NOT sure who to vote for O’Shannassy Ward? We put the tough questions to all candidates to help you make up your mind - read on for their answers.
All candidates have been sent the same questionnaire. We will post their answers as we receive them - check back here regularly for updates.
Candidates have been given until October 6 to submit their responses. The Weekly has chosen not to edit the responses in any way, except for legal reasons, meaning what you see is exactly what you get.
Candidates were advised to write N/A for questions they wished not to answer. The Weekly has indicated where no contact details were provided or where candidates declined to take part.
The largest ward geographically and also the most rural, taking in large tracts of farmland and state forest areas. Protection of the land, logging, green wedge laws, farming practice are the main concerns, as well as public transport links and fire safety. Current councillor Chris Templer will not be running again. The 2008 election was a very close contest - Jim Child, a former councillor and regular ’watchdog’ of council came in second. Child is running again - could he take the seat this time?
At the 2008 election:
Registered voters: 12,200
Voter turnout: 8844 (72.49 per cent of total enrolment)
Formal votes: 8634
Informal votes: 210
Candidates (in ballot order)
Suburb of residence: Wesburn
Occupation: Company Director
How long have you lived in Yarra Ranges? All my life, born in Lilydale, I’m a 5th generation resident of the Yarra Ranges.
Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). Past Councillor (1982-1986) and President (1985) of the Shire of Upper Yarra.
Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which party do you most identify? No and none.
Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? No.
If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes.
What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? Unsure and myself.
Who will you direct your preferences to?
1 - CHILD, Jim
2 - FUHRMANN, Kim
3 - HAY, Robert
Describe your involvement in the local community.
* Director Upper Yarra Community Enterprise Ltd, franchisee of the Warburton & Yarra Junction Community Bank®.
* Volunteer L2P Mentor with Yarra Ranges Council Youth Services.
* Member of the Warburton Emergency Management Planning Committee.
* Member Warburton Chamber of Commerce, Tourism & Industry.
What do you think being a councillor involves?
* Strong representation for ratepayers and residents of the O’Shannassy Ward.
* Making a difference in the community.
What do you think are the most important issues for your ward?
* Strong councillor representation.
* Services to all including youth, elderly to the remote O’Shannassy Ward.
* Rates and infrastructure.
* Support to all small business, including the O’Shannassy Ward’s viable and sustainable timber manufacturing industry. The timber industry is a very important part of the O’Shannassy Ward, being our largest manufacturing identity, with four mills providing much needed environmentally sustainable products from a renewable resource and importantly providing employment for our local people and a flow on to small business.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Yarra Ranges?
* Rates, a more equitable deal from Federal tax revenue to local government to reflect the true cost of services and infrastructure. Relieve the burden on the ratepayer who at present provides 70% of council revenue.
* The provision of a Yarra Valley Education Precinct in Lilydale to replace the former Swinburne TAFE and University Campus.
* Maintain a sustainable balance between our wonderful Yarra Ranges Environment and the ideals and commitments of Council’s Economic Development Strategy.
* Council’s ongoing capital works expenditure.
Where do you stand on the logging currently taking place in Toolangi? Should it be stopped or does it have a rightful place to continue? The present sustainable logging of regrowth native forests in the Central Highlands is the most regulated in regards to harvesting, habitat protection and OH&S for both contractors and the general public. I do support the legal and sustainable timber harvesting operations within the Central Highlands that gives much needed jobs to residents and revenue flow on to Yarra Ranges businesses. Irrespective of your views in regards to logging regrowth native forests. It is a person’s legal right to be able to go about their day to day activities to earn a legal living. It is applauding and disgraceful that protesters illegally invade dangerous logging work place sites, putting lives at risk.
Is enough being done to try secure higher education in the shire once Swinburne’s Lilydale campus closes? I believe that council’s present Mayor Cr Graham Warren & CEO Glenn Patterson are leading the way in their efforts to establish an education precinct on the former Swinburne TAFE and University Campus. I totally support the motion from a recent public forum and will assist in any way I can to achieve that public expectation.
That this public forum unanimously expects:
1. Use of the Lilydale education precinct for the delivery of tertiary, vocational and community education services for the outer east.
2. The State Government provides funding to allow the existing Facility (University and TAFE) to continue providing education services during 2013 until other delivery arrangements can be made.”
Should the urban growth boundary be extended further in the Yarra Ranges? What sort of development would you allow? There may be areas where the UGB can be extended but this MUST be consistent with present service infrastructure, such as transport etc. Any action must follow a proper public consultation process. But I would have to be convinced for any change to the UGB.
Yarra Ranges Council is looking at a $15 million bill to top up the local government super fund. Is a rate rise justified to pay this unexpected fee? It is my commitment to lobby all concerned to restore an equitable balance between all levels of government in respect to funding Superannuation Fund Defined Benefit Schemes. Why should we as ratepayers be singled out to prop up a poor performing superannuation fund? Victorian councils had to pay a $71 million shortfall to the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund Defined Benefit Scheme in 2011, of which Yarra Ranges’ contribution was $2.5 million (including $238k for Eastern Region Libraries). Following actuarial assessment it has been determined that a further funding call is likely to apply in the 2013/14 financial year.
Unless there is a significant shift in the share market and fund performance, Yarra Ranges’ current estimation is that this further call will have an impact of just under $6 million on Council. This will need to be funded through additional borrowing.
Other levels of government are not required to fully fund their defined benefit scheme liabilities in the same manner that is applied to local government. The Victorian Government’s unfunded superannuation liability is $21.7 billion, up by 50 per cent since 2005. The Australian Government’s $129.5 billion superannuation liability is only partly covered by its $56.1 billion Future Fund.
Suburb of residence: Warburton
Occupation: Teacher/Environmental Consultant
How long have you lived in Yarra Ranges? 12 years.
Have you run for council/ been a councillor before, or any other level of government? If so, please list details (where, when, length of time, etc). I have run for council before in 2008 and 2005 as an independent candidate and I have run for state government as a Greens candidate in 2002.
Are you/have you been a member of a political party? If yes, which party? If no, with which party do you most identify? I am not a member of any political party at present, however I have been a member of the Liberal Party about 25 years ago and a member of the Greens for a few years until about seven years ago. I like aspects of all three major parties but I am not aligned with any.
Are you or have you ever been a member of a political interest or lobby group? I was a founding member of ‘Bridge 3799’ but I am not a member of any political interest or lobby group at the moment.
If you are elected, will you commit to remaining a councillor for the whole term? Yes.
What is your campaign budget? Who is funding your campaign? My budget is whatever I can afford – I do not have anybody funding my campaign.
Who will you direct your preferences to? I have directed my 2nd preference to Kim Fuhrmann and 3rd preference to Jim Child.
Describe your involvement in the local community. I am involved in my children’s school and their footy club, I have contributed to the consultation process for the Warburton Edgewater Resort and Caravan Park, I have been involved in Warburton Township Groups and ECOSS in it’s early stages.
What do you think being a councillor involves? Well, I think you need to be a good listener, I think you need to be caring and considerate, I think you need to be a passionate and persistent advocate for the people you represent, and I think you need to have the capacity to understand complex issues with competing interests and in response articulate and implement actions that generate the greatest good.
What do you think are the most important issues for your ward? I think that improving economic conditions and creating local jobs whilst looking after the local environment is our biggest challenge. Supporting local businesses to grow sustainably and encouraging more tourism I think will be a major focus.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Yarra Ranges? I think the issues facing my Ward, as I’ve said above apply to the whole Shire. I also think the question of how to fund infrastructure improvements, maintenance works and other Council programs without imposing further rate rises is a big challenge – it means being efficient and effective with ratepayers money.
Where do you stand on the logging currently taking place in Toolangi? Should it be stopped or does it have a rightful place to continue? I think the whole logging debate is one that needs to be had and that both sides need accurate and reliable information in order to make well-informed decisions. I am concerned about loss of native habitat and other logging impacts but I am also concerned about jobs.
Is enough being done to try secure higher education in the shire once Swinburne’s Lilydale campus closes? At this stage I think enough is being done – I just hope that it is possible to retain the site for higher education purposes for the long-term future, so that Yarra Ranges residents do not have to travel excessively to attend higher education courses.
Should the urban growth boundary be extended further in the Yarra Ranges? What sort of development would you allow? I think that any population growth can be accommodated within existing boundaries. I’d like to see more medium density developments in townships, particularly very energy efficient yet affordable housing.
Yarra Ranges Council is looking at a $15 million bill to top up the local government super fund. Is a rate rise justified to pay this unexpected fee? Setting money aside to pay future superannuation entitlements is something all local governments must do and their main source of revenue is rates, so unless the money can be found elsewhere, perhaps through savings that may also be unpopular, then it will need to come from rates. Being able to fund superannuation liabilities from future revenue would free up funds for current needs.