Meet the CHRC election candidates

Paul and Ruth Bell serve up some sausages for Sarah McIver at the open day for Virgin.
Paul and Ruth Bell serve up some sausages for Sarah McIver at the open day for Virgin.

CQ News offers its first instalment of the Central Highlands Regional Council election coverage. Meet some of the candidates and see what they stand for.

Passion for local community - Paul Bell 

FOR the past 26 years it is the "local" in Local Government that has got my heart, mind, enthusiasm and passion energised.

Local Government is about building, planning and representing communities whether they are small rural districts, villages or large towns.

To protect and improve the liveability of your community, you need a strong advocate at the council table as well as at state and federal levels.

In the past four years I have used my experience and networks to successfully obtain $10.9 million from other governments or corporations for community projects to improve the liveability of our CH communities.

A major priority for me as your councillor over the next four years is to continue to deliver investment in parks, sport and recreation opportunities and better services for families.

With 26 years in planning communities I have always focused on these areas: urban planning for our towns; land planning that protects rural land; and planning transport networks which includes road and air services.

During the next term of council the CHRC Planning Scheme will be completed.

Strong experience in planning is required at the council table. I am committed to delivering for the community and the development industry a modern planning scheme which allows flexibility for subdivision, promotes growth in our small towns, increases residential land availability and protects good agricultural land from urban expansion.

To combat the issues of housing affordability, I have advocated and successfully seen established the Central Highlands (Qld) Housing Company of which I am a director.

Appropriate transport networks are keys to economic growth and good social cohesion.

Investment in road networks and air services are critical for CH. Partnership funding from the state and federal governments and industry are required.

I am advocating for major partnership investment in the Emerald Airport and as a member of the ALGA had the $1.4 billion Roads to Recovery program for Local Government reviewed and increased. This delivered $6.9 million dollars in federal road funding to CHRC in the last four years, but there is much more to do.

If re-elected I will continue to provide a strong voice for community. I will drive for improved efficiency in council service delivery and as chair of council's internal audit committee will ensure accountability and a downward pressure on rates to ease the cost of living for residents and ratepayers.

Finding balance key to success - Kerry Hayes

THE next 10 years in the Central Highlands will be seen as a truly defining decade, the success of which will be determined by just how good our stewardship and decision-making have been.

It will be one of the most challenging and exciting periods in our history and we all want to be part of it.

As a community leader, I want to make sure that the lifestyle of all of our residents improves with the opportunities which are created, big or small.

This region has been, and should always be, known for its diversity: in natural resources, in mineral resources and, most importantly, in human resources. It is the balance of all three that is critical to its future success, along with our foresight and preparedness to confront those things that threaten that balance.

I have been a part of a team that has dealt with the difficult transition through amalgation and I want to be part of the team that guides us into the future.

My contribution has primarily been through my knowledge and experience in the field of town planning; in identifying and analysing opportunities in our towns for necessary growth in housing, business and commerce, and to renew critical infrastructure like the Emerald Airport and rural regional facilities like the Emerald Saleyards.

We need to ensure we keep important community recreational facilities which provide a better life-balance updated; resources like the Bauhinia Sports facilities, the Blackwater Aquatics and Hunter Street Sports Complex, the Gemfields Pool, the Rolleston Sportsground, as well as new projects like the Emerald Aquatic Centre and the Rundle Park Netball/Tennis Complex.

My greatest responsibility and proudest achievement in council was to chair our region's Recovery Group in 2008 and 2010-11, a task which involved co-ordinating and providing resources and support to our communities in their hour of need.

Our recovery process has been recognised, and in part adopted, state-wide and is considered a highly effective, inclusive and successful model, and I would like to keep leading this group into the future to ensure all our recommendations are implemented to safeguard the communities of this wonderful region.

Our future lies in partnerships: with industry, with governments, and with each other. I believe I have the passion, vision, skill and knowledge to make these happen and that is why I ask all on the Central Highlands to keep me in your leadership team. 

Here for the long haul - Peter Haylock

ul I AM a "true blue Central Highlander" who genuinely cares about the region and am prepared to take time to listen.

I have 15 years experience as a councillor, with seven of those years with the former Emerald Council as Deputy Mayor.

I have demonstrated I am able to handle change, provide a balanced point of view and have the stability and stamina to cope with long hauls.

A resident of the Central Highlands for more than 50 years, I married my wife Karen in Emerald 35 years ago, and we have three children born and raised in the town.

I promote the value of getting to know your neighbours and I have participated in linking people through street party-type events. I would like to capture and extend the spirit of mateship and sense of community strongly displayed during recent flood events.

I maintain a focus on the need for council to address ongoing significant issues regarding rural roads, economic responsibility, impact of change on rural areas and local communities.

I am equally open to new ideas and will strongly advocate for innovative projects beneficial to people living in the Central Highlands.

I'm in it for the long haul, just as I have been been as a part-owner of Emerald Carrying Company for 37 years.

The current boom in the area provides opportunities for employment and I encourage people to think outside the box and to come up with different and flexible methods of operation that might just suit their particular needs.

I understand the present need for affordable accommodation and support the setting up of the Affordable Housing Company.

I aim to promote the concept of local businesses inviting people with a disability and the long-term unemployed to have an opportunity to experience part-time work. This would enable people of varied abilities to get to know each other through common goals and interests.

I am committed to investigating options with SunWater to come to an agreement resulting in reinstating the Fairbairn Dam as a welcoming recreational attraction for locals and visitors.

I support the recommendations in the recently published C&R report on mitigation measures for flooding in the region and will actively participate in finding long-term solutions. 


A vote for me is a vote for the everyday person - Patty Schwartz

nI HAVE lived in the Central Highlands for the past 40 years and I have two children who have lived here all their lives as well.

I am very aware of how the town has grown and I am also aware of how it may continue to grow, but I would still like to think that we as a council can have a positive influence on how things do pan out in the future.

I have done one term as a councillor and would like to be part of the plan for the future of the Central Highlands Regional Council for another term.

The reason I nominated was because I wanted to have first-hand knowledge of how things are done and how the decisions are made, and even though I am only one voice it's all still very inspiring.

The planning process is what I find very interesting and would like to get my teeth into a bit more in the future.

I am very approachable and people will see me all over the Central Highlands doing different things from making coffee to selling, talking or listening - just doing whatever comes along.

A vote for me is a vote for the everyday person walking the street, working for a living and caring about our home, our town and our future.

Progress is natural but let's make it exciting and a good fit for all the residents of the Central Highlands Regional Council - and I mean all walks of life and all the towns included, no matter the size and the population. 

Would-be councillor aims to encourage community spirit - Robert Stewart 

PROTECTING and encouraging a strong sense of community spirit is Robert Stewart's vision if elected as a councillor at the upcoming local elections on April 28.

A fitness trainer at the Emerald PCYC, the father-of-two has lived in Emerald for the past 16 years and said he wanted to be part of a community where young families could settle and raise their children.

"The sense of community is very strong and I want to continue it so we don't lose it," Robert said.

"I want to have a say in where we are heading in the future and be a voice for the families in the community. The community spirit here is something to protect when moving forward."

With 19 years of experience in the financial sector, it comes as little surprise his vision for the next four years reflects that knowledge.

Robert has four areas he will focus on, starting with responsible development of planning for future growth.

Secondly, working with appropriate organisations and the community to ensure the rates are kept affordable throughout the community.

"Working closely with the State Government is important to gain our share of royalties that have been taken from the area," he said of his third agenda.

"To see those royalties put back into roads, affordable living and the growth of our community."

Finally, Robert wants to see a fair distribution of funds to all communities within the Central Highlands and acknowledge the broader areas. 

Twenty-three years council experience - Gail Nixon 

THE teething issues of amalgamation are settling now and the next term of Local Government should be moving forward in a dynamic, strategic and progressive way to consolidate our shire.

My 23 years experience in Local Government means that my outlook covers all aspects of Local Government, not just single concerns and decisions.

Planning for the future infrastructure that is needed for our rapidly growing towns throughout the region is important, and being recognised as a provider to the mining industry hopefully will provide us with some coal royalty funding.

Housing for the aged, the young and the average income family is essential, and affordable housing is necessary for the survival of our businesses.

The council has recently formed a housing company which will manage and grow a commercial housing business with affordable housing development.

The roads need to be upgraded throughout the area. Trouble spots like the Rolleston flooding situation and the Bedford Weir crossing are serious concerns but all roads - both state-controlled and local - are in need of attention.

The Cotherstone Rd to the north and the Tambo Rd to the west are both state-controlled roads that need to be sealed and I will be lobbying for upgrading these vital links.

I am very interested in the health of our community and intend to work with State Government for better services to our area.

A new hospital for Blackwater has been on our agenda for some time now so I will continue to push for that.

I work with the SES and would hope that more recognition is given to the volunteers of our community.

Tourism is a business opportunity for our district with the iconic destinations of Sapphire Gemfields and Carnarvon Gorge in our shire. I will be urging the council to do more for tourism and work closely with western Queensland shires in this endeavour.

The council has a quarry, an airport and saleyards as commercial enterprises and we need to concentrate on making these businesses more profitable to relieve pressure on our ratepayers and look at other opportunities in commercial areas.

I will also lobby to hold Campbell Newman to his idea of abolishing the waste levy. 


Passionate about Highlands - Gail Godwin-Smith 

CANDIDATE number 21 on the Central Highlands Regional Council ballot ticket is Gail Godwin-Smith.

With her vibrant personality, Mrs Godwin-Smith is under no illusions about where she sits on the ballot paper.

"I'm drawn at position 21 on the ballot and as I've told my supporters, Phar Lap wouldn't come in from position 21 with a barrier draw like that," she said with a laugh.

But seriously, Gail is very mindful of the trust put in her to run at the April 28 election.

"The ratepayers association approached me and said they would really like me to run for council," she said.

"I hadn't really considered it but I have always been interested in local government issues and passionate about our Central Highlands region.

"The community has been very good to me: I've been asked to stand up and represent our community, so I'm giving it a go."

Gail has a history on the Central Highlands, after serving as managing director and chairwoman of CHRRUP, as well as working with the Fitzroy Basin Association.

"That is where my passion for the region has come," Mrs Godwin-Smith explained. "Because I have had that opportunity to get out and about and get to know people and their community and working in the area of natural resources, it makes you appreciate how rich and diverse our region is.

"It's the prized jewel in the Queensland crown, when it comes to wealth producing regions."

Mrs Godwin-Smith said she was very aware of issues affecting the Central Highlands and was ready to address them, if successful in her run for the top eight.

"It's been very challenging (for the council) to date and we can see the pressure on infrastructure, like the roads, services like health and affordable housing," she said.

"Everyone is aware of these issues within local communities. Basic services, like aged care and sport and recreational facilities - we need to have all these maintained, support the old people in our community.

"My biggest thing is, councillors need to actively engage with the community that they represent, because you can never assume to understand what the needs of the people are, unless you actually go and spend time with them. We have to start listening and engaging with the people." 

Longtime local wants to do things for the community - John Watkins 

RUNNING comes easily to Central Highlands Regional Council candidate John Watkins, after he competed in the Springsure Triathlon.

But it's in the other running, as a candidate in the Central Highlands Regional Council election, where John looks forward to making his mark.

After spending most of his life in the district, John knows a little bit about the area and is keen to see it prosper.

"I would like to do things for the community and while I enjoyed my time at Bauhinia Shire, this is a different kettle of fish, with a bigger council," John said.

"I want to be a part of achieving something, whether it is a new road, new building, a new school, something... I like being a part of a body that gets things done."

John is realistic about his chances of being in the top eight at the April 28 election, but that does not douse the passion he feels for the Central Highlands and what his priorities will be.

"I want to push for repairs and upgrades of roads and infrastructure, which have been damaged or cut by the prolonged wet seasons," said John.

"There is a lot of work to be done on the roads; the main arterial roads coming through here are cut on a regular basis, so I'd like to see that be a priority and get fixed..., get the roads in good order, so people can get about."

Housing and health are other priorities for the Pindari property manager, with the retention of health services and facilities in smaller centres important.

"Make sure low income earners can find a house, and aged people have got facilities, for instance the Ivy Andersen Home; so our aged people can live locally," John said.

Sport has always been a passion for John, a believer in the benefits of sport, especially junior sport.

"I like to see the kids out there doing stuff but any sporting body will get a fair hearing with me."

There are a lot of issues John could pinpoint, but at the root of it all are his main focus points - roads and infrastructure, aged housing and health, affordable housing, sport and tourism. 


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