; August 25 2008.pdf - 1 MINUTES OF THE TRRA MEETING AUGUST 25_ 2008
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August 25 2008.pdf - 1 MINUTES OF THE TRRA MEETING AUGUST 25_ 2008


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									                            MINUTES OF THE TRRA MEETING
                                   AUGUST 25, 2008
                         MEET THE NEW EAST WARD CANDIDATES

Chairman:      Geoff Washington (Acting President TRRA)

The meeting opened at 7.40pm with Mr Washington introducing Brian Land, Lifeline Suicide
Prevention Services Manager.
Mr Land wished to inform the meeting of the establishment of an agency or local network in the Port
Stephens area and invited representation from TRRA. He explained the sensitive nature of the suicide
problem and the concerning growth of this difficult problem. He introduced Margot Irvine and Melinda
Diemar and invited them to address the meeting. Margot described how the network was formed
following a forum in March and how there was a great need for resources. The World Suicide
Prevention Day is to be held on September 10, 2008 with local displays at Salamander Shopping
Centre and at Raymond Terrace. Margot said as a network, they could lobby the Government and
hopefully be more supportive and effective. She aims to train schoolchildren to problem-solve so that
they are better equipped to cope with difficult situations. She also wishes to remove the stigma that
accompanies suicide so that the community can talk about it. Melinda spoke of the personal pain
following suicide and how there are now more suicides each year than there are road fatalities. Brian
again stressed what a serious community health problem this is and appealed for assistance in creating
community resources.
Mr Washington thanked the speakers and acknowledged the importance of the network.

Before introducing the candidates standing for the first time in the East Ward he invited Warren
Parkinson, assisted by Frank Ward to explain the preferential voting system as used in Council
elections. All agreed that the system was complex and difficult for the voter to comprehend. It was
suggested that the Minister of Local Government be advised of the public’s and Councillors’ negative
response to the system.

A.   Presentation by East Ward Candidates for Council Election

Frank Ward is the primary candidate for Group C and his background includes serving 3 terms as a
Councillor in Campbelltown City before retiring here ten years ago. That city had experienced rapid
growth and he had been instrumental in ensuring proper planning before decisions were taken on major
development. He would insist on a similar approach here. When he moved to Port Stephens, Council
was debt-free but now there is a deficit of $25million and this has motivated him to stand for election.
Mr Ward’s top three priorities are to get Council’s administration in order since he sees a great deal
of wastage in its current management and many employment opportunities lost. He would also like to
see Council’s huge property holdings be made profitable by proper management. Thirdly, he would
like to see the abolition of the ward system in local government, believing it restricts effective
management and works against decision making in the interests of broader community needs. He said
that Tomaree Peninsula contributes 2/3 rates to the Shire but receive only 1/3 in return. The 2030 Draft
Plan was designed to benefit developers and not the community, evident in the report that was
presented having been prepared without reference to sound research. Mr Ward believes he has a great
deal to offer the community and his vision is to ensure that the Peninsula remains an attractive place to
Grahame Neilson’s background is in the corporate world, in particular management “fixing” which
he believes is valuable experience to effect the changes necessary in Council. He has a BSc with
majors in Computing and Law. His motivation to stand for Council representation stems from
observing a lack of synergy between the multitude of plans that Council have devised but failed to
implement effectively. His top three priorities for the coming Council term are to see Council
seriously support the local business community by purchasing goods and services locally; to organise
social activities that will create employment as well as an attractive environment for local youth; and
further issues which include improved infrastructure (especially parking respite for residents), a more
discerning approach to tourism and increased police to deal with security problems. Mr Neilson’s
vision is to make this a safe and pleasant environment, to make this a tourist destination of choice and
to control our inevitable growth with residents’ input and approval.

Mark Brady’s background is in law enforcement and now is a barrister specialising in criminal and
family law and mediation. He has had experience in the fraud squad, corporate affairs and social
activism. He has lived in Nelson Bay for 7 years and has been president of TRRA and a director of Port
Stephens Veterans and Aged Care. He sees Councillors as trustees or board members who should be
answerable to the community that they represent. His community studies, law qualifications and
mediator background have motivated his standing for Council election especially since he has
observed the scandalous way that precinct members have been treated. Mr Brady’s vision is to improve
our roads, to establish a council office in this area and hence put an end to the discrimination this area
receives and to ensure that Council stops using ratepayers’ money on wasteful litigation. He believes
that the community needs to have trust in their Councillors and this will only come about when
common sense decisions are made.

Mr Washington thanked the candidates for their presentations and requested that they now answer the
assigned questions.

B. Answers to Five Questions.
1.      Community Consultation: Mr Neilson agrees this is an important issue and said that as the
only East Ward candidate who operates small businesses in the area, he has plenty of opportunity to
consult with a cross-section of the community and to learn of their needs. He questions whether major
decisions in Council are taken by the administration or the Councillors. His support group includes a
cross section of the community and he intends to seek their input on issues over his term as a
councillor. He plans to establish a web-page so that he is easily contactable.

Mr Brady said that as a Councillor, he hopes to speak both formally and informally to the community
and would wish to see Council establish an office in Nelson Bay to facilitate contact and consultation
with residents. He appreciates the need to conduct meetings and public forums plus use the media as
tools of communication.
Mr Ward sees participation in community organisations as a means of assessing issues that worry the
community. He is active in golf and football clubs and the TRRA and the management of Harbourside
Haven retirement village all of which give him a chance to gauge community needs. Because of his
frequent correspondence in the local paper, people know that he is not afraid to stand up for certain

2.      Infrastructure Needs for Tomaree Peninsula and its Funding:
Mr Brady gives priority to the Fingal Bay link road and believes that if the 2030 Plan is to have an
impact, a bypass is necessary. He suggested lobbying State Government to ensure the road happens. He
finds the state of our roads an embarrassment, especially since we promote ourselves as a tourist town.
In establishing a Council office here, Mr Brady believes his experience as an advocate will be valuable.
Mr Ward also sees a need for applying pressure to State Government to achieve the Fingal Bay bypass
and traffic control. He believes there is a need for much improved services in the area. For example, he
has been inspired by a leisure centre with impressive facilities and services that Gosford Council has
established for senior citizens and would like to see a similar facility here. He believes the development
of Council lands would provide the funding to achieve this.
Mr Neilson feels it is time for action on the roadway situation and promises to push these issues and
ensure that work is carried out effectively. Managing parking while visitors are here is one problem he
will face. He also wishes to implement enhanced medical facilities and appreciates the need to analyse
which way the best benefit will be achieved.

3.      Building Height Limits as proposed in the 2030 Strategy:           Mr Ward has a strong
objection to Nelson Bay’s proposed transition from a coastal village to a Surfers Paradise style town as
indicated in the 2030 Draft Plan. He believes the whole plan has been designed for the benefit of
developers and needs to be rewritten since it contains so many flaws. He will fight high-rise and
advocate quiet enjoyment with good views and outlooks.
Mr Neilson sees this as a hot issue with varying opinions. Likewise, he does not support the Gold
Coast image and wants to retain water views. He finds attractive the model adopted at Noosa where
heights are kept low on the waterfront yet graduate upwards as the buildings recede into the back hills:
that way, more people can take advantage of the views. He mentioned the problems that arise from
setting a precedent.
Mr Brady is not at all in favour of the proposed towers and would like to see a low-key coastal
development with a four-storey limit. The 2030 Draft Strategy suggestion that the towers would
enhance business is unacceptable to him. He realises that we do need development but says that we
must retain our beautiful natural amphitheatre. Once towers are approved this will set a precedent
which developers will use in the Land and Environment Court.

4.      Key Outcomes from the Foreshore Plans:            Mr Neilson would like to see adequate lighting,
fountains, improved toilet facilities, underground parking, a boardwalk and additional businesses, as
long as they do not duplicate what is already offered. He wants a family-friendly and secure area and
warns against making the same mistakes as have already been made.
Mr Brady would like to see more job opportunities, not just for tourism but also for residents. It is
important to retain accessibility for everyone in the future. He agrees with Grahame Neilson’s
suggestions and adds we must have clean water and respect for our heritage.
Mr Ward warned of the danger of State Government’s having control over this project and the need to
ensure that the residents’ and ratepayers’ desires are not overridden. He would like to retain the
‘Fishing Village’ atmosphere as much as possible and not accept the commercialism that Macquarie
Bank promotes.

5.     Projects to Receive Discretionary Funds: Mr Brady reminded the meeting that this is the
community’s money so public consultation should motivate the decisions. Sports should benefit and
improved amenities are another possibility. He questioned why the budgeted allocation of $62,000.00
had not been distributed by the previous Council.

Mr Ward spoke of the extensive use of the sports oval and proposed improved facilities such as
another toilet block and a kiosk on the eastern side of the ground. He believes that further consultation
could reveal other community needs.
Mr Neilson feels that until he becomes a Councillor, he has insufficient information to answer this
adequately. However, after-hours child-minding facilities and safety playgrounds are possibilities.
Community advice would be sought on needs.

Mr Washington thanked the candidates and opened the floor to questions.

Joan Frost of the Anna Bay Drainage Union explained discretionary funds and said that in 1990,
Council was given a share of money coming from the Salamander Estate. $49,000.00 was designated
for floodgates in Anna Bay. These funds have now been spent. She referred to the time when it was
popular to picnic on the Foreshore but said paid parking has put an end to that. She also spoke of State
parliamentarian, John Bartlett who supported the Fingal Bay bypass but then changed his support to the
Lemon Tree Passage road. She invited those interested to come to inspect the drainage system in Anna
Bay and said that the Draft Strategy for Anna Bay was equally as bad as the 2030 Draft Strategy for
Nelson Bay.

Warren Hayes pronounced this evening’s presentation as ‘motherhood statements’ and questioned
how the candidates would fight the bureaucracy once they became Councillors.
Frank Ward concurred with this comment but promised to be as forceful as possible. He commented
that Local Government was the third tier and well below State and Federal powers. He would like to
see the abolition of the Ward System, feeling this would bring more effective management. Grahame
Neilson believes that if one is passionate and can address an issue in a sensible way, his voice can be
heard so it is worth the challenge. Mark Brady feels that mediation can be a powerful tool and that a
syndicate needs to be established to fight for Tomaree Peninsular.

Kevin Barry asked what commercial development would work in the Nelson Bay CBD.
Frank Ward replied that decent supermarket was the key enterprise from which other businesses
would then benefit. Grahame Neilson disagreed, suggesting that a different kind of focus, such as a
Homeware Centre be established instead of replicating what is already in the area. Mark Brady said
that whatever was established should supply the local, solid population and the market would govern
what that was. A town square, good restaurants, and a quality supermarket would help.

Keith Brabham complained of the lack of openness in the Council’s operation and believes if this
were changed, the community could prevent the problems before they begin. He cited North Sydney
Council which ran meetings for 12 years without being closed.
Mark Brady agreed that transparency is the right of the community.Grahame Neilson concurred
though spoke of certain sensitive issues such as contractual concerns that should remain private. He
said that Council is a community-driven business and we feel betrayed when the open system is not in
place.Frank Ward agreed and declared that he was funding his own campaign: this was one example
of transparency whereas some Councillors have in the past not revealed their source of funding.

Judy Washington asked about Candidates’ attitudes to the planned referendum concerning a
popularly-elected mayor.
Frank Ward responded, saying that means you get the best mayor that money can buy. He advised
voting “No”.Grahame Neilson advised likewise and agreed with Mr Ward’s philosophy.Mark Brady

said that the mayor was the leader of the community and needed to work within a proper consultative
process. He too advised “Vote No”.

Geoff Brown commented that while tourism was recognised as a big industry in town, retirees were
equally so and what should be done for them? He added that aged care services might provide
employment for youth.
Mark Brady agreed that the ageing population suffered, citing an inadequate transport system as one
example. He said that his involvement with Aged Care gave him an appreciation of the state of neglect
and added that Council appears not to have received its share of GST distribution from the State
Government which would fund some of these needs. Grahame Neilson agreed that this is an important
issue that needs to be addressed. He suggested improved security, kinder parking fees and improved
medical facilities as examples of what is required. He knows that aged people leave the area because so
many facilities are lacking. Frank Ward repeated his proposal of an upmarket leisure centre and
recommended it be high on the list.

Mr Washington invited further questions to be sent directly to the candidates by email and praised their
frank expressions of policies and positions. The General Meeting was curtailed because of lack of time
but on calling for acceptance of the previous meeting’s minutes, Diana Bennett requested an
amendment to correct her name. Mr Washington apologised. Ms Bennett is standing as a second-line
candidate in the Council elections. Keith Brabham also pointed out a discrepancy in the minutes where
Councillor Sally Dover was incorrectly recorded as being available for consultation on Thursday
afternoons in the Library: this should be Thursday mornings from 10am till midday.

Joan Ross moved, seconded by Warren Parkinson that the amended minutes be adopted.

The meeting was advised that TRRA’s submission on the 2030 Draft Strategy had been sent to all
Coucillors, the General Manager of the Council, David Broyd, Geraldine O’Connor, Frank Sartor,
Warwick Watkins (Lands), Dept of Planning Newcastle to TRRA members.

Mr Washington spoke of a tactical meeting to be held on August 29, announced that TRRA was about
to lodge its website and urged all present to register with the Port Stephens Residents Panel.

Mrs Frost drew the raffle won by Leon Squires. Plans for a social event, possibly in October were
proposed with support shown.

Peter Quirk informed the meeting that an encouraging email had been received from Keith Southall
(Dept. of Lands) re expressions of interest in the redevelopment of the Marina. He advised that the
response was encouraging and said that nothing further was to be done without further community

The meeting closed at 10:52pm.

Fran Digges
Minutes Secretary


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