What is your position on the Orbital Road investigation corridor? What is your position on the broader management of the LGA's road network and road maintenance program (Port Macquarie, Camden Haven, Wauchope)?
Team Pinson will proactively move to take the current proposal for an Orbital Road off the table. We will take a new approach to dealing with the road network issues left by extremely poor town planning over the last twenty years or more. Existing Road widening, link roads and new roads will be a feature of our forward plan and we will unlock the three hundred and fourty million dollars of ratepayer funds that is stashed away in the cash reserves to help fund new and improved infrastructure. One of the main reasons why Council has so much money stashed away in the cash reserves is from many years under-delivery of key and critical infrastructure. It is very clear that Team Pinson is the only team running for council that has the desire to fast-track delivery of an improved road network with an accompanying funding plan. Dealing with the poor state of the roads and ridiculous traffic issues across our whole network is the number one priority for Team Pinson. We do not agree with demolishing more than 400 homes, severely impacting the Racecourse, Radio Controlled Car Club, the Rifle Range, a Dementia village or a critical nature reserve in aid of building a ‘Billion dollar road’ that will likely never be funded. Sensible, sensitive and strategic network planning with minimal impacts on residents homes, local clubs or recreational spaces is what we will be working towards to deal with the road network mess left by years of poor strategic planning.
What is your position on the long-term management of the waterway at Lake Cathie?
Team Pinson values the Lake, so much so that we will take the lead from Narrabeen Shire Council and implement a Lake Management Plan into the Coastal Management plan which is currently underway. Part of this plan will include moving the frequency of lake dredging from its current low priority, to a high priority. The plan will also address the coastal erosion issue adjacent to Illaroo Road. We are not fixated on a massive, unsightly and so far un-funded revetment wall, which would be a potential blight on our beautiful coastline. Regular nourishment for the beach adjacent to Illaroo Road using the dredged sand would negate the need for a revetment wall entirely and would be a much better visual amenity outcome for the lake entrance. Regular beach nourishment would also be more in line with local residents expectations given their strong opposition to residents having to pay millions of dollars for a revetment wall that will cause more issues than it solves. For far too long, the Lake has been neglected and not made a priority. Team Pinson will continue to include in future operational budgets, enough resources to further enhance the lake surrounds and also do whatever we can to ensure the water quality improves and is safe for swimming, fishing and making the lake visually appealing all year round.
What is your position on population growth and the provision of the necessary public infrastructure to support that growth?
The Port Macquarie Hastings has been earmarked as a future Regional City for some years now. The reality is that we are one of the fastest growing regional centres in the country and we need to be doing much more to keep up with the infrastructure to support this continued and accelerating growth. Team Pinson has campaigned on the view that we need to better utilise some of the three hundred and fourty million dollar cash-stash that council has been amassing over the last decade due to under delivery of this key and critical infrastructure. If elected Team Pinson will prioritise Council’s focus on delivering the water infrastructure needed to ensure we don’t run out of water, as we nearly did in 2019. We will also fast-track maintenance and upgrades of our sewer network and plan for upgrades and delivery of a road network that will ease traffic congestion. By increasing project delivery, a Team Pinson led Council will increase economic activity in our region which will create and support jobs and small businesses. By reviewing and reworking business rates and fees in aid of attracting more industry and large business to our region, Team Pinson wants to see a more diverse range of jobs and fundamentally more jobs to help grow our local economy. To help our residents and workforce move freely about the region, we desperately need to be delivering infrastructure at more than double the current rate just to keep up with growth. This increased work rate is very possible but it will take a drastic new approach and drawing down on some of that massive cash stockpile.
What is your position on development, particularly along our coastline, and the planning of new residential estates?
Development of coastlines and the need for new housing estates are not unique to the Port Macquarie Hastings region. Coastal towns across Australia are experiencing growth in these areas and as much as some residents don’t want to see coastal development, developers can bypass council if needed to push a development through. Where council can ensure sensible and cohesive development outcomes is to review its Urban Growth Management Strategy, Development Control Plans and Local Environmental Plans. In turn, ensure that land parcels are more appropriately zoned and better fit with a broader approach to balancing housing density and visual appeal. Simply trying to block development will not work. We can negotiate better outcomes with land owners if we have a tangible regional plan that we can all work towards. Construction is one of the major industries and future jobs growth sector in our local government area. This sector employs thousands of trades people and associated suppliers and small businesses. Team Pinson has no desire to artificially slow down economic growth and activity and is very supportive of continued, stable and sensible housing development. Team Pinson knows that artificially slowing down land releases limits competition on land sales for new family homes and in turn pushes up house prices which contributes to affordable housing issues.
Further, Team Pinson will do whatever we can to fast-track new housing estates to help promote more affordable housing and to help fund new infrastructure. By utilising some of the three hundred and fourty million dollars of ratepayer funds stashed in the Council bank accounts, we will invest those funds into supporting the continued growth with water, sewer and road network infrastructure.
What more can council do to protect koalas/koala habitats?
Team Pinson is one hundred percent in favour of preserving and supporting our local Koala population. What has been disappointing over many years is the fact that we still have Koalas killed or injured after being hit by passing traffic. Seeing Koalas wandering around the CBD areas in search of food trees is deeply troubling. With less than five percent of our local government area currently urbanised, there is great capacity and opportunity to develop Koala breeding grounds or sanctuaries away from the developed areas. Team Pinson would fully support multiple dedicated koala sanctuary areas and employ measures to prevent koalas and other wildlife from venturing too far into urban areas in aid of helping prevent premature death or injury. By better vegetation corridor planning and developing safe zones for koalas, we can get the balance right between protecting koalas and continuing to develop the area to support housing and urban growth.
What is your position on sustainability and climate change in council decision-making and planning for the future?
In March 2021, Cr Lisa Intemann used the Council Chamber to move a Motion to ‘Declare a Climate Emergency’ which was subsequently adopted as a decision of Council by a majority vote of four councillors to two. Mayor Peta Pinson and Cr Sharon Griffiths from Team Pinson were opposed to this declaration. The ‘declaration’ of a climate emergency comes straight out of the Extinction Rebellion playbook, a group that another mayoral hopeful Rachel Sheppard has, by her own admission, was a member of. Team Pinson’s view is that National and International Climate Policy is best dealt with at a Federal Government level and not by local government. Team Pinson will move a Motion in the Chamber to Rescind this declaration of a ‘climate emergency’. We believe that continuing to have the climate emergency declaration in place will continue to tie up council resources and use ratepayer money and deliver nothing more than a talk fest with no real action. Team Pinson will focus on genuine sustainability initiatives including looking at new technologies in turning waste to energy, more advanced recycling and composting techniques. Team Pinson will also continue to invest in solar and renewable energy options for council facilities and where appropriate investigate options for electric vehicles should the costs versus benefits stack up. If there is a directive from higher levels of governments to do more than what we propose, we certainly will follow these directives.
Is our council too 'Port-centric'? What are your key focus areas for Camden Haven and Wauchope regions?
Team Pinson believes that Port Macquarie Hastings Council has under delivered overall in the way of key and critical infrastructure. This under-delivery is evidenced by the massive cash stockpile that council has amassed over the last ten years. Back in 2011, Council was holding approximately one hundred million in cash reserves, which at the time was considered an appropriate level of working capital. As a June 2021, there was more than three hundred and fourty million dollars in cash reserves which is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars of extra cash that has amassed in that time. This cash stash has continued to rise year on year due to not only under delivery, but increased development contributions, earned interest and government grants that remain unspent. The scary proposition is that more than half of the current council candidates are saying that they will not unlock those funds because that money is locked away or restricted or can’t be spent on infrastructure. This approach by those candidates is fundamentally flawed and will almost certainly lead to our council coming under much more scrutiny from the State Government who are already looking at why our council has not delivered the infrastructure it should have, after raking in the contributions. Team Pinson has three very experienced current or former Councillors including the current Mayor who know exactly how to ‘un-restrict’ and unlock those funds and fast-track the delivery of roads, water infrastructure and sewer upgrades to better service the whole region. As a community, we simply cannot afford to elect councillors who want to continue and support the under-delivery of critical infrastructure that we have already paid for or continue to stockpile ratepayer funds for, for no good reason.