1 Candidate details
Name: Katie Milne
Council: Tweed Shire
Town/city: Carool (just past Bilambil)
Number of years in shire/LGA: 14 years
Current councillor? Yes If yes, how many years?: Nearly 4 years
Clubs/sports/interests: Bush regeneration, reading, music, and investigating new ideas.
Are you a member of a political party or an organised ‘ticket’? Yes
If yes, which party or who else is on your ticket?: The Tweed Greens – Katie Milne, Joanna Gardner, Kirsten Ealand, Andrea Vickers, Michael Manley, Ian Willis
Brief description: My background is in small business, community welfare and conservation. I’m passionate about advocating for the community and environment, developing the type of planning the community would like to see.
2 What has motivated you to stand?
Winning the Chinderah Marina court case against the NSW planning minister in 2007 gave me an understanding of the appalling way governments deal with the community and the environment.
I learned of the international significance of Tweed’s environment and the community’s love and support for it. I realised that everyday people like us will have to be the ones to make the governments change.
It was the damage that climate change could bring to both people and the environment that really motivated me to stand for council in 2008.
The urgency can’t be stressed enough. It’s make or break time for the planet and this is reflected in Tweed with 214 native species listed as threatened, the highest number of threatened species in Australia.
There is so much that can be improved in the way we do business in Council.
3 What is your vision for the shire/LGA?
Thriving towns are created with good planning that prioritises the community and environment, and by fostering vibrant cultures that make them places where people are inspired to be.
I would like to see the whole community have a strong say in determining the vision for the shire and its economic direction. An economic strategy is long overdue and would greatly assist in establishing the community’s preferred identity for the shire.
Tweed Shire is already one of the most culturally rich areas in Australia in terms of the highest number of artists per capita and the largest collections of art deco heritage buildings. Combined with one of the highest rates of biodiversity in Australia, stunning visual landscapes, and potential for a great local food industry, we have all the ingredients for an economy with integrity.
We need councillors that are able to recognise the value of Tweed’s natural and unique advantages so that we can protect, enhance and promote these.
4 In your opinion, how can council best balance the need for further residential development with the need to preserve the local environment?
Council has reported there is already enough residential land zoned to provide for growth for the next 30 years, with a capacity to double the population to 160,000 residents.
Community-focused councillors are essential to ensure plans are also developed that provide for quality community facilities, parks and parking, and that enough land is established now to provide for the wildlife and waterways so we can all thrive.
5 What particular issues do you feel strongly about?
I’m very concerned about governance of the shire. Tweed has one of the highest rates of homelessness in NSW, yet we don’t regulate for affordable housing and waste millions on luxury projects while people sleep out in the cold.
Instead of smart development creating long-term jobs and affordable housing, development in Tweed has created a boom-bust property market and resulted in more residents who need more jobs. Overdevelopment is not the answer or the Gold Coast wouldn’t be suffering the same unemployment issues.
Council has recently reported a $300 million shortfall in funding the future road network required by new developments and an inability to fund maintenance of environmental lands. It’s imperative that communities’ interests are protected and developers are made to fully pay their way.
Tweed Shire has the highest number of threatened species in Australia and severely stressed waterways, yet we continue to allow old-style development, even aiming to build dams contrary to government advice when there are much less destructive ways.
We still treat our rivers, creeks, wetlands, lakes and oceans as sewers, yet these are the waters that sustain our most treasured pastimes, are a vital food source, and are the foundation of all life.
Coal-seam gas is on our doorstep threatening our food security and even our drinking water when we could have renewable energy instead. Wasting precious time denying climate change to play politics, against the advice of all our most trusted scientific organisations such as the CSIRO, is a crime of gargantuan proportions.
This is our only planet, we can’t fail it. People need to take the issues extremely seriously. All the science is before us, all the information is available, and all the answers exist right at our fingertips there for the taking. All we need is the community’s will to turn things around to create a brighter and safer future.