Your age: 51 years of age
Experience in politics: I was a Councillor on Dubbo City Council from 2004 to 2016 when Dubbo and Wellington were amalgamated. I was also Mayor of Dubbo City Council from 2011 to 2016. In addition to my time as Mayor I spent separate terms as Deputy Mayor and Chair of Standing Committees on Council.
Profession outside of politics: I am an entrepreneur outside of politics. I started my first micro-business in 1980 while in Year Seven at St Johns College in Dubbo and started my first business as an adult in 1989. Over the last thirty years I have started six businesses – all of which have been successful – and they have mainly been involved around the technology sector. I have also written three books – mainly technology focused - but my most successful was a business advice book called Small Business Ru!es. I have also performed corporate speaking work for organisations across the world with a focus on technology.
Why are you running for the seat of Dubbo? Frustration and a belief I can make a difference. I never dreamed of entering politics but in 2004 I became frustrated with what I was seeing on Dubbo City Council and believed that I could either sit back and complain or put my hand up and make a positive difference. I chose the latter. After the Council amalgamations in 2016, I watched from the sideline and again became frustrated with the lack of representation for our electorate and politics that was party driven not people driven. I felt compelled to put my hand up again to make a difference.
Why should people vote for an independent? One of my frustrations with our current government is that the party needs comes before the needs of the electorate. An Independent is not bound by any party policies and can always represent the needs of the electorate. Tony McGrane and Dawn Fardell both proved an Independent can be very effective in representing an area but this election will give Independents a chance at delivering even greater power. As quoted in the news this week: “There is no surer way to get your electorate’s streets paved with gold than in a minority government where independents hold the balance of power."
What are the top three issues in the electorate? Cost of living (particularly power) and health and roads and always big issues but specific issues vary dramatically. People in Wellington and Narromine need a 24-hour police station. People in Trangie need better drought solutions. Residents of Crudine are worried about the impacts of a wind farm. Mudgee and Gulgong, where 36.1 per cent of the income is from coal, are worried about a future world where coal-mining is declining. People in Dubbo want to see a solution to West Dubbo traffic. By travelling the electorate I have been able to find the specific issues that matter to people.
Why should people vote for you? I am a passionate fourth generation local who is committed to this electorate. I have a proven track record of success across multiple business enterprises in addition to a long history of representing people in this community – as a Councillor and as a Mayor. I am committed to the community as I have proven over decades of charity and community service to a number of organisations and events that I have created or helped organise or been involved with. This long track record of community involvement will continue at a different level if I am elected to represent this community.
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How do you propose to bring more jobs to the electorate? We have three organisations that have a focus of delivering regional growth but unfortunately the State Government no longer funds any of these organisations. I would firstly provide State funding for Evocities, RDA Orana and Regional Capitals Australia so they can continue on their previous work in providing attraction and growth for regional areas. Secondly, I would create Payroll Tax exemptions for regional areas to promote business attraction from the city. I would also create Combined Agency Teleworker Offices (CATOs) to allow individuals from government departments to work in regional areas without needing to move an entire department.
What is your stance on renewable energy? We need to take a long-term view and start to provide for our power needs in the future. That doesn’t mean the next four years but the long-term power needs of this State. I am not in favour of stopping coal-fired power stations immediately as we need to have a sensible transition to renewable energy but if we don’t start putting in a plan now and start building more renewables, we will one day come to a shuddering halt. We also need to be conscious of our agricultural land when we decide where to build any renewable energy plants.
What do you feel is the biggest issue affecting people in your electorate? The number one issue I have heard as I have toured all 131 localities across the electorate over the last ten months is frustration with petty party politics. Residents in the electorate want a representative that focuses on them – not internal politics. Once the focus is directed at positive outcomes for the electorate, many of the issues in the electorate are resolved in a more efficient way. The electorate is large. 17,352.89 square kilometres. I have clocked up close to 40,000km travelling the electorate and across such a large area the issues for people differ dramatically.
How do you propose to help with this should you be elected? The solution to the petty party politics is incredibly simple. Elect an Independent who has the sole focus of the people of the electorate. An Independent has no party to pander to but can focus on the residents that elected them. Going a step further, an Independent that has refused political donations has no individual or group that is owed anything so the Independent can focus on the best outcomes for the electorate. I would encourage voters to elect the person that they believe has the best experience and background and track record to best represent this electorate.
Where do you stand on the second bridge / ring road for Dubbo? On March 14, 2015 the Premier stood beneath the LH Ford Bridge and promised, if re-elected, to duplicate that Bridge in the next term of government to resolve congestion issues. This is problem number one that needs to be solved. As a second issue, over 20,000 vehicles a day pass through Dubbo on the Newell Highway. Some trucks are using Narromine as a de facto bypass. We need to provide a solution for trucks and through traffic and that is a bypass or ring road of some description. The River Street Bridge option does not adequately solve either problem.
What is your stance on a drug court for Dubbo? In comparison groups between offenders dealt with by traditional means and those dealt with by a Drug Court, Drug Court participants are 17 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for any offence and 38 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for a drug offence. Reduction in recidivism is a high priority and it can be clearly shown that a Drug Court will help in this area. A Drug Court without associated rehabilitation and support services though is not sufficient so we need the introduction of the required support and rehabilitation services in conjunction with a Drug Court.
What is your favourite book/hobby/activity? I am a fan of Douglas Adams and his clever writing style so ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ is one of my favourite books. I enjoy racing Mountain Bikes which I do to stay fit but also to relax and unwind and ensure that I relieve any stress. Thinking about getting around the next corner as fast as possible without falling off doesn’t allow you to dwell on any frustrations from the day. My wife of 24 years and our four children also help me relax and see what is important in life.