Meet Your Candidates – Forum

The recent MYCC function at the Moorebank Sports Club attracted six Councillor hopefuls.

June Young OAMLCIT Independent Mayoral candidate spoke first, giving an account of herself, business expertise and interest in running for the top job, maintaining the historical aspects of the Holsworthy SME and an anti-Intermodal stance. Other points were; the need for a tourist information centre and the colourful Indian shops in George Street. The need for Council to ensure a cleaner tidier city is obvious.

Pauline Rowe was second and spoke about her interests in being a Councillor and the importance of having a good understanding of planning processes, particularly as it applies to rural and regional growth areas. Planning knowledge is one area of expertise usually found lacking in most Councillors. Her business background and passion in helping rural residents against cemeteries and preserving the agriculture needs of those areas have helped her in understanding their needs. Pauline explained that despite living in a rural environment, that she was well aware of the needs of suburban residents prior to her rural move.

John Anderson spoke about his anti-intermodal stance and the effects such a terminal would have on Liverpool’s residents, its environment, the pollution of the Georges River and protecting the environment in the Holsworthy area. John has been a previous Councillor candidate for South Ward and has publicly campaigned against the School in Hoxton Park.

Councillor Tony Hadchiti spoke next and pointed out that despite being a Liberal party Politician he maintains that people come first and not the party. Tony spoke of the positive effects this Council has had over the last four years. The improvement of the financial aspects of Council despite inheriting a $55M debt due to the OASIS debacle, which are now down to $33M. Council borrowings have decreased placing it in a much better financial position than it was prior to the 2008 election.

Esha Narayan, Greens  for South Ward spoke about Liverpool being a major tourist attraction and citing  the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) as a major attraction, providing Council  advertised it more prominently.

Signe Westerberg, Greens for North Ward, read her speech which included “we need a forward thinking  council, need our heritage protected and a clean proud city hub where businesses can thrive”.

Councillor Gary Lucas spoke  about being a past Councillor and Mayor that has the time to do the job. He believed that the parking meters have not had a negative impact, thought that the purchase of iPads was a good idea and saved Council time and money, and stated that “The revenue from the parking meters will be used for car parks and nothing else”. He also spoke about his support for CCTV as a tool to fight crime in Liverpool. Gary spoke about his past Mayoral position on Council and his vision to complete what he started some time ago.

Councillor Peter Harle was the last speak, which effectively gave him more time to answer questions from the floor. “We have achieved a lot over the past four years, despite an enormously steep “learning curve” and read out the aims of the 2008 LCIT campaign pamphlet citing 10 points to achieve.  He compared that to 22 points achieved so far, including those LCIT had hoped to achieve. He stated that it was the  combined effort of several Councillors including Nadia Napoletano. There were several questions from the audience which included; “has Council achieved additional income from the purchase of investment properties such as 33 Moore Street and 52 Scott Street?” and “what does Council intend to do about the lack of Transport and the  increase in crime?”.  Peter explained in his view that  Council needs to concentrate on “Rates, Roads and Rubbish” and leave State and Federal matters to the appropriate government authority. “Council has a $200M maintenance and infrastructure backlog, primarily because it has attempted to carry tasks that are not its primary responsibility”. “That includes Transport and does not support the cost of implementing and maintaining CCTV, policing is a state responsibility that Councils can ill afford”. The crime rate in Liverpool is little different to adjoining Councils as indicated by crime statistics. In reference to the purchase of properties, the “dud deal of the century” as stated in Hansard is a perfect example of misinformation by those intent on misrepresenting Liverpool Councils improved financial position, the deal actually generates an income of around 20% of its purchase price palet alone the increased business opportunities it provides at the southern end of the CBD.

Additional questions included the parking policy and the impact of the Carbon Tax. In answering these, Peter stated that generally the “Pay and Display” parking system had been well received despite initial apprehension by users and is to be reviewed ASAP after analysing collected data from the meters. The Carbon Tax will cost Council between $300k and $400k, meaning less funds will be available to carry out essential works than prior to its implementation. He stated that he did not agree with this unnecessary tax burden on our economy.

Overall, comments and support from the audience was positive. Peter spoke about the co-operation from fellow Independents and Liberal Councillors, and explained the“Liberal – Independent” tag as nonsense. Similarly, the “caucusing tag” implied by some, is simply due to lack of Councillor attendance at briefing sessions, as explained elsewhere on the LCIT website. But it appears no rational explanation will ever satisfy critics that have limited knowledge and understanding of Council procedure including the important “Briefing Sessions”.

Many thanks to Ian Bailey for his enormous efforts in organising this and following events to be held on Monday the 16th July at the same venue.