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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Quick action needed to secure referendum on local govt recognition

Posted by Steve on March 10, 2013

Noosa Council Chambers

The restoration of local government for the communities of Noosa is a victory for democracy. So many men and women contributed their time, their energy and their resources to a hard-fought campaign that brought together people across the political spectrum. However this magnificent achievement remains at risk and vulnerable to the whim or ideology of future state government who may choose to ignore the will of the people as did Peter Beattie and the Queensland ALP (remember them?)

With a parliamentary inquiry report recommending a referendum to recognise local government in the constitution at the September election, Australian Greens local government spokesperson and committee member Senator Lee Rhiannon has called on the Gillard government to introduce required legislation soon after parliament resumes next week.

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government report has recommended a referendum at the next election to recognise local councils in the constitution and allow the federal government to directly fund them.

“Two expert committees have now found in favour of a referendum. The Labor government must move quickly to pass legislation between March and July facilitating the referendum and allowing time to build strong community and cross party support,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“If the government drags the chain it will rob the campaign of time to educate the community about the importance of constitutional reform to allow the federal government to fund local councils.

“Two High Court cases have created uncertainty around federal grants to local councils.

“This referendum should receive active support from all political parties, state governments and local councils across the nation.

“Referendums are notoriously difficult to pass, with voters approving eight out of 44 proposals to alter the constitution, so it is important campaigning gets going as soon as possible.

“This report reveals a big appetite from local councils for reform and strong capacity to campaign. The Gillard government must lead the way in securing this important change.

“The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 sets out the referendum process. This includes passing a bill setting out the proposed alteration to the Constitution, establishing ‘yes’ and ‘no’ committees of MPs to prepare a case supporting their position and the Government-General issuing writs,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Greens hold their own in Brisbane City Council election

Posted by Jim McDonald on April 30, 2012

What is the real result for The Greens in the Brisbane Council election – not the unsubstantiated views of the media or the failure to report?

Looking at the vote as at closing Saturday, I’ve gone through the Wards where we were represented. If we regard less that ±1.0% as holding our own, we have held our vote in 5 of the wards [26% of wards] in which The Greens had candidates. In 10 of the wards [53% of wards] we increased our vote by more than 1.0% with Bracken Ridge & Moorooka at over 2%, Walter Taylor [+4.62%], and Wishart [+3.21%].

So, in 79% of the seats in which The Greens stood candidates the vote was either steady or significantly increased.

Andrew Bartlett increased the Mayoral percentage by 2.21%.

In two wards there was a significant fall in votes [more than 5%] in Tennyson and The Gabba. In the latter, Drew Hutton had obtained 25.6% of the vote in 2008.

In the By-election for Anna Bligh’s former seat, Jo Bragg actually increased the Greens vote by 1.52% and in the present mood of the electorate that is holding our own at the very least.

The facts of the matter [subject to the usual caveats about error] as as follows:

Bracken Ridge +2.1%
Central +1.6%
Deagon +0.21%
Doboy 7.27%*
Enoggera -0.85%
Hamilton -0.18%
Holland Park -0.73%
Jamboree +1.94%
Macgregor +0.40%
Marchant +1.26%
Moorooka +2.03%
Pullenvale +1.1%
Tennyson -5.36%
The Gabba -5.13% [Drew Hutton last time at 25.64%]
The Gap +1.44%
Toowong -1.44%
Walter Taylor +4.62%
Wishart +3.21%
Wynnum Manley -2.30%

*No previous Greens candidate

Jim McDonald,
Spokesperson,
Noosa & Hinterland Greens 

Vote 1 Jim McDonald – policy statements

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 19, 2012

Catch up with Noosa Greens Candidate Jim McDonald and read what he says on various election topics.

Jim has covered a wide range of issues during the election. They include:

  • My 30 second pitch to Mary-Lou Stevens “In the elevator” on ABC Coast FM:
    Noosa voters should vote for me because I am an experienced advocate with vision.
    I’ll introduce a Private Members Bill for a plebiscite so that Noosa residents can decide on de-amalgamation.
    I want a prosperous Noosa that is prepared for the new economy and for climate change, with regional food security, a Coast served by light rail and connecting to fast trains, a region with its own renewable energy sources, and jobs in clean industries.
    I’ll push to get the Noosa GPs After Hours Service put back in the hospital to take pressure off emergency services.
    I’ll oppose any exploitation of the coal reserves under the Coast.
    And I don’t owe vested interests any favours It will be the people I owe.
  • Jim mcDonald

Jim has been activiely campaigning to get some decent representation of Noosa into the parliament. More information available on the following sites:

 

Election signs ban trashes democratic tradition

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 4, 2012

Election signs are a sign that democracy is at work and there is an election in place.

Signs enable parties that aren’t supported by mining billionaires, like the sitting Noosa LNP member, Hon. Glen Elmes, to have a chance at getting their message out. The LNP is supported by mining magnate Clive Palmer. The Greens are supported by small  donations from individuals.

Candidate signage is an Australian and international democratic tradition found in every Western liberal democracy. However, Glen Elmes is prepared to support his mates on the Sunshine Coast Regional Council trashing an Australian electioneering  tradition and almost certainly breaching the Local Government Act.

The Council has announced that it will limit signs in Noosa to two for each candidate.

This limitation to two signs is disrespectful of the democratic political process. Mr Elmes runs the facile visual pollution argument, and rests his case on having both won and lost elections in the absence of signage. That reasoning is irrelevant to the matter of democratic principle. Indeed, I would argue that he presents the spectacle of an elected member of Parliament supporting the Council in breaking the provisions of the Local Government Act 2009. The Act expressly prevents the Council from prohibiting signs. While the Council limits two signs to a candidate, the Council prohibits any other signs. In my view the Council is breaking the law by putting any number on election signs.

Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act 2009 states, without any caveat, that “A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.” What is clearer than that?

That provision leaves it open to regulation about placement but not limiting the number and certainly not insulting the intelligence of the voters and the candidates who put themselves forward for public office. If the Sunshine Coast Regional Council wants some consistency about placement, then it ought to consult the reasonable guidelines issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Mr Elmes’s support of the two sign announcement is another example of the LNP having lost any sense of a fair go and why his party is no better than the State Labor Government which ran roughshod over the Noosa Shire. The Greens stand much closer to the great Australian social justice traditions than either party, both of which have lost their way.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate,
Noosa Electoral District


Greens will work to support Seniors in Noosa

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 29, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald, said that he would work to ensure a positive environment for seniors in the electorate.

“My approach will be to ensure that seniors get the opportunity to participate in the social, economic and political aspects of life and to maintain their independence to whatever degree they feel able.”

He said the present percentage of residents who are 65 years or older was between 12 and 15 percent and this will grow as Baby Boomers seek out Noosa as an ideal place to retire to.

“All seniors have the right to exercise plenty of choices for a fulfilling retirement; to employ, where they wished, their skills and life experience to the benefit the whole community; and to enjoy a strong local health system.

“This is what the Greens policy means when it affirms the rights of older people to live with dignity. Most retirees do not regard their life post-work as having one foot in the grave.

“The state government must play a central role in the provision, regulation and support of aged care services integrated into an accessible community-based health system in Noosa on the basis of need and not the ability to pay. The Labor Government has  resided over an increasingly dysfunctional Queensland Health and seniors are affected.

“I will use my position in the Parliament to improve services for the elderly who are frail by improving respite services to carers, supporting existing community care programs aimed at supporting older people in their own homes, increasing the number of  places in our region for aged care and retirement living, and addressing transport issues for senior’s mobility throughout the community.

“Critical to the care services that are available is increasing funding to enhance the numbers, skills and salaries of community health nurses and workers in the aged care sector to reduce the incidence of ’emergency’ care.

“We will also introduce legislation to provide free public transport to all Government Seniors and Government Concession card holders.

“Managing an inevitable increase to the number of retirees in Noosa will require expanding the scope of the Queensland Housing Affordability Strategy to include an emphasis on current and future demand for affordable housing.

“Our Seniors program is based upon the critical choice for seniors to live in their own homes where possible. The Greens will work to provide assistance to make renovations that will allow them to age in their own homes.

“The Greens and Independents have demonstrated in the several Parliaments in Australia and overseas that the cross bench can play a powerful role in cutting across the vested interests represented by the old parties.”

Jim McDonald, Noosa Greens Candidate, Media Release 27 February 2012

Greens candidate says Noosa ban on election posters is anti-democratic

Posted by Jim McDonald on

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s ban on effective poster advertising in Noosa is an attack on election democracy according to the Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald.

He was responding to the report in the Noosa News on Tuesday, 28 February that candidates in Noosa will be allowed only two posters.

“Some limitations are reasonable but the approach in Noosa is unsophisticated, cunning and over the top. It actively assists the sitting candidate in elections because new candidates’ faces are usually less well known in the electorate.

“The two poster limit is an effective ban on public political advertising during a campaign.

“It’s a backwoods strategy more at home in local government in the Appalachians in Alabama and is at odds with Australia’s democratic system.”

Dr McDonald said he believes that the Council is breaching the Act. “I believe that local government can regulate issues like placement, but not effectively ban, candidates’ advertising.

“Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act states that ‘A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.’

“That prohibition does not allow for the Noosa bans imposed on campaigning for the State election. The term “prohibition” in its ordinary meaning applies. And the Council is hindering and preventing candidates in Noosa from campaigning using posters and
election signs.

“I would go as far as to say that limiting the number of signs in an electorate also breaches the Act.

“The Department of Transport and Main Roads have a set of reasonable limitations on election posters on road reserves and there is prohibition on motorways. The Department’s guide addresses safety issues on all roads.

“Even if the limitation on numbers is legal, the Regional Council’s bans on Noosa candidates are inequitable because candidates whose electorates were in other shires within the Sunshine Coast allow for greater numbers.

“Cr Green is quoted as saying that the ‘Noosa community was offended by election signage’. How can he know that? And which community is he talking about: Noosa in the 1970s or Noosa in 2012?

“People in Noosa have a right, and it is a responsibility of citizenship, to know who their candidates are and temporary election signage is a significant source of knowledge about candidates in Western democracy and the Australian political tradition.”

Jim McDonald, Noosa Greens Candidate, Media Release 29 February 2012

Noosa’s Prosperity

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 25, 2012

 

I have been long concerned about the economic security of the Noosa region. The following statement reflects those concerns:

Economic prosperity
The long-term economic prosperity of Noosa relies not only on retail, tourism, farming and construction but also on a diversity of small business, including information technology and appropriate manufacture. Noosa has the skill base to lead the region towards a sustainable, post-carbon economy that is consistent with the principles that have made Noosa what it is today.

If elected, I will:

  • push for an expansion of renewable energy and green industries in a program of creating long term jobs, long-term financial security for families, and long-term success for businesses committed to the future of Noosa.
  • lobby for an accelerated introduction of the NBN in Noosa at reasonable rates designed to contribute towards industrial efficiency and Noosa’s ongoing prosperity; develop Noosa as a national IT niche centre.
  • encourage cooperation between small business, commercial property owners and the banks to overcome the effects of high commercial leases that weaken the viability of many small businesses, undermining profits and job security for Noosa workers.

Ever since one of my friends took his business from Noosa and established himself in the CBD of one of the capital cities, paying lower rental than for his [non-Hastings Street] premises [15% lower rental for premises 40% larger], I have been concerned about the impact of high commercial rents on the ability of Noosa businesses to survive not only the tourist cycles but also survive the impacts of broader phenomena such as the Global Financial Crisis. High commercial rentals not only adversely affect business profitability but also the financial security of employees and family units in the electorate and within the former Shire boundaries.

I do not pretend to have a solution at hand – I am not an economist – but if the electorate were to give me the responsibility of representing them I would want to be advised by groups such as the Chamber of Commerce about how we might approach such issues. At this point – recognising that many commercial investors purchased their properties at inflated prices – I have suggested that the impacts have such community importance that the current behaviour of the banks and the investors needs to be moderated in the public interest by cooperation between the three sectors. That public interest goes not only to the workers who might be employed but also to the consumers who are affected when businesses close.

I am not suggesting, of course, that high leases are the only cause for closure of businesses, but I am suggesting that – as a community – we need to look for innovative solutions to preserving and promoting Noosa’s prosperity. The above statement suggests some of my thinking, taking into account The Greens policy base [which is far too often misrepresented by our political opponents].

Much more needs to be done in concert with government agency assistance to educate businesses about the effect on their bottom line of sometimes very simple “green” practices and I would work to facilitate better awareness of business owners of such measures, particularly sharing the experiences of businesses that have successfully addressed such issues as rising power prices. Government agencies also ought to facilitate ongoing development of Noosa business owners’ skills in surviving the cyclical impacts of tourism and the broader impacts of the GFC. The cooperative underpinnings of the Chamber of Commerce movement ought to be one of the resources harnessed in such projects.

I would also support a rationalisation of red tape requirements. Often politicians seize on business complaints of red tape, but they rarely put their minds to making whatever government regulation is necessary more efficient. Instead of computerisation being used to reduce bureaucratic impositions, processes have increased the burden. It suggests to me that the design of the necessary reporting is bureaucrat-oriented rather than oriented towards assisting business owners.

I saw a complaint in a recent edition of the Sunshine Coast Daily of the Fair Work Act of the impact of business. You would not be surprised with my background that I regarded the WorkChoices legislation a blight on the Australian tradition of fairness and equity. The Fair Work Act has partially redressed that imbalance.

If I am right, small and medium sized businesses want certainty about employee entitlements and rights [and this was certainly true in my own research on SME managers]. Many SME owners are reasonably pre-occupied with managing their business and dealing with its technical aspects and requirements, but they often are ignorant of their responsibilities towards employees. If elected, I would also work to make such information easily accessible and whatever training necessary is provided for new business owners. Anecdotally, I do know that many local employees are underpaid, especially in one of the sectors. That, in my view, is not only illegal, but socially undesirable, in the long run working against Noosa’s prosperity. 

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate, Noosa

Greens call for return of Noosa’s water supply assets

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 7, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald, called for the State Government to restore Unity Water assets to the Councils that developed them.

Dr McDonald said, “Ratepayers funds helped develop Noosa’s water supply and so it belongs to the community. It should never have been grabbed by the Bligh Government to be corporatised in preparation for selling off another public asset. Lake Macdonald was a Noosa Council project.

“Unity Water has done nothing but slug consumers and adopted practices that look more like a mafia operation: exhorbitant metre reading guesses and residents slugged for costs even if they are not connected to the grid are, frankly, unethical standover tactics.

“Separating Unity Water from the Council is also dysfunctional. Subsided trenches crossing Noosa’s streets remain unrepaired despite the Sunshine Coast Regional Council having just completed asphalt road repairs throughout Noosa.

“In one case, a subsided trench on Hill Street in Sunshine Beach lies unrepaired not 10 metres away from the recent round of resurfacing. The Council claims maintenance of the trenches is Unity Water’s responsibility.

“We can blame Labor for that nonsense. But what does the LNP propose? Their so-called “CanDo” policy States that Glen Elmes’ party will combine Unity Water into an even larger body, claiming it would be more efficient. What that will do is make it easier to sell it off to private enterprise and the LNP should come clean about their plans.

“Not being known for its consistency, the party that tries to tell us that the amalgamated Sunshine Coast Regional Council isn’t efficient for Noosa ratepayers argues for State centralisation of water assets developed by the Noosa Shire!

“In no case in Australia has the sale of publicly owned utilites resulted in cheaper prices for consumers whether they have been sold by Labor or Liberal/Nationals.

“Voters are entitled to straight answers from the LNP for their ultimate plans for Unity Water and other publicly-owned assets. Mr Elmes should come clean and state unambiguously that the LNP will return Noosa’s water assets to a reconstituted Noosa Council.

“The Greens are committed to retaining essential public services in public ownership to be run in the public interest.

“I will work in the Parliament for residents to get back Noosa Council control over the assets their rates paid for.”

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate, Noosa
Media Release, 6 February 2012 


Media Release: Greens ready for March election

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 25, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Dr Jim McDonald welcomed the announcement for an election date by Premier Anna Bligh, this morning.

Dr McDonald said that the LNP and Labor leaders had descended to a schoolyard level of debate on the election date.

I have no doubt that the decision will be controversial concerning the decision to push back the Council elections, but people have been confused between coverage of State and local government elections.

The Greens policy supports fixed terms and the adoption of that principle will take away the demeaning argy bargy that we have seen this week between Campbell Newman and Anna Bligh.

However, the biggest problem we face in Queensland is that no party once in government seriously commits to any long term action planning.

People often say to me that The Greens can never win government so it is a wasted vote. But voting for The Greens is a vote for the future. We must leave behind the dysfunctional ratbaggery that has characterised the Queensland Parliament and deal with long term issues beyond the three-year electoral cycle instead of short-term, populist programs.

If I am elected to the Parliament for Noosa I can focus my contribution in representing Noosa on the solutions requiring long-term strategy and action, such as a commitment to the infrastructure planning and programs necessary to prepare for the effects of climate change in the region and economic prosperity for Noosa in the post-carbon economy.

This is not something you ever hear from Mr Elmes or the Young Labor candidate from Brisbane.

Because I am not constrained by the vested interests that support Labor and the LNP, my focus will be on the benefits for the whole of the electorate and the region rather than select groups and the coal and gas industries.”

Dr McDonald said, “The Noosa and Hinterland Greens Branch are organised and ready for the long campaign.”

campaigning

Jim McDonald campaigning for the Greens

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate Noosa
Media Release, 25 January 2012

Noosa Greens Candidate dissects LNP policy on de-amalgamation and finds a “Yes Minister” policy designed to fail

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 24, 2012

Jim McDonald, the Greens Candidate for Noosa, writes to the Noosa News about de-amalgamation:

I’d like to thank Bob Ansett for pointing out what the LNP’s website says about Noosa’s de-amalgamation because what the LNP spokesperson for Local Government, Gympie MP, David Gibson, says and doesn’t say on that website is quite different from the LNP’s actual policy.

As The Greens candidate for Noosa, I have called for a referendum to establish the ratepayers’ wishes as the primary step in giving the Noosa community the local government it really wants. This is a community-focussed process of decision-making and the role of the Government will be then to facilitate – through community consultation – any changes resulting from the community’s response.

The LNP proposal is for “an advisory poll of voters in any proposed new Local Government boundary” after a Queensland Boundaries Commissioner has prepared their “preferred options” for any changes after he or she has considered submissions from the community.

These are important differences that need to be understood by all the groups involved. The LNP offers the Noosa community an “advisory” role in a poll. The policy does not indicate what kind of poll that might be. The Greens have called for a local  referendum – let the community decide on deamalgamation not some appointed Commissioner fiddling with boundaries, “advised” by the community.

This “advisory poll” is something quite different from Mr Newman’s and Mr Gibson’s undertaking that “residents living within the proposed new council area will, by a simple majority, vote whether or not they wish to establish a new Noosa Shire Council”.

In designating a role for a Commissioner to make the decision on whether Noosa is to get the Council it wants, the LNP has developed a process that pushes the community to the side. LNP policy also will load the cost of a new Noosa Council on the residents: “ratepayers of any proposed new local authority would bear the full costs of any de-amalgamation.”

The Greens position is that if the community decides on separation the cost should be borne by the Government since it was the Queensland Government that forced amalgamation on us in the first place.

The Commissioner’s process of decision-making looks very like a “Yes Minister” scenario. I say that because the LNP policy includes the critical statement of principle: “The LNP has made it clear that its preference is for Queensland’s Councils to remain as  currently constituted to avoid any further disruption and cost for local communities.” With that statement goes any confidence that accommodating the electorate’s interests is anything more than a sop to the community’s wishes.

As a Noosa resident who favours de-amalgamation, I’m rather disappointed that Friends of Noosa and the Alliance find the LNP position so attractive since any close examination of the LNP policy shows that Campbell Newman and David Gibson have made an offer that is designed to fail the wishes of the Noosa community, and the LNP cannot be trusted to carry out their wishes.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate
Noosa
13 January 2012

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We would love to hear from you, what you consider our priorities should be to ensure our community remains special and sustainable. Please feel welcome to contact our Convenor Steve Haines directly at steve@noosagreens.org or mobile 0421 00 1956.

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