Name: Gary Bagnall
Number of years in shire/LGA: 17. East Banora, Kingscliff, Terranora and South Murwillumbah.
Current councillor? No
I spend my time cooking, reading and helping others.
Are you a member of a political party or an organised ‘ticket’?
I am the lead independent candidate on the Gary Bagnall ticket. [NOTE: No others listed here as on this ticket.]
Youth coordinator and trainer for 17 years. Have been on the board of Murwillumbah Community College. Set up the New Leaf Cafe (now operating successfully for 11 years) to give a chance to early school leavers.
2 What has motivated you to stand?
After watching the current councillors at their meetings, I was surprised that a few did not read or have a thorough knowledge of council reports presented to them before making decisions. Decisions were being made on ‘gut’ feelings or unknown agendas. I believe that I could make more informed decisions on many of the issues presented to council.
3 What is your vision for the shire/LGA?
I have many visions for the shire. I have a vision for a group of councillors that work together for the greater good of the people who presently live here and are not motivated by power, money or ego, who are above corruption and are willing to call corruption by its right name.
I have a vision to create employment through manufacturing and working with the rural industries to create greater opportunities that are not being tapped into at present. The airports and shipping facilities to our north provide us with a unique opportunity to expand business.
I have a vision to protect our rural industries from the onslaught of housing that tends to creep in on valuable rural industries and then take offence at their proximity. At the very least developers should build green barriers to protect the rural landscape and industries. I am keen to rework some of the established housing estates that have been allowed to be built without a soul. Our newcomers and others who move into these new estates come in good faith only to find the overcrowded estates lack so much. I would like to see any new housing in Kings Forest and Cobaki be more sensitive to our Tweed culture and to the other residents who call the Tweed home, human and other.
I would like to offer developers the opportunity to build us a smart micro-city in Tweed Heads. (Maybe the developer of Kings Forest and Cobaki would trade us a better development in these areas with less profit for the opportunity to build us a smart micro-city? What do you think Bob?) From Bay St to Boyds Bay Bridge is in need of a new city. Empty blocks of land and run-down buildings are the norm in this part of our shire. Low-set smart apartments and open spaces filled with lifestyle industries and businesses would attract a different type of resident. Streets leading to Jack Evans Harbour and the beaches at Coolangatta could be turned into boulevards. Tweed Mall could come to life again. Jack Evans Harbour is in need of a major overhaul as a dining destination for new and old residents. There are too many resorts to our north; let’s build for permanent residents who don’t want to live in the overcrowded suburbs of our shire. What a place to live. Walk to the harbour, to the beach, to the mall, to the fishing trawlers, the Gold Coast to the north and the wonderful Tweed to the south. All the infrastructure is already there. Why plan for poorly developed estates in our beautiful forests and countryside?
I have a vision to invest in the northern part of the Tweed. Present councillors keep stating that they want to develop the south of Murwillumbah and all they have come up with is another supermarket and a McDonald’s. What about the rest of the Tweed?
I have a vision that all development fit with the culture and heritage of our unique shire, recognising every town and village has a uniqueness of its own.
I have a vision to have better affordable facilities and activities to create a greater sense of community for our older residents. I have a vision to create a more engaging shire for the youth who call this home.
I have a vision to care for the natural environment. Some current councillors talk about showing our natural environment off with eco-tourism and our council pays something like $1.3 million to Destination Tweed to research and develop tourism in the shire. I believe that only two per cent are employed in tourism. Have a look at the Bruce Chick Conservation Park at Stotts Island. What a mess! Up to 20 mobile homes can be parked in there at night. They are greeted with a sign saying not to dump chooks here. Turn up the muddy road to the right and be greeted by roosters and a few hens. At 3am they start their crowing and the tourists try to move their vans away to get some sleep. The building is run down and putrefied by the stench of the long-drop toilets next to the dining tables. No footpath leads to either the shelter or the outside bubbler and they are both surrounded by mud. The Bruce Chick wooden sign is nearly rotted away. The bridge leading to the Bruce Chick forest is rotten and has been closed down. What are the councillors talking about when they say they want to promote eco-tourism? This is a much-frequented conservation park. What do the tourists think of the state of the conservation park? Not much; I have asked them! Has Destination Tweed with its $1.3 million thought of helping this former jewel of the Tweed? I think I could do a better job than that.
I have many other visions, but they can wait till after September 8.
4 In your opinion, how can council best balance the need for further residential development with the need to preserve the local environment?
We need to be smarter than the current councillors. The current style of sprawling residential developments is very 1970s or even worse since the road width and lot sizes have shrunk to provide more profit for the developers. As I have said above, smart new housing developments can happen in already-established areas. Great care would be needed that developments were fitting in with a blueprint that aimed at creating something special. We can fit quite a few more people into the shire in these established areas if we want to bring in a whole lot more people. I am not sure that we all want to see a huge influx of people into the shire anyway. We would certainly want to create the employment opportunities first, and we are not doing too well at that, going on the current unemployment figures.
5 What particular issues do you feel strongly about?
Creating a truly unique region through sensible development and conservation.
Creating a real sense of community in the suburbs and villages.
Creating a better economic environment using our great position and resources.