Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce and Tourism along with the Mogo Village Chamber of Commerce jointly hosted an excellent "Meet the Mayoral Candidates" evening at Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on Wednesday November 24th, 2021. Invited to speak were six Mayoral candidates being Alison Worthington, David Grace, Karyn Starmer, Rob Pollock, Tubby Harrison and Mathew Hatcher. A more detailed report with video is presently being edited, however, many in the community will be keen to learn of how the night went and to gather an idea of how the candidates performed. To start the evening each candidate was allowed two minutes to introduce themselves.
Next came a series of questions that required candidates to raise their hands. While this may have been a simple hand up or not the result was very telling and revealed to the audience an immediate rift between new candidates intent on bringing change and an old guard who indicated on several occasions that there was nothing wrong with the way things had been other than requiring a tweak here or there.
The video below is an extract of the Question Time with some of the answers provided.
In all it was an interesting and revealing night. Alison Worthington spoke well. David Grace also spoke well and presented a reasonable understanding of the processes currently at play in Council and what should be reviewed and changed. He also presented as someone capable of challenging the "How things have always been done" mindset within Council with an intent to restore the role of staff to serve councillors and the community.
Karyn Starmer spoke with the voice of a leader. Someone more than capable of delivering, and a person more than comfortable to look at the current state of distrust and disrespect held by the community of Council, and restore it to best serve and represent the community. Rob Pollock did himself no favours in his responses during the evening, indicating that there was little to change in moving forward other than a few tweaks here and there. Where he did offer his disagreement with current practices and decisions the audience was mindful that he, as a councillor, had voted for most of the issues of concern being raised. In an exit discussion with many who attended it was clear that Rob Pollock epitomised the Council that so many wanted to see gone. His "we did it our way" attitude bore little in the way of apology around various decisions made by himself and his fellow councillors over the past five years. It was also noted that his deflection of the Mogo bushfire question regarding community recovery was poor as it "turned to spin". Tubby Harrison was genuine in his responses. It is clear that Tubby is not up to running speed on the ins-and-outs of legislation, Acts, Policies and Procedures but his heart is in the right place and he would be a solid representative of his community worthy of being invited to a discussion table in the event that he doesn't become Mayor. Should he become Mayor he will need help from the public to ensure his inputs remain balanced rather than blinkered to the visions of bureaucrats. Mat Hatcher was another tonight who showed he was willing to beam light into the otherwise darkened hallways of Council and to swing closed doors open and let in the light. Mat calls it as he sees it and his heart is definitely in the right place. Like Karyn Starmer, he is matter of fact, well informed, capable of being engaged and also capable of actioning.
Final Questions to be asked with a show of hands from Candidates:
1. Do you support Council membership of the Local Government
2. Do you support a retention strategy primarily for Youth and Young
Workers but also families within the Community Strategic Plan. The
aim being to address the Aged Dependency Ratio and accelerating
3. Would you support any Special Rate Variation over the next term?
4. Do you support retention of bequeathed and other recognised
5. While there is always some discontent with every Council, do you
acknowledge there is a general disconnect between Council and the
Community that needs to be addressed?
6. Do you support an effort to change Council culture?
7. Councils Community Engagement Model informs Council of the
importance of genuine dialogue. The perception that the increased
disconnect and distrust experienced by the community indicates little
value in the current model. Would you support a new model which
ensures genuine dialogue?
8. Would you move or support a motion to ensure genuine stakeholder
engagement at the early stage of a planning strategy either as part of a
new Community Engagement Model or separate mechanism?
9. With current community concern about secrecy, transparency, and
limitations of the current FOI mechanism, would you move or support a
motion for expanded disclosure through a more accessible Freedom of
Information or similar mechanism?
10. Do you support the re-establishment of the public access component of
live streaming and importantly, changing the vetting system applied to
speakers and their presentation content in order to allow more access?
11. Do you support reinstatement of the Business Advisory Committee
and Tourism Advisory Committee?
12. Do you support the outsourcing of Tourism and Events to an industry
13. Would you prioritize the establishment of a Planning and Development
14. Do you support a New Events Strategy, with a view to be more
15. With concern about housing, urban sprawl and encroachment on
natural amenities? Do you generally support infill strategies to better
utilise infrastructure, services and provide denser accommodation
16. Do you support each Councillor having the option to nominate a person
on each committee to ensure ratepayer/voter driven decision making?
17. Many candidates have expressed their support to a collaborative
meeting to find commonality and strategy prior to official
commencement at Council, would you be happy to be part of that
18. Have you looked at comparisons and benchmarks of this Shire
compared to other Shires of similar size on the Local Government
19. Do you have online policies and strategies that people can access?
20. Would you agree to hold off on any further decision making regarding
Mogo activation plan and infrastructure development until Mogo
residents and Mogo associations believe some semblance of genuine
and reasonable dialogue has been achieved?
Audio: The entire session.