1. If you were re-elected, what would be the top three big-ticket items you want to accomplish?
- 10-year Action Plans in place and investment and action flowing and being monitored as part of the “Zero Emissions Byron” project-across waste, building, energy, land use and transport. This could unlock millions of dollars in funding and investment in renewables, a circular waste economy, massive tree planting investments etc. And huge employment opportunities.
- Establishing affordable housing examples that can be scaled-up across the shire and used nationally to break the structural impediments to affordable housing. Using flat pack, fully sustainable and off-grid housing on council land and focused around agriculture and creative industries type work. This would support housing, employment and community needs.
3. Being a part of a renewed, collective, unified push for transport options within the rail corridor.
2. What do you think are our three biggest problems?
Housing affordability, development pressures, lack of funds. Locals living, working and moving in the shire.
3. I have heard you say that you want to “get out of the trenches” and stop so much polarity. How do you think this can be achieved?
First, respecting difference, then, connecting through mutual values rather than opinions, providing options so that many different people can see benefits (not just a winner takes all), and finally, trusting in the skills and expertise and commitment of our community.
Up until the Rose betrayal we were on our way and so many saw that council was worth taking a risk on. We focused hard on providing a space where people could share their views and re-engage with community projects and it was really starting to happen. The Masterplan was an incredible, award winning example. Unfortunately, if after you ask people to take a risk and leave their trenches, you start throwing bombs, they have to retreat. It was a tragic outcome of the disappointing lack of respect for community wishes.
4. A criticism of your time as mayor is that you try to be all things to all people and like to avoid conflict. Do you think this is fair?
No, I simply try and match people with ideas and people with the capacity to help make them happen. I also believe most people want to try and help the shire, so I take them on face value and try to bring them into the change-making fold. Of course, those who have defined themselves by war, and their ability to throw rocks or beat their enemy, will view any attempt at peace and connecting as somehow weak.
5. Another criticism is that the council has been Byron-centric. Is there an opportunity to spread the growth and potential to other towns?
Just ask someone from Byron. They think we are too Bangalow, or Mullum-centric! Obviously, Byron is the economic driver for the whole shire, so a healthy Byron helps make a healthy shire and of course, we need to make our welcoming pad as nice as possible: for us and for visitors. There are huge opportunities for growth and potential elsewhere. Our agricultural lands hold amazing potential for small acre farming and innovative farming methods and crops. Mullum continues to grow, and we need to have our hands on the wheel to make sure we are in control of the change, not just reacting to it. We have Masterplan ideas for Ocean Shores, Mullum and Bangalow and will continue to focus on bringing the community together to work out the best way to enhance its streets. I live in the hinterland and so love and appreciate all parts of the shire, I think more of us could benefit from stepping back and appreciating the amazing place we all live in and work towards great outcomes, wherever they occur.