC seems to have a policy of refusing to consult with and/or work with volunteer community groups or other affected groups.  Some examples include the changes to the Benabrow car park, the development of the Pumicestone Shoreline Erosion Management Plan, the execution of the recommendations of the WBSEMP, the upgrades to the Woorim helipad, the Envirofund project, Bushcare projects on the at-risk Woorim beaches, the upcoming capacity review of the Bribie sewage treatment facility, and the Rickman Parade project to name a few.  Why is this?  What would you do to change this?

A:  I have repeatedly heard this comment about a lack of consultation.  Council is spending ratepayers’ money so the least Council can do is to consult with ratepayers about spending it.  I want to work closely with community groups to get consensus on these projects.  It will be my job as Councillor to find real solutions to real problems and I need community support to achieve that.  I have made a special mention of the problems associated with the generation and disposal of water here on Bribie.  Any discussions in this area, like a review of the capacity of the Woorim sewerage treatment plant, must include the public, and must include a total upgrade of Plant.

MBI:  The Surveyor General indicates that property valuations have risen slightly on the mainland in the past year, and have kept constant on Bribie.  That’s the good news.  At Woorim valuations have dropped by 10%.  Why has this decline at Woorim occurred?  What can be done to reverse this trend?

A:  The major reason that real estate values go down is that people think they are not getting value and they believe they can get better value elsewhere.  Obviously, people feel that the value of real estate at Woorim has declined.  Certainly the quality of life for many Woorim residents has declined.  As a result of Council actions those south of First Avenue have lost their beach; they have lost most of the vegetation on their dunes and what is left is at risk;  virtually all the birdlife that used to be in those dunes is gone; projects like the Benny Street stormwater outlet pipes lie unfinished for years because of poor planning; and the place is overrun at weekends with illegally parked cars.  I think the reasons for the decline in property values is obvious.  The only way property values will go back up is to address those reasons that caused them to go down.

MBI:  Business conditions on Bribie are very difficult.  Over 30 businesses have closed during the term of the current Council.  Why have so many businesses closed when the number of visitors to Bribie has never been greater?  What would you do to change this?

A:  The first thing that needs to happen is for the Councillor to talk to local businesses to see where he can help.  Council needs to support local businesses and contractors with its purchasing policies.  Council needs to make a better effort to help grow industries like thoughtful and appropriate tourism on Bribie.  Council’s current priority for tourism seems to be to create bigger and bigger car parks for day visitors who don’t use many of the local businesses.    Council needs to make a better effort to attract to Bribie those who are going to come and stay for a few days.  Just go down to the Information Office and have a look for material that Council has helped produce about attractions and services on Bribie.  Virtually nothing is there.

MBI:  A number of candidates in this current election are campaigning as “independent” even though they have strong links to various political parties.  What party affiliations do you have?

A:  I am not a member of any political party.  I dabbled with politics as a student and from that I can call Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale a friend.  I am an “independent” and I will stay that way representing all people.

MBI:  The expenditure on road transport dominates all expenditure on transportation options in this region.  For instance, MBRC could find ~$1m at short notice for a roundabout to bring McDonalds to Bribie but can find little funds for other transport options.  Other options such as public transport and/or bicycle transport attract very little support.  Because of its geography, Bribie Island should be a bicycle riding mecca but according to the survey by the Bicycle Network, expenditure on bicycle options in SE Queensland is extremely low.  Brisbane’s expenditure last year was $20 per person compared with $47 in Perth and $62 in Sydney.  Expenditure in MBRC was $8.  Will you be doing anything to change this focus?

A:  Cr Parsons spent $1.4 million on McDonald road works only $180,000 came from McDonald so we the ratepayers paid $1,220,000 to get Macc’s here.  I could have done without it.  How about you?  Before Council thinks of building more roads and roundabouts, it needs to do a much better job of maintaining the ones it has.  MBRC has a massive backlog (1100 km) of road to repair, yet is spending a fortune on work of little value like trimming trees.  If expenditure on bicycle ways, for instance, would reduce spending somewhere else, I want to look very closely at that. Bike ways/pedestrian paths should have lighting and be flood free to start with.

MBI:  Other candidates have commented that when they have announced their candidacy, unusual things start to happen to them and/or their families –  hate-mail starts to arrive, strange cars appear in their street and even in their driveway, their property is vandalised, their cars are selectively ticketed, and Council inspectors show up for the first time in years and years.  Has any of this happened to you?

A:  Some of those things have happened to me, and I have reported them to the appropriate authorities.   We now have full home camera surveillance.  But they still steal my election signs and flatten car tyres.  I get visits from Council officers about things that were resolved years ago that they have decided to reopen.  A Council officer put a notice on my vehicle when I dared stand up for my rights, having been ordered out of Brennan Park Markets by an organiser.   This is a public space.

MBI:  Thank you for your co-operation 

For more information on Rick Williams, phone him on 0411 526 959 or visit his website at www.rickwilliams.com.au

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TEN QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATE

Gary Parsons – Division 1 Councillor

 Gary worked for many years for the Tramways and for Alcoa in Victoria before moving to Queensland.  He worked for some years in the construction industry before being appointed as Caboolture Shire Councillor for Division 1.  He was elected to Caboolture Shire Council as Division 1 Councillor in 2005 and to Moreton Bay Regional Council as Division 1 Councillor in 2008.  He and Sharon have lived on Bribie for many years and they have four adult children.

 

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MBI:  You have been in elected office now for almost nine years.  What attracts you to political life?

A:

MBI:  What do you consider your major achievements in Division 1 in this period

A:

MBI:  What do you regard as the major challenges on Bribie Island that need to be addressed in the next term of Council

 A:

MBI:  Lets get your thoughts on some of the major MBRC initiatives on Bribie in the last four years……………

  • Woorim Redevelopment Plan:  You have been a big supporter of this Plan and MBRC has spent almost $15m on it.  Work has included: conversion of public open space into new carparks for visitors and hotel patrons; conversion of some Class 5 park areas (requiring occasional maintenance) to Class 1 areas (requiring weekly maintenance); removal of many mature habitat trees; new traffic roundabout at Arcadia; and a new skate park adjacent to residential areas.  What was achieved?  Was this money well spent?

A:

  • Woorim Redevelopment Plan again……   Residents say this $15m did not result in any facilities they did not enjoy prior to the project.  It has added over $1m per year to MBRC’s maintenance costs.  One cynic commented that all it has done is to bring more traffic, more hoons, more garbage and more drunks urinating in public places.  Businesses do not appear to have benefited either as two of the major businesses in Woorim (along with a number of smaller businesses) have closed since this project was completed.  Who was supposed to benefit from this project?  And if residents and businesses (who paid for it all) have received no benefit, then who did benefit?

A:

  • Woorim Beach Shoreline Erosion Management Plan (WBSEMP):  MBRC has spent ~$5m implementing the recommendations of this Plan.  You have been a strong supporter and defender of all those activities. But a survey in 2010 claims that virtually none of the consultant’s recommendations have been implemented as outlined in the Plan.  This has resulted in some major environmental downgrading that will cost millions more to stabilize and repair.  Why do you think the WBSEMP recommendations have not been followed?  What is the plan for implementation of that repair and stabilization work?

 A:

  • Vegetation:  The sign at the end of the Bribie Bridge says… Bribie Island Sanctuary – Fauna and Flora Protected.  You have been a strong supporter of MBRC’s efforts in the last four years to remove literally thousands of trees and shrubs all across Bribie –  including many massive habitat trees.  Virtually nothing has been replanted.  So what does this sign mean?  What is being protected?  Will you be advocating for any change to the level of protection for flora and fauna in the next term of Council

 A:

MBI:  When it comes to executing major projects, MBRC seems to have a policy of refusing to consult with and/or work with volunteer community groups or other affected groups.  Some examples include the changes to the Benabrow car park, the development of the Pumicestone Shoreline Erosion Management Plan, the execution of the recommendations of the WBSEMP, the upgrades to the Woorim helipad, the Envirofund project, Bushcare projects, the upcoming capacity review of the Bribie sewage treatment facility, and the Rickman Parade project to name a few.  Why is this?  Will you be advocating for any change to this practise in the next term of Council? 

A:

MBI:  The Surveyor General indicates that property valuations in general have risen slightly on the mainland in the past year, and have kept constant on Bribie.  That’s the good news.  At Woorim valuations have dropped by 10%.  Why has this decline at Woorim occurred?  What can be done to reverse this trend?

A:

MBI:  Business conditions on Bribie are very difficult.  Over 30 businesses have closed during the term of the current Council.  Why have so many businesses closed when the number of visitors to Bribie has never been greater?  What should be done in the coming term of Council to change this?

 A:

MBI:  A number of candidates in this current election are campaigning as “independent” even though they have strong links to various political parties.  What party affiliations do you have now or have you had in the past?

 A:

MBI:  The expenditure on road transport dominates all expenditure on transportation options in this region.  For instance, you were able to help MBRC find ~$1m at short notice for a roundabout to bring McDonalds to Bribie, but MBRC can now find little funds for other transport options.  Other options such as public transport and/or bicycle transport attract very little support.  Because of its geography, Bribie Island should be a bicycle riding mecca but according to the survey by the Bicycle Network, expenditure on bicycle options in SE Queensland is extremely low.  Brisbane’s expenditure last year was $20 per person compared with $47 in Perth and $62 in Sydney.  Expenditure in MBRC was $8.  Will you be advocating for any change to this focus in the next term of Council?

 A:

MBI:  Before we leave McDonalds, you refused to meet with community groups to discuss concerns with that project citing a “conflict of interest”.  What was that conflict?

 A:

MBI:  Other candidates have commented that when they have announced their candidacy, unusual things start to happen to them and/or their families –  hate-mail starts to arrive, strange cars appear in their street and even in their driveway, their property is vandalised, their cars are selectively ticketed, and Council inspectors show up for the first time in years and years.  Has any of this happened to you?

 A:

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