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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Greens call for early rollout of NBN for Noosa

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 30, 2012

The NBN rollout plans from 2012 to 2015, announced by the Federal Government, have bypassed Noosa, The Greens spokesperson for Noosa, Jim McDonald, claimed today.

He said that the plan includes Nambour, Maroochydore, Bli Bli and Coolum Beach, but excludes Noosa.

“The Federal Government and the NBN say that they cannot open up the network all at once, but the plan for the next 3 years cherry picks centres on the Sunshine Coast without considering the viability of other centres such as Noosa.

“This will have serious impacts on local businesses. They will be disadvantaged by any delays in gaining access to the high speeds promised for the nationial broadband network.

“Noosa is potentially a centre for IT and industries relying on a decent network that will suit a green industrial future. Many businesses are presently suffering from early 1990s dial-up speeds at times preventing the upload and download of essential information and data. Online services in Noosa presently work against business efficiency and disadvantage domestic users.

“I call upon the Member for Noosa, Glen Elmes, and the Member for Wide Bay, Warren Truss, in consultation with local business, to develop a submission to the Federal Minister for Communication and NBN Co. for Noosa to be brought forward in the NBN plans for industrial efficiency and better residential services.”

Media Release, Jim McDonald
Noosa & Hinterland Greens Spokesperson 


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

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 29, 2012

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

Address on the Environment: Noosa Parks Association

Posted by Jim McDonald on

First of all, I’d like to acknowledge the Gubbi Gubbi people whose ancestors husbanded this land for aeons before my ancestors set off in ships to this continent.

I would also like to acknowledge the significant efforts of the Noosa Parks Association for 50 years of working to preserve what all generations can enjoy in a sustainable balance of environment and controlled development in Noosa and the hinterland.

This is a balance which, after all this time, remains under threat, especially from the Regional Council. Two of the three previous councils encouraged large scale high rise, transforming Caloundra, Mooloolooba, Maroochydore and Coolum while Noosa  followed Bali’s lead in keeping buildings in a perspective that respected the landscape. And the danger is ever greater because Noosa is under-represented by this Council.

I see it as my task – if I am elected – to ensure that our priorities for Noosa prevail. In addressing the five questions, I’d like to put them into a broad context because they are closely interrelated. That context includes ensuring food security in our region – and I include the Mary Valley beacuse many of you would have campaigned against the Labor proposal for Traveston Dam.

The environmental principles were clear:

  • preserve unique or endangered species,
  • promote the health of the river, and
  • protect the world heritage Ramsar wetlands in the waters of Hervey Bay and around Fraser Island.

Yet some of my political opponents who presented themselves as Traveston warriors for the lungfish, the turtles and Mary River cod are silent as the Labor Government dishes out coalmining and CSG exploration permits along Munna Creek that flows into  the Mary at a major turtle area.

”]Munna CreekI am looking at first causes here about greenhouse emissions: the gasses sequestered in coal seams that extend through our electorate.

Huge areas have been explored at Tiaro along the Mary. In the Tin Can Bay hinterland, drilling has occurred at the junction of Coondoo Creek and Tanunda Creek that flows into the Mary River estuary. Coalmining is imminent near the Susan River outside Maryborough. It also flows into the estuary and dolphins are not unusual in that river. This is not just something that is happening outside our region. It has imminent concern for those of us in Noosa who worry about the possible degradation of the  environment in our region. Because drilling has been carried out at Wolvi. And that’s in our neighbourhood. Indeed the coalfield that is being explored along the Mary River extends from Bundaberg down to Point Arkwright and from the Blackall range out to sea.

These are resources that the coal and gas industries want so much to get their hands on that they don’t care if they encroach on farms or suburbs, as the industry has done in America. And as it is doing on Queensland farms and in Sydney suburbs. Now.

So a Labor Government which gives free reign to miners and drillers, and an LNP which thought protection of the Mary Valley was important at the last election, will allow the ultimate degradation of our environment sustaining some of the most intensive greenhouse gas production industries. The scientific and anecdotal evidence is incontrovertable for responsible legislation. The least that should be done right now is a moratorium on CSG and the immediate cessation of coalmine expansion. No more coal mines! I will take this up in the Parliament as it is Greens policy.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Greens candidate supports live music in Noosa

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 17, 2012

Noosa’s heart is being ripped out by Council caving in to residents, who bought into the area without doing their homework, complaining about our live music culture, according to The Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald.

Dr McDonald said the musical life of Noosa was certainly one of the attractions that brought him to Noosa and it was one of the features of cultural life that had kept him there.

“Now, instead of a wide choice of music, the options are being narrowed by a Council that doesn’t understand Noosa’s cultural heritage. If it did, it would explain to people who choose to live in food and entertainment precincts such as Gympie Terrace or next to a Lifesaving Club, that live music is a core value of the Noosa lifestyle.

“The Sunshine Coast Regional Council gives greater weight to killjoys than the large numbers of followers of the Peregian Originals outdoor concerts at Peregian Surf Club, for example.

“We are not talking about open-air AC/DC concerts here. We are not talking about loud night pop concerts.

“Of course, all night loud party music in residential areas is inappropriate and some people don’t know how to behave with respect.

“But music in restaurants has been closed down because people who bought into the area didn’t bother to check out what it is like to live in a tourist centre such as Gympie Terrace or what established entertainment there was in the area.

“I strongly support restoring a healthy musical life to Noosa.

“If elected to Parliament, I shall push for the establishment of certain areas in Noosa, such as Hastings Street, the Junction, Gympie Terrace, and parkland outside the Peregian Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, as ‘Centre Zones’ to protect pre-existing uses including entertainment and cultural activities.”

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate, Noosa
17 February 2012 

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 candidate says the debate on a new Noosa Council misses the most important issue

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 24, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Dr Jim McDonald, said that the most important issue in the de-amalgamation debate was that the State Government should give Noosa residents the Council they really want.

He said, “No-one should assume that the Noosa community as a whole still has the views that were evident in 2007 – 8. There is significant churn in this electorate as residents come and go. “At the moment, the activists and the other candidates hitching a ride on the de-amalgamation campaign only think they know. People I talk to are not of a single voice on the issue.

“We need to get away from the hysteria evident in the public debate. The State Government owes it to the people of Noosa and those communities willing to join in a new Noosa Council to conduct a referendum in the Noosa region when the State election is held.”

Dr McDonald said that a referendum in Noosa and communities wishing to join in on the establishment of a new Council would be a smart move for the Queensland Government. It would establish once and for all what Noosa people really want for their area.

He said that although the Independent Alliance had taken some of the party political spin out of the issue, the old party politics had hobbled the Noosa Council issue. “I’ve been listening for years now to Bob Ansett rail against Anna Bligh. When Friends of Noosa threw their lot behind Glen Elmes and the LNP, and claimed to speak for the residents, they cut off any opportunity for the Noosa community to negotiate separation with the Queensland Government before the Coast councils were amalgamated. They made it an Opposition campaign
issue.

“The Greens campaigned for de-amalgamation during the last State election. It is still Greens policy for Noosa. However, establishing the actual wishes of Noosa residents today is the fundamental priority in considering Noosa’s future.

“The Greens believe in strong Local Government,” he said, “but the most important point is that a separate council should not be imposed on Noosa any more than amalgamation was. If the majority want the Regional Council to work better, then the new Government should respond to that.

“Earlier this year, Greens Leader, Bob Brown, sought to strengthen local government by calling for a federal referendum to include provisions in the Constitution to protect Councils in areas like Noosa. “Meanwhile the local branches of the Labor Party remain silent. I am sure that Glen Elmes himself is sincere about de-amalgamation but the LNP makes promises that have so many back-out provisions their commitment cannot be believed.

“Considering the affordability question is critical, but the debate is off the rails. On the one side the Alliance costings would support the argument for a new council. On the other side, Cr Brennan has aligned himself with the technocrats in the Regional Council and some opposition is based almost solely on the costs.

“The Noosa Greens believe the State Government, which inflicted amalgamation on Noosa, should cover the costs of separation if the residents of Noosa and surrounding communities wishing to join with Noosa are given an opportunity to vote on it and they actually support the creation of a new Noosa Council.”

Jim McDonald
Noosa Greens Candidate
13 December 2011

Greens call for funding for Noosa After Hours GP Service

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 3, 2011

I raised the alarm as the Greens candidate for Wide bay at the probable closure of after hours GP services in Noosa after speaking to the doctors during the Federal election.

Unfortunately, the media did not take up the issue when publicity could have had the greatest effect.

This is the very situation the Federal Labor Government’s promised health reform program in primary care is supposed to address. The present grant system of $100,000 a year over two years is ending and the Noosa GP After Hours Service faces closure.

Without further, secure funding we will be left without an accessible after hours service and it will place pressure on all emergency services in the region.

The Noosa After-hours GP service was initiative provided by some doctors in the town. Now, after-hours patients requiring GP assistance will have longer waiting hours in emergency rooms.

Although Noosa Hospital provides rooms free of charge, the level of funding is barely sufficient to allow the Service to get by with minimal doctor payments and employing a nurse is out of the question. Yet, the after hours surgery saves about 50% of the costs that would be incurred by each GP patient accessing the Emergency Department.

I call upon the Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, and the Shadow Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, to guarantee ongoing funding for the Noosa GP After Hours Service from January 2011 so that Noosa residents can be confident that they will continue to have access to a doctor when the regular medical clinics are closed.

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson for Noosa, Letter to editor, Sunshine Coast Daily, 3 December 2010

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