SPEAKING UP: The Livingstone Shire Council candidates forum was held on Monday night at the Strand Hotel hosted by Our Keppel Our Future and Shop 4703. Cr Graham Scott was the first to present on the night.
SPEAKING UP: The Livingstone Shire Council candidates forum was held on Monday night at the Strand Hotel hosted by Our Keppel Our Future and Shop 4703. Cr Graham Scott was the first to present on the night. Amy Haydock ROK

Livingstone candidates quizzed at forum by community

AS residents, business owners and local politicians gathered at the Strand Hotel on Monday evening, so did a few elephants.

Those elephants in the room including the development of Great Keppel Island and Livingstone Shire Council's current debt.

The candidate's forum, hosted by local groups Our Keppel Our Future and Shop 4703, invited current councillors and candidates to give a short speech on what they were offering the community, before voters hit the polls next weekend. Once each candidate had presented, the floor was opened up to the audience to ask some important questions.

GKI's future was a hot topic, and current Mayor Bill Ludwig said he couldn't see the State Government changing its stance on the Boutique Gaming Licence for resort lessees Tower Holdings.

Mayoral candidate Heath Henwood said more pressure from local government on to State Government was needed to get the project moving.

Tourism, jobs, rates, youth, mental health, aged care, disability services and economic growth, to name a few, were all promoted as key priorities from sitting and hopeful candidates.

A question from the floor about the council's current debt saw Cr Ludwig move to the podium prepared with figures in hand.

"We started with a total of $81.173 million in debt," Cr Ludwig said.

"In June 2014 we had reduced that debt to $78 million. June 2015 that debt had reduced further to $72.355 million. As of June 30, 2016, our latest budget review has our debt going down to $75.145 million. The interest on that level of debt is about $3 million a year and represents about 5% of our rate base.

"Over the 10-year projection plan our debt will rise probably by 2019 to about $85 million on current projections because we've got big projects that we need to do and fund. Fortunately, we've got the State and Federal government to fund the majority of those projects."

Mayor Ludwig said from that projection debt figures decline on the 10-year forecast by 2025, the debt would be at $56 million.

The Capricorn Resort's current scale back was also questioned by community members, to which Cr Graham Scott and Cr Ludwig replied, the resort's progress ultimately came down to owner Iwasaki Sangyo's decisions.

Cr Glenda Mather and candidate Brett Svendsen were unable to attend.

The Capricorn Coast Alliance also hosted a candidate forum at Yeppoon State High School last night.

Check out the candidates profiles here:

YOUR GUIDE: Livingstone Shire Council candidates in 2016

YOUR GUIDE: Livingstone Shire mayoral candidates



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