On Sunday there was a public Forum in City Place which was designed to enable all Council hopefuls, including Mayoral Candidates, the opportunity to address the public and answer questions from the crowd. This allowed locals to hear from those who may well represent them in Council after April 28th and was very well attended.
I was there, but due to previous commitments (I had already confirmed attendance at another event last year that was held at the same time) I could not stay long enough to have my say and answer those questions. While I am not regretful that I attended the other event, I am certainly disappointed I could not participate fully in this one.
Several people have asked me if I wrote a speech prior to the Forum and the answer is yes. It was originally to be held on April 8th but the clash with Easter Sunday meant it was re-organised for the earlier date. Because of the re-shuffle, and knowing the importance of participating, I wrote the following speech which was to be my 3 minute contribution. Unfortunately, the opportunity to answer questions by those attending has passed but this blog does allow for comments so please feel free to ask anything you would like answered and I will happily respond.
"Good afternoon everyone. Thank you to the organisers of today's Forum for this opportunity to speak to you all.
The Cairns region is something I am very passionate about. This is my home. I grew up here, married here and together we are raising three children here. My Division, which encompasses parts of Edmonton, Mt Sheridan and all of Bentley Park, is filled with households just like mine. I know what it feels like to worry when petrol prices, electricity prices or Rates go up. I know what it feels like to try and juggle household funds so that my children don't miss out. Many residents in Division 2 have the same worries and concerns and need to know that they are being heard and everything possible is being done to keep costs low.
Introducing tipping vouchers with Rates notices and a yearly green waste pick-up would help. So would re-visiting the idea of a Rates discount, something that also encourages residents to pay on time which makes Council operations run smoother. I'm hopeful that if elected, other Councillors will also support these plans and we can implement them for the regions benefit.
Much has been said in the media, and while I've been door-knocking, about the youth of our region. Our young people need us to act in support of them and they need to be involved in the process every step along the way. Youth engagement is a multi-faceted, big picture project and it has begun, but we need to get some of the newer ideas and plans started as the need is certainly there.
A youth hub within the Edmonton Leisure Centre is something I am very supportive of. Upgrading Little Fretwell Park so that the current skate park and BMX track are better, brighter and more accessible will be another facet of the engagement process. Building a bigger Library so that it will cater to a growing community is also important and will benefit not just young people, but the entire community. These are just a few of the plans I will be advocating for. Our residents aged 10-18 deserve representation.
Small businesses also need support. The Edmonton District Traders Association is a great example of what can be achieved when businesses act together to facilitate each others growth and viability. We have seen the benefits to the tourism industry with a large body representing their best interests and I will be encouraging a similar group be formed for the many small businesses here in Cairns.
The Cairns region is faced with a bright future. Now is the right time to encourage innovation and eco development. The Tropical Innovation Awards are growing every year and are evidence of the brilliant minds and clever ideas our region has in abundance. We are positioned in one of the most environmentally sensitive places on earth. With that comes certain responsibilities, especially when considering future growth. From small ideas such as further support of Community Gardens and rebates or vouchers for the purchase of household worm-farms, to big ideas such as removing plastic bags from supermarkets and encouraging them to display food mileage on fresh items, it will be my responsibility to work hard to create a more sustainable future if I am elected.
Bentley Park is home. Division 2 is my community. I look forward to listening and learning from residents over the next few weeks of door-knocking and community involvement. I will be taking those ideas and that vision into Council with me if I am lucky enough to be chosen to represent my community.