23 November 2021

Bushfires and COVID shift Eurobodalla election focus to environment, transparency and economic recovery

| Katrina Condie
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Eurobodalla Shire Council mayoral candidates for the up-coming election

Eurobodalla Shire Council mayoral candidates for the upcoming election. Photo: Supplied.

Following the Black Summer bushfires that ravaged much of the Eurobodalla, there’s a strong focus on protecting the local environment, climate change and preparedness for future natural disasters as the shire heads towards the 4 December 2021 local government election.

And, as the region starts to bounce back after the COVID pandemic, themes of business recovery, appropriate development and transparent community consultation are also running through the campaigns of all teams.

A total of 34 candidates have put their hands up for election, with seven hopefuls also throwing their hats into the mayoral ring, and a Meet Your Candidates Forum is being held at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club at 6 pm Wednesday, 24 November 2021.

Candidates who attend will have three minutes to explain their platform and will face a series of questions put together by the Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber and Mogo Village Business Chamber.

Pre-polling began on Monday, 22 November, and seven groups appear on the ballot paper, with two political parties – the Greens and Labor – fielding teams and mayoral candidates this time around.

The Greens’ Alison Worthington from Moruya, Labor’s David Grace from Broulee, Gary Smith from Tuross Head, Mat Hatcher from Tomakin, Noel (Tubby) Harrison from Moruya, Rob Pollock from Potato Point and Karyn Starmer from Moruya are all vying for the top job.

None of those standing for mayor hail from the major town centres of Batemans Bay or Narooma.

Outgoing Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Liz Innes is not standing.

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More than half of the candidates are women, a trend being seen across the state following a campaign run by the Women for Election Australia calling for more women to step up and be the voice of their community.

Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock has welcomed the response from women, saying it’s her hope that “we can begin to dismantle entrenched barriers, stereotypes and assumptions that impede women’s ability to play a central role in public life”.

Group A on the voting card is current councillor Rob Pollock’s team.

Cr Pollock says his team aims to continue the Eurobodalla Climate Resilience Plan and adapt to the changing climate, while reducing carbon emissions.

He has committed to “making sure quality developments are coming to Eurobodalla while attracting new families and businesses”.

The Pollock team includes Peter Diskon of Long Beach, Councillor Jack Tait of Surfside, Robert Motbey of Tuross Head and Jennifer Munro from Narooma.

Group B is Noel (Tubby) Harrison’s ‘A Better Council’ team.

Mr Harrison says his team seeks to build respect for council and the community with more open communication.

“In our research, we found the community wanted a better council, so that’s our name and our aim – to provide a better council to represent our shire into a challenging future,” he said.

The team aims to develop policies to enhance the economy and the wellbeing of residents while protecting the natural assets of the shire, with “no selling of public land or assets unless (there is) full genuine support of residents”.

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Joining Mr Harrison’s team are Gary Smith who is also a mayoral candidate, Jackilyn Rosevear of Moruya and John Gillett from Moruya.

Group C is ‘The Mayne Team’, headed up by Councillor Anthony Mayne.

Cr Mayne’s team has a focus on making council responsive, accessible and transparent, and smarter planning of towns.

“A rubber-stamp approach to township planning threatens our lifestyle, tourism industry, natural environment and health and wellbeing,” Cr Mayne said.
“Without a deliberate, thoughtful approach to expansion, our shire is in danger of becoming a patchwork of bland, clear-felled suburbs.”

The Mayne team aims to create a network of community centres and diversify the local economy to “grow beyond the summer boom to thrive year-round”.

Other team members are Michelle Hamrosi of Broulee, mayoral candidate Karyn Starmer and Trevor Moore from Tuross Head.

Group D is Mathew Hatcher’s ‘Advance Eurobodalla’ team.

Advance Eurobodalla aims to create genuine, open community engagement in council and has a focus on sound financial management.

Mr Hatcher says council officials “will be required to be proactively transparent with those they serve” and “by means of an innovative, sophisticated engagement process, we will enable authentic participation by the entire community”.

The team seeks to create a Strategic Disaster Planning and Operations section of council and is also focused on changes to council’s planning procedures to address the current housing unaffordability.

“We intend to create a working group between council and emergency services to identify areas of risk and establish strategic emergency management plans,” Mr Hatcher said.

Other Advance Eurobodalla team members are Amber Schutz from Catalina, Tanya Dannock from Broulee, Natasha Coxon from Dalmeny, Sandra Meek from Long Beach, Georgina Rowley from Lilli Pilli and Charles Stuart from Denhams Beach.

Group E is The Green team headed up by Alison Worthington.

Ms Worthington says her team will focus on council accountability to residents and ratepayers, delivering the services and infrastructure needed to support vibrant, liveable communities and prioritising environmental responsibility.

“We want to be a part of a council that partners with residents to build safe and resilient communities, that champions appropriate development in this post-bushfire landscape, and that protects the natural environment that sustains us and enriches our lives,” she said.

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“This decade will be a time to make ambitious decisions about climate action for the wellbeing of our communities into the future.”

Other Greens team members are Nadine Hills of Akolele, Kylie Ryder of Moruya Heads and Charlie Bell from Tomakin.

Group F is the Labor Party, led by David Grace.

Mr Grace says Labor will upgrade council facilities, sustain the area’s natural beauty and develop land that works for population growth and nature simultaneously.

“It has been a tough time for the Eurobodalla over the past few years… and it’s time for renewal,” he said.

Labor aims to support local business with clearer opportunities to tender for projects and revitalise the tourism and business sector.

“We all deserve a local council that looks after the community’s interests first … a team that will upgrade infrastructure for our growth, improve natural disaster preparedness for the future, work with the sun and the climate for everyone’s benefit, and a team that supports local businesses as we come out of the pandemic.”

Other Labor team members are Maureen Searson from Catalina, Matthew Findlay of Surf Beach, Claire McAsh from Moruya Heads, Deirdre Russack of Narooma and Jack Egan from Rosedale.

Group G is current councillor James Thomson’s team

Cr Thomson, from Belowra, is not running as a mayoral candidate.

His team is made up of Jo-Anne Starling from Tuross Head, Catherine Lawler from Eurobodalla and Jennifer Campbell from Tuross Head.

Team Thomson believes the community needs to rebuild as a whole post recent natural disasters and continue to improve infrastructure and emergency facilities.

Affordable housing, care for elderly and disabled people and improved accessibility to infrastructure are also at the top of their list.

Mr Thomson says the challenges that climate change and rising sea levels pose to the shire and the planet as a whole demand action.
Outgoing councillors not standing for re-election are Cr Liz Innes, Cr Phil Constable, Cr Patrick McGinlay, Cr Maureen Nathan and Cr Lindsay Brown.

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Rob Pollock voted against declaring a climate emergency in 2019. He is a climate change denier which is why he talks about adapting to a ‘changing climate’ which he views as a natural phenomenom rather than a human induced one. His team has absolutely nothing to do with a Eurobodalla Climate Resilience Plan which is something that Bega Valley Council has initiated but Eurobodalla Council has not.

Would recommend checking this document: https://cisprodgrsst.blob.core.windows.net/cis/lge21_cis_eurobodalla.pdf
It says a lot about the individuals. Most can’t even recall their own date-of-birth, and they’re supposed to represent us? What a joke!
Will vote for Dr. Hills, she seems to be the only person with some actual brains and seems to really care about people and nature.

Gillian Macnamara9:01 am 26 Nov 21

Well, that’s a puzzle! Rob Pollock says his team will continue to work towards climate resilience and adapting to climate change. Is he the same Rob Pollock who voted against declaring a climate emergency in 2019?

Andrea Charlton8:03 pm 25 Nov 21

Surely action on climate change ought to be a much higher priority? Business led recovery won’t be much use if we haven’t got an environment to conduct our business in! The Greens, Labor and the Mayne Group were willing to engage with climate action groups in the leadup to this election, but the other candidates were most reluctant to do so. The fires changed everything. We mustn’t just keep doing what we have always done, it isn’t working.

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