Local News

Get to know your council nominees

In the weeks leading up to election day, the Clarence Valley Independent (CVI) will publish a weekly ‘vox-pop,’ inviting nominees for council to give a short response to various questions of local interest.

We have invited nominees considering a position on Clarence Valley Council (CVC) to contact the CVI to express interest in being involved.

To date, a number of individuals have responded and their answers are published below. 

Questions will not be too onerous and will easily be able to be answered, given some nominees will have little or no experience of life as a councillor.

Question 1

Some time ago, CVC closed the former tourist information centre at South Grafton in favour of a more online presence for the dissemination of tourist information to the public.

Is this the way to go?

 Question 2

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis says, “The current exploration licences in the Clarence Valley are for metals with high technology applications, like copper and cobalt.

“If we want solar panels, batteries to store electricity, microchips for computers and electric cars, then these are the exact resources we need”.

 It could be argued no community wants mining in their backyard and that every environment is important.

Given consideration to the above statement (from Mr Gulaptis), what are your thoughts on mining around the Clarence?

 Question 3

Clarence Valley Council play an active role in the promotion of Australia Day celebrations. Celebrations which include the local indigenous population. There are, however, many in the community who see January 26 as anything other than a day of celebration.

What are your thoughts on local government celebrations of Australia Day on January 26?

Question 4

Housing affordability is at an all-time low at the moment. Clarence Valley Council (CVC) does have an ‘affordable housing’ policy, in fact according to the NSW Government, CVC has been singled out as one of the councils which are “involved in innovative projects to develop affordable housing”. Do you think local government has a responsibility to provide social / low-income housing, and how should they go about it?

GREG CLANCY

Question 1

When the new way of promoting tourism in the Clarence Valley was brought before council there were strong arguments that Council couldn’t afford to keep funding the Visitor Information Centres at South Grafton and Maclean and that the demand for the centres had significantly reduced due to the available online access to tourist information and booking facilities. 

I voted for the new system on that advice but in recent times have developed reservations and would like to see the issue revisited.  I have voted against the sale of the building at South Grafton and the recent rezoning proposal.

Question 2

It is true that the minerals that are found in the Clarence Catchment include those that are required for alternative energy and therefore I, and the Clarence Catchment Alliance, am not anti-mining, but believe that there are some areas in which the potential impacts of mining are too great to be allowed. 

The Catchment is almost unique with the ecological, economic, social and cultural limitations to mining that exist locally. The Clarence Catchment lies in one of the most biodiverse regions in Australia called the Macleay-McPherson Overlap where the floras and faunas of the tropics (Torresian) overlap with the floras and faunas of the temperate region (Bassian). In some groups it is the most biodiverse. 

The waters of the Clarence are of great cultural significance to the three First Nations and provide water for drinking and agriculture. 

The health of the estuary and the nearby Pacific Ocean relies on the waters of the Clarence system remaining pollution free. Mining threatens all of this and could involve the removal of mountain tops. Retention basins have a history of failing particularly in high rainfall areas such as the Clarence. 

My opposition to mining in the Clarence couldn’t be stronger. 

Question 3

While I support Clarence Valley Council celebrating Australia Day, I don’t support it being held on January 26.  I was council’s representative and M.C. at three Australia Day award dinners but they were held on the days leading up to January 26.  The 2021 Australia Day awards were held on January 26, so I did not put my hand up to be the rep. A significant number of first nations people see January 26 as ‘Invasion Day’ and I can fully understand that. It began 233 years of oppression and racism and is certainly nothing to celebrate if you are a first nations person. Australia Day should be for all Austrians and therefore should be celebrated on a different day.  I fully reject the arguments against changing the date. Australia Day was originally celebrated in July then August and on a number of other dates. Foundation Day was celebrated on January 26 and for those who want to celebrate the British takeover of the county from the rightful owners they can celebrate Foundation Day on January 26. To change the date would be a small sign that Australia has matured enough to be all inclusive.

Question 4

Council should have a role in encouraging affordable housing, but it is really a responsibility of state and federal governments who can develop the economic incentives and structures to encourage affordable housing. Clarence Valley Council recently approved a DA for affordable housing at South Grafton and I was happy to vote for it. Council also approved the setting up of a fund to provide financial support to non-profit organizations providing affordable housing. I was critical of that decision because it was made in consideration of one organization and wasn’t included in the public consultation that had been carried out to amend the affordable housing policy. I am open to suggestions of how else Clarence Valley Council can support genuine affordable housing. It has been suggested that some developers use the term inappropriately, to gain approval.

WILLIAM DAY

Question 1

In 2013 CVC sacked the community board (CRTA) which had successfully managed VICs and local tourism strategies for decades. CVC then ran the South Grafton VIC into the ground until they closed it in 2016. CVC tried to sell the VIC to divert funds to their new South Grafton works depot which had run millions of dollars over budget.

CVC claimed they were transitioning tourist information from “bricks and mortar” to online……yet within weeks they moved CVC information staff into the “bricks and mortar” location of Grafton Gallery. They moved from a high profile, purpose-built VIC with coach parking and restroom facilities to a small room which few travellers can find, with limited information and untrained staff. CVC tried to convince local business to pay a “membership” fee to gain special coverage….but that failed. CVC advised that their information staff would share a bus with the library and provide a mobile information service….but that failed. CVC purchased a number of very expensive “touch screen” information hubs….but they have failed.

It’s time for CVC to admit that their management of local tourism has failed.

We don’t need to turn our backs on new technology but the VIC should reopen to accomodate trained staff and play a valuable role in local tourism.

Question 2

While Council plays no role in granting exploration licences or mining approvals, it is appropriate that the State Government and its agencies are made aware that there are areas in NSW that are totally inappropriate for mining and there is considerable community concern about this industry in the Clarence Valley.

I oppose mining on the floodplains of the Clarence, Mann, Nymboida Rivers and tributaries and any mining that will impact on the quality of our drinking water.

Question 3

I’d like to see Australia Day celebrated on a date that doesn’t create disharmony in any way.

I’m not sure why January 26 was ever chosen.

The First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay on 20 January 1788…..not the 26th of January.

The British colonies in Australia did not form “a federation” until New Years Day 1901.

The only event of any real significance that occurred on 26 January was in 1788 with the proclamation of British sovereignty over just “the eastern seaboard” of Australia.

Is that a date and event worth fighting about in 2021?

I can see no reason why we cannot have a rational and calm conversation to decide the best day and the best way to celebrate being Australian each year in every community in this great country.

Question 4

I’m not sure how many policies Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has….but I know that it’s considerable……and the new Council should adopt a strategy to review each one of them, including Affordable Housing, in an orderly manner and with community engagement. We should track the results of Council’s current Affordable Housing policy to see if it should continue as-is, or be expanded, or be changed.

“Affordable Housing” includes social housing; new house & land packages; subsidised home rentals; low cost rentals etc and the three tiers of government in Australia all have some role to play.

The actual funding and “provision” of affordable housing is usually accepted by state and federal governments. Local councils often work with developers conditioning the availability of a percentage of lower cost lots….and councils can approve retirement villages and the like.

I believe that the shortage of houses in the low-cost rental market is having a very real impact on people requiring affordable housing in the Carence Valley. The Airbnb-style industry has removed many permanent rental properties from this market, particularly in coastal towns. Traditionally farm house rentals have been keenly sought, with farm income and farm work other bonuses. Carence Valley Council should consider these issues and try to increase the number of affordable rentals throughout the Valley.

As a candidate for Council I don’t have any magic solution to this challenge but by networking and by talking to our own community we should develop the best policy. CVC should also work with our state and federal MPs to ensure that we gain as much assistance as possible from their governments.

PETER ELLEM

Question 1

Firstly, thank you to The Clarence Valley Independent for initiating a weekly vox-pop for all candidates and readers.

The former Visitor Information Centre in South Grafton served its purpose well, but The Stafford Report identified that it and Ferry Park VIC captured about 4.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent of the visitor market respectively.

People counters at the two centres indicated that from 2000 to 2013, visitation to both centres had declined by about 40 per cent or 42,000 visitors per annum.

This trend had continued by 2017 with modest foot traffic as more tourists adopted technological change (iPhones) and the upgraded Pacific Motorway set to bypass Grafton by 2020.

While I supported the South Grafton VIC’s closure and later its sale to achieve efficiency savings, I also successfully blocked some other councillors’ attempts to axe more tourism positions.

These staff have continued to market the Clarence Valley through a more modern, cost-effective offering of online promotion and printed brochures/maps.

There are pop-up tourism hubs at Grafton Airport, the VIC within the redeveloped Grafton Regional Art Gallery, the Sir Earle Page Library, Ferry Park, CVC’s Maclean foyer and Yamba’s Calypso Caravan Park.

Tourist numbers are not going down anytime soon.

Question 2

Mr Gulaptis is entitled to his viewpoint but it’s not one I share.

As a former Editor of The Daily Examiner newspaper, I devised the NOT A DROP campaign which helped thwart repeated attempts to dam and divert the mighty Clarence River inland.

As a Labor candidate for Clarence at the 2011 State by-election, I campaigned against Coal Seam Gas exploration on the Northern Rivers, a battle subsequently won by local communities who saw off CSG miners from the region.

As an Independent Clarence Valley Councillor, I seconded Cr Greg Clancy’s notice of motion calling for a moratorium on mineral mining to protect the Clarence River catchment.

I also supported the Clarence Catchment Alliance’s petition, signed by almost 11,000 mainly local people, calling for this moratorium within the catchment and adjoining Local Government Areas.

The risk of heavy metal pollution from ‘new’ mines, quite different from normal quarry operations, threatens the livelihoods of local communities who rely heavily on farming, fishing and recreational tourism.

Like CSG, mineral mining is not welcome here either.

The Nationals Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan recently backed CVC’s moratorium resolution and is not tin eared; he knows many farmers are opposed to the miners.  

Question 3

Australia Day celebrations, currently held on January 26, are becoming more inclusive — an opportunity to share all of our back stories.

Australia has a rich history, but we should not gloss over the darker chapters.

My convict forebears would not have celebrated transportation below decks in 1788 or in 1818. Their descendants went on to help pioneer the Clarence Valley from the 1860s.

Not much to celebrate either if you belonged to the Indigenous nations who were later massacred, dispossessed of land and denied basic human rights.

They too are real survivors whose stories need to be listened to, acknowledged and respected.

I attend Australia Day celebrations to recognise our standout local volunteers and to welcome new Australian citizens. I also admire my fellow Australians who receive national honours in various fields of endeavour.

In Wooloweyah, we raise the Australian and Aboriginal flags then played a game of social cricket on the oval.

The Change The Date movement gains momentum each year so that debate may have to be resolved before Australia Day can be fully embraced by all Australians.

 Question 4

The current housing affordability crisis is biting hard across regional Australia, driven by record low interest rates and an unprecedented population shift from the cities to areas like the Clarence Valley.

First home buyers are being shut out of home ownership or being forced to pay hugely inflated prices to gain a foothold in an over-heated property market.

Rental tenants are being gradually forced out of coastal towns where they have lived for decades.

ABC’s Four Corners recently aired a program which illustrated how the wealthy and their offspring were the main beneficiaries of this property boom during COVID.

Federal and State governments must do much more heavy lifting to grow the stock of social and affordable housing through mass-scale programs akin to those successfully done post-World War Two.

Clarence Valley Council previously took advantage of a then Rudd Government subsidy to make Bailey’s Estate lots more affordable, and this year reviewed its Affordable Housing Policy, which superseded related strategies that have been in place since 2007.

I strongly backed Mayor Jim Simmons’ initiative of a new Affordable Housing Reserve to support a proposed seniors housing project in South Grafton and for future merit-based projects.

ASHLEIGH GIBBONS

Question 1

The Clarence Valley is a magnificent part of Australia, and we should welcome travellers with open arms to circulate economic growth to our businesses. 

The bigger question is can Council fund a Physical location and is it what the community wants? Community consultation would need to occur.

Council does retain the old site of South Grafton’s visitor Information Centre; this is an ideal location to allow travellers with caravans and the like ample parking and rest room facilities along with it being a current council asset. If elected I would commit to further investigation to see if it is feasible to re-open Visitor Information Centres and how they could be best served.

Question 2

I oppose new mining in the Clarence Valley and would like readers to understand that Council does not grant licences for mining. This function is carried out by the State Government agency Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Whilst there is a benefit for regional employment in the short term it does not out way the long-term impact further mining could have on our ecosystem and the harm it could cause. I would not support new mines for the Clarence Valley.

Question 3

Each year people in Australia celebrate this national holiday however it is not generally embraced by our First Nations people and many other non-Indigenous people. For many First Nations people this day represents invasion day, land theft, stolen children. 

We need to be inclusive in our celebrations of this day and acknowledge the traumatic context and history that the First Nations people feel regarding this day. It is an opportunity for all to learn and bridge the gap of equality for all.

Australia Day represents equality, freedom, opportunity, mateship and our national identity. Whilst we cannot change the events that have occurred in history, we can be respective, inclusive and acknowledge our First Nations people and other multi nations that make up our country.

Question 4

Local Government can play a significant role in facilitating and developing affordable housing. Councils need to encourage and support construction of affordable housing.

Clarence Valley Council has an” Affordable Housing Policy” and this is currently being reviewed. The policy looks to include that 1 unit of affordable housing in each 10 units of housing being developed.  

An option for Council could be to look at its current land and see if its own land could be utilised or worked in a partnership to develop further affordable housing.

PETER HANSON

Question 1

Our most handsomely presented Visitor Information Centre next to the old highway, in South Grafton, was a most significant achievement in public relations. With much vehicular traffic passing close by, this Centre is a vision of calm tranquil beauty. A disappointing loss at that same time was our involvement in the regional tourism authority as coordinator of advertising and information availability over a larger interconnection regionally. Such a facility as our Visitor Information Centres afford yet by retention of printed matter as available allows more broad a spread of the visual appeal regions offer through the brochures, pamphlets, and maps that will hang about in the transport, accommodations table, and at home again where friends may view and as memorabilia.

Perhaps Grafton would make such Civic use of this picturesque idyll in much the same manner as Maclean’s Ferry Park Craft and Art Gallery, in a community function.

Question 2

Devastatingly saddening is the history of river and land pollution by mineral resource extraction. Tailings dams, of rock powder and powerful residuals of chemicals used in ore extraction, all too frequently burst and overflow, polluting vastly areas below, of where our wild foods and agrarian product derives. Underground tunneling also presents future risk by water leaching through aquifers. Nature herself provides that wilderness of habitat known to all our beneficial life forms as of which we are yet party by necessity, however distracted to our improved methods. The livelihoods of irrigators, the watering of livestock, our very own domestic water supplies, our fisherfolks productivity: are reliant on, as are the fish species returning to their spawning grounds through recognizing their native waters flavour: on the best quality of water as nature evolved us all in. Holders of investment portfolio need constant reminder of how something apparently so robust as an whole eco-system environment is too easily destroyed through fragmentation such as pollutions, as from poorly managed exploitation.

Question 3
The idea of a National Day is obviously found very acceptable. Current debate reaches more around the chosen date being somewhat in conflict. Also, the first nations people yet find themselves invaded, probably calling it weeding and de-pesting day. So I propose we come together in more feasible celebration of nationhood as when we discover our cooperation, Treaty! Moving our celebration of natures fecundity, Easter, into our southern hemisphere Spring, might then make a more enjoyable Australia Day, when cooler weather than summers climaxing amidst the stir of school years return would allow pleasant community gatherings and format toward Corroboree and longer holiday most salient.

Question 4
Of our nation’s three levels of government, local government is the most aware of circumstances prevalent to homelessness, therefore the best placed to plan and carry through optimum assistance exactly where needed. Action on accommodating the homeless immediately will save tears, money, effort, time, and essentially, lives, along with family cohesion. Community investment in affordable housing sees regional growth maximise through shared improving quality of life. A community growing happier is our best defence against invasion by fear, disease, is more capable of taking action in preserving and to improvement. We are come again to discussing our own commonwealth!

PETER JOHNSTONE

 

Question 1

My family visited our Tourist Information Centres (TICs) before we moved to Australia and took their advice on the wonderful places we could go in the Clarence Valley. 

The welcome we received from the staff played a part in the decision we made, as a doctor and maths teacher, to move to the Clarence Valley in preference to all the other places in regional Australia that wanted us instead.  

It was very disappointing when we heard that the physical TIC presence would be reduced and although the online information is beautiful and very well presented, it is not the same as a fully resourced and carefully located TIC giving a personal welcome to our visitors.  

I would like to see the Clarence Valley become a destination for Australian and international tourists, rather than merely a stopping point on the way to somewhere else.  I believe a full-service TIC would need to be a part of making this happen.

If you elect me, I commit to investigating whether we can afford to reopen the TICs as they once were – or better.  However, I believe the question should be whether we can afford not to.

Question 2

We are fortunate to live in a very beautiful part of the world with many true wilderness areas centred around and draining into our amazing river. The clean water of the Clarence is essential to our major industries such as agriculture, tourism, and fishing.

Although mining is a very important industry if we are to meet the challenges of climate and technological change, our sometimes very high rainfall and resultant floods make it almost inevitable that harmful residues from mining will eventually end up in the Clarence and the effect on our major industries would be catastrophic. I therefore fully support the Clarence Catchment Alliance no mines campaign.

However, as individuals we should ensure that the goods we own are properly dealt with when we no longer want them.  I have a moral issue with the metal we already have being put into landfill instead of being recycled.

The Clarence is relatively unspoilt with unique plants and wildlife that depend on its water remaining pristine. The Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Yaegl people have kept the river safe for tens of thousands of years, we owe it to future generations that the river is kept that way. 

Question 3

The idea of a National Day is obviously found very acceptable. Current debate reaches more around the chosen date being somewhat in conflict. Also, the first nations people yet find themselves invaded, probably calling it weeding and de-pesting day. So I propose we come together in more feasible celebration of nationhood as when we discover our cooperation, Treaty! Moving our celebration of natures fecundity, Easter, into our southern hemisphere Spring, might then make a more enjoyable Australia Day, when cooler weather than summers climaxing amidst the stir of school years return would allow pleasant community gatherings and format toward Corroboree and longer holiday most salient.

Question 4

 Of our nation’s three levels of government, local government is the most aware of circumstances prevalent to homelessness, therefore the best placed to plan and carry through optimum assistance exactly where needed. Action on accommodating the homeless immediately will save tears, money, effort, time, and essentially, lives, along with family cohesion. Community investment in affordable housing sees regional growth maximise through shared improving quality of life. A community growing happier is our best defence against invasion by fear, disease, is more capable of taking action in preserving and to improvement. We are come again to discussing our own commonwealth!

WARREN LANG

Question 1

The South Grafton Visitors Information Centre is more important now the bypass is complete, to deliver the services to support the tourism industry. A very poor decision on behalf of the, then councillors. The effects are known and the damage done to the tourism industry by relying on online platforms and alternative centers for the public to access information.

This has also had a detrimental effect on business investment in tourism which has already changed planned regional trips, including day and longer trips to other regional centers and interstate. As a Candidate in the upcoming local election, research and consultation is paramount, if numbers alone through the door and a continual degrading of the center resulted in the closure of the center and subsequent selling off, of car park spaces then that is problem.

Given that it is a topic of discussion now, and the people I have talked to suggests that not all information was clear and made available to councillors at the time. Most Visitor Information Centers from my experience are a hub of activity, not just for tourism, but for the arts, cultural and history and all things local. The Clarence Valley story should not be that hard to sell.

Question 2

The views and comments by Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis on mining in the Clarence Valley are views that can only be interpreted as thinking in a short term world. Where now, is the time to take a longer term view. I don’t believe it is about resourcing metals for high technology applications, but more about short term goals of jobs and growth. There are no shortage of companies currently advancing in resourcing the metals for a high tech future.

The Clarence Valley is an important area known as “Big River Country” so any suggestion that mining in this environment could be sustained without risk to the river, towns and communities is well publicised. The Industries that rely on water quality of the river, the Clarence Valley Catchment, are as clear as day. Agriculture, fishing and tourism to name a few.

Difficult to agree to ‘no community wants mining in their backyard’ in isolation, when historically some towns develop around mines.

No legislation or planning policy can guarantee to protect the river, the catchment and the environment. The topography, the high rainfall only reinforces that position. The best plans have been known to fail, there are no long term benefits to support mining in the Clarence Valley.

Question  3

 Australia Day celebrations held on the 26th of January, have been relatively, held in recent times in Australia’s short history. In that time, the views and awareness of the events on 26th January 1788 are more well publicised. Australia Day is a day we should be celebrating as a nation including first nations people. Even if the tradition of celebrations was established over centuries, the day or date should be changed to provide a culturally inclusive alternative to Australia Day.

Given the views, changes in attitudes, and that the celebrations have been held more recently when a public holiday was declared, I see no reason why a change of day or date for Australians to celebrate as a place they call home to be discussed by council, to make the changes for future generations.

Other councils do provide a culturally inclusive alternative to traditional Australia Day celebrations.

Question 4

 Housing affordability, the Clarence Valley Council should no more than promote affordable housing, Quote CVC Policy Statement.

‘Council recognizes affordable housing through the inclusion of appropriate aims, zone objectives and mechanisms in its environmental planning instrument and ensures these documents encourage the retention and creation of diverse housing opportunities in appropriate locations”

Short term rental rules implemented by the State Government place restrictions on planning instruments and duplicates the bureaucracy essentially. Housing affordability is affected by other elements of the housing sector including the rental market, the availability of and the development aged care facilities, which is a federal responsibility.

Community housing sector in NSW provides two types of housing, social and affordable housing, and is the largest in Australia. As to why the Clarence Valley Council is not in the top 25 LGA’s by planned and completed dwellings to 2020 requires more discussion, where Lismore and the Mid Coast are in the top 25 LGA’s in NSW.

DEBRAH NOVAK

Question 1

As a current elected Councillor I am bound by the resolution adopted by the Council on this matter whether I agree with it or not. To publicly disagree with the resolution I could incur a Code Of Conduct.

To move forward on this matter CVC could undertake a review, audit and survey to see if the original desired outcomes have been achieved.

Using an evidenced based approach based on data collection provides for Best Practice in determining and supporting business opportunities for the Clarence Valley Council.

A Notice Of Motion by any elected Councillor would see this matter discussed and voted in in a Council meeting next year.

Question 2

Mr Gulaptis is on the public record opposing mining in the Clarence Valley. He has crossed the floor for greyhounds; he should be publicly supporting his community and not his party on this matter. The great news is our community (12,000 of them) are now also on the public record through their tabling of their petition to parliament and Clarence Valley Council. Those 12000 voters could easily swing the Seat of Clarence. The Clarence Valley and Catchment are one of a number of food bowls for NSW. The Clarence Valley agri-food economy employs more people and has more businesses than other sector.

Question 3

My personal view is CVC should do a referendum on what day they would like to celebrate their Australia Day. Australia Day has been changed a number of times by the Federal Government and with modern technology we could have a more inclusive conversation about this important topic.

Question 4

 CVC should work collaboratively with the State and Federal government on this complex issue. The chronic housing shortage has been created by an extreme surge in properties being purchased as investments coupled with extreme low interest rates. CVC’s involvement should be to greatly support a better streamlined DA process for external agencies to build social housing.

STEVE PICKERING

Question 1

In a word, no. Since the visitor information centre has been closed, I have established my own visitor information centre in Ulmarra. I have created and published advertisements through social media, newspaper, and radio to promote the Clarence Valley to tourists. 

As an owner of a tourist destination, I was bewildered by the decision which was made without community consultation. We were told that the information centres were closing for a few reasons; visitors prefer online resources, the cost to keep the information centres was too high so costs needed to be saved and the building needed to be sold to make Council ‘Fit for the Future’.

Since the South Grafton closure, I have distributed paper information brochures daily, they are extremely popular with visitors to the valley. The Visitor Information Centre in South Grafton still stands empty, abandoned, and un-sold. Council has re-opened a new centre which is closed on long weekends, difficult to find and cannot accommodate parking of vehicles with trailers, boats, or caravans, unlike the original purpose-built information centre, which was a welcoming sight at the entrance to Grafton near MacDonald’s. I believe the South Grafton Information Centre should be retained and re-opened to benefit all visitors to the Clarence Valley.

Question 2

While exploration licenses and mining have their place in the Clarence Valley, the tributaries and catchments of our mighty Clarence River need to be protected at all costs.

I fully support existing and emerging innovative, sustainable industries within the Clarence Valley that bring jobs for us, our kids, and grandkids but even with safeguards and restrictions imposed on mining, mistakes and accidents can and do happen. Mechanisms are put in place to reduce environmental accidents, but history has shown that when these mechanisms fail, disaster is imminent. Is this potential cost to our valley and way of life worth it?

I want to be clear; I’m not opposed to mining in the Clarence Valley, mining has always happened in the Clarence Valley, what I am opposed to is the threat to the sensitive catchments and tributaries that feed the Clarence Valley waterways.

Currently mining in the entire Clarence Valley employs 0.5% of the workforce, with a much larger proportion of people employed in industries reliant on the clean waters of the Clarence, my position is the logical, sensible decision.

I cannot support mining in areas that may jeopardise our existing agricultural, fishing, and tourism industries. We only have one Clarence River, and it needs to be protected for everyone.

Question 3

As Australia changes and grows, so too does our national holiday. No longer is it just a celebration of an Englishman hoisting a flag at Sydney Cove, it is now much more. It now represents the joining of people, it celebrates our diversity and difference, it celebrates our sameness.

Australia Day, January 26, is a day of celebration to some, a day of sadness to others. I believe it’s a day of both, a celebration of all we have and all we are but at the same time it’s a day where we need to show respect, empathy, compassion and understanding to our friends, neighbours and family who still feel the sadness of tradition and country lost. Australia Day is a day where we need to honour those that have worked for the community, a day where we showcase our best, a day to celebrate traditional culture and values and a day where we can all listen and learn to make Australia an even better place into the future.

Question 4

Affordable housing to buy or rent is at crisis point with zero rental properties available in many areas throughout the valley. There has been a shortage of affordable housing for many years, and it will take a focused and determined approach to start getting on top of the problem.

To overcome the backlog and shortage of affordable housing in the valley, Council needs to actively engage with all levels of government, and work with NGOs and the private sector to find opportunities to increase the affordable housing stock available to our community while reviewing current policies and possibly implementing an Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme.

While we do have an Affordable Housing Policy, we also need reporting on the policy outcomes. These policy documents shouldn’t be aspirational, there also needs to be reporting and reviews into their efficacy. The community need to be informed as to how the policy is performing.

Providing housing, even affordable or low-income housing is not something council should be doing. Council should be removing unnecessary red-tape and engaging with property developers to ensure the Clarence Valley has a supply of homes, including affordable and social housing appropriate to our community’s needs and in locations appropriate to employment and lifestyle opportunities.

DONALD SCOTT

Question 3

 The 26th of January each year celebrates the landing at Port Jackson in 1788. The actual arrival of the first fleet was about the 20th of January 1788. 2022 will be the 234th anniversary. The people that came were predominately convicts, government officials, a military detachment, and few free settlers. There was no invasion. The first fleet would not have survived without the aid of the aboriginal people. Yes, there were disputes and deaths occurred on both sides. I doubt that the convicts dumped on Terra Nullius were any happier than the inhabitants of Cronulla region.

Like over 90% of all Australians today I am a product of immigration, Celtic DNA is found everywhere. We celebrate the 26th of January as a day that acknowledges this great country. People have moved from place to place since the beginning of humanity whether across continents or oceans. While it is important to reflect and learn from the past, we cannot be held responsible for what occurred 234 years ago, we can only try to do better. Holding on to past grievances will eat us up. We are all one race, “the human race”. Enjoy the holiday, there are not enough of them.

Question 4

This is a can of worms that once opened is fraught with red tape and abuse. Although, it is not the responsibility for the CVC to be financially involved in the housing of people, there is a moral duty to help where possible by directing people to the various real estate agents in the valley. There is limited housing in the Clarence Valley at present and renting or purchasing a property is at high demand. The Clarenza Urban Development is one project going to council for approval. There are plans to develop about 900 house blocks on the slopes along Centenary Drive to Duncan Road. Cashed up buyers from the big cities are buying up houses very quickly in the valley. Perhaps the appropriate government housing body can be approached to buy a number of these lots for council housing. 

JEFF SMITH

Question 1

The online tourism presence that Council has achieved through the “My Clarence Valley” brand has been clever and innovative. However, it is also hard to beat a real-life tourism information experience particularly for groups such as coach tours.

Whether it be Grafton or probably Maclean (as it has become the gateway to The Clarence following the new freeway by-pass) I would like to see the re-establishment of a physical tourist information centre. But its purpose needs to be so much more than just map distribution. A “Clarence Experience Centre” that incorporates First Nation stories, local produce/goods, art, music, culture, festival information, heritage etc. Utilising the existing building at Ferry Park, Maclean, it would be a must-do first stop when visiting the Clarence Valley. It would complement the “My Clarence Valley” online brand but in a tangible form.

Question 2

No new mines in the Clarence Valley. It’s important for Council to be engaged, alert and aware of what State and Federal governments are endorsing. We need to send a firm message that the Clarence Valley is NOT an option for current or future mining proposals. I’m committed to environmental intergenerational equity  (In other words, let’s not wreck it for our kids ).

Question 3

It is understandable that a growing proportion of the community find the celebrations on January 26 offensive. Therefore, it may be time to review the entire day and the purpose of it. Personally, I feel that we have an excessive number of national public holidays. Let’s get rid of the public holiday and get back to work to make our nation and the Clarence Valley a more productive place to live.

Question 4

Housing affordability is at an all time low at the moment. Clarence Valley Council (CVC) does have an ‘affordable housing’ policy, in fact according to the NSW Government, CVC has been singled out as one of the councils which are “involved in innovative projects to develop affordable housing”. Do you think local government has a responsibility to provide social / low income housing, and how should they go about it?

Council’s role regarding affordable housing should consider:

  • a greater input with developers to provide affordable housing.
  • Provision of flexible zoning to allow multi dwellings.
  • Allowing for the re-purposing of existing commercial/industrial buildings into residential accommodation.
  • The ongoing council costs associated with the provision of rental accommodation by investors (i.e rates/charges) is usually passed on to the tenant in the form of higher rents. Council indirectly contributes to higher rents. This needs to be reviewed.

IAN TILEY

Question 1

The South Grafton Tourist Information Centre should never have been closed. For a very long time tourism has been easily the biggest industry in the Clarence Valley. Its continued growth with more jobs, especially for our young people is vital. I advocate the restoration of the Clarence River Tourist Association and CVC having a far greater role in tourism promotion.

Question 2

Between the Great Dividing Range and the coast, the Clarence Valley relies on a healthy and sustainable environment to ensure waterways, ecology, agriculture, fishing, tourism and many small and medium enterprises are protected and enriched.

Mining is State Significant Development and applications are determined by the Minister for Planning. Councils only have input by offering comment on the Applicant’s Environmental Impact Statement.

Currently 8 licenses are held in the Clarence Valley with only three, for copper being active. Sometimes Voluntary Planning Agreements can be secured to endeavour to protect the vital environmental assets.

I don’t believe that encouraging mining through the granting of additional mine exploration licenses is compatible to the paramount environmental sustainability principles. I therefore oppose new mining in the Clarence Valley, river catchment.

Question 3

The vast majority of Australians celebrate January 26th as the day that the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay and rightly so. I support local government continuing to celebrate Australia Day with their communities.

I recognise and well understand from my two decades as an Indigenous Community Volunteer, that a significant number of First Australian descendants regard this day as the day of invasion.

I support a separate day each year as being appropriate to properly celebrate our First Nations people.

A great deal more needs to be done to “close the gap”. I engage in a practical way to capacity build and empower Aboriginal community leaders and communities.

Question 4

 Housing affordability is at an all-time low at the moment. Clarence Valley Council (CVC) does have an ‘affordable housing’ policy, in fact according to the NSW Government, CVC has been singled out as one of the councils which are “involved in innovative projects to develop affordable housing”. Do you think local government has a responsibility to provide social / low-income housing, and how should they go about it?

When formerly Mayor of CVC, I led the ititiative to establish the Council’s Affordable Housing Policy with support of a Commonwealth grant of 900K approximately. At that time Council donated a few spare lots in Grafton and provided some affordable housing. Incentives were also provided to developers to assist in affordable housing provision.

The Policy remains relevant today and continued Council support is important. The focus of the current policy is to require, through planning mechanisms, that new large-scale development provides appropriate housing stock that is more likely to be affordable and appropriate to the future demographic needs of Clarence Valley LGA.

I remain committed to protecting and increasing the supply of housing stock that can be affordably rented or purchased by very low, low, and moderate-income households, including target groups identified as having particular housing needs. The E P and A Act allows Council to accept offers from developers for use as a public benefit including affordable housing. This I support and also CVC seeking to enter into affordable housing development and management partnerships with government, community and/or private sector entities as provided in the existing policy.

KAREN TOMS

Question 1

The closure of South Grafton’s Visitor Information Centre and subsequent change to Tourism Portals is a failure. The hubs may look pretty but they were never embraced by tourists, as they did not meet their needs. The information on them was lacking, many are in places where tourists do not frequent.

I am not saying we do not need an online presence we do, especially for destination development which is different to the tourism service needed for tourists once they are here. Once they are here, the challenge is keeping them here. There needs to be both an online presence and access to good tourist information from experienced local people with extensive knowledge of the area. Visitors want to talk to locals to find out what to do, what’s on, where to eat, and so on, and often ask where the VIC is. Digital hubs do nothing to entice visitors to stay longer, venture out, and explore our many other towns and villages.

Council has continued producing printed brochures, maps, and other publications which is important. Since council’s takeover of tourism services, it is impossible to know what tourism is costing, as it is not disclosed, that must change!

Question 2

It is ironic that the things we now want, such as solar panels, storage batteries, and electric cars require toxic metals to produce. Have we thought about when they are old and broken and end up dumped? Are the toxic metals an environmental disaster waiting to happen? Some think so.

In the early eighties my husband and I lived on the west coast of Tassie where mining and building dams for hydro was it, and the pub the only other business for miles. I do understand the importance of mining to Australia not only for families who work in mines but for the country.

Every environment is important without a doubt. I am not against mining, but do we want the government to have carte blanche over where they permit mining to occur? More than 10K Clarence Valley Locals do not. I accept it looks like a NIMBY attitude.

When communities have good reason to make a stand on an issue as important as protection of our water, leaders need to listen. I am proud to support the Clarence Catchment Alliances stand to stop mining that could threaten our might Clarence River.

Question 3

This year Council held Australia Day celebrations on the 26th. Prior to that it was held a day or two earlier, not out of respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but for economic reasons for avoidance of the public holiday. I am not making judgement just stating a fact.

The Federal Government has now welded a big stick and changed the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code requiring Councils to hold a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day (26 January) also giving directives on dress code so no more thongs and T shirts.

The date of Australia Day is a vexed issue that may never be resolved because Australia Day means different things for different people.

I understand why it is a day of mourning and protest for indigenous people. I feel empathy and sadness for the atrocities that occurred against them, not only in our past but for the disadvantage that still occurs today. I also understand why Australia Day is a day of celebration for others.

If changing the date will remove the hurt, then I am all for it, but will it make a real difference to their reality now?

I do not believe so!

Question 4

 It is a NO from me, Local Government does not have a responsibility to provide social or low-income housing. Local Government have their own responsibilities. The impacts of cost shifting onto local government is already an issue that affects financial sustainability.

What are the innovative projects mentioned in the question? I would like to know. Are they working? Where is the evidence?

Politicians and NGO’s have been endeavouring to address this problem for years, but the problem is far from being solved. State and Federal Governments have not kept up with their responsibility of providing social housing and the consequences are dire for our vulnerable citizens. Or is, what they are doing is not working? Perhaps it is both!

Something is very wrong when working people cannot afford to pay the rent.

While ever the gap between those who have, and those who have not grows larger, things will not change.

When you are poor, you have no power, no influence. There needs to be a balancing out of wealth and power. No one strives to be poor.

We need to think differently, DO differently.

ALLISON WHAITES

Question 1

As a local business owner I spend my days chatting to local residents and visitors to our community. There is a consensus that removing the tourist information centre was a step backwards for our region.

The Clarence Valley is gifted with so many beautiful spots from the beaches of Yamba to the waterfronts in Grafton. It is councils job is to showcase the best of our region to the world and the tourist information centre was an important part of that.

 

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