17 Feb Ren Lanzon
Continuing to Serve You and the Gladstone Region
I have been a Gladstone region resident since 1971. My wife Wendy and I have five children and seven grandchildren and our wish is to have at least twice as many grandies.Yes, I have a great stake in the region.
As a Gladstone journalist for more than 30 years I obtained a good understanding of how this region works. This prepared me for my stint as a councillor yet, like all new people on the job, there was a lot more to learn. I have now completed my four year “apprenticeship” and I know I have much more to give.
I can’t make wild claims as to what could or could not be done about such matters as rates and spending and infrastructure. That would be irresponsible. As a councillor you can work only with the box of tools at hand . But I will continue to grasp at opportunities that present themselves outside that box.
As in my first term I will continue to be mindful that in hard financial times rising rates hurt. Our council has set a path to greater cost cutting in its operations and where possible this must continue.
I will continue to be confident of new and creative opportunities emerging that would benefit our region, such as that offered by the visit of cruise ships (grown from four projected visits to 17 during 2016/17). Hopefully the new council will be as ready and as willing to grasp such opportunities as they arise.
Some projects of interest to me:
Philip Street Hub, Expansion to Mt Larcom, New Bridge at Boyne Island, lifestyle to balance our industry base, new library in the population growth path, taking advantage of the P&O Cruises for the advantage , attracting suitable industries and businesses to Gladstone, encouraging arts and culture through RADF and MEAP,
Philip Street social and health hub (including retirement accommodation), a new bridge at Boyne Island, art and culture opportunities.
To continue to give thoughtful and measured consideration to all items that come before the council, to be as willing and ready to hear the concerns of those constituents potentially affected by any council determination and to continue to support local and rural businesses as a cornerstone of our economic success.
How would you individually impact reduction of costs for the community?
Councillors don’t decide anything individually. A councillor may collect material and do preliminary research to support an outcome he or she considers will benefit the community, but the final decision is made by the whole council after lengthy consideration of its practicalities, legalities and cost.
What is your plan to support local business?
As always, by supporting (where it is not a cost disadvantage to our ratepayers) tenders submitted by local operators. Some simplification of council requirements to encourage new developments in our region to provide jobs is, I think, an important target. Bureaucratic overlays need to be reduced where possible and when there are no financial or other risks to the community.
What are your ideas to stimulate the Gladstone economy?
Our Gladstone economy is not separate from the Global, Australian and State economies. But we can grasp opportunities that arise. An example is an opportunity that came my way recently when an entrepreuner explained to me his plan to utilize in a new way an under-used premises in the city heart. I was able to point him to documents and personnel that could help him. Also as a Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) member I see opportunities for our artists, our retailers and others to use the cruise ships’ visits to the advantage of our city and our region. I have also provided an idea which has since attracted a small team around it to work on encouraging day trips to their hinterland communities with possible funding through RADF.
With local jobs being slashed, how will you create more jobs in the region?
As an individual, none. All decisions must go before the full board of councillors after officer scrutiny. This council has, for the first time ever, set up an economic development group to devise local strategies to attract medium and small businesses. I supported the general concept for this from the very start.
How do you plan to do this? (Read this question in the light of what is written above.
Should the council have a weighting policy?
This is one of those questions that is supposed to be easy to answer but isn’t. In fact I supported a move for a small weighting when it was moved by a colleague in council recently. The motion was lost, not because some councillors are nice people and others are not, but because there are pros and cons. Each time a weighting proposal it has been raised in council the ins and outs for or against it have been thoroughly debated. Despite not having a weighting system for tenders, the sentiment to help local operators among councilors has been very strong. Such things that might be considered is: “do the jobs resulting from this work compensate for the additional $100,000 cost asked by the tenderer?”; and “why is the tender so much higher than the others”. However a small weighting would at least be a signal that the council would prefer the local tenderer over an outside tenderer.
Are you affiliated with a political party?
No. I support policies not parties. I work on the principal that a councillor can’t serve two masters.
If not elected what will you do for the community?
I will continue to volunteer in work I am already doing and find new oipportunities to do further volunteering work. I particularly enjoiy my time with the Gladstone RSL Auxiliary. I will continue to support the arts by volunteering in the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) of which I am a member.
What is your view on fixing the oversupply of housing?
There is no oversupply of housing as such. I am sure there are many people out there who would love to buy a house if they had the money. But there is an oversupply of unit and apartment dwellings. The decision to build them made by investors who did not do their sums properly can’t be undone. If the question implies the council allowed them to go ahead when they were not needed, then that would be a wrong assumption. If an application to build meets the State Government’s requirements within the planning act, it cannot be challenged without risk. If an appeal by the developer ends up in the Lands Court, the loss by council would mean a financial loss to the public purse and therefore to the ratepayer.
Name one candidate, other than yourself, who you feel should be elected.
I don’t seek to influence anyone how to vote.
Do you think rates need to be reduced?
This is a loaded question. That’s because if you say “no’ you are immediately painted as a baddie “So want to overcharge the poor taxpayer?”. Rates pay for services such as water treatment and delivery (council pays for the water it gets from the Gladstone Area Water Board which is Statutory Body), sewerage services and treatment, library services, Road works, parks and gardens etc, not forgetting the staffing of all of those things. A two per cent population growth require’s growth by at least that much. If the question was: Could rates be reduce? then the answer could well be “Yes, but only if you want services reduced and future growth to stop”. The indications are that the community wants both reduced rates and improved or additional services. A nice juggling act.
For your interest:
The current council achieved spending cuts across council under its Target Zero strategy, for example all major council roofs now have solar panels for energy saving. An imminent saving will be the capture of methane from our gas plant to be fed into the grid or used for our own purposes.
Some of what we have achieved or prepared in the last term are the airport expansion, Memorial Park, the Stocklands expansion and the Miriam Vale park redevelopment. One that will change the face of Gladstone is the cruise ship visits to be undertaken with community support mostly under the direction through the Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd, a creature of council which annually receives financial backing from the council to support promotion and development of such things as these visits.
There are many questions being asked at this time that only candidates who have no experience in council would dare to state their position on. They can and will learn. I did.
Authorised by Ren Lanzon, 65 Off Street Gladstone, for Ren Lanzon