SEVENTEEN candidates will contest the pool for the nine seats on Tamworth Regional Council at the September 8 election. This is another in a series of profiles that outline the candidates’ campaign issues. We have asked all candidates a series of questions.
So far responses have been published from Danny Ballard, Gary Chillingworth, Ray Tait, Rusell Webb, Mark Rodda, Kimberley Sherwood, Tim Coates, Judith Edmunds, Sandy Allan, Warren Woodley, James Treloar and Barry Biffen, Juanita Wilson and Helen Tickle.
* JUANITA WILSON
Current councillor, member of the crime prevention committee and others.
Why are you standing for election?I have always wanted to play a part in the development of our region – since childhood in fact. I respect the challenge of representing the community that has provided me with a place in which to grow up, be proud of, and in which to raise a family. Three generations of my family have run successful businesses in this region. The fifth generation has arrived! So, I see that maintaining a healthy business climate and a positive family environment, is a worthwhile and rewarding commitment.
What are the major issues facing our region? Maintaining sound basic services, infrastructure and plant equipment, while facing huge price increases for electricity, water and fuel. Continually fine-tuning the TRC organisation to achieve the greatest efficiency, with the least waste. Maintaining ownership and control of planning, and our regional identity, while fielding the impost of state government regulations and legislation, chiefly designed to accommodate metropolitan identity and expansion.
With the growing presence of major mining interests, ensure the balance of land and water use necessary for the environmental and economic future of our current and future generations. Achieve the right balance between providing basic services, and providing recreational and environmental infrastructure, which make our region a happy and rewarding place in which to live and raise a family.
Law and order: the return to a situation where people feel safe on the streets and in their homes. Maintain a good working relationship with federal and state governments.
What will make our region a better place? Many things. Listening to the concerns and aspirations of its people! A cohesive council whose sound proactive planning, and sometimes hard decisions, create positive long-term outcomes, rather than those designed for instant effect.
Industry, business and health development that will provide service and employment options for young and old.
Expanding commercial sectors.
A choice of high quality recreational, entertainment, sporting, educational and medical facilities.
A climate where each community within our region maintains its own sense of identity, cohesion and pride.
Last – but not least, the provision of an aquatic centre for year-round water sports.
* HELEN TICKLE
Self-employed with management and operational experience in the areas of education and small business. Current chair of the local health committee, has served one term on TRC.
Why are you standing for election? I believe that I can use my business and community experience to represent the entire regional council area to address identified needs, pursue opportunities and achieve positive outcomes. I bring a balanced view to council and support continued implementation of strategies to maintain and expand services, while ensuring sound financial management for now and into the future.
What are the major issues facing our region? Impacts of mining, both positive and negative; growing and progressing communities while ensuring adequate services and infrastructure are in place to complement growth and sustainability.
Water, in particular working to ensure Chaffey Dam augmentation and Barraba pipeline are completed to the benefit of the community; environment, including waste reduction and disposal; law and order – continued support of community safety and security strategies.
What will make our region a better place? Retention and expansion of regional services such as air travel, health and education; participation of all age groups in our communities; diverse public amenities, including cultural and sporting, to appeal to a cross-section of people; expanding our skills base by attracting people to live, train, work and invest in our region.
* DANNY BALLRD
Barraba-based postman, business owner and secretary of the Barraba Community Development Committee
Why are you standing for election? Things can and need to be done better. There is a distinct lack of meaningful engagement with the community by many of the current councillors and I believe I can fill this void. Councillors need to come from all over the electorate, not just Tamworth, so people at the outer reaches of the electorate can have a sense of connectivity with their council. I can be this connection.
What are the major issues facing our region? The rapid expansion of the mining industry in neighbouring council areas is of concern. This will, without doubt, affect the retention of council staff in our own council. While we will benefit economically, we need to be aware of the problems associated with rapid growth.
Coal seam gas is a serious concern. We cannot afford to sacrifice our water resources and farmland for short-term gain.
What will make our region a better place? Social cohesion is very important. Family, friends and love of our fellow man help to build the social fabric that binds us together as a community. This is something we must hold onto with all our strength. It is starting to fray at the edges, but it’s not too late to do repairs. It affects every one of us and our quality of life, whether we like it or not. We need to communicate more and not become like Sydney.
* GARY CHILLINGWORTH
Former Tamworth City Council alderman/councillor, long-serving volunteer, retired Tamworth businessman and property owner, president of the North Tamworth Bears Football Club.
Why are you standing for election? I very earnestly believe my experience across a very diverse range of business operations over many years gives me a broad range of valuable decision-making business skills that enable me to make practical, commonsense decisions.
I am a fifth-generation Tamworthian, love this region with a passion and have derived a lot from my place of birth over many years. Mainly I would just like to give something back.
What are the major issues facing our region? Demands and costs.I think there is a lot of “wastage” in large corporations and I don’t believe councils are exempt from that. I also believe we all need to consider the demands we make on councils; it is not a bottomless pit, and, with escalating service costs – electricity and insurance etc – councils are going to face some tough times.
What will make our region a better place? More people, volunteers, getting involved in building a better community, regardless of whether they reside in Barraba, Manilla, Nundle, Bendemeer, Kootingal, Moonbi, Somerton or Tamworth.
In my previous experience on council and in my experience as a volunteer, I have found you get and give the most support to those willing to get in and get their hands dirty. I live by an adage I heard from a very wise man many years ago: “If you can’t leave it better than you found it, don’t bloody touch it.” That works for me.
And I think government, at all levels, needs to extend more support to groups who are prepared to get stuck in and leave it “better than they found it”, instead of directing support to those who make a profession of banging the table and their gums.
* RAY TAIT
SITTING Tamworth Regional councillor, paramedic, chairman of the Crime Prevention Working Group
Why are you standing for election? All my life I have believed that you don’t have the right to gripe if you are not prepared to stand up and be counted. The Tamworth region has been very good to me and has supplied opportunities to me that I would not have received anywhere else. My turn to repay.
What are the major issues facing our region? Economic development of our local government area, which is very much linked to such diverse things as water availability and its cost; affordable housing; jobs growth; industrial development and cultural diversity. However, the thing at present that I am most committed to is the law-and-order issues we’re facing – the right of every person to live in a peaceful and safe environment, without fear for their safety and that of their property.
What will make our region a better place? A proactive council that adopts a positive attitude towards our growth and lifestyle issues. A council that listens to every individual, thinks outside the square and is prepared to make decisions that benefit the greater community, not just the loud minority. A council that will stand its ground and fight for what is right for this community and its people.
* RUSSELL WEBB
As an ex-Parry councillor and Tamworth Regional Council elected representative since amalgamation I have again put myself up for consideration for re-election. I do this because I believe I have a lot to offer the residents of our region from the city centre to the outer most boundaries.
We will, in the coming years, face many challenges. These include, but are not limited to, our ability to maintain assets and infrastructure, our ability to maintain and manage growth and as a subset, the effects of mining on our doorstep. Much also needs to be done to build on our social capital and act as a strong advocate for the community on things such as law and order.
Our region is a great place to live and grow and can only get better with good leadership from both business and a stable council. Our volunteers and community groups also play a pivotal role in growing the region.
I will continue to work with the community for the community and the betterment of the region as a whole.
* MARK RODDA
Why are you standing for election? I am standing for election because I want to be a vocal and passionate advocate for the people of the Tamworth Regional Council local government area. I want to demonstrate leadership by standing up for the things that are important to our ratepayers.
For example, the importance of the English oak trees that line King George V Ave; a back-to-basics approach for council; upgraded public recreational facilities. As a father of four young children I understand the cost of living pressures many of our ratepayers face and will always carefully consider ratepayers in council decisions.
What are the major issues facing our region? To have a long-term secure water supply – Chaffey Dam upgrade and Barraba pipeline – before the next drought; crime reduction through proactive policing and resolute political leadership; coal and coal seam gas extraction and the continued health of our aquifers. To have a council that can do more with less state and federal government funding because these tiers of government have set local government adrift. The impact of electricity and fuel costs on council as well as future Tamworth traffic management, roundabouts and traffic lights. Balanced and transparent development throughout the entire council area.
What will make our region a better place? Better services and facilities, roads, footpaths, upgraded public recreation areas, street lighting and street tree plantings. All road approaches to our city and towns upgraded, prompt removal of graffiti which will eliminate the notion of lawlessness. Some areas of the Tamworth Regional Council area still don’t have footpaths and pedestrians subsequently have to walk on dimly illuminated streets at night. I also believe council should be more proactive in attracting more allied health professionals and should encourage the establishment of a second aircraft service for the region.
* KIMBERLEY SHERWOOD
Why are you standing for election? I am running for TRC because I love giving my spare time to helping people and volunteering. I am motivated, enthusiastic and a hard worker. I feel council should be a mixed representation of the community, including young people. If elected I look forward to representing the views of regional youth and ensure council utilises social media more as a communication medium.
What are the major issues facing our region? I am very passionate about local opportunities for young people in Tamworth and the surrounding region. Our children are our future; we should invest in nurturing them and prevention, rather than disciplining when it is too late and locking them up. I believe to help reduce the anti-social behaviour in our region, we need to invest time and belief in our children.
What will make our region a better place? I believe to make our region a better place we need to work together to support each other and work as a community as a whole. Pointing the finger and the blame in different areas will not get us anywhere. But if we work together to fix any problem, and gain the opinions and views of everyone in our community, we will be able to move positively forward together.
* TIM COATES
President of Australian Training and Consulting, Tamworth Business Chamber and the Tamworth Jockey Club, and a local sports administrator.
Why are you standing for election? To serve our community. I have represented on various organisations over a number of years throughout the region, including the Tamworth Business Chamber, Rotary, jockey club, Tamworth football and the Moonbi Community Development Committee, to name a few. I decided the next logical step was to run for council and offer my time and skills to our fantastic region.
What are the major issues facing our region? Our region is well-placed to continue the growth experienced over the past few years. How we handle the impact of the opportunities and challenges that business and industry throws at us will be key to how we are placed in the next decade. A strong commercial sector will employ us and our children – helping to lobby and ease the red tape issues they face will be a big task for the whole community.
What will make our region a better place? Continued development of a number of the strategies that Tamworth Regional Council has in place, such as the major sporting and cultural activities that have be drawn to the region. Continue to include the villages and hamlets in the overall planning of council. Increased and diversified communication is key to ensuring all community members have a say and are involved in the process.
* SANDY ALLAN
Resident from Upper Manilla and a businessman.
Why are you standing for election? A belief that Tamworth Regional Council needs a new direction. There appears to be an expanding imbalance between the urban and rural areas. An urgent need to improve dialogue/communication between the residents and Tamworth Regional Council. Fresh ideas are required to attract industry/business to the entire region. A need to balance the books in respect to loss-making ventures and essential infrastructure maintenance.
What are the major issues facing our region? The apparent focus on housing developments immediately around and within Tamworth city. Insufficient emphasis on attracting new people/families to the region – linked to the need for greater employment opportunities.
Perception that regional growth can only be achieved through the cultivation of the country music industry.
Poorly maintained roads network.
Lack of encouragement creating low levels of self-esteem within areas of the Tamworth Regional Council workforce.
What will make our region a better place? Overcome the issues above.
Vastly improve the upgrade and maintenance of existing roads/ highways.
Encourage the establishment of new industries/businesses across the region. Highlight the opportunities and assets of the entire region.
Respect and treat the region as a balanced, whole area – not a region of isolated individual entities.
Improve the lines of communication at all levels – councillors/ratepayers/staff/ the general public.
* JUDITH EDMUNDS
Tamworth businesswoman and local artist.
Why are you standing for the Tamworth Regional Council election? I was born, raised and farmed at Spring Ridge, so am very aware of the needs of smaller communities. A safe, clean water supply and the maintenance of regional roads are just a couple of the issues that are priorities for smaller communities. Most previous councillors appear to have a limited understanding of these areas. I would be a strong advocate for the needs for all of the Tamworth region and not just the city of Tamworth.
What are the major issues facing our region? I support development but proposals need to be more carefully assessed as to their impact and cost. Improved transparency and governance of Tamworth Regional Council operations. Having run a diverse farming operation with my husband for 30 years, I am particularly mindful of planning, budgeting and financial management. Tamworth Regional Council must improve its image with the community on environmental issues.
What will make our region a better place? The council needs to respond to the community wishes and not be seen as being more supportive of developers. I strongly support youth activities that will reduce anti-social behaviour and crime rates. With an ageing population, retirees must receive more consideration with access to amenities.
* WARREN WOODLEY
Local businessman and councillor, advocate for heritage, rehabilitation of substance abusers and North West Regional ambassador for Life Education.
Why are you standing for election? With a career spanning many years as a local businessman and councillor, it is a great honour to represent the people of this region. As an experienced business person and representative of the people of this region, I believe council should always take an honest and caring attitude in all of its deliberations and decisions.
As a re-elected member of the council team, I will fulfil my duties with respect to the very important issues of business and industry, transport, environment, crime prevention, job opportunities, helping the disadvantaged, the needs of young families and the creation of facilities for retirees and the elderly.
What are the major issues facing our region? As the regional ambassador of Life Education, it has become evident to me that crime is at the forefront of many issues faced by our region. Drugs, binge drinking and crime go hand-in-hand and these issues can determine whether or not people move to this region to settle and make new lives. We all want this region to be safe, now and in the future. It is extremely important that we look at ways in which to draw new business to our region. This has a flow-on effect to greater employment opportunities, education, health and well-being and the overall prosperity of the region we live in.
What will make our region a better place? We live in a region with so much to offer. I am proud to have served with the current council team who are dedicated to providing the best of services and facilities to the people of this electorate. It is my belief that an enthusiastic and dedicated council cultivates a bright future for all – young families making their homes here, businesses growing and prospering, education making room for improved opportunities for the youth and retirees and the elderly settling here for a life fulfilled.
* JAMES TRELOAR
Why are you standing for election? I am committed to ensuring Tamworth remains one of the most attractive regions in NSW to work, live, invest and enjoy through good planning decisions and appropriate community infrastructure.
What are the major issues facing our region? Being prepared for continued growth.
What will make our region a better place? The community we live in.
* BARRY BIFFEN
Why are you standing for election? I have been a resident of the Tamworth region for 30 plus years. My wife, daughter and son all work in the region and it is a wonderful place to live. I feel that I can offer constructive input to the Tamworth region, which has been developed from my formal qualifications in agriculture and business, my work experiences – 18 years with Ridley Agriproducts, servicing the whole area with stock feeds to all livestock industries and my recent years in operating a small water-proofing business.
I have been, and still am, actively involved with a number of sporting organizations,Tamworth Business Chamber, First Light Rotary and Oxley High School. I also own a small cattle stud in the region. So from my life experiences I believe that I will make a valuable contribution to the council, both to the city and the outer regional areas such as Barraba, Nundle and Manilla
What are the major issues facing our region? The major issues facing this region are crime and anti-social behaviour – I am sure that this is not unique to Tamworth. The region’s road infrastructure is also an issue, particularly the Gunnedah Rd, Manilla Rd, Moore Creek/Bligh and O O’Briens Ln areas, to mention a few. Some of the region’s bridges are in desperate need of attention. The other issue is minority of people around this town that vandalise/graffiti this region. Mining industry, both new and existing, effects on skilled labour drain, farm land, water etc.
What will make our region a better place? We can make this region a better place with things such continuing with the lobbying for law enforcement and medical services. Implementing quality planning procedures for future developments to ensure that arterial roads are in a condition to meet the needs of these newer areas.
Tamworth Regional Show is one event that has ceased/deteriorated over recent years. I cannot believe a city/region of this size with a world-class facility in the AELEC cannot put on an event such as this.
The flow-on effects from a well planned Tamworth Regional Show are enormous, involves the whole community, attracts visitors to the region, provide better utilisation of our venues, opportunity for industry to show and promote their goods and services and generally puts the region on show!
* COL MURRAY
Why are you standing for election? I have nominated as councillor for the local government elections because I believe I have something to offer. I was first elected to Tamworth Regional Council in 2004, have served four years as councillor, two years as deputy mayor and two years as mayor. My business experiences, passion for the region’s future and understanding of local government provide me with the desire to serve the community.
What are the major issues facing our region? I believe they are: safety for our residents and crime/anti-social behaviour; roads, bridges and public transport; land use conflict between agriculture and mining; electricity costs; local government productivity and responsiveness, and attracting new industry and jobs to support sustainability in our region.
What will make our region a better place? I believe my work has not finished for our region and I will continue to strive for better roads, bridges and public transport; health and education for all of our community; new industry and jobs that are not subject to drought or international price pressures; strong surrounding communities which will make Tamworth region stronger; safer community areas and streets for residents and visitors to enjoy enhanced lifestyle through a cosmopolitan CBD and social infrastructure.
* PHIL BETTS
Why are you standing for election? As a long time Tamworth regional resident I have a passion to see the community prosper, socially and economically; and to ensure all people have a voice on council. I feel I have the experience in local government of 21 years, to ensure we get the most from our funds and to ensure we get our fair share from other levels of government.
What are the major issues facing our region? It is vital that the community has a stable and progressive council that continually improves our services and maintains jobs growth. Working with the community and other levels of the government to address the law and order issues. It is time to get tough. To ensure every one’s right to a safe crime-free community. Maintaining the assets such as roads and bridges, parks and gardens and community facilities.
What will make our region a better place? A council that works with the entire community to achieve outcomes, by involving the community in the decision-making process. Ensuring council has a “can do” attitude to make things happen, whether they be business ventures, community projects or issues facing individuals. Vigorously pursue funding sources from the federal and state governments to ensure we get our fair share.
* PAUL DURANT
Why are you standing for the election? Since arriving in Tamworth in the mid-seventies, I have become involved with many organisations through my involvement in sport and my work with the disabled. My experience as a transport operator and small business owner has provided me with the opportunity to speak with the public about the region and what they think we can do to improve, allowing me to have insight into what makes the people in the Tamworth region tick. I believe through this relationship with the public that I can continue to make a positive difference for the Tamworth region.
What are the major issues facing the Tamworth region? Anti-social behaviour from a minority of young people is changing the fabric of the way we live in the Tamworth region. Some say we should nurture these young people but I am of the opinion that they should face the full hand of the law and make their parents responsible for their actions. Cost shifting by the state and federal governments has made regional councils suffer by reducing amounts in their budgets for local infrastructure needs. The amount of red tape for small business to establish here or to expand makes it very difficult and because of this the local economy suffers.
What will make our region a better place? Sustainable growth.
Even though we take every issue that is raised seriously, we have always debated with passion to obtain the best outcome for the majority of the residents. Hopefully that will continue to happen with the election of a proactive council.
Being a disabled person myself (leg amputation), I would really like to see continued council involvement with the the Tamworth disability action working group, which provides infrastructure and improved access for the elderly and those with a disability.
We need to continue the work which has already been done and not be scared to make the hard decisions.