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Guiding Principles

We believe that councils fundamentally need to provide functioning roads, and rubbish services for fair rates and charges. However, local councils can also significantly impact the communities we live in. We personally expect more from our elected members of local government, and we hope you do too and reflect this with your vote on September 14th. Your vote is powerful; nothing changes until you vote for change. This is a list of some core focuses we would take if elected to the Tamworth Regional Council (TRC), and our beliefs surrounding these areas of focus.

Accessible Infrastructure

Accessible infrastructure is at the heart of an equitable community. Walking, strolling, and cycling are cheap, healthy activities that reduce traffic, noise, and pollution. On council, we will advocate for an expansion of good footpaths that cater to multiple uses. All paths should be wide enough to allow wheelchairs, strollers, and mobility scooters to use them comfortably alongside other pedestrians.

Additionally, we will push to expand and interconnect Tamworth’s network of shared pathways to make cycling a viable option for general commuting. We believe that all Tamworth suburbs and schools should be connected with safe cycleways separated from vehicle traffic and with safe pedestrian crossings where required.

We support the proposal of a bike path connecting Calala to the Tamworth CBD via King George Avenue. However, we believe that a necessity of this project should be to have raised paths to avoid fatally damaging the root system of the heritage-listed trees along King George Avenue.

We support the proposed aquatics facility to complement our region’s other high-quality sporting facilities. However, we would like to see existing outdoor pool facilities (including those in the wider region) remain operational and accessible to the community while future stages of the centre are built, and into the future. This would require, and we would support, rehabilitation options for our existing pools to be investigated.. We would also like to explore expanding public transport to this new centre and other facilities in the sporting precinct.

The Arts

The Tamworth Region punches above its weight in the Arts. We’re a regional centre with a wealth of artists, musicians, arts teachers/instructors, media professionals, theatre companies, community groups and public art displays. I myself have worked in the arts sector as a freelance videographer/editor for years and have had the pleasure of working with many in the local arts community. On council, we would push to continue supporting arts industries within our region.

We believe a primary way council could support the Arts is by providing creative spaces. Because of this, we are highly supportive of the proposed Tamworth Performing Arts Centre and Culture Precinct. Tamworth is currently limited in the touring theatre shows, concerts, and other performative styles we can attract to the region because of the size and technical limitations of the Capitol Theatre. But these same limitations also impact our home-grown talents who themselves are constant draw-cards, putting on multiple large-scale productions each year. On council, we will push to see progress continue on this space and for the TRC to lobby other levels of government for funding contributions for this project.

Climate Change

Councils are on the front line of dealing with the environmental impacts of climate change and have a lot of input into reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to clean energy within their boundaries. On council, we would push to accelerate our efforts to reach net-zero emissions in TRC’s upcoming Net Zero Plan. In line with achieving these outcomes, we believe TRC should become a member council of the Cities Power Partnership (an initiative of the Climate Council): https://citiespowerpartnership.org.au/

We support renewable energy projects being established in our region, but believe this needs to be done with adequate planning for social and environmental impact and with sufficient public consultation and financial contributions to hosting communities. We believe that the Tamworth region, being a major regional hub (and in conjunction with TRC’s in-development Global Gateway Park), is in a prime position to prosper from the nation’s switch to renewable energy if we host renewable projects within our region on non-productive land and use this access to increased clean energy generation to attract local manufacturing.  Additionally we would encourage the further development of smaller scale local community renewable energy initiatives

Community Consultation

A core pillar of our political belief is grassroots participatory democracy. Local Government also enjoys the advantage of being the level of government closest to the community it serves. Although a constant complaint from the people of our region is how unapproachable, unresponsive, and unrepresentative the TRC has historically been. This has been highlighted recently by the overwhelming majority of councillors voting in support of the 2024 special rate variation, despite TRC’s own survey returning 97% not in favour of the rate rise.

As councillors, we’ll commit to making ourselves open to genuine public consultation throughout our term. We want to explore forms of participatory democracy, with one initiative being to regularly host a listening post at market stalls or at a park across the region where community members are free to talk to a councillor about whatever issues they have concerning the council.

We are also supportive of a Transparency and Accountability policy of adopting a register of interactions between councillors, developers, and lobbyists. A motion to implement this policy has twice before been put forward by Cr Rodda but has been voted down both times by the overwhelming majority of councillors. On council, we would enthusiastically support such a motion, as we believe this information should be publicly available to all community members.

Cost of Living

We are opposed to the 36.3 special rate variation requested by TRC during 2024. We recognise the ongoing financial constraints the council has accumulated due to factors such as cost-shifting mechanisms from the state government and rate pegging. However, we believe that such a large rate increase at a time of considerable economic hardship is not in the best interest of the residents of the Tamworth region. It’s also important to remember that the rate increase will not just affect ratepayers, as renters will most likely see this cost passed on in the form of rent increases.

On council, we will push to investigate ways to accelerate the adoption of sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure such as solar panels, batteries, water tanks, heat pumps, and greywater systems to lower household and business utility bills and make our housing and commercial stock more sustainable.

Green Spaces

We believe that it is a key responsibility of councils to provide safe, clean, and accessible green spaces, playgrounds, toilets, and sporting fields. Open green spaces within walking distance from home are essential for people’s well-being and enjoyment and invaluable in keeping our communities cool.

On council, we will push to increase access to and quality of these facilities throughout our region. Our suburbs and villages have plenty of parks that are little more than a mostly empty field with maybe some play equipment. We believe that these sites are prime opportunities for improvement. We believe that a primary way to achieve this would be to separate the council department of Parks and Gardens from Sports and Recreation and, by extension, re-establish funding for Parks and Gardens as a budget item.

We recognise that council-owned urban green spaces provide a prime opportunity for the expansion of biodiversity within our region. We believe it’s a responsibility of councils to utilise native, bio-beneficial, and climate-appropriate plants on council-owned land along with nature strips. This, in turn, will reduce urban heat, encourage active transport, and make our communities more liveable. We will also investigate how TRC can better help residents identify and remove invasive weeds both within our urban spaces in bushland.

Housing

While the entire nation is facing a housing crisis, it is imperative for councils to do their part in getting new homes built to catch up to demand. Tamworth has several major housing divisions planned in our pursuit to reach a population of 100,000, but it’s equally important to ensure that a mix of housing types are being developed, not just family homes and suburban sprawl. We need to be forward thinking and plan new housing with the goal of reducing pressure on traffic congestion, and minimising the impacts on the natural environment surrounding our urban areas

On council, we would encourage the building of medium-density dwellings to utilise space efficiently and provide a range of housing options to suit different requirements depending on life circumstances. In suburbs, this could take the form of units or town-houses. Closer to the CBD, we would be supportive of utilising mixed zoning for builds like apartments.

Evidence shows that building new market housing without a dedicated social or affordable housing component has a negligible impact on meeting the housing needs of low to very low-income households. On the council, we would support affordable housing targets so that all new housing developments are required to have dedicated social and affordable housing.

We are also firm believers that any new housing must be supported by adequate infrastructure (i.e., public green space, schools, community spaces, healthcare facilities, etc.), and different levels of government, along with developers, must work collaboratively for these to be delivered in tandem with housing.

Sustainable Development

Tamworth has several new housing developments planned, and it’s crucial that the council pushes for developers to implement building practices considerate of modern environmental standards for these new homes to be comfortable and sustainable.

On council, we will push for DAs to incorporate applying the highest building sustainability index (BASIX) and green star ratings so that passive cooling and heating, minimal water consumption, and local renewable energy generation become standard in all new residential and commercial development, and detrimental practices like black roofs (which has been shown to increase temperatures by up to 10 degrees) are banned. We will also push for new builds to incorporate room for deep-rooted trees to help cool suburban neighbourhoods and for room for park lands to be set aside when rezoning land for residential use. We also believe developers need to pay their fair share to contribute to supporting infrastructure such as vibrant neighbourhood parks, suburban footpaths, and storm water retention basins.

Water

Our region has a prolonged history of water security issues, being a regional centre not located on a major river or with substantial access to underground aquifers. We believe action is required by all levels of government to solve the Tamworth Region’s water security issues, with the primary focus being the exploration and development of water recycling facilities.

We are highly supportive of TRC’s proposed industrial water treatment facility to significantly reduce the use of potable water by industry. On council, we will push for exploration into purified recycled drinking water education and infrastructure to expand non-rain-dependent sources of water, as well as expanding water efficiency measures.

On council we will not only support the continuation of TRC’s initiative to encourage water savings by subsidising the purchase of rainwater tanks and water efficient white goods, but we will push to expand it. We will also push to investigate ways to increase public education and uptake of water-wise, drought and frost-tolerant plants suitable for our region, along with mulches and decorative gravel in urban and commercial gardens.

Youth

Young people are valuable members of the Tamworth Region, with the ability to bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and vibrancy to our communities. We will advocate for and work to help ensure the objectives in the Tamworth Youth Strategy and Action Plan, as asked for by the Youth Council and young people in the region, are realised through adequate re-sourcing and support. We want to help build a Tamworth Region where young people thrive, feel valued and belong, fostering a sense of hope and progress, driving positive change and resilience within our community.

On council we would push to investigate how councils could better work in collaboration with local organisations working in youth advocacy, early education and justice reinvest spaces to better resource them to make change within our region. For instance, facilitating access to council owned venues to create safe recreation spaces for these organisations to operate.

Many of our above areas of interest would combine to make the Tamworth Region a more inclusive, liveable city for all residents. It is worth noting, though, that young people, in particular, would benefit from initiatives such as affordable housing, a more interconnected transport network not reliant on car travel and upgraded community spaces decentralised from the Tamworth CBD. We would also advocate for young people to have more opportunities to have meaningful input into local government issues to actively influence the community’s future, of which they will be custodians.