Locky Bensted'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 believe existing policies in place are helping our bio-diversity issues across the whole shire. However I do recognise that the Kuranda area is signified as being very pristine and in a sensitive area and this image is showcased across the world. As a result I would be open to any further policy ideas.


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 have been born and bred on a rural cattle/farming property so I am only too aware of the importance of our environment. As a producer, my best asset is my land. I know my land better than most so I believe that over policing a producer is counter-productive. I do believe in clean water ways and I most certainly am already advocating for more water storage areas in our Shire. Without water we would certainly cease to exist. We need more not less.

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.?

Due to the fact that we live so close to the equator we will always be faced with lots of different weather. As long as we have policies in place for floods, fires and droughts then I see no reason to address anything further. I do however believe that we can look at these policies at the start of each season and encourage residents’ input.


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)


Yes, as our machinery reaches its end of life, I believe its important to look at efficiency when purchasing such equipment. As a machine owner, having an efficient running machine helps in many ways; less fuel burn, less breakdowns etc. I am also aware that changing building codes isn’t any easy fix. Perhaps a financial encouragement (small rates reduction) to those who want to build a certain way could be beneficial.

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?

I am not aware of any soil or chemical run-off in the Shire as such there is no reason to act.


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?


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)?


I would support all of the above. If elected, I would like to speak with the State government in this respect to see if there is any financial aid in having extra rain water tanks across our Shire. I don’t agree on telling residents to reduce the size of their lawns or what trees to plant.


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?

I was not aware of this claim. I would support a new filter supply system if its proven to be a health hazard in our Shire.


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?

Once again, we do need evidence to prove this statement in our playgrounds. However I am aware of other alternate measures to replace roundup. I would support this on playgrounds if there is evidence of Glyphospate residue after spraying on childrens play equipment.


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?

I am aware that Council employees already wear appropriate PPE so not until this fact can be proven.

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?

Our farmers are some of these best in the world and they are already contending with new ways of farming. Most producers are or already have developed smarter ways of farming. Don’t forget that their water usage is already extremely expensive, so they are utilising every drop.

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?

I most certainly agree with encouraging ways in doing things. I myself would like to learn about regenerative farming and Im sure a lot of farmers would be open to workshops on such.


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

As mentioned above, we have exceptional bio-diversity in our Shire and there is always more to be done. I would support iniatives as such and even encourage more tourism to working farms, businesses and those who are interested in showing off our beautiful area.


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?


Yes. Part of my approach to running for council is that I would bring an innovative approach. Yes I do support all of question 11.


12. a) What policies would you support to reduce and /or recycle waste?

I believe we can certainly add to this area with a lot more emphasis on waste. On the northern side of Mareeba we have a huge compost facility. So already our leaders in our Shire are thinking outside the square and I believe we are on the cusp of having a new iniative being undertake in our shire when it comes to waste.



b) Do you think that the circular economy 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)


I certainly believe that this can be utilised in the future providing costs of such can be afforded by the Shire. I do know that early this year Mareeba Shire had 3 councillors attend this forum in Brisbane so I would hope that this is part of future policy for Mareeba Shire.

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?

There are already processes in place for these applications and these are voted on by Council at this time.


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?

Once again there are processes in place for this, as I’m not in Council I can’t comment on how this works but I would be open to meetings if elected to discuss this.

Personal

15. What are the three most important things you hope to achieve if elected?

Bridge the gap between all generations. As a 34 year old, I believe that having the next generation part of the decision process is one of the most important things Council can undertake next term.

I believe we need far more water storage facilities and a better share of road funding across our Shire and as such would be advocating for this and more.

Communication. I would like to see a better relationship with future State and Federal politicians, so we are all on the same page. At the moment, decisions are being made down south without informing those who it impacts on.


16. Are you a member or supporter of any political party- and have you ever been?

No I am not and yes I have been.


17. a) Do you intend to reply in a timely manner to emails and communications that are sent to you by concerned residents?

Yes, I am in the community most weekends and I am very approachable

b) Do you have any commitments that might limit your capacity to do so?

No


c) How would you make yourself accessible to residents wanting to meet you and discuss issues after being elected?

Most that know me know that I am constantly in our Shire, my phone is on in daylight hours and Im very accessible on email and social media.


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?


As mentioned I am constantly across the Shire on weekends and even work days.


b) Do you think that divisions would be a good way to ensure such representation in the future?

No.

For further infromation on Locky Bensted, please click here.