Two women standing for election to Tweed Shire Council have praised sitting Cr Katie Milne for tolerating bullying and ‘an appalling lack of respect’ toward her by other councillors over the past four years.
Tracey Stride, who is running on the Tweed Respect team headed by Uki-based Eddie Roberts, was loudly applauded after telling a meet-the-candidates forum at Cabarita on Monday she was motivated to stand for council because of the ‘crap’ Cr Milne had to put up with on council.
Ms Stride said she had been ‘appalled’ at the lack of respect toward Cr Milne, the youngest of the seven councillors.
Her comments were immediately taken up by another candidate, Jenny Hayes, who said she was ‘also very appalled’ at the lack of respect ‘and bullying and everything else’ that Cr Milne had to withstand.
Ms Hayes, the Team Koala president running on Murwillumbah cafe owner Gary Bagnall’s ticket, said she had attended up to 80 per cent of council meetings and had observed the bad behaviour toward Cr Milne.
(An example was Cr Milne being interrupted and told by one of the male councillors to ‘go outside a have a cry’.)
The heads of 10 of the 12 groups vying for election and three of the four individual (ungrouped) candidates attended Monday night’s meeting to kick off their campaigning and let voters know who they are and what they stand for.
Up first was Michael Armstrong, heading the Country Labor ticket (Group G), who said his team would listen to ratepayers and reflect their views on issues of concern, be it roads, a new high school for Pottsville, CBD renewal at Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah.
Gary Bagnall (Group L) introduced his ‘diverse’ team of candidates to represent the ‘middle road’ for the community, with an emphasis on appropriate development.
Kingscliff solicitor and law lecturer Carolyn Byrne (Group F) said she was ‘passionate’ about defending the rights of the elderly against abuse and her team of businesswomen would like to ‘bring a business scope to council’.
For the future
Lifelong Wooyung resident Chris Cherry (ungrouped) has fought over the years to maintain the ‘uncomplicated lifestyle’ and environment that she grew up with on the Tweed, so her kids and their kids could also enjoy it. She says the community wants ‘honesty and integrity’.
Cr Dot Holdom (Group J) said in her term on council she had worked hard for a shirewide koala plan of management and Aboriginal cultural heritage and hoped to continue that.
Chinderah local and business owner Russell Logan (ungrouped), a former chair of the Tweed-Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council, said he was a family man and had previously run for council in 2004. Coming from a fishing family, he sees the need to look after the Tweed’s coastal environment.
Mayor Barry Longland (Group E) said he was proud of his record on council and saw the need to deliver jobs and services that ‘the community demands’ and that development should not compromise the natural environment.
Cr Milne (Group H) said her team all had small-business backgrounds and believed rates could be kept low ‘without the glitz and glamorous projects’. She says the Tweed’s natural beauty and assets were ‘all ingredients to have a thriving community with integrity’, without ‘having to sell out to the Fast Bucks of the Gold Coast’.
Cr Warren Polglase (Group B) said he would focus on creating jobs, road upkeep and keeping rates down. He said tourism in the Tweed should not be ‘outsourced’ and a local advisory committee set up to promote the area.
Ecotourism operator Eddie Roberts (Group K) said the Tweed had the perfect natural environment, which could be protected and promoted, and he would like to see more walking trails, maps and signage to achieve this.
Former high-school teacher Kaye Sharples (Group A) said her recently formed ‘neighbourhood group’ from Charles Street in Tweed Heads believed the major political parties had too much input on council and that ‘many candidates say they’re independent but they’re not’.
Unaligned Tweed Heads resident Lindy Smith said she would like to see a more open and transparent council to allow more trust by the community. Ms Smith fought for years to stop Coolangatta airport’s expansion into a Crown reserve.
Monday night’s meeting was the first in a series of meet-the-candidates forums for Tweed shire and was organised by the Cabarita Beach/Bogangar Residents Association.
This Saturday 18 August, at Murwillumbah’s Autumn Club (next to council library) from 9.30am to 12.30pm, candidates have been invited to attend a meet-the-candidates meeting combined with a forum on water strategies for the shire’s future, organised by the Caldera Environment Centre and Northern Rivers Guardians.
Next Monday 20 August, the Banora Point and District Residents Association is holding a meet-the-candidates session at the Banora Point Community Centre, Leisure Drive, Banora Point, from 7pm to 11pm.
Then on Wednesday 22 August at 7pm the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Residents Association will hold one at the Kingscliff Amenities Hall.