James Owen is a Liberal Party candidate from Casuarina who has served on the Tweed Shire Council for five years. Mr Owen is heading up Group E and is running in the Tweed Shire Council elections with Rhiannon Brinsmead from Casuarina, Dudley Horscroft from Banora Point and, Freda Wilding from Tweed Heads West.
If you are an incumbent, what specific changes have you personally initiated and supported?
I’ve worked hard over the last five years for better outcomes for our community and, if re-elected I will continue to work hard to ensure that ensuring Tweed is the best place to live, work and play.
What are the key opportunities you would pursue as a councillor?
Front and centre of everything we do must be preserving and protecting our natural environment and wildlife and maintaining our unique community identity.
However, we can do this AND deliver more jobs, housing, services, infrastructure, and lifestyle opportunities.
Even though Tweed Shire Council provides 52 services to community we must not lose sight of our need to deliver key services like roads, rubbish and recycling whilst keeping rates as low as possible.
We need to continue to support business by building our local economy, driving jobs growth, attracting investment for sustainable growth, and supporting our traditional rural industries.
COVID is not over, and the Tweed Shire still needs a strong voice on border issues and a trusted and reliable source for community information.
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?
I don’t support the new STRA that have been implemented by the State Government because of the compliance burden they place on council. As a result of these State Government-imposed laws, council now has responsibility for regulation and compliance of STHL in Tweed but has not been given any resource or financial support from the State government to do this. This puts even more pressure on council’s budgets which are already stretched.
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?
How do you intend to impact homelessness in the Tweed?
The State Government has overall responsibility for housing and homelessness, and I believe they need to commit more resources and funds to providing accommodation and support services into the Tweed Shire. I will continue to advocate to my State Government colleagues for better outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in Tweed Shire.
Council can play its part by ensuring the timely implementation of the Growth Management and Housing Strategy which will include options for social and affordable housing.
Do you support the commercial extraction of groundwater (eg for water bottling) in Tweed?
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?
I supported removing the clause in the Tweed LEP that allowed commercial extraction of groundwater and have voted against expansion of existing water extraction operations.
What is your position on the maximum building height limit of 13.6m that applies to the majority of the shire?
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?
Where do you stand on development in the Tweed, the need for growth and the balance with fabric and amenity, lifestyle, liveability and environment?
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?
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?
Should developers be allowed variations on the DCP, LEP and other planning controls or should these policies be strictly enforced?
Would you prioritise community and environment or development?
Do you support Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration and strong action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
Do you support stronger policies to protect Tweed’s internationally significant environment?
Do you support stronger policies and increased funding to protect Tweed’s internationally significant environment?
Do you support allowing forestry in private native forests?
Protecting the Tweed Shire’s unique environment and way of life must be our number one priority. We are the Tweed Coast, not the Gold Coast and we ALL want it to stay that way. Things such as limiting building heights in key areas ensures we don’t see Gold Coast style development.
We have seen a big increase in Tweed’s population in recent years which has put pressure on our housing supply – house prices are at an all-time high and there isn’t enough affordable housing. This population growth also puts pressure on essential services and infrastructure like roads, rubbish and recycling, water and sewage, sports fields, and libraries.
Building on developer owned land in the Tweed Shire must be commenced. This land has capacity for around 15,000 homes.
We need to find a balance between protecting and preserving our environment and state significant farmland and maintaining our unique way of life whilst catering for the growing population by ensuring we have the homes, services, infrastructure, and lifestyle opportunities for our community for generations to come. This needs to be done collaboratively between the community, the private sector, and all levels of government.
Do you support the Rail Trail, mutli-modal line or a train line? Why?
I support the Rail Trail.
Political party affiliation
Have you been, or are you, affiliated with any political parties? Please provide party name and membership period
I am a member of the Liberal Party and, unlike other candidates running in this election, I do not hide that fact.
If yes, how much will you be influenced by your party policies and agendas?
I have consistently put the community first and my record speaks for itself in that. This has been strongly evidenced through my ongoing strong and vocal advocacy to the NSW Government for better outcomes for us all here in the Tweed Shire throughout the COVID pandemic.
If the opportunity arose would you quit council to run for a state or federal seat?