Some of the Livingstone Shire candidates at the pre-polling last week
Some of the Livingstone Shire candidates at the pre-polling last week

Community questions to the candidates

What are your thoughts on changes to planning strategies to include wildlife habitat corridors for new developments?

Mayor

Andy Ireland: This is not an individual decision. Decisions relating to wildlife corridors are a matter for the whole of council. On a personal level though, there is no doubt in my mind that wildlife corridors are extremely important because they enable the migration, colonisation and interbreeding of plants and animals within our natural environment. As with any type of planning, it is necessary that all matters be considered, and flexibility exists within the planning scheme to allow for that. No one matter is more important than another.

Bill Ludwig: Livingstone currently already has measures in place in our current scheme where development areas which have been mapped as remnant vegetation.

Development areas where remnant vegetation of either state or regional significance are mapped trigger requirements for those areas to be preserved and managed as part of developments. Some of these areas currently form wildlife refuges and corridor linkages for native flora and fauna. Council recently supported a fine tuning of existing provisions by better identifying what areas are suitable for retention of viable wildlife corridors and similarly what areas should be retained for bushland amenity as part of Councils processes to facilitate development while retaining the scenic character of those areas as they transition into the urban fabric moving forward.

Lynelle Burns: I 100% agree this is essential. We also need to explore the use of animal bridges or culverts for safe crossing of roads. I’ve also recently read about devices that are trigger a deterrent noise when car lights hit the device so animals do not run out onto the road. Bridges, culverts and noise deterrents also help reduce risk of car accidents for drivers. It is also my expectation that planning strategies should include double-width pathways in connected green corridors for people of all ages and abilities to go for a run, walk, or ride through their community.

Councillors

Leah Grice: Wildlife corridors would enhance and beautify our region and could be implanted in Council’s planning schemes. We need clearly defined areas done asap and then they should be adhered to and respected by all. Other places in the world use wildlife corridors as tourist attractions and study areas and with our amazing environment, let’s focus on enhancing it and creating an eco-sustainable environment that suits established areas, new developments and open spaces alike.

Scott Tarratt: Long term planning with vision with the use of accurate data is required to make educated decisions that will both benefit wildlife and the development of our Shire. Both can coexist without being extreme in one way or another. Our community needs to be developed and encourage more business opportunity which will increase jobs, population and opportunity. These factors will put downward pressure on rates and ensure prosperity in Livingstone. If this is not done, we will all end up living in a capital city as it will be too expensive to live in our beloved Shire. We have choice to make our Shire viable for our generation and those to come.

Athol Keanalley: Most likely would support the concept of a review of planning strategies to include wildlife corridors.

Tanya Lynch: Wildlife corridors are a wonderful concept for new development and seriously need to be considered. I am interested to equip myself with the knowledge and understanding by talking to many different organisations to get a holistic view on how this concept would be delivered.

Mathew Peach: The Shire Plan already has provisions to handle this. I do not like even more restrictions on private property. This drives up the prices for home buyers even more. These corridors become fire-hazards as Council does not look after existing lands, and eventually result in utter destruction by fire of wildlife like has just happened. Roos, Possums, Bush Turkeys, goannas etc just go where they like anyway. Most of time annoying me at the back door for water.

Rhodes Watson: The wildlife habitat corridor should be covered by a council policy, prepared by the appropriate council officers, which will then be voted on by the table.

Nigel Hutton: The interaction between community and nature is a beautiful feature of our community, from the crawling creek systems, to the bay, the wetlands and plains, we are truly blessed. To retain the environment which provides the liveability enjoyed by our community, will be a key responsibility for the next council in reviewing how we bring the balance expressed by residents in the Livingstone 2050 community plan to life. I am committed to the protection of natural assets and corridors, acknowledging the need for responsible localised management plans to protect humans, infrastructure, flora and fauna.

Glenda Mather: Wildlife habitat corridors are important for many reasons, and they need to be preserved, where possible to retain their integrity. This does not mean the sterilisation of land just to preserve the habitats. Development needs to be considered in conjunction with the land the subject of the development. We have seen too much indiscriminate clearing without regard to habitat corridors. We need to strike the balance. Planning strategies need to be considered carefully to maximum benefits to both.

Leo Honek: I think it’s a great idea. Not only would it support native wildlife, but it would add to the charm of the region, create shade, and make the area more visually appealing to tourists and residents alike. On that note, I think there should also be a buffer zone left intact around all creeks and waterways.

Pat Eastwood: There’s an old Moody Blues Album ‘It’s a Question of Balance’ and that’s exactly what we have here. We always need to maintain what’s truly great about where we live and how we live. Absolutely there needs to be some protection of our wildlife and our green zones. However, we need to be sensible and not put up huge barriers that prevent thoughtful developments going ahead that the Shire will need as we grow into the future. I will always remain thoughtful and balanced.

Stephen Bird: We definitely need to work with developers to provide sufficient green space when planning for new developments. In doing so we need to make sure that this space can be maintained to a safe and easily managed area in relation to fire management. Wildlife corridors most definitely need to be investigated especially along the eppoon/Rockhampton highway.

Andrea Friend: People relocate and build here to experience our natural beauty, flora and fauna. However, I agree within all new developments we must include wildlife corridors. Recently numerous residents along Rockhampton Road were appalled that a close by development had removed countless trees along boundary fence lines. These trees provided a habitat and shade that had been established for as long as remembered. Unfortunately, if a developer has made application to council and has ticked all the boxes that are required, council will approve that development. I would like to see the vegetation overlays / wildlife corridors reviewed on an individual basis, and not just according to the zoning, by liaising closely with councils planning and development team.

Mike Decman: Education – Wildlife and development can coexist it’s not new and proper fencing in some areas needs to be done. Corridors and preservation areas near homes will always be challenged by people and domestic pets so well-maintained clearances to buildings and pets is important. More frequent information signs for corridors will promote more visitor and resident interest. Establish more pet friendly park enclosures and clearly send information to registered pet owners on updates for them and permitted open areas away from wildlife corridors. Fauna like the Koala overlay to the town plan should be advised to township and rural ratepayers.

Adam Belot: Wildlife habitat, corridors are extremely important as they connect native vegetation that supports ecological processes. This is a good thing and more needs to be done to work with stakeholders to ensure viable development that include habitat corridors. Furthermore, and perhaps of most importance for the environment is to ensure that fuel reduction measures are carried out ‘within these corridors’ and other vegetated zones. Wildlife corridors and other vegetated areas supporting wildlife are essential, yet they need to be managed to ensure they don’t become overgrown ticking time bombs.

Keith Sully: I think this is a no-brainer but should also include a certain amount of space for those who may wish to simply enjoy the sights, photographers (perhaps areas for weddings etc), birdwatchers and possibly even student groups from the schools or university. While safety regarding possible fires should be addressed I feel that the minimum amount of land required for the development should be cleared and a balance with our natural flora and fauna maintained. And where possible all natural and native plants and trees should be allowed to thrive.

How will you support better maintenance of rural roads across our shire?

Mayor

Andy Ireland: Review the asset management systems within council that relate to rural roads, ensuring all councillors are aware of the condition assessments, maintenance

schedules – including intervention levels, and proposed budgets for rural road

maintenance that have been prepared. Review the maintenance schedule for rural roads with officers and drive the roads with other councillors where debate exists as to which rural roads should receive priority. Investigate new technologies for prolonging the life of rural roads.

Bill Ludwig: Maintaining and upgrading assets like our rural road networks remains a high priority for Livingstone Shire Council. Recently Council has adopted a position of proactively seeking extraordinary funding through Round One of Federal and State stimulus packages to secure $16M plus to upgrade and seal the majority of the identified primary rural link-roads. Roads identified include Old Byfield, Lake Mary, Cobraball, Sleipner, Dawson, Mt Chalmers, Sleipner, Artillery, Etna Creek, Gravel Pit and other ancillary primary production support roads. Combined with $21.6M Stanage Bay Rd upgrades, in total an additional 75klms of primary network link-roads will be sealed. Every road sealed means less wear and tear of residents and primary producers vehicles and produce along with more time for maintenance crews to undertakes additional annual grading of remaining unsealed roads.

Lynelle Burns: The condition of a road and its criticality to traffic flow and safety need to be assessed in conjunction with historical rectification data and customer feedback to determine the appropriate inspection cycle. I would ensure that historical degradation and defect data is used in planning a road renewal program to resurface and maintain priority roads, with a capital allocation to progressively seal more roads. I would also review historical contractor spending for grading services to determine if it is more cost effective for LSC to acquire its own plant and additional staff so that inspection and grading services occur more frequently.

Councillors

Leah Grice: Roads, roads, roads, this is the foundation of any community – I drove through knee high water recently to get to work, our road has been seriously degraded by the fire traffic last year but the fact is I chose to purchase a rural property on a dirt road and I understand that rural ratepayers pay less than 2 million dollars towards the 14 million spent on rural road upkeep. We have limited funds for an enormous area and knowing this, I would happily tour the region with council to assess the situation further.

People also need to take some responsibility themselves, drivers need to slow down on these roads and if the road is already bad then leave five minutes earlier.

Scott Tarratt: It is not just roads it is every piece of infrastructure from leaky water reservoirs to unkept parks and verges and every other asset. Very little has been done for many years and now we are really going to pay for it. A new plan for asset and infrastructure maintenance needs to be made and followed through with. This has to happen fast as many of these things are safety issues. In my opinion we also need to have some sort of bio- security in place on our water supply. Plan ahead learn from history and protect our community.

Athol Keanalley: Advocate a higher percentage of the budget and develop a realistic plan to seal the majority of rural roads in a given time. Should have been in place 50 years ago just like everywhere else in Australia. Once the roads are sealed that’s it, they’re not making any new roads.

Tanya Lynch: At this stage if elected, I would endeavour to understand the current maintenance schedules for the shire, with priority roads/areas and funds allocated for these works.

Mathew Peach: If the rural roads were correctly fixed in the first place, the rate of return jobs would decrease. Crews are constantly under pressure to do a “dodgy cut” and then buzz off to another road. Rural road users are supremely frustrated by this. Less “bling” in some spots will save some money for actual core-responsibility of roads. Rural owners pay full rates for near zero services in the Shire. We must fix their roads, it is Councils’ job.

Rhodes Watson: Rural roads should be prioritised and then acted upon – as in previous councils – and there are other ways of working within the rural roads requirements. I propose that the mayor and councillors along with council road works staff and engineers go on a bus trip of the whole shire so all will know what the roads look like and be able to make an informed decision.

Nigel Hutton: Safety must always be the first priority and while acknowledging the current road levy doesn’t cover the real annual cost of maintaining roads, it’s time we had a community consultation which provides the opportunity for all residents to have their say, educates on the true costs of various options including lower the range of compliant roads or amending the processes for intervention. There is no easy answer, but with a problem shared and an understanding of the costs, a solution will be undoubtedly be identified which can budgeted for in the future.

Glenda Mather: Don’t get me started. This is a big topic with an almost $20M budget.

The current estimated 850km of gravel roads have fallen badly behind, and many need injections of new gravel to bring them up to standard we can safely maintain.

There are many aspects of this topic which need to be addressed ie intervention levels,

which ones need to receive greater attention (eg school bus routes), to seal or not to seal, who qualifies, better drainage, and the quality of the workmanship – all play a part.

Leo Honek: There needs to be a full review and improvement of the rural road maintenance program. Some of the roads are dangerous to drive on and we can’t continue to let roads get to that state before being repaired. Those of us living in rural areas don’t ask for much so Council really needs to do better with road maintenance. I would also like to see a long-term cost comparison between sealing roads and maintaining unsealed roads to an acceptable standard. Obviously, we can’t seal all roads straight away, but if it makes financial sense, then maybe we could pick up the pace.

Pat Eastwood: I have been a steadfast supporter of maintenance of rural roads in our Shire including the $1M received from the fires that is being used on our roads. It is important that maintenance schedules be continually adhered to and that we always look for ways to improve our methods and consistency. Our rural ratepayers deserve better and so do we all so we can drive safely within our boundaries.

Stephen Bird: I support better maintenance of rural roads by dedicating a program to sealing all roads across the shire. It’s time to now stop spending money on grading roads and to have a deliberate plan to seal all of our roads across the whole shire.

Andrea Friend: Being frontline customer service with council over ten years I have spoken with many residents. All topic of conversation, complaints, requests, and inquiries have been covered, but none more so than rural roads maintenance. Having in order of 850km unsealed roads within our shire is certainly a challenge. I can say unapologetically that council crews are hardworking attempting to maintain all areas. Although they are bound to policy and procedure that states an intervention level on these roads stands at 7 plus on the bump metre scale. Taking into consideration our drought declared shire for which water is required for a decent grade. I would like to see these intervention levels lowered and maintenance occurring consistently resulting in a higher infrastructure budget. After grading I would like to see more community consultation in the form of surveys to establish markers such time frames of work, quality of work, and overall satisfaction of the maintenance of the road.

Mike Decman: Shire roads are extensive and challenging. I will ensure we continue to improve the all-weather ability by listening and acting. Quicker responses and inspections when residents call indicating washouts or problems. Listening better to those who live along these routes and attend the areas the locals know need fixing as priority without Council gold plating areas of little concern first. A typical example is the Stanage Bay road. Quicker road inspections with a ‘flying crew that fix safety issues and severe danger sites quickly.’ Too many times temporary signs left for months when areas could have been fixed much quicker.

Adam Belot: I will support the sustainable maintenance of rural roads. How? A thorough review of the entire rural road network is needed to see what is working well and what is not. This review needs input from those directly linked to the rural road network ie. rural property owners, heavy transport, school buses and the Civil workforce that is trying to do the best they can with the budget that is determined by Council. I believe that a State and Federal Government campaign to seal dusty roads containing high levels of crystalline silica, especially close to people’s homes should be undertaken. The Queensland government has recognised the seriousness of crystalline silica by introducing zero dust policy’s. This needs to be considered for our rural roads which over time could significantly reduce the maintenance costs to LSC.

Keith Sully: This is where the budget needs to be reviewed and a more proportionate amount of revenue needs allocation. We know the roads that wash out every year when we get some good rain and I believe it is time we stopped patching these roads and on a priority basis start building better roads that will require less maintenance and last longer. This would of course require extra funding which should be applied for but would then involve some effort in recognising it is their road and act appropriately even if this may mean a slight reduction in road speeds but a small price to pay leaving 5 minutes earlier if your road is going to last twice as long.

Livingstone Shire Candidates for the 2020 Local Government elections

Candidates as they will appear on the ballot paper

Mayor

1. Andy Ireland

2. Bill Ludwig

3. Lynelle Burns

Councillors

1. Leah Grice

2. Scott Tarratt

3. Athol Keanalley

4. Tanya Lynch

5. Mathew Peach

6. Rhodes Watson

7. Nigel Hutton

8. Glenda Mather

9. Leo Honek

10. Pat Eastwood

11. Stephen Bird

12. Andrea Friend

13. Mike Decman

14. Adam Belot

15. Keith Sully



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