Angela Toppin's responses to the Community Questionnaire


Environment


1. What policies would you support to help protect the exceptional biodiversity within Mareeba Shire – and in particular protection of biodiversity in the Kuranda Region (Kuranda - Speewah – Koah)?
I am a great supporter of the environment and am very mindful that it is a finite resource. I support policies which are responsible and reasonable, especially policies which take a long term view and is based on thorough research (scientific, anthropological and community based). I consider that laws are in place to protect people, property and the planet.

2. Do you believe that protecting and enhancing the remaining natural environment is important for tourism, clean water for domestic and agricultural use and for future-proofing our shire?
I believe that protecting our environment is important for the planet and the wellbeing of all living things, I am also a supporter of tourism and strong financial growth in the shire and region. I consider that it is also important that we have sufficient food and resources to support our population, accordingly I support responsible and ethical agriculture and development.
Safe, sustainable and secure water is important for every resident in our shire whether they are residential, agricultural or other occupiers. Supply sources need to be thoroughly considered balancing all interests.

Climate Change


3. How do you think the shire could address extreme weather events that are linked to climate change such as droughts, cyclones, fires, etc.?
Our region has always been subject to weather extremes, as a resident of over 60 years I have experienced years of droughts, floods, cyclones and other disasters like fires, noxious plants and the likes. Australia on a whole has never been more aware of the impacts of weather and natural disasters than over the past 12 months. It is important that Council have policies to deal with the disasters as they arise to mitigate the damage and flow on problems associated with events of this nature. It is equally necessary to ensure that we are responsible in our day to day operations – recycling, responsible refuse management, water use and management, air quality, use of resources, development of parks, nature strips and green areas, sub development and expansion – we bear an onus to ensure that the environmental impacts are considered and evaluated along with residents’ needs and the future security of the shire.

4. Do you think it's important to reduce carbon emissions in the shire, as a way of contributing to global reductions -and how could this be done? (e.g. building regulations for eco-friendly, tropical architecture that reduces/ avoids the use of air conditioning)
It’s vital that every person in our shire consider their impact on the planet, a council is only as effective as the policies it puts in place and the support and uptake of its constituents. I have always been a proponent for sustainable development, I support growth and responsible progress, abiding by regulations, standards and where possible having regard for the location, the environment and the long-term impacts. I believe that buildings and development can and should capitalize on location and ensure that aspects of construction are eco-friendly but am of the view that each project should be considered on its individual and idiosyncratic merits and requirements. For example – a building that suits the rainforest environment of Kuranda would not without substantial modification suit Dimbulah


Water & Health & Safety

5. a) Do you think council should act to reduce soil and chemical run-off into the Shire’s waterways from both council-controlled land as well as private property and agricultural areas?
Council has a legal obligation to responsibly and ethically manage council owned and controlled lands; this includes an obligation to avoid soil and chemical run off. The standard of care for Council is much higher than that expected of a private resident.
There are laws which are enacted by state and federal government regarding soil and chemical run off into any waterways. These regulations policed by state and federal stakeholders and it goes without saying that should council become aware of breaches they are under obligation to report them to the nominated authorities and to take necessary steps to mitigate the damage.

b) If so, what measures would you support? e.g. creating a Barron River Catchment Improvement trust to facilitate re-vegetation; local planning laws requiring adequate protected riparian zones; stopping aerial spraying?
Council is only allowed to adopt policies and enact by-laws where authorized under state legislation. As an educational leader with 40+ years of experience, I have had vast experience in negotiating and liaising with state and federal departments and stakeholders, I bring those skills to any future role with Council and will pursue matters in the best interst of the shire.

6. What would you do as a councillor to support water security across the Shire e.g. council measures to increase uptake of rain water tanks in both town and rural areas; drought proofed public and private gardens (fewer lawns and more native trees)?
Residents should be encouraged to embrace sound water management and usage, any role that the Council can have in ensuring that this is supported and embraced will be promoted by me. I am a passionate advocate of native greenery and nature strips being incorporated into any developments or infrastructure, especially that under Council management or ownership. It’s important that progress and development be undertaken responsibly and ethically with reference to location, environment and needs of the residents.

7. Neither Mareeba nor Kuranda’s water supply are filtered to remove pesticides and Giardia and Cryptosporidia. Do you think council should inform ratepayers of this risk so each household to decide what level of remediation they can arrange and afford?
The state government has responsibility for water policies although Council has management of the water supply systems within the shire. Water is tested daily to ensure that quality standards are maintained and risks identified quickly. Where there is any risk to residents, notifications are issued immediately and all necessary steps taken to ensure the health and safety of shire residents are protected.

8. a) In light of the linking of glyphosate (Round-up) with cancers such as lymphoma, do you support chemical free methods of removing weeds from children's playgrounds and surrounding parklands?
Council takes the health and safety of its residents seriously. Practices and policies are reviewed regularly. You might like to check the Local Area Management Plan effective until this year when it will be revised by Council. Close attention will be paid to the use of any unsafe or identified chemicals.
b) Until this occurs, would you support the labelling and dating of any use of herbicides or other chemical in playgrounds so these areas can be avoided- and ensuring that council workers applying the herbicides are taking all precautions to protect themselves- and the public- from unnecessary exposure?
Every precaution is taken to ensure that the safety of our residents is not knowingly compromised. I support workplace health and safety regulations as their primary role is to protect our employees and facility users.

Development, Industry & Jobs


9. a) How would you help the Shire’s agricultural sector transition toward a more sustainable, water-efficient, and resilient production standard?b) Do you think that Council has a role in encouraging the sharing of expertise about regenerative agriculture1 in the Shire e.g. via workshops?
As an educationalist, I would encourage any education and training on improved methods in agriculture and industry, having said that our Council has operation budgets which have specific allocation of funding for training, conference and education. Any proposal would need to be submitted to Council for consideration.

10. What are your thoughts on prioritising new economic opportunities (like Nature Tourism) that depend on healthy, intact and extensive areas of environmental value?

We are so lucky to live where we do, the national parks, world heritage areas, conservation areas and wetlands are a blessing and should be enjoyed by shire residents and visitors alike. I am a supporter of tourism as previously mentioned. I believe in proper and ethical management of and access to these areas.

11. Are you interested in learning more about new, innovative industries such as the emerging Industrial Hemp industry in FNQ? Do you support developing local processing and ‘value-add’ industries creating local jobs?
I am interested in strengthening our shire, I support development, innovation and diversification provided all activities and undertakings are carried out responsibly, safely, ethically and legally.

12. a) What policies would you support to reduce and /or recycle waste?
b) Do you think that the circular economy2 concept should guide council policy? (This might function on a local level by, for example, local recycling of e.g. plastics, glass & building materials as job-producing industries)

It’s a fact of modern life that we need to be more mindful of reducing our consumption, reuse everything that we can (this is consistent with my values in life to live within my means, avoid excess and be financially responsible) and embrace recycling. Significant studies and research into the economics and viability of a circular economy in our shire, extensive public consultation would need to be undertaken and the flow on impacts to existing industries balanced with cost and outcomes would be considerations that would hold sway. My view is that it is not something that could be accomplished in one term of Council.

Process


13. Would you undertake to undo the Chief Executive Officer's delegated authority power in regards to code-assessable development applications, and insist that all the elected Councillors should be responsible for these decisions?
It is my understanding that we follow the protocols allowed by the Mareeba Shire Council Planning Scheme and State Planning Act. However we have for the past two years brought all significant Kuranda planning decisions, whether code assessable or impact assessable, to council 


14. If elected would you support restoring the two week period of consultation between release of Council Agenda and Council Meeting for both councillors and public?
Timelines for agendas and meetings are a matter for Council policy


Personal


15. What are the three most important things you hope to achieve if elected?
Safe, sustainable and secure water for all residents in our shire.
Reliable, safe and adequate transport corridors to ensure that all residents in our shire can live, commute and transport goods and services.
Ensuring that our shire is livable and appealing for residents and future residents by ensuring that we have adequate infrastructure, facilities and resources, health services, that there are conservation areas, parklands and parks for enjoyment.

16. Are you a member or supporter of any political party- and have you ever been?
No and this is one of the reasons why I am running as an independent.


17. a) Do you intend to reply in a timely manner to emails and communications that are sent to you by concerned residents?
I am very conscientious, and acknowledge emails as soon as possible

b) Do you have any commitments that might limit your capacity to do so?
The Mareeba Shire is a high priority

c) How would you make yourself accessible to residents wanting to meet you and discuss issues after being elected?
I operate with an open-door policy, my contact numbers and email will be available to all residents of the shire and I will make myself available regularly to residents of the Shire. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I have an active interest in everyone in the region and always take the time to listen to them and support them in their needs, as best I can.

18. a) How would you balance your obligation to represent the large voting bloc in Mareeba with giving proper regard to the views of small outlying communities?
We have close to 22,000 residents in the shire only 11,000 of them reside in Mareeba. It would be incumbent upon me to travel around the shire frequently and to stay abreast of issues, concerns and all matters pertaining to Council. I already travel throughout the shire in my various volunteer roles and I would not see any reason for this to cease if elected. Obviously I would give priority to the mayoral obligations and responsibility but the role would not change my approach to life and people.

b) Do you think that divisions would be a good way to ensure such representation in the future?
Divisions are only ever as effective as the councilor representing them. It goes without saying that a vote is a vote, there are a diverse range of people standing for election and it is possible to have a voice by properly exercising a right to nominate and to vote, by communicating concerns clearly.

For more details about Angela Toppin, click here