BEGA BY-ELECTION CANDIDATES’ FORUM
6-8 pm 31 JANUARY 2022 Kyla Hall, Tuross Head The meet the candidates forum, hosted by the Tuross Head Progress Association and facilitated by Bernie O'Neil of A Better Eurobodalla was attended by over 100 to listen to candidates in the Bega By-Election The following video is a full record of that forum.
VIDEO: Meet the Candidates of the Feb 2022 Bega by-election Kyla Hall - Tuross Head - Jan 31st 2022 Hosted by Tuross Head Progress Association
Running sheet/ ABE & THPA
6:00 Cathy Milliken, THPA President, greeting & Acknowledgement of Country
6:10 Bernie O’Neil, Facilitator, introduction, explanation of program
· ABE co-convenor: community forum dedicated to achieving open, accountable and responsive government in Eurobodalla operating since Sept 2019. ABE is non-aligned – 2nd forum, thank you to THPA for the opportunity
· Ask that all participants are respectful of everyone in the room and that people are not interrupted when they are speaking
· We will be strictly sticking to time limits to maximise number of questions and the opportunities for all candidates to speak - 3 mins for candidates’ statements, warning bell at 2 minutes, 2 minutes for replies to questions with a bell at 2 minutes.
· Candidates do not have to answer all questions put to the panel.
· We will try and get through the maximum number of questions that we can but given time constraints there could be questions that we don’t get to. These will be taken on notice and submitted to candidates and THPA and A Better Eurobodalla will publish all responses.
6:15 Candidates’ statements, 3 minutes each
6:45 Questions: 2 minutes per answer
1 Bega electorate governance issues Bernie O’Neil
2 Eurobodalla Hospital Max Castle /Cathy Milliken
3 Co-ordinated infrastructure development Deb Stevenson
4 Princes Highway local traffic Cathy Milliken
5 Social & low-cost housing June Brown
6 Marine Parks Jane Elek
7 Education/TAFE Gabi Harding
8 Questions from the floor
Questions in detail Bernie O’Neil
· Bega electorate governance issues
We are starting with some governance questions – which are about how candidates would operate if elected. These questions come from a strong community interest that goes beyond local issues and party politics to how a candidate would work for and with the community.
The context: since the last state election in 2019, this community, along with others, has been through the final stages of a prolonged drought, catastrophic and devastating bushfires, floods and a pandemic unlike anything experienced in our lifetime. With these have come dramatic social, economic and environmental impacts.
FIRST QUESTION relates to emergency management and preparedness:
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current emergency management system and arrangements as they apply in the Bega electorate?
SECOND QUESTION is about an impact we have seen across the community, which is a loss of trust and faith in governments and the political system
What will you do, if elected as our local member, to improve the community’s trust in how our state and electorate is governed?
THIRD QUESTION is about equity and fairness in how government funds and service are managed and allocated. In the last few years there have been a lot of reports about grants allocation and pork-barrelling in NSW. In this electorate we have seen $8m go to a project that was ranked number 72 by an independent panel over a project that was ranked number 1 by the same panel but received no funding under this scheme. The projects were for the Batemans Bay Pavilion theatre and the Bega Regional Gallery upgrade.
What changes should be made to how grants funding is decided to improve grant allocation?
· Eurobodalla Hospital Max Castle
I have 4 questions regarding the proposed HOSPITAL for Eurobodalla Shire.
1. Has the land been purchased for the Hospital?
2. Will you support a level 4 hospital opening in 2025 within the Eurobodalla Shire?
3. Is funding approved to level 4 hospital standard?
4. Will the hospital include adequate staff levels, nurses’ quarters and patient residential accommodation upon opening?
· Co-ordination and consultation in relation to major infrastructure projects Deb Stevenson The Moruya bypass and the Eurobodalla hospital were announced by the government in the lead up to the last state election and since then the community has been trying to obtain the detail behind these promises and how they will work together. The preferred Bypass route will take ambulances coming from the north 2 kms past the hospital from where they will have to turn back north to the hospital site which can only be accessed by turning across traffic travelling south from Moruya. Health Infrastructure NSW and Transport for NSW have supposedly been talking to each other, but they don't seem to be speaking the same language and they aren't listening to the community.
If you are elected, how will you work to ensure that the delivery of major infrastructure projects is undertaken in a coordinated and strategic way that genuinely involves the community and delivers the best results for the people of this electorate?
· Princes Highway local traffic John Tilbrook/ Cathy Milliken
Now that the interstate bus passenger operations have been removed from the Princes Highway and relocated into the commuter carpark, if elected, would you give your commitment to support the THPA in its proposed submission to the NSW Minister for Roads for grants funding for the design and construction of a left hand slip lane with a dedicated left turn STOP sign for vehicles exiting Hector McWilliam Drive to travel in a southerly direction on the Princes Highway? This additional vehicle lane will help to alleviate the traffic choke point at the “T” intersection in peak periods.
· Social & low-cost housing June Brown
My question is about the lack of affordable housing in the Eurobodalla. This summer we still have people in tents and caravans since the 2019/20 fires. Recognising the differing roles of federal, state and local governments, and appreciating that the State, local governments and NGOs have a major role in the provision of low-cost housing -
How would you propose to lobby/provide for additional funding specifically for building affordable housing in the Eurobodalla, in an area with transport and other facilities where costs for travel to work are not prohibitive?
· Marine Parks Jane Elek
Public comment on the 130 page draft management plan for NSW Marine parks has just closed. The Plan does not reassure us that the government is committed to protecting our marine environment on which tourism and our local economy depends, and has nothing about restoring the sanctuary zones in Batemans Marine Park. Additionally, targeted fish populations have been steadily declining, and the present government has been steadily whittling away resources and protection of the marine environment.
How will you ensure that we have a healthy marine environment for future generations?
· Education/TAFE Gabi Harding
Contestable funding is a model where the dollar follows the student. TAFE NSW are supposed to compete with private providers on the ‘same ground’ for (publicly subsidised) student dollars. There is no other money that is afforded TAFE apart from this dollar in per student enrolled. That is there is no recurrent funding year on year. While public resources flowed to private VET provision TAFE institutes were stranded with large amounts of infrastructure. Plus; as the public provider, TAFE NSW have all of the community service obligations such as provision of disability support services, counsellor services, library services. This has forced the cash strapped TAFE system to pare back offerings, which undermines its standing among students and employers as a reputable and stable skills provider.
Do you support providing recurrent Government funding for TAFE? If so, how much over what period of time?