Mayoral contenders reveal their grand plans for Wollongong - Illawarra Greens

Mayoral contenders reveal their grand plans for Wollongong

 

 Stamping out illegal dumping, capping rate rises and shutting down skydiving operations in Stuart Park are some of the proposals being put forward by those hoping to become Wollongong’s next Lord Mayor.

Greens Lord Mayoral candidate, Mithra Cox, wants to boost council staff union membership and ensure safe footpaths for children to get to school

Read the article by Kate McIlwain, and follow the links to see what they say about housing.

Mayoral contenders reveal their grand plans for Wollongong

29 Aug 2017, 6 p.m.

Stamping out illegal dumping, capping rate rises and shutting down skydiving operations in Stuart Park are some of the proposals being put forward by those hoping to become Wollongong’s next Lord Mayor.

Other candidates say they want to boost council staff union membership, forensically investigate the council’s finances or change the way flood premiums affect Wollongong residents.

There are seven men and two women running for the city’s top job, and the Mercury asked all of them to put forward two mayoral minutes they would raise at the start of their term.

Read more: Meet the 98 people vying for your votes

Mayoral minutes are placed at the top of a council meeting agenda, and are designed to recognise the special position of the mayor.

Unlike other motions, the mayor can move that a minute be debated of the floor of council without a seconder, however it does need majority support to be passed.

Incumbent Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said his focus would be setting up a new authority to manage Lake Illawarra, and reviewing the council’s on-call clean-up program to reduce illegal dumping.

Read more: How Wollongong hopefuls would tackle housing crisis

Candidate Vicki Curran said she would push to make all councillor briefings – which are currently confidential – open to the public, and she would also work to reverse the council’s decision on skydiving in Stuart Park.

Cr Curran has been a vocal opponent of the long-held plans to build a Skydive the Beach headquarters – which finally got the go ahead this year – and said she would quickly try to put all plans to move forward with the building lease “on hold” if elected as mayor.

Greens hopeful Mithra Cox said she would attempt to encourage more council staff to become members of a union.

Stopping large rate hikes and “re-focusing resources toward the city’s neglected suburbs” were Labor contender David Brown’s promises, however he said he would be unlikely to introduce his own proposed mayoral minutes, as he would prefer to allow them to progress through normal council business.

Northern suburbs’ independents Warwick Erwin and Greg Petty are both running for mayor but are on the same candidate ticket.

Mr Erwin said he would try to reduce flood premiums and improve community consultation, while Cr Petty proposed a lengthy review of numerous council functions.

Cr Petty also highlighted a long list of northern projects he would try to expedite, including a fully-enclosed dog park and a new skate park at Thirroul.

John Dorahy, the Liberal mayoral candidate, and independents John Mullan and Andrew Anthony did not reply to the Mercury’s request.

The full responses received from six mayoral contenders are available to read online.

Read the full responses

The Mercury asked each candidate to outline two mayoral minutes they plan to introduce if elected.

Some responses have been edited for length, but not for style or spelling/grammar, and are listed in the order received by candidates.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery

  • To immediately move to establish a coordinating authority for Lake Illawarra. In collaboration with Shellharbour City Council and all agencies and stakeholders to establish an overarching body to identify adequate funding for its operation
  • To review the management of the household on-call clean-up program to reduce illegal dumping and/or the delay in the removal of such waste. To review waste and litter management to improve the amenity and appearance of the city.

Warwick Erwin – Independent

  • My first Lord Mayoral Minute would involve increasing the Community engagement and Consultation of Council. Restoring Council Officer support for and Councillor Officer attendance at Neighbourhood Forums. All project requiring community and resident engagement at the location of the project and not only via the Councils website.
  • The second Lord Mayoral Minute would be concerned with clearing up the issue of flood level and the impact on ratepayers of the increase in insurance premiums. Two issues here. One being the changes in where water flows in heavy rains compared to previous years and the second is why the changes in flood levels. What the latest report to council from the consultants MW Water recommends.

David Brown – Labor

Minute 1

That Council commits to not raise rates above CPI for the three year term of this Council. ‘That Council will not apply to the State Government for a special rate variation (SRV), ie a rates rise above ‘CPI’ cap, in this term.’

Background

This no-rates rise above CPI pledge by the Labor team reflects that Council’s finances are in good order and that Wollongong, unlike some nearby Councils, was found ‘fit for the future’ during the State Liberal Government’s ramshackle Council amalgamations process.

Council is projecting several years of effectively balanced budgets which Labor pledges to maintain and not ask ratepayers for above-inflation rises.

With prudent management Council can deliver its diverse range of services and facilities without additional rates rises to fund extravagant non-essential projects.

The State government cap was set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) at 1.5% for the 2017-2018 financial year.

Minute 2

That Council undertakes a program of re-focusing resources toward the city’s neglected suburbs.

The program will include;

  • A doubling of the footpath / shareway spend in Council’s next budget – representing a projected $3.8m commitment,
  • Providing funds to install new lights at three suburban playing fields, one in the north, south and centre of the city; projected cost $420k.
  • Prioritising construction of the Warrawong community centre / library,
  • Ensuring the new Helensburgh library meets community needs and includes best practice technology.’

Background

Council has significant financial reserves that can be judiciously deployed to meet specific one-off needs.

·         To immediately move to establish a coordinating authority for Lake Illawarra. In collaboration with Shellharbour City Council and all agencies and stakeholders to establish an overarching body to identify adequate funding for its operation.

·         To review the management of the household on-call clean-up program to reduce illegal dumping and/or the delay in the removal of such waste. To review waste and litter management to improve the amenity and appearance of the city.

Mithra Cox – Greens

Lord Mayoral Minute -- pedestrian infrastructure in Wollongong Wollongong has historically had low investment in pedestrian infrastructure. While most cities have twice the distance of footpaths compared with roads, Wollongong has over 800 km of roads but less than half that distance of footpaths.

Children in our city are at danger walking to school. Many streets have no footpaths, even in flat suburbs in close vicinity to a public school. Many roads near schools have no place to safely cross the road to get to school.

Walking just 10,000 steps a day greatly reduces the risk of developing medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These lifestyle diseases are leading causes of death and ill health, and are on the rise in our society. For most people, just walking to school or the shops each day can achieve the required level of physical activity, and improve health.

Wollongong is one of the most car-centric cites in the world. In other OECD cities, around 50% of all trips are made by car. In Wollongong, over 80% of all trips are made by car. This is not surprising given that we have not invested in infrastructure for walking or cycling. In addition, our train and bus services are infrequent, and have too few routes. Car use in Wollongong is still on the rise, as we know from the increasing jams.

Cars are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Pollution from cars makes up 46% of all transport emissions, compared with air travel at 9% and rail at 4%. Cars are also the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution, growing 51% since 1990.

If we are serious about the health of our residents, the safety of our children, and cutting our greenhouse gas pollution, we have a duty to provide a better pedestrian infrastructure.

RECOMMENDATION

1. That Councillors be provided with an audit of pedestrian infrastructure within 1km of every public school in the LGA, including:

- footpaths, and

- pedestrian crossings.

2. That a report be brought to Council that lists all deficient pedestrian infrastructure within school walking catchments, by order of priority for remediation.

Lord Mayoral Minute - union membership by council staff

Unions are the largest grassroots movement for progressive change in our country. Over the centuries, union members have fought for, and won, better conditions for workers. It is because of unions that we have weekends, the 8-hour day, paid holidays, no child labour, green bans,and superannuation. Thanks to unions, women get equal pay for equal work.

But now neo-liberal capitalism is threatening job security and living standards. Young people have seen a deterioration in job security due to the massive increase in casualisation, along with the use of temporary contracts, and the outsourcing of many jobs.

Inequality is at a 70 year high. A whole generation does not know what it’s like to have a paid holiday or a paid sick day. And the richest 1% of Australians own more wealth than the bottom 70% of Australians combined.

Unions have made a wonderful contribution to the cultural life of Wollongong. From the striking wharfies who forced the Hoskins Enterprise to invent a ‘Potato Throwing Machine’ in a ludicrous attempt to bypass their picket line, to the people in the Miners Federation, who helped protect Aboriginal people who had been evicted from Hill 60 and were protesting for the right to their own land and housing.

Unions are not just about our history -- our future depends on working people standing together in solidarity.

RECOMMENDATION

That all council staff consider joining their relevant union, if they have not already done so.

Vicki Curran – Independent

Minute 1

I formally move that Council:

  • Make all Councillor briefings and meetings open to the Public
  • Make available all Agenda and Minutes of the Executive Management Committee Meeting to all Councillors
  • Formally recognise our Neighbourhood Committees and provide the resources and support necessary for these Committees to be effective communication and policy influencing vehicles of change and community empowerment.
  • Conduct a review of all protected disclosures made by Council Officers to the ICAC or NSW Ombudsman or delegated Council Officers since 2002 to identify if our protected disclosures policy and its implementation provides the protection required to give staff the confidence in future to speak up, blow the whistle and appropriately report matters relating to maladministration and/ or corruption. 

The outgoing term of Council under the leadership of Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury shut the public out of 75% of its full Council meetings (3 briefings a month confidential and not open to the public and only 1 Open to the Public Council meeting a month). This did not provide the transparency and opportunity to be involved in Council decisions that the community has a right to expect and that which they were promised by all Councillors during the last election.  As a Councillor I raised Notices of Motion to try and get all scheduled Council meetings open to the public in keeping with the Local Govt Act and ensuring that Community had ability to influence Council deliberations and decisions early in the process. 

It is time to open the doors of this Council once again. It is time that all our deliberations and meetings are open to the public and our residents are provided with genuine opportunity to influence our decisions and make our city and suburbs connected vibrant places to live, work and play. I hope I now have your support as I know I have the support of the Community who voted me in to lead this City as Lord Mayor.

Minute 2 

I Formally move that 

  • A chronology of All documents, emails, council records, file notes relating to the Stuart Park Reserve Trust and actions in regards to the Trusts Financial Accounts, Plans of Management and Masterplans, leases and licences that involve Stuart park from 1998 to current date be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption and/or the NSW Ombudsman and/or the Auditor general for review and advice.
  • A report come to Council within 6 months that provides Options for an alternate site for Sky Diving operations in Wollongong other than the Village Green at Stuart Park that was promised to be a Public space for the purpose of Public recreation and enjoyment. 
  • A report come to Council within 6 months that provides analysis, costings, income generation pa and options for Council to build a new Surf Club (as planned in early 2000) at North Wollongong that could also accommodates a function centre, restaurant and/or kiosks, possible office and storage space for commercial and community activities e.g. Sky Dive, Fitness operators, surf school and provide a good source of future income for Council, our community and future generations to enjoy.
  • All or any new or renewal of leases and licences for land and buildings in Stuart Park be put on hold and not be entered into or renewed until the referrals and reports in points 1 and 2 are completed and come back to a full public Council meeting for consideration. 

Greg Petty – Independent

Minute 1

I formally move Council:

(1)    Establish a Committee to be called the Organisational Review Committee consisting of the Lord Mayor, Chairperson Audit Committee and Chairperson Corporate Governance Committee for a period of 2 years.;

(2)    The Organisational Review Committee shall call an Expression Of Interest from suitably qualified management organisations to undertake a full and comprehensive review of the operations of Wollongong City Council, including but not limited to:

a.       Pensioner rebates,

b.      Outdoor Staff efficiency,

c.       Use of sub contract for small works,

d.      Overall staff number reductions,

e.      Project costing and operational efficiency,

f.        Re-evaluation of Blue Mile and Grand Pacific Walk, Art in the Mall as priority projects,

g.       Funding of West Dapto and Council ability to borrow,

h.      Community Engagement,

i.         Destination Wollongong not representing all of Wollongong,

j.        Access to Town Hall for Community,

k.       Role of Regulation and Enforcement including direct reporting to the General Manager,

l.         Fairness of revenue collection and spending between Wards instead of a central CBD focus,  

m.    Review the Enterprise Bargain agreement, and

n.      The suitability of Executive and Senior Management to deliver a new focus in accordance with this Organisational Review.

(3)    A report be prepared for Council on the submissions received and the Committees recommendation/s.

Minute 2

I formally move Council prepare an urgent report on the cost and implementation timelines for:

(a)    A fully enclosed dog park in the Northern suburbs of Ward 1

(b)   A new skate park at Thirroul;

(c)    Provision of improved Bus, Pedestrian and Vehicle access to Helensburgh Station via Vera Street, Foster Street, Parkes Street, Tunnel Road and Old Station Street, and

(d)   A programme of CCTV surveillance be implemented to combat illegal dumping at known hotspots in the LGA (it has been advised that 3 units supplied by RID have never been commissioned).

(d)   A programme of CCTV surveillance be implemented to combat illegal dumping at known hotspots in the LGA (it has been advised that 3 units supplied by RID have never been commissioned), and

(e)   Helensburgh Men’s Shed.