The final day of voting for your local Tweed Shire Councill candidates is Saturday 4 December at a venue near you.
Seven Tweed Shire councillors are elected by you the voter; once they have been elected then they elect the Mayor every two years and a Deputy Mayor every 12 months from among the elected councillors.
Currently you have all sitting councillors bar Greens Katie Milne and Independent Ron Cooper seeking re-election.
The previous council broke down into two Conservative councillors in Warren Polglase and Pryce Allsop who were very much behind the traditional approach to more jobs and development with the council imposing minimal restrictions. Liberal James Owen sits right of centre with Labor’s Reece Byrnes at the centre. Independents Ron Cooper and Mayor Chris Cherry both held the centre left with and Greens Katie Milne to the left.
Key issues for Tweed Shire are around development pressure, affordable housing and short term holiday letting (STHL), like Airbnnb, which are similar issues that other local councils on the North Coast face.
Independent Mayor Chris Cherry did try to bring in a limit below 365 days a year to a max of 180 days similar to the Byron Shire approach for a non-hosted house could be rented out for. However, after some debate this proposal was defeated by Crs Allsop, Byrnes, Ron Cooper, James Owen, and Polglase voting against the motion.
Many of the new council candidates including indigenous candidate Letitia Kelly, Greens Dr Nola Firth, and Independents Bill Fenalon and Peter Cummings support a reduction in the maximum days of rental for non-hosted houses.
You can take a look at the candidate’s positions here
Retiring Councillor Milne pointed out in her final interview with The Echo that it was not just short term holiday letting that was impacting house availability but also land banking. She said there are significant areas rezoned for development that are being held by developers and thus increasing the cost of housing in the area.
Cr Milne is being replaced by Dr Nola Firth at the top of the Greens ticket who are running on a strong environmental premise with opposition to the greyhound track and looking at affordable housing as big future issues.
Some other new faces include indigenous candidate Letitia Kelly who is heading up Group F with a focus on housing and the environment; Bill Fenelon leads group A with a key interest in bringing back the trains and an environmental focus while Peter Cummings who heads up Group C has a background in town planning. He says he’s keen to keep Tweed Shire unique and not like the Gold Coast. He sees a balance between environmental improvements and development as key to moving forward.
Water mining, extracting water for bottling and sale, has been a big issue in the Tweed Shire and the current councillors voted unanimously to remove future water extraction from the Local Environmental Plan (LEP). This has left the current approved water mining in place.
Matthew Karlos, Robert Awes, Larry Karlos, and Sue Karlos are running as Independents as Group J. They have put together a ticket calling to ‘Make Tweed Great Again’.
In 2018 Matthew Karlos was reported in the Daily Mail as referring to ‘his family business, Eniflat Pty Ltd’ that was involved in water extraction, he retired as a director of Eniflat in July 2014. Yet Matthew Karlos told The Echo ‘I am not associated with Eniflat’. He also clarified that it is not water mining or water extraction but it ‘water harvesting’ that is conducted. Currently, Sue Karlos and Larry Karlos are listed as the two directors of the company.
On Matthew Karlos’s social media pages he asks ‘are you sick of the Green-Left?’ and puts forward a platform that proposes support for secondary dwellings ‘on rural properties; increasing Dam capacity and Mandatory drug/alcohol testing for councillors and staff’.
Nathan Jones and James McKenzie are both running as ungrouped candidates – that is they are running as a single, stand alone candidates.
James McKenzie is primarily running on a platform calling out ‘fake Wollumbin, Arakwal and Bundjalung National Parks’ saying he ‘found Bundjalung to be a white man’s fabrication’.
Nathan Jones says his focus is on helping locals buy here in the future. He sees major gains to be had by reducing state and federal duplication of services thus making more money available to projects on the ground.
To vote for either of these candidates you will have to vote below the line.
Leigh Thomas, Group M, is a National Party member but is running as an Independent as the National Party does not endorse candidates in council elections. As such they are often referred to as Conservative councillors. He also has Joshua Szabados, a One Nation member, running on his ticket.
Preferencing will be key in the votes especially if you vote below the line. As you can’t predict which seven candidates will be elected it is considered important to fill in up to about 20 boxes below the line to ensure that your vote doesn’t expire.