City of Greater Bendigo council candidates – Eppalock ward

Greater Bendigo City Council 

Eppalock Ward

Yvonne Wrigglesworth

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

As a professional working mother of two young children, my husband and I moved to Bendigo in 2008 for a ‘tree change’. We love our life in Bendigo and it has inspired me to stand for council, to make a positive difference. I have skills, ability and energy that I’d like to give back to our community. It is something I would like to share for the greater good, and to be part of a better future for my family, seeking the best solutions for the greatest community.

What can you offer as a candidate?

Enthusiasm, strong governance skills and I have significant experience in strategy and risk management. I have track record of working with, and inspiring communities. I work with integrity and have always been known for action and making things happen.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Councillors need to able to articulate themselves effectively and be good listeners. They should have integrity, display empathy and have the ability to quickly grasp complex matters.

A solid understanding of governance versus operations with a strong record of community connection, volunteering and achievement is also essential.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

1. First and foremost, I will be listening to understand and support solutions that deliver outcomes. I believe council emphasis and investment should strengthen communities, whether they are big, small or diverse, because empowered communities succeed.

2. To increase community engagement and trust. It is essential to understand and improve ratepayer experience in order to better meet current and future needs of residents. Understanding ratepayer experience will ensure our community is best represented when faced with any challenge, opportunity or decision.

3. Making sure decision-making has a longer-term view, providing benefits for today and our future generations. I will work hard to get the right balance between talk and action.

There are some particular things that I am keen to support and resolve including commitment to the vision and action to develop Wolstencroft Reserve, an upgrade or rebuild of the Heathcote Public Toilets and a longer term strategy for sporting grounds to be fit for purpose in relation to usage but also in changing weather environments. 

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about ensuring infrastructure supports our communities to make healthy lifestyle decisions that increase active living, and the importance of empowering communities to be able to take a lead role in determining their futures. Council has a significant role in this and to they must continue supporting the importance of community-identified priorities and the planning process.

However, there will always be many competing issues and importantly there are values and principles I will apply to each decision in front of me. That is Community, Integrity and Action. 

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Ensuring suburbs and small towns are effectively serviced in a rate-capping environment. 

Sound planning that responds to our region’s growth, whilst preserving our heritage and natural environment. 

Retaining local jobs and continuing to grow business and industry that encourages graduates to return to Bendigo.

If you were a councillor during the last term, what would you have done differently? For those who served the last term, what would you have done differently?

N/A

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

I am an independent candidate with no political alignment, affiliation or membership.

Rosemary Glaisher

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

The experience of campaigning for the Federal election taught me a lot about my own city. I was struck by both the challenges and risks we face but also the opportunities. I want to be part of a team steering us towards the best possible future for our young people and our beautiful natural environment.

What can you offer as a candidate?

I genuinely want nothing from this experience other than the opportunity to give back to the community. I have the ability to listen with an open mind and to engage respectfully with people who disagree with me. I am willing to learn and to change my mind when new information demands this. I respect science and learning and understand that policy must be evidence-based. I’m conscientious, honest, hard working and have plenty of energy. I am progressive and I’m looking to the future.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

I believe that the qualities mentioned above are the key to a well functioning Council. I don’t believe that councillors need to start off as experts in any particular field (town planning, business management, tourism etc) because no-one will be expert in all of them. What is important is that they are willing to take expert advice when appropriate and to listen to all sides of an issue to ensure informed and sensible outcomes.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

Sustainable planning to keep Bendigo liveable.

By definition, if our lifestyle isn’t sustainable, it has a time limit. I don’t believe we have the right to live in a way that will impact negatively on our children and those who follow us.

We need to tackle Climate Change and in doing so we can reduce energy costs and develop new local industries.  Sustainability needs to be a consideration in building design, new developments and redevelopment. 

Biodiversity in the “City in the Forest”

We love our forests, waterways and wildlife and these are important to our identity and tourism, and include significant endangered species. Once ecosystems are gone they can’t be replaced. Ours are vulnerable in a drying and warming climate that is increasingly susceptible to flood and fire. We can’t afford to cause avoidable damage to what is left.

Appreciation and respect for our cultural diversity.

During the Gold Rush Europeans, Chinese and Muslim Afghans came onto Aboriginal land. In more recent years newcomers of many nationalities have enriched our lives. But as long as pockets of misplaced fear and distrust remain, we must keep working to ensure that everyone who lives in Bendigo feels accepted, appreciated and respected.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

Sustainability. Without it we have literally no future. If we get it right, and I believe we can, we will build a healthy, happy, functional society.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Preparing for the increasing effects of global warming and making the necessary adjustments to the way we do things to maintain our quality of life and our biodiversity.

Ensuring that youth, the vulnerable, the voiceless are not left behind in our quest for a better life.

Promoting harmony and mutual respect and affection in our multi-ethnic, multicultural society.

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

I am proud to be a long-term member of the Greens and to be endorsed by the Greens for this election.

Helen Leach

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

I am standing for re-election in 2016 because I believe that I can continue to be an effective councillor, working for the good of the ratepayers and residents of the City of Greater Bendigo. It's all very well to have a wish list as a candidate, but the reality is there needs to be a majority to actually achieve these aims.

I will continue to ask the hard questions; to pursue accountability and transparency.

What I am most concerned about at present is the affordability of this 'City'; it's all very well to talk about 'liveability', but if the cost of living pressures - exacerbated by unaffordable (for many) council rates - are distressing our residents, then we must lower our costs, lower the council rates and give the residents a break.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

I believe that a willingness to pursue honesty and transparency for the benefit of the residents, together with a commitment to represent them and their needs before Council; persistence, hard work, having experience in business.

I would like a fairer distribution of resources throughout the municipality; large projects like new public conveniences in Heathcote, a community hub in Redesdale, adequate and safe footpaths and cycle paths for the smaller towns and better roads for our rural areas are things that I would like to achieve.

A waste to energy regional facility and a municipal organic waste processing plant are essential. Adequate carparking will, I think, revitalize the CBD.

What I’m most passionate about though is the affordability of the Greater City. We cannot claim to be the state's or nation's most liveable regional city if a large proportion of our residents are in financial stress.

I think the City of Greater Bendigo can provide the necessary facilities and services operating on a much smaller budget and financial contribution by the ratepayers. 

Future water security, waste minimization and processing, affordable renewable energy, jobs and industry are crucial for the whole of Australia, but I would like to see action in this City.

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

I have not been endorsed by any political party.

Susie Hawke

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

I decided to stand for council in July this year.  Although rather a late decision compared to other candidates in this current election, it is something that I have always thought about doing.  The reasons that prompted my nomination for this tenure include the desire to make a change and to raise the profile of the importance of the early years, children and families.  I think we need an overhaul of current councillors to ensure we have more diversity of views. I think the Bendigo community has lost a little respect for our current council due to some bickering and inappropriate behaviour of a few. It’s time for a change and some fresh faces with fresh ideas.  That’s why I am standing at this election.

What can you offer as a candidate?

I can offer a wealth of experience in the area of networking, collaboration and partnership building which I have gained through my work coordinating many regional and statewide projects.  I also have extensive experience in the area of early childhood development and supporting families to raise their children to be the best they can be. I have a great deal of knowledge about the disability sector having worked for Scope Loddon Mallee for 8 years. I am part of a very active and sporting focussed family so have current knowledge of the needs for sport and recreation in our region. I can also offer the perspective of a busy working mother, who doesn’t necessarily own a business or is a company director, but a real person who can represent the needs of a whole community.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

I believe the ability to work together with others, respect others view even if they are not your own, and the ability to listen to others are the most important qualities for a councillor.  I think the ability to get things done or do the work needed, as well as ensuring deadlines are met or timelines adhered to, are also very important.  A councillor needs to be a team player, but also have the ability to be a leader and initiate tasks when required.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

My top three priorities are children and families, sport and recreation and support for people of all abilities. High quality early years services and supports need to be front and centre in our communities.  Improvements in health, education and employment outcomes stem from the support given to children aged zero to eight years. Children need families who are well supported to help develop their children’s skills. Sport and recreation are keys to developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. I will continue to advocate for upgraded sporting facilities across the municipality. Having worked in the local disability sector for eight years I am aware of the needs of people with disabilities.  With rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in May 2017 the council needs to stay abreast of local issues in this area and I believe I have much experience and knowledge to share. I think the biggest priority though should be listening to the community and representing their views. There are many individual issues being raised as platforms for people in this election. If elected I would represent the views of all residents in the Greater City of Bendigo, and not just those of the Eppalock Ward.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about the early years and supporting children to develop into the best person they can be. We need to ensure that children are well supported in their first few years of life as most of our brain develops between the ages of zero to three. Quality education and care is a priority in the early years so children have the best potential to learn to communicate, develop good oral language and literacy skills, and enter the school system with skills that support lifelong learning. If children remain engaged in school they will have better outcomes for education, employment, health and wellbeing. The research is very clear that if you support children in the early years they will have better outcomes later in life. This also means less money will be required to support additional assistance at school for children not meeting benchmarks, less money needed for juvenile justice as more children are kept out of the justice system and less money required for healthcare services as people are healthier. Communities need to support families to help raise their children as they spend the majority of their time in the care of their parents or carers in these early years.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

As with many regional communities, poor educational outcomes, disengaged youth, juvenile justice issues and declining health are all current challenges for the City of Greater Bendigo. Supporting children in the early years and supporting families to help raise their children to be the best they can be will help tackle all of these challenges. We need quality early years services to support children and families. I believe Bendigo and the surrounding communities are great places to live and we have a thriving tourism industry with many major events already brought to Bendigo. I therefore believe another challenge for Bendigo is to maintain this positive momentum and for our council to regain the respect of the people so that they can support communities to flourish and showcase Bendigo as not only a great place to visit, but also a great place to live and raise a family.

If you were a councillor during the last term, what would you have done differently? For those who served the last term, what would you have done differently?

If I was a councillor during the last term I would have tried to ensure that we all worked together more effectively and that issues were worked out behind closed doors rather than being ‘splashed across the media’.  I think this really affected the community’s level of respect for council which has been lost for many. I would also have tried to ensure once again that any divisive issues were discussed and debated in a respectful way to ensure our town wasn’t seen by many as a town not inclusive of many religions, cultures and views.

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

I am not currently, nor have I ever been, aligned to any political party. I am running as an independent in this election.

George Flack

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

I firmly believe I have a broad offering of both strong community experience (Band, CFA, Athletics with up to 52 years past experience) coupled to a strong business sense (past 29 years self employed small businessman employing 9 staff), financial qualifications and I am at the "Coalface" of the Community from both my business and Community interests that I experience on a daily basis. I get a strong "feel" from being at that coalface of what residents and ratepayers want from Council. They want better listeners for example and better people who will take positive action to rectify earlier wrong decisions that have been costly.

What can you offer as a candidate? 

A better understanding on all financial matters as a Fellow Institute of Public Accountants, A Certified Financial Planner with Financial Planning qualifications gained at Deakin University to name but a few. Fresh blood also brings with it the ability to open up more broader ideas and engagement of the Community in decision-making. 

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor? 

To be a good listener, a deep thinker and an ability to call upon others to interpret matters of relevance in Council matters where necessary. 

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why? 

Strathfieldsaye is growing and will double it's size in a short space of time to be equivalent to Castlemaine's population. I am a current member of the Strathfieldsaye Urban Design Update sub committee with a number of other community-minded citizens headed by Town Planner Trevor Budge and staff such as Els Vesters formulating key decisions for the Strathfieldsaye Town Centre. In addition a swimming pool there with increased primary and potential Secondary School, associated infrastructure. Heathcote as one of the towns travellers approach to travel to Bendigo itself requires more listening by Council and Councillors to it's people and what they require to service them more adequately than that occurring at present. 

What issue in our community are you most passionate about? 

Zero rate rises and in some instances rate reductions from excessively high or unrealistic rates levied upon our ratepayers. Financial affordability by many of our ratepayers is beyond their ability to meet their financial commitments. Bendigo has one and a half times the average Australian population reliant upon Centrelink entitlements and addressing this issue is important to those ratepayers. There are two sides to any budget - the revenue side and expense side. Now does not necessarily "have" to lift rates all the time on the revenue side. Merely focusing on the expense-side - where there are huge potential savings - for example burgeoning loans and repayments, staffing costs escalating and some instances to the detriment of all and pressures on Council by other Governments to funds more than themselves - this has to stop.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo? 

Poor decisions of the past which will cripple future decisions for example going guarantor for the Schweppes Centre to approximately $m10 reduces Councils ability to borrow for other projects.

If you were a councillor during the last term, what would you have done differently? For those who served the last term, what would you have done differently?

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which? 

No.​

Mark Weragoda

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

I believe in our community. Our vibrant municipality needs continuity in its delivery of projects and infrastructure. I am passionate about Bendigo, Heathcote, Strathfieldsaye, Readsdale, Axedale, Eppalock, Junortoun and surrounding areas. I will work harder to achieve good, vibrant and affordable outcomes for communities and individuals. It is important to have community minded business people as Councillors not aligned with single issues. As a local businessman owning my own business for the last 27 years and a Rotarian for 25 years, receiving a Paul Harris Fellow for service above self, and serving as Assistant Governor and International Director, I talk to communities with common threads and objectives. This is simply about listing and helping communities to achieve outcomes. This is about community engagement and which is a key factor for our City.

What can you offer as a candidate?

As an Eppalock Ward Councillor for the past four years, I have gained a sound understanding of the needs and aspirations for the ward. I have completed my Diploma in Local Government which cements Governance, Diplomacy and Advocacy. As Chair of the Lake Eppalock Land and On Water Management Group, I look forward to working strongly to achieve outcomes for the long term future of the lake and all user groups. It is as important to promote this catchment through Tourism for recreational as it is for irrigation. I have gained a valuable understanding on the finances of the City by sitting on the Finance Committee. I sit on the Heritage Advisory Committee, Bendigo Art Gallery board and the Airport Advisory Committee. Our heritage, tourism and connecting regional cities only boost our economy, employment and industry growth. Advocating to all levels of Government is fundamental to the growth of our city and I have good relationships with Ministers and Parliamentarians. As a local businessman owning my own business for the last 27 years and a Rotarian for 25 years, I talk to communities with common threads and objectives.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

A Councillor must have qualities of diplomacy and show respect for communities in all walks of life. He or she must be able to sell our city with passion encourage growth and employment through Tourism, Arts, Heritage and Industry.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

Advocate for a new Toilet Block at Heathcote. Work with Strathfieldsaye community in implementing the Strathfieldsaye Town Centre Urban Design Framework. Work with all Lake Eppalock user groups to achieve positive outcomes

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

Being inclusive and mindful in the delivery of projects with accountability. Communities understand that the City has achieved remarkable strategies over the last four years, such as the Housing Strategy, Compact City, Integrated Transport and the Land use Strategy. We need to build on these with positive outcomes.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Keeping up with our population growth and delivering services. Affording everything communities want with limited funding as a result of capped rates.

If you were a councillor during the last term, what would you have done differently?

For those who served the last term, what would you have done differently? I would have worked harder to understand the business and finances quicker so that I could explain to communities the delivery process of projects and how they are prioritised through the council plan and budget.

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party?  If so, which? I am not politically aligned and have never been.

Colin Carrington

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

As a 24 year ratepayer of Bendigo council, I believe much can be improved within council by more effective representation of ratepayers, residents, and all types of business, by councillors who have had both business and 'real life' experience. I am not a retired person receiving substantial superannuation or other investment income to live on. I am a self-funded retiree, on a relatively low income who can identify with the pain experienced by the average 'Jane and Joe' ratepayers and citizens, particularly pensioners, others on low incomes, families and the considerable percentage of the population within council boundaries who currently have no effective voice.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Has the time to effectively represent ratepayers, citizens, I do not believe candidates who hold full time responsible and demanding jobs could have the time to do so.

Be a good listener. Prepared to listen to residents and community groups. For that has obviously not been occurring with many of our current councillors.

Prepared to do independent research. Not believe everything that has been prepared by council officers in reports and recommendations.

Respond promptly to requests.

Have the intellect, good manners, dress and bearing to represent Bendigo council consistently, in positive and effective ways. As a retired Army Reserve Major, former small businessman, citizen involved in community groups, I have experience and a proven record of being able to comply with those requirements.

Work with, but not be 'led by the CEO and council senior officers'.

Be able to work as a team with fellow councillors. But achieving that may well depend on the courtesy and willingness of other councillors to reciprocate.

Be an effective verbal and written communicator. I am an experienced public speaker and hold a TAFE Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing.

Able to effectively chair meetings.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

Strathfieldsaye, Junortoun and Heathcote district are not being afforded the attention and priorities each deserve. I will advocate strongly for a swimming pool at fast growing Strathfieldsaye, but as 'all the eggs and money' have been put into one basket, with the Aquatic, Leisure and Wellbeing Centre at Kangaroo Flat it will be ten years or more before council can afford a 25 metre pool for Strathfieldsaye. And any other major infrastructure for that matter.

Ensuring rates for the Eppalock ward, and all of Bendigo council are capped to CPI or less.

Council must advocate with VicRoads for an additional inwards lane, at least, in Condon Street and Townsend Street to ease the traffic congestion coming from the direction of Strathfieldsaye and Strathdale into Bendigo. Why councillors in current and past term have not fought for this obvious need is beyond me.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

HACC Home and Community Care for the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged members of our communities.

Although this vital service has continued under the control of Bendigo council, the service has been considerably reduced with there being no weekend care, for many people in real need. Enormous strain and workload has been placed on the home carers. Elderly, disabled and disadvantaged residents must receive the same care 'service' they previously were getting.

I am concerned about unemployment, in all age groups. More needs to be done to help our youth population to gain employment, or at least have some more meeting places and options of a range of activities to 'keep them off the street' active, to minimise obesity.  Projects such as, The Neighbourhood Project, started by 'youth - for youth' must be supported by council.

The lack of footpaths and effective street lighting in many of the long established parts of inner Bendigo suburbs is nothing short of disgraceful.

Communities in the urban and rural townships such as Heathcote particularly, continually have projects in their Community Plans, in priority order, but more often than not they take years to materialise, if in fact ever.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Returning council to 'the people'. The council, particularly over the past 8 years has not been effectively listening to the majority of the people, and consulting with them.

Planning for future growth of Bendigo is vital.

The current situation of the CEO having expenditure powers that do not have to be approved by councillors is concerning.

Also, the CEO literally having carte blanche, in creating new positions.

The Defined Superannuation Liability Scheme, that will require millions of dollars of ongoing payments by council into the future must be better managed.

Hard decisions must be made, as to just how many millions of dollars can continue to be 'lost' annually by council continuing to prop up Art Gallery and Theatres losses, while subsidising Tourism heavily.

Claims of need for accepting diversity do not resonate with me. The recently approved Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Plan I do not see as needed nor necessary. In the past people from a huge variety of countries and cultures have settled in Bendigo and district and largely 'taken up the Australian way of life'. Who is being pandered to, or for what reasons are the citizens of Bendigo council 'being prepared for' by establishing a CDIP?

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

I am not a member of any political party. I've been a swinging voter all my life.

I did support Greg Bickley (Liberal) in the 2013 Federal election for the seat of Bendigo.

Also, at the most recent state election when Greg contested Bendigo East.

The reasons I did so on both occasions were, I believed Mr Bickley was 'the best candidate'. 

Margaret O’Rourke

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

Because Bendigo deserves better!

Bendigo is in a great position where it could become the best regional city in Australia. To be that though, it needs a council that performs much better than what has happened in the past 4 years.

We need councillors that can lead our city – to develop robust strategies, to see them successfully implemented and to make sure our council is financially prudent and responsible.

This requires councillors who have the skills and experience to govern, councillors who will enhance the reputation of our city.

What can you offer as a candidate?

I am a resident, a small business owner, I have large corporate experience, I am a board director and a parent. My experience sets me apart from other candidates to look at issues logically, informed, with reason and respect. I am the only candidate in the Eppalock ward who has long term experience in large corporate budgets in a variety of industries.

I listen to people, I work with them.

In the past four years this has been missing from our Council table. We need to work together; robust discussion and debate are critical but the outcome must always see Bendigo in a better place.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Developing and implementing robust visions for the future with long term plans.  Then the skills to monitor the implementation of those plans, to oversee responsible and effective delivery by council staff. 

Understanding the needs of our city, urban and rural communities.

Financial literacy and understanding, the ability to develop and monitor budgets effectively.

Experience in governance of multi-million dollar projects.

Ability to work with both federal and state governments.

Understanding our digital future and how the opportunities can be captured for Bendigo.

Understanding the various services that Council deliver; getting to know the “business” without being in the “doing of the business”.

Having a constructive and respectful working relationship with council staff to achieve the best outcomes for our community.

Being able to work collaboratively, with robust discussion, being able to contribute respectfully as a united team. 

Being able to listen and understand our community.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

The residents of Eppalock and the wider Bendigo top priorities are:

Council helping our small businesses succeed, including those in the smaller towns like Heathcote and Redesdale that need support and improved amenities.

Improving our sporting facilities – the quality of facilities, change rooms, toilets.

Making it easier to get around Bendigo – improved roads, and footpaths, better transport links from the city to the more rural areas, bike paths.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

My biggest passion is about making sure Bendigo is well placed in the new digital world. If our council had an updated and more comprehensive and innovative digital plan for Bendigo we could capitalise on opportunities throughout the world, we could live smarter, we could work smarter, we could even reduce council expenses. 

Getting digital right will lead to more jobs in Bendigo.

Digital for Bendigo means the right infrastructure – NBN, mobile connectivity, and Wi-Fi in more locations. It also means clear methods to make the most of that.

If we don’t get this sorted now, we will miss the opportunity and put Bendigo and our rural communities at risk of withering in the future.

That’s the issue I’m most passionate about – but there are many elements that I see for a successful Bendigo – roads, rubbish, responsible financial management, health, business, recreation: there’s a lot that a good council could achieve.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Challenges don’t come much bigger than the one facing the city centre of Bendigo. For Bendigo to be a great place to live, work and play it needs a central business district that is humming. A city centre that attracts business investment, is loved and used by locals and is a first choice destination for visitors.

Workshops, pop ups and activity days don’t provide a long term solution. Thought, resources and innovation need to be dedicated to solve this challenge – and solve it quickly.

Solving the CBD would benefit all of Bendigo

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

No

Geoff Stephens

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

I have been present at most public council meetings for the last four years and have witnessed disharmony and bullying.

I have also seen some very good initiatives and decisions.

There have been very inconsistent Planning decisions handed down and an amount of rubber stamping.

Like so many candidates in the past, I too would like to see these trends stopped.

Consistency and respect must be adopted at the council table. The image and reputation of Bendigo has suffered due to unpopular decisions, disharmony and a lack of transparency and community involvement.

Given the right mix of new councillors with foresight, respect, skills, knowledge and passion for the entire community, we can improve our image and reputation.

What can you offer as a candidate?

I offer my skills in contract management and control to get best results for our dollars. The saving could then be used for infrastructure improvements.

I have small business skills, building knowledge, planning knowledge and advocate for bringing council closer to the corporate/operational arm of CoGB.

I treat all people with respect, regardless of our differences of opinion.

I would enhance the possibility of council harmony.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

I have true political independence.

I possess skills and knowledge in most areas of importance to council.

It is essential that we work in a team.

I have experience on Boards and as a Director.

I have had a business for 22 years and have successfully managed it.

I have respect for the opinions of others.

I possess a good understanding of finances.

Respect for the community, a listening ear and assurances that I will act.

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

The common thread from voters while campaigning has been ‘fix the council’. This would have to be priority 1.

Basic infrastructure improvements. (Roads, drains and footpaths)

Public land beautification/maintenance.

Water level in Lake Eppalock.

These have to be prioritized together with the other Ward projects however, each of the Eppalock priorities are common to all wards. Water levels in Eppalock have a major effect on Heathcote, Axedale and Redesdale but also all of Bendigo in tourism during the summer months.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about a number of issues:

Council image improvement.

Limit the waste in council spending.

Coming back to what are the council basics. (Establish and service the infrastructure and essential services for the community)

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Salvage the image of Bendigo.

Build the community’s respect and trust of council.

Make Bendigo the most liveable city. (Not just talk about it. Do it.)

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

I have never had a political affiliation.

Brenton Johnson

Why are you standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election?

  • I’m running because the current Bendigo councillors are not representative of the community, or the economy.

- Currently over 25% of the output of the Australian economy is digital. There is no councillors with a digital background on council (1)

- 50% of the population of Bendigo is under 40 but there is no one under 40 on council. On Council, the average age is 60 (2). This is has left a large section of the community under represented and feeling like their voices aren’t being heard.

  • I want to use my unique skillset and experience to make Bendigo a better place to live.

What can you offer as a candidate?

  • A listening ear to the community, both online and offline
  • New representation to the over 50% of Bendigo that is under 40.
  • Experience in improving organisations using digital technologies
  • Expertise in online communication and digital engagement.
  • A can-do attitude with an ambition to build our city into a world leading city.
  • A fresh perspective on the issues facing the city like rate capping and waste disposal.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

  • Ability to communicate: This includes with the people, as well as with each other.
  • Teamwork: Put aside petty differences and work together for the 110,000 people who put you there.
  • Independence: You make the best decisions for Bendigo, balancing on the views of the community and the evidence. Not on political, religious or egotistical bases.
  • Growth Mindset: In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. Councillors must strive to be challenged and to self-educate, otherwise they will end up making very bad and uneducated decisions
  • Integrity: Councillors must not be compromised by politics, money or power. They must perform the job they are there to do, and declare and manage conflicts of interest appropriately. 

What are your three top priorities for your ward, and why?

  • Management of Rate Capping – People are sick of their rates going up and up while they are asked to dig deeper and deeper into their pockets. I have a plan to help council deal with lower rates income while maintaining key council services.
  • Making council easier to work with – Trying to do transactions with council shouldn’t be difficult or time consuming. We need to make it easy for people to transact and work with council. This means focusing on bringing down waiting times and improving council transparency.
  • Making sure ratepayer and renters are listened to – People feel like council is not listening to them. I believe councillors and council must do a better job of listening to the people and making sure they feel like their concerns are being heard. Failure to do this leads to apathy, apathy leads to unaccountable council, unaccountable council leads to a bad council.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

  • I want to make sure we improve the digital communications capability of council. It’s not good enough that councillors aren’t accessible through social media and that we still have to do a lot of things in person. I can’t remember the last time I went into a bank branch; why must we still visit council offices?
  • I want digital communication to be one of the options available to time poor renters and ratepayers. I want to see a council where digital communication is as normal as non-digital communication.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

  • Rate capping – How do we strengthen and invest in the city with a lower income of funds. Part of the answer is digital. Automating back of house function could save the council millions, while exporting this technology to other councils could make us millions.
  • Community Engagement – This has been a big challenge for all councils, but very few have managed to get it right. I believe using new approaches supported by digital technology will bring up the level in which the council delivers its services.
  • The change in the economy – The economy is changing rapidly and Bendigo is being left behind. If we do not put measures in place, we will lose jobs and opportunities that should be here for Bendigo people.

If you were a councillor during the last term, what would you have done differently? For those who served the last term, what would you have done differently?

  • Put a digital transformation strategy in place to help cut rising costs, increase digital engagement with the people, and better manage the risks associated with running a $200 million business.
  • Look at alternative revenue streams that are now available to us. Can Bendigo council sell a system it developed to other councils as a service? Can they get $1 million a year from 100 of the 550
  • Set bigger goals: You do not reach the goals you do not set. We need to set big goals so we actually try to reach them. For example, if we set a goal for $0 of rates, we may not get there, but we will get much closer than if we said set a goal of rate rises of 2.5%

Are you, or have you ever been, aligned with a political party? If so, which?

No, I am completely independent. I am not a member of a political party and never have been. My Priority is Bendigo and I will work with whoever I need to work with in order to get the job done.