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Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Nathan Jones says he wants to see Tweed Council ‘working together’ for positive outcomes

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Where do candidates stand on disused railways and pay parking? Are they to the left of Chairman Mao Zedong, or the right of Genghis Khan?

Nathan Jones is running for the upcoming Tweed Shire Council elections. Photo supplied

Nathan Jones is one of two ungrouped candidates (running as a single candidate rather than part of a group) in the 4 December Tweed Council elections. Nathan says he has many years of experience in accounting and teaching and has based his campaign on smaller government with his headline being ‘No State Governments means No Border Wall’.

To vote for Nathan you will need to fill out your ballot paper below the line.

Nathan says he will be at the northern grass outside Kingscliff SLSC every evening between 6-6.30pm until 30 November to meet locals and answer their questions about what he hopes to achieve on Tweed Council if elected.

Candidate Questions

If not an incumbent (not on the previous council) what specifically would you propose to change during your term?

I am hoping to see a positive council that works well together after a decade of bitter debates and no real action.

Rents in Tweed towns and most parts of the Tweed Coast have more than doubled in the last term of council (since 2016). That has never happened before under any Tweed Council. Vacancy rates are 0.1 per cent, prices are all time highs and homelessness is rising rapidly. We have a housing crisis and emergency.
To help locals buy a here in the future, I propose to create a ‘locals only Tweed housing fund’ – to help those locals who went to high school here or lived here for years and need help buying a home. Tweed locals earn less than the state average income but live in the most expensive regional area in Australia so it is difficult to compete against people from capital cities who want to move here.

What are the key opportunities you would pursue as a councillor?

I have a Masters of Economics and decades of work experience and skills in evaluating all the options available to solve real problems facing our community. I have lots of local projects that sound small but make a big difference to the population of the Tweed – especially more things for young people to do like skate parks and bike pump tracks. The improvement in roads, wider flat footpaths and improved cycle options are important as are equitable access for the aged and disabled to facilities.

If elected I will highlight what most Australians do not know: Public spending in Australian governments (federal, state/territory, local councils) is around $900 billion per year (and growing). Around eight per cent of that money is ‘wasted’. It is spent on head office bureaucrats as ‘fixed costs’ where for every role at state/territory head office level there are eight people doing the exact same job. This duplication is a waste of $75 billion every year and it must be explained more clearly and the options we have to change it.

Can you the reader think of better ways to spend this money than just keep it with paper pushers in capital city head offices? I can think of better investments in infrastructure, green technology investments, better frontline services and resources going to schools, hospitals and those who need the most help, the poor, disabled and the elderly. We need discussion – town hall, meetings with mayors, politicians, national conventions, and eventually a plebiscite and referendum to let the Australian people decide how their governments spend their money and not waste $75 billion per year.

Short Term Holiday Letting

What is your view on the new Short-Term Holiday Letting (STHL) rental legislation allowing any residential building in the Shire to be let on a short-term basis ie holiday, Airbnb etc?

No answer

Do you think STHL should be allowed 320 days a year or limited to a fewer number of days? If yes, how many days do you think that should be?

I think we need to give people ‘freedom’ to rent out their own property out for either short term or long term. (Any other position is almost communism – where the government owns and controls ‘your’ house and tells you what you can do with it and for how long – a significant breach of our freedom).

However, rightly to protect the community, the new STRA laws have a very strict ‘ three strikes and you’re out’ policy – so a party house or unit around quiet neighbourhoods will not last very long at all.

Responsible people who respect people’s sleep after 8pm are always welcome to visit the Tweed on a short term basis, or love it and stay longer! They spend money at the shops, food, retail, cafes, services, petrol, entertainment. All essential for our services driven economy at in the Tweed Region. This creates an ‘economic multiplier effect’ – great for business, local jobs.

How do you intend to impact homelessness in the Tweed?

Wholistic approach – Need to coordinate health department (including mental health specialists if required), welfare agencies, Centrelink, public housing, emergency housing etc. Need to work out the exact need and then meet with all the agencies to address that need.

There is always excess capacity in some caravan parks (except peak periods) for short term accommodation and even potentially longer term caravan/annex/cabins. It is not a financial capacity of council but rental subsidies (public housing, social housing, rent to buy). There are significant numbers of women’s shelters, domestic violence and halfway houses to help people in need to get back on their feet but supply of these need to keep up with demand. A long term strategy is to target people at risk of homelessness – better education in schools about the real world. Prevention is better than cure.

Water

Do you support the commercial extraction of groundwater (eg for water bottling) in Tweed?

Simple answer is ‘No’. However, I need to know more information. A family that bottles a few bottles and sells it at a local farmer’s market is not going to destroy the natural geographical process. I just do not know what the ‘tipping point is’ with groundwater – 100 litres a day, 1,000 litres a day? Or is it one million litres a day that will destroy the natural equilibrium regarding water? I need expert advice.

Do you think that commercial extraction should allow existing water licences to remain as the status quo, allow an increase in water extraction, or pursue a reduction and elimination of commercial water extraction? Why?

My answer above is leaning on the no side, so a reduction or elimination in water extraction. However, the science and more knowledge will be required to give an exact answer.

Development

What is your position on the maximum building height limit of 13.6m that applies to the majority of the shire?

As a general rule, I support this height limit for the whole Tweed and Tweed Coast (with exception of Tweed Heads area near the border).

Another consideration that should be included in the discussion is ‘floor space ratio’ (FSR) on a block of land.

If two neighbouring blocks have the same land area and the same zoning – one has the full limits of the FSR – but three stories (an ugly rectangle to maximise FSR with concrete covering the entire ground level). It could be argued that if the neighbouring block next door had a better design, lower floor to ceiling heights and the FSR was less because there is more green gardens etc – if this unit block was four stories but only 0.1m higher than the limit – would that affect anyone’s view or lifestyle? If both have the same FSR – then it could be considered as one will have a better ground floor visual aesthetics/gardens.

I know the saying, give an inch and the developers will take a mile. Each development should be considered on their merits and council should have the final say. 13.7 meters is not a high rise (and 13.6 meters is not low rise).

Common sense should prevail – the naked eye cannot tell the difference from the street level if one building is a few inches higher than the height limit. There is a greater potential to install a ‘lift for a four level building’ thus making the new Tweed buildings more accessible for the disabled, aged or those with very young children and helping with the housing affordability crisis.

Construction of the Tweed Valley Hospital required rezoning (by the State Government) of protected farmland. What is your position on the protection of the remaining State Significant Farmland – why?

Yes the remainder of SSF – should stay the same as it needs at least 500 HA to be considered SSF.

Where do you stand on development in the Tweed, the need for growth and the balance with fabric and amenity, lifestyle, liveability and environment?

Every person who lives (or moves) here for a certain lifestyle should be able to keep that lifestyle.

Many places like Surfers, Palm Beach, Coolongatta, Byron have lost a lot of their ‘liveability’ so the Tweed region (Tweed Coast and Hinterland) has to keep ours the way it is. Amenity can be improved – better roads, wider footpaths etc.

I wrote on this topic in TV Weekly – as did all the candidates. We all said almost identical things – balance environment and necessary development to add needed supply to solve this housing crisis.

Coastal communities across the country are being ‘loved to death’ – resulting in significant impacts on infrastructure (roads, traffic, services etc), housing availability and affordability. What are your strategies on mitigating the impacts in these areas?

No more car parks on the beach – e.g Kingscliff we need to keep our open green space along Kingscliff beachfront. When Gales Kingscliff, Kings Forest and Cobaki are all completed there is an extra 30,000 Tweed residents. Many will want to travel to Kingscliff. If we need new car parks in the next 5–10 years then a modest ground and one level car park behind the existing Kingscliff shopping centre, on it’s western side and it will only be max five minutes walk to the beach. This will mean the beach front will remain unchanged. Easy access via Turnock Street to this carpark from the west and Tweed Coast Road straight to this new car park (with digital signs saying how many available car spaces).

The new ‘Gales road’ linking Tweed Coast Road to Turnock st roundabout will make a great difference to the Cudgen road traffic once the new hospital is built and operational. Thousands of new houses and units are needed in the next few decades and any delay will make the prices and rents even more unaffordable for locals to live here.

 

Gold Coast Airport has an impact on Tweed ‘flight-path’ communities, with curfews regularly being tested. This will likely be exacerbated as the airport meets its growth targets. How would you work to mitigate this impact for the community?.

Encourage flights to land and take off ‘over water flight paths’. Potentially seek Airport, state or federal funding for installing sound proofing windows in the Tweed streets/areas most affected by the flight path noise.

Should developers be allowed variations on the DCP, LEP and other planning controls or should these policies be strictly enforced?

Only in exceptional situations. Micro changes could be considered e.g 0.1m above the height limit. They need a good reason and case to be presented to council. But big changes e.g eight stories unit proposal in Kingscliff next to three stories is always, always going to be a ‘no’.

Would you prioritise community and environment or development?

I am sure that every candidate would sit on the fence here – as we need both.

Ninty-five per cent of readers of this paper live in houses, units, townhouses and drive on surburban streets that were all built by developers. So developers helped enable you to have a good lifestyle and standard of living and are essential for our society.

However, I as councillor would consider 100 objections from the community as being 100 times stronger than the argument of one developer who is asking for too much development. Community and environment must come first.

I can see both sides as there is a great cost if we halt development altogether for decades – your sleepy part of paradise becomes exclusive and you end up being the most expensive town in Australia like Byron Bay at 2.9million median. It is almost an experiment – put a green council in for 20 years and you will see your property values go into the stratosphere as supply of housing is so limited. Housing emergency for all the low paid workers in the shire.

There is a cost and benefit to every decision – but you cannot have it all and you cannot please everyone.

Environment

Do you support Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration and strong action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

‘Yes’ and I would and could do more if we unlock some of the $75 billion wasted each year and put it into community and environmental projects rather than have it wasted in capital city head office departmental fixed costs. For every million we waste on some government spending, that is a million we do not have to spend elsewhere.

Do you support stronger policies to protect Tweed’s internationally significant environment?

Yes – but I would like to see what the policies are first.

Do you support stronger policies and increased funding to protect Tweed’s internationally significant environment?

Yes. All major parties (Greens, Labour, Coalition) control 93 per cent of all seats in Australian  parliaments (State and Federal levels). They all have terrible policies regarding our failing federation that has eight people doing the same thing in every position/role in every state and territory head office – a waste of $75 billion each year (out of the $900 billion spent by governments each year).
If we had one national Department of Education – rather than eight and the same for Health, etc then the billions we could save and put towards some of that funding Tweed’s internationally significant environment (and every council would benefit).

On a pro-rata apportion of the $75 billion to each council area in Australia based on the population of each council – the Tweed would get $300 million extra in funding (100,000 people or roughly 1 in every 250 Australians live here in the Tweed). Our current budget is $260 million per year. So by cutting waste in government department duplications – we can increase spending on internationally significantly environmental projects and potentially cut our council rates bills.

I am more green than the Greens and more financially conservative than the Liberal/National parties as I am against $75 billion in public waste but they are all currently in support of this waste.

Do you support allowing forestry in private native forests?

If every tree cut down leads to two or three more planted then YES. I prefer planting of NATIVE forest/trees rather than pine but will let each land owner decide as hardwood takes twice as long as pine to grow.

We have had a significant lack of wood and timber in Bunnings (and nation wide shortage in all hardware suppliers) in 2021, leading to rising building costs and reduced productivity. So we still need trees, forestry and timber for our lifestyle as Australians.

Rail

Do you support the Rail Trail, mutli-modal line or a train line? Why?

I will listen, look at any report, cost-benefit analysis and the assumptions behind all the numbers for future benefit and costings forecasts before I make a decision on any proposal.

However, in principle I would prefer there to be a win-win both a world class cycle path but also the same concrete path should be able to be used for people very young, old and disabled in some sort of safe public transport facility. Again I would need to see how economical and how wide the path is at the most narrow point (tunnels) to see if they can both fit safely side by side on the same public land.

I definitely do not support a big XPT style train that 90 per cent empty using the line each day. Tourist trains on wheels/ solar/battery power is closer to what the community would expect as a compromise.

There must be a win-win for all ages, all residents, for tourists and locals to use this great asset.

Even suburban cycle paths in parks and on the beach front of Kingscliff and Casuarina can have people ‘race at 40km’ per hour on this shared community paths – flying past little children learning to ride their bike and serious injuries can occur. So safely signs and shared values is a must for this new rail trail if people of all ages are to be able to use it.

Political party affiliation

Have you been, or are you, affiliated with any political parties? Please provide party name and membership period.

No Answer

If yes, how much will you be influenced by your party policies and agendas?

No Answer

If the opportunity arose would you quit council to run for a state or federal seat?

I would put the community first. I am not part of a political party. I am independent and it is great that I would be able to ask the community rather than a political party head office to tell me what to do or say. No one I know who is an independent has ever financially analysed and exposed the major parties spending wastage as I have and will continue to do.

I plan to run full term (33 months for this next council). I am confident based on the community reception so far, however no one has won from ‘below the line’ before so I am not expecting anything.

I am young (40ish) with plenty of years behind and ahead of me – so will never say never. I would be most pleased to be able to serve the Tweed Community as a councillor.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. To be a “world class rail trail” (not a “cycle path”), it needs to be built on the formation. A track where users have to negotiate the terrain off the formation will not meet the expectations of visitors who know the world over what constitutes a “rail trail”. An off formation trail would be a fail trail.

    The path will be a minimum of 2.5 metres wide. Aside from bicycles plus the typically thirty percent of users who walk rail trails, electric assisted bicycles, tricycles and mobility scooters will allow people with all levels of ability and fitness to use our trail. The vision of the project engineers is to maximise accessibility so people with all levels of ability can use it. This is so important for the aging population of our shire and to attract the maximum possible number of visitors.

    As with any shared path, cyclists must give way to pedestrians. Speeding cyclists has not been a major problem on other trails.

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