General News

12 March, 2024

Who will be TRC's mayor?

TWO Mayoral candidates who hope to take the top job at Tablelands Regional Council in Saturday’s local government election went head-to-head in Yungaburra last week in a bid to get voters behind them.

MAYORAL RACE: Rod Marti and David Clifton were both busy at pre-polling booths last week as they vie to become Tablelands Regional Council's mayor.
MAYORAL RACE: Rod Marti and David Clifton were both busy at pre-polling booths last week as they vie to become Tablelands Regional Council's mayor.

Division 4’s David Clifton is taking on Mayor Rod Marti at the poll, and while they don’t agree on some things, both say the rapid growth of the Tablelands is the most challenging issue facing the council as it tries to keep up with the infrastructure needed to cope with the growth.

Cr Marti said the past four years had been “an extraordinary” time to be on council, with the onset of Covid early 2020, followed by rising inflation and interest rates, coupled with a sharp rise in the population.

“The migration to regions and rural communities was well and truly underway on Tablelands, with the population going from 25,000 to almost 28,000 in just two-and-a-half years,” he said.

“Surging development applications and approvals were coming through council, and the pipeline is still pumping, so it’s been an extraordinary time to be on council.”

Cr Clifton agreed that growth was the biggest issue, especially balancing that while protecting traditional land uses.

“The primary issue faced by the Tablelands community is one associated with balancing the changes that are happening because of rapid population growth with associated emphases on environment and lifestyle amenity potentially clashing with the more traditional land usage and lifestyles throughout the Tablelands,” he said.

“We have already seen situations such as conflicting views over the use of the Tolga Rail Trail, good quality agriculture land being moved into residential, and the loss of ‘village’ being keenly felt in the Yungaburra area.”

Cr Marti said to cope with the challenges ahead, council had undertaken “significant reform” to drive efficiencies and performance standards, and was striving to deliver projects on time and on budget.

“The reforms are ongoing and will improve community outcomes and satisfaction levels. We’ve done everything we can to have an organisation that’s fit for purpose for our community and for the 21st century.

“As we look forward to a new administration and another four years, a council I lead will be cognisant of the cost of living pressures we’re all experiencing.

“Council revenue in the form of rates and charges will be closely monitored along with making the savings and efficiencies in the organisation to get our best bang for buck.”

Cr Clifton agreed that giving ratepayers value for money was critical and pointed to the service review undertaken by the organisation which would require some hard decisions in the future.

“The service review gives us a clear insight into what the new council must do to preserve our assets, roads, drains, everything,” he said.

“The big task is implementing the necessary changes which will include tightening, perhaps reducing our services within the Tablelands as well as improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the things that we resolve must be done.”

He also wants to improve the community and interaction between the council and communities.

“I want to establish a much higher level of relationship between council and the community than presently exists so as to enable interested citizens to feel that they are being heard,” he said.

Cr Clifton also outlined some of his plans for the next four years if he gets the top job on Saturday including keeping increases to rates at lower than CPI and boosting the maintenance budget.

“We need to improve the appearance of our towns through better parks and gardens funding, and a much improved local roads system with more frequent maintenance and lasting repairs and properly maintained drainage systems,” he said.

“The additional funding necessary to upgrade council’s performance will come from savings created by the service review and not from extra rates.”

He also flagged changing the advisory committee model, putting more emphasis on key industries to ensure council was aware of issues and opportunities.

Cr Clifton also made a pledge on the Priors Creek development, saying he wanted to move it from being a “Community Park project to a genuine Town Centre Regeneration project with the hallmark of significant commercial funds involved in hotel/motel construction and unit construction”.

“I am committed to the view that unless private commercial funding is involved, there will be no further ratepayers’ monies spent on Prior’s Creek.”

He also proposed that council assist in the development and extension of a Tablelands University Campus “beyond the wonderful task being undertaken by Vocational Partnerships Group (VPG) as they grow the Tablelands University Centre”.

“I want us to jointly assist VPG with expertise, advocacy and funds to grow a Tablelands University with a Centre of Excellence of Tropical Agriculture attached.

“In four years, I’d like to report that the ground has been broken and a start made to fulfil the dream. If you elect me as your Mayor, I will guarantee that the TRC will be closer to the people, will be more responsive to the community and more efficient and effective than it has been for a long time.”

But Cr Marti warned the audience that a leadership change was not in the interests of the community.

“Since 2008, the TRC has had a new Mayor and almost completely new administration every four years - this is churn that the organisation can’t afford,” he said.

“This council has made difficult choices with its reform program and it’s time now to bed those down and start delivering for the community.

“If re-elected, I’ll provide the same vision, leadership, resolve and balance of the last four years.

“I’ll also provide much needed stability for the organisation.

“We have a great community and we need to get on board and back ourselves.”


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