By Rose Astley
Residents of the Noosa Council region – and all other local governments in Queensland – go to the polls in the 2020 Queensland Local Government elections on Saturday 28 March.
Noosa Today will provide coverage in the coming weeks on the candidates and key issues in this region, as contenders begin to line up at the starting blocks.
This week we feature a candidate statement released by serving Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington – keep an eye out for more candidate statements and profiles in future editions between now and the end of March. Candidate nominations ’officially’ open on 22 February and close on 3 March…
Check enrolment …
Have you moved? Check your enrolment details are up to date by calling the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) on 1300 881 665 or online at www.ecq.qld.gov.au
Key dates …
• 22 February – Official ‘Notice of Election’
• 22 February to 3 March – Candidate nominations
• 28 February 2020 – Close of electoral roll
• 4 March 2020 – Ballot paper draw
• 4 March to 19 March 2020 – How-to-vote card review
• 16 March 2020 – Postal Vote applications close
• From 16 March 2020 – Early voting commences
• 28 March 2020 – Election day
Tony Wellington – candidate for Mayor
I stand on my record of unwavering commitment to this community.
I was at the frontline fighting for Noosa’s independence during the long years of amalgamation. I even got elected to the Sunshine Coast Council on a successful platform of de-amalgamating Noosa.
Since 2014, I have helped rebuild the new Noosa Council. Today the Council is a responsible local government, winning national awards for its achievements and consistently keeping rates down for its residents. So fiscally secure is this Council that we recently paid down $10 million of high-interest rate debt inherited from pre-amalgamation days.
What’s more, the current Noosa Council is at the forefront of Queensland councils in its approach to community consultation and transparency.
The Noosa Shire has consistently enjoyed good economic growth in recent years. For the past two years Noosa has achieved very strong GRP growth well above the GRP for the State. Since 2016, for the first time in history, Noosa has also achieved unemployment rates well below the State average. I want to see that trajectory continue.
I have been there for Noosa when it counts – not only during the de-amalgamation battle, but more recently during the extraordinary bushfire disasters.
Some of my initiatives and achievements over the past 4 years have included:
• Establishing a zero emissions target for Council.
• Council becoming a founding member of the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership.
• Noosa Council being the first Qld Council to declare a climate emergency.
• Being personally awarded the Cities Power Partnership Ambassador Award.
• Ensuring the State retained Noosa’s urban footprint and population capacity in their SEQ Regional Plan.
• Helping stitch together the ground-breaking Yurol-Ringtail Wildlife Corridor that will see 2,400 hectares of former plantation land reafforested and converted to national park.
• Establishing the Sustainable Tourism Stakeholder Reference Group that sees 14 environment, resident and business organisations all working together to determine what sustainable tourism should look like for Noosa.
• Championing the matter of short-stay letting (Airbnb etc) such that the Local Government Association of Qld (LGAQ) now has a policy position on this topic, and the State Government created a stakeholder reference group on which I sit.
• Much improved community engagement and consultation by Council, including establishment of various reference groups, new email newsletters, increased social media presence, revamped council website and a planned structure for resident involvement in the next budget process.
• Noosa Council declaring the shire a Refugee Welcome Zone.
• Noosa Shire declaring itself a coal and coal seam gas free shire. Successfully lobbying to have the State refuse an application for an extension to a mining exploration permit across the northern parts of the Noosa Shire.
• Establishing the Teewah & Cooloola Working Group.
• The first Qld council to join the Alliance for Gambling Reform and bringing a successful motion to the LGAQ conference seeking greater local government controls on gaming machine proliferation.
• Bringing a successful motion to the LGAQ conference endorsing the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
• Beginning a feasibility study for a new stand-alone Noosa Regional Gallery.
• Chairing the Local Disaster Management Group for the past 4 years.
• Actively supporting Flight Path Forum and taking up the flight path issue with the Sunshine Coast Council, Air Services Australia, CASA and the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman.
• Initiating meetings between Tourism Noosa and Kabi Kabi traditional owners with a view to establishing Indigenous tours in Noosa.
• Promoting establishment of a place-making unit in council to help ensure the look-and-feel of our various precincts and towns.
Of course, this only skims the surface. I also advocated for hundreds of other projects and achievements alongside my fellow councillors.
My vision for Noosa couldn’t be clearer.
My top priority is to protect the very elements that make Noosa so special. Noosa is already well recognised for its sensitive approach to development, respect for the natural environment and enviable lifestyle for residents.
Over the past four years, I have been at pains to strengthen those values, whilst also ensuring that our economy continues to diversify, so that we are not so reliant on our tourism sector.
I have also worked to entrench Noosa as an exemplar in genuine sustainability. This is already paying dividends in terms of savings for ratepayers, inspiration for local businesses, and a reputation that has led to Noosa being chosen as the location for the Transforming Australia 2020 Summit in October.
So my vision for Noosa is to be a global exemplar of sustainability and liveability.
That will require further work. We need to complete our Climate Change Adaptation Plan, and embed our new planning scheme. We need to be finding ways to accelerate renewable energy solutions in and around Noosa. We must gather up-to-date, expert advice on fire preparedness and prevention ahead of the next fire season.
And, whilst Noosa is a leader in many ways, there are always improvements that we can make. We can further improve our communications with residents and we can work more closely with the Kabi Kabi traditional owners. We will continue to be more efficient as an organisation and more inspiring as a local government leader.
I will be releasing more detailed policies as we get closer to the March 28 election.
Having spent the past eight years representing the people of Noosa, first on the Sunshine Coast Council and then the new Noosa Council, my only desire is to continue to serve this wonderful community.