City of Greater Bendigo council candidates – Whipstick ward

Greater Bendigo City Council

Whipstick Ward

Thomas Prince

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

Bendigo needs a better representation of its people. We are not all middle to upper class citizens in our 60's who have comfortable jobs.  Issues relating to our Youth are many and often debated without a relevant voice in the conversation. As a 26 year old who is in a low income bracket, I can relate to the social and financial pressures the majority of Bendigonians encounter and help identify where we can be smarter in the way we spend rate-payers money. I am also the only candidate in my ward that will have to live with the decisions that I make today, in 40-50 years time. All these factors make my voice relevant for a City of Greater Bendigo Councillor.

What can you offer as a candidate?

My biggest strength as a candidate will be how I engage with the community. One of my passions is advocating for the community and bringing down the barriers for communities to achieve their goals. Over the last few years I have concentrated on growing personal relationships with community groups and using my knowledge and fresh perspective to assist them in their needs. The people of the City of Greater Bendigo need to feel the connection with the new council so we can mend the relationship breakdown that is has become. 

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Integrity has to be at the top of the list. Trust and respect has to be earned as a councillor and the quickest way to do so is with integrity. Approachable, honest, down to earth; these all relate to how we communicate. Communication is key to understanding so a councillor needs to have these qualities to be effective in communication. There are many qualities that a councillor need but I feel that it all starts around integrity and communication skills.

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

Although councillors are elected by their ward, their responsibility is the City of Greater of Bendigo. All three wards, regional and rural, we are expected to represent everyone. 

While we have done a great job in excelling in big builds, we have fallen behind on basic infrastructure in some of our forgotten suburbs and regional area's. I would hope to be apart of a council that will have a revisit the ignored basic needs. 

Completion of the Canterbury Park precinct needs to be prioritised also. Managing the flora around Lake Tom Thumb, working with the YMCA on the development of a plan around upgrading the Peter Krenz Leisure Center and also completing the Zayden's play space will result in a perfectly executed community hub. 

Supporting our individual communities as they grow. Regional communities such as Woodvale, Goornong and Raywood (to name a few) need ongoing support to ensure they as a community move forward with purpose and can begin development of multipurpose facilities. Similarly but on a bigger scale; supporting Epsom, Huntly and Eaglehawk to take that next step in having a self supporting community that will help assist in living expenses and community spirit.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

My big passion for Bendigo is culture. Over the last 4 years there have been a lot of contentious issues and it has created a divide. There is too much negativity on both sides of different arguments which only sets us back as a city. I want to see a boost of positivity in our great City through great representation. I believe I can bring faith back into those who represent the people. Some may call me an optimist however if I fail to try then we will try to fail. And I won't let that happen

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 am a firm believer on moving forward in a positive direction. We cannot move forward if we are too busy looking back. Don't get me wrong, its important that we identify our short falls along with our successes so we can improve in our decision makings but it is in the now that we will prove what we can achieve as a community. Unfortunately there are too many candidates with rocks in their hands ready to be thrown instead of having them being put to good use impacting our local communities.

We have introduced the green bins to our residences but it hasn't resulted in what we needed to achieve. Although it has alleviated the pressure on the Eaglehawk tip, our city still faces the financial and sustainability issues that we did previously with our waste. Let's look forward to sustainable and smarter outcomes for our City and its people.

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

No, no I haven't. There are a few things that shouldn't be brought into the Council chambers. Councillors ego's, religion and political affiliation should be irrelevant in council discussions. Our community should be at the heart of every decision that is made, anything else should be left at the door.

Wayne Gregson

I have been a journalist, editor, small business operator, company director, parliamentary electorate officer, heritage/tourism CEO and a Bendigo councillor (2004-08).

Many of the policies from that term still guide our city, set in place by a council group which knew how to resolve their differences like adults. But so much has been lost in terms of governance and reputation since then.

I have a long record of standing up for Bendigo, encouraging its potential, laying a framework for investment and jobs. I have been nationally awarded for my services to Bendigo.

So much is still to be done, across the city and Whipstick Ward where we need on-going economic and social investment, environmental protection of surviving bushland and promoting pride in our community.

The biggest challenges are a loss of self-respect, time and money wasting bickering, and a failure to deliver the outcomes our community expects.

I was in the National Party while working with Damian Drum, and am proud to say that I had some small part to play in major projects such as the new Bendigo hospital, Ulumbarra Theatre,  Aquatic Centre, Canterbury Park developments, Bendigo airport upgrade and the tennis complex upgrade.

Peter Cox

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

I am standing for Council because I want to see a number of projects completed which I have been directly involved in-

Canterbury Oval/Lakes Precinct including social club/change rooms, a new regional play space beside Lake Neangar and upgrade of the Peter Krenz Leisure Centre with improved swimming and fitness facilities.

Development of the Epsom and Eaglehawk Station Precincts and rail services.

Council funding of community facilities at the Epsom Primary School.

Development of the Botanical Gardens at White Hills and a shared pathway in Iron Bark Gully and the Bendigo Creek.

I want to use my experience in allocating Council’s $200 million budget so that the city maintains its growth in jobs, housing and great parks while at the same time retaining a cap on rates. I want to introduce an independent office for Mayor and Councillors to provide strong leadership and governance which will allow for Councillors and staff to work more closely together.

What can you offer as a candidate?

I can offer a wide range of skills to bring about change as I am an experienced manager employing many people during my working life establishing Recycle Shops, Business Incubators and an Inventors Program. I use these skills in deciding budget allocations. I can fluently read financial statements, understand the importance of long term planning while at the same time advocating for individual residents and businesses.   I encourage residents to use petitions as a means of getting items on the Council agenda and introduced a regular time slot for organisations to speak directly to Councillors and  staff.               

I have introduced regular Ward Meetings to better consult with people, broadcasting of Council meetings on radio, general business agenda item on Council’s weekly meetings so that new policy items can be discussed, a quarterly Finance Committee which involves all Councillors and advocated for an independent review of Council operations which has led to reduced spending in many areas and the ability for Council to support a cap on rates.  As a result Council has been able to continue to fund Home and Community Care services, improved library services and to build new recreation facilities.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Being able to plan for the future and see Greater Bendigo as it might be in 30 years’ time.

Concentrate on formulating long term strategies where all sectors, including  residents, businesses and farmers understand policy decisions and why they have been introduced.

Have the ability to allow staff to undertake operations, the day to day tasks and only get involved when there is a complaint or the task has not been implemented in a timely manner.

Understand that Council being the elected representatives are responsible for introducing new strategies and policy and that the CEO’s role and that of staff is to implement that policy.

It’s worth noting that you have to get 5 votes out of 9 to introduce a new policy, therefore, it is important to be able to work closely with your colleagues to achieve change. The best change comes about when you are able to research an issue, articulate its importance and either get  Councillors to agree or be willing to compromise considering other viewpoints to get the best outcome for the citizens of Greater Bendigo.

It’s all about how we do business as a community. Spending other peoples’ money is a very serious responsibility.

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

1.       Complete the Canterbury Park/Lakes Precinct master plan with the addition of a regional play space that is creative, innovative and excites people of all ages where they can connect with other people and exercise. This has been a project that has taken 10 years of planning, consultation, debate and implementation and will not only provide great active and passive recreation pursuits but will be a major economic boost and social inclusion initiative for Eaglehawk and the region. It needs to include an upgrade of swimming and fitness facilities at the Peter Krenz Leisure Centre.

2.       Development of the Epsom and Eaglehawk Railway Station precincts to include more efficient train and bus services and the construction of a variety of homes that allow people to experience a 10 minute neighbourhood with all shops and services in close walking or cycling distance. They are ideally placed so we need to make the most of these locations.

3.        Connect parks, schools and shopping centres with shared pathways for walking and cycling. High priorities include off road shared pathways along Bendigo Creek between Golden Square and Huntly, Iron Bark Gully drainage reserve and a route between  Lake Weeroona and Lake Neangar.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about Greater Bendigo’s history and heritage. I have been involved in advocating for Bendigo’s history as chairman of Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee over the past 8 years. Bendigo is known for its heritage so it provides an economic boost along with the many stories that give the city its spirit. History demonstrates the city’s inclusiveness and makes it one of the great small cities of the world. We love living here! It provides so much for us all. I am indebted to characters such as David Bannear, Aylene Kirkwood, Daryl McClure, Dennis O’Hoy and Darren Wright and to many others who understand and enjoy Bendigo’s history. Reading about William Vahland and his life gives you drive and motivation. It’s a privilege and  very rewarding to be involved.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Maintaining a diverse economy which supports small business including the agricultural sector provides the biggest challenge. We have come a long way as back in the 1980’s over 40% of employees were employed by governments which is not sustainable. Today it is about 19% with small business being the major employer. Health care, Retail, Education and Manufacturing sectors provide the biggest employment numbers. Council needs to work with a wide range of organisations including the Bendigo Business Council, Bendigo Manufacturing Group, La Trobe University, Bendigo Bank, Hospitals and the growing Agri-Business sector. The development of a new Industrial Park will be vital over the next 10 years

Housing diversity is essential as over 50% of our adult population live alone or in couples. Only 27% live as couples with children. Therefore, providing one and two bedroom affordable homes is essential rather than continuing to build 3 and 4 bedroom homes. A  compact city rather than a sprawling city is a challenge.

We need to see waste as a resource and everybody needs to commit to sorting what they create so the challenge of no more landfills will be overcome.

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?

As I have been on Council now for 8 years there are things that I see that Council needs to do differently. While I voted against demolishing the Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre I did not succeed in getting an alternative plan in place.  The Council has voted consistently to employ additional staff each year, this year 18 new positions. I believe that redeployment of staff is more sustainable. As Council changes its priorities staff could move around the organisation. While I agree with the new organics collection I voted against the process of how it was introduced and employing a private contractor at a cost of about $7m over 7 years is not good financial management.

Communication and consultation can always be improved and with a budget of over $200m Council can and needs to do it a lot better.

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

I am not a member of or aligned with a political party.

Gordon Moore

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

I am standing as a candidate to represent the ratepayers of Bendigo. I have no business affiliations or investments and no land to develop. I am running solely on the position of open and fair representation. 

What can you offer as a candidate?

I have a wide range of experiences and skills I believe will assist in the role of councillor. I have worked for small and large businesses, run my own small business and have extensive customer service/facilitation skills.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

A councillor should be honest and reliable, they should listen to the needs of the community.I believe the most important thing a councillor can be is available.

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

Infrastructure : Basic infrastructure, footpath construction and maintenance, guttering. These are all required so people can easily access public transport.

Green space: Public parks and garden upgrades and maintenance. these are basic requirements for a healthy community.

Representation: to make sure the community is heard, not ignored. 

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

Sustainable infrastructure upgrades for future proofing Bendigo

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Ageing infrastructure and the cost of upgrading existing services to accommodate the expected population growth of Bendigo over the next twenty years.

Michelle Goldsmith

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

Because I am an Eaglehawk local, having lived all my life in Bendigo and Eaglehawk, including raising my three children here. I care about progressive, open, collaborative and transparent local government. I value highly Bendigo’s unique status as the city within a forest, and I believe a healthy environment means a healthy community. I am committed to using my experience and knowledge to make the bold decisions which will have long-term positive impacts, within a changing climate, for the people of Bendigo, rather than for regressive, populist, divisive or short-sighted vested interests.

What can you offer as a candidate?

I am a registered nurse at St John of God hospital critical care unit. I am also a registered mental-health nurse. I have worked in Bendigo as program co-ordinator and facilitator in relationship education and communication. My vision is of a progressive society which values fairness, respect, equity and the environment. I care about a consultative process and approach to local government – council is THE most accountable level of government – which ensures sustainable planning and development. My career as a nurse brings me into close contact with people from all walks of life, who are also my fellow community members, and I feel I have a demonstrated ability to listen to and understand a broad range of views and concerns regarding the diverse issues, urban and rural, which they express. As a first-time candidate, I am very willing to add my talents to the skills and knowledge of Councillors Peter Cox and James Williams and can see the three of us working well together to represent Whipstick Ward.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

An ability to work in a patient, respectful and open-minded manner with people of all kinds.

Dedication to the role of councillor in seeking to be informed and well-read in all matters of local governance and issues before council.

An ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance whilst juggling the various demands of public life /  professional work / family.

Possession of a forward-looking, inclusive and open world-view which ensures an ability to see the bigger picture in terms of where Bendigo may progress in the future.

Local knowledge and long-term connection and commitment to their ward community and the City of Greater Bendigo as a whole.

The ability and willingness to learn and evolve into the role of councillor.

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

Secure home-based services to the elderly, people living with disability, children and young families.

Ongoing investment for public infrastructure, open spaces and service and sports groups.

Advancing the Draft Eaglehawk Station Precinct Master Plan which supports the Bendigo Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy and the Eaglehawk Structure Plan.

These are the broad issues which directly impact the quality of life and communal amenity of people of Whipstick Ward.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about encouraging, celebrating and supporting social diversity and inclusiveness in Bendigo. 

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Welcoming and integrating increasing numbers of people of multi-ethnic, multi-faith backgrounds  harmoniously into the Bendigo community.

Dealing with the significant impacts of a changing climate.

Arresting the growing gap between socio-economic  advantage and disadvantage in Bendigo.

Ensuring Bendigo is at the forefront of 21st century industry and innovation in terms of renewables and sustainability.

Maintenance of Bendigo’s vibrant arts and culture precinct.

Dealing with Bendigo’s toxic legacy from our gold-mining past.

Protecting Bendigo’s urban boundaries and unique biodiversity to ensure complete “liveability” of our city.

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

I am a member of the Australian Greens, past co-convenor of the Bendigo Greens, and a formally endorsed Greens candidate.

Andrea Metcalfe

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

My experience with and observations of Council is that the Councillors do not always have all of the necessary information required to make well informed, balanced decisions. Recommendations appear steered in certain directions.

I have the time to research issues and am willing to pay for independent research when required so that I can make fair and balanced decisions.  Residents must have confidence that when decisions are made, all relevant information is available and considered.

 There is a real opportunity to involve our community in some decision making.  Not token consultation, but residents having direct access to the Councillors and Executive team in regular forums, so the people making the decisions hear the concerns and suggestions put forward by residents.

 Sometimes decisions are made that not all residents agree with.  At these times the communication lines must be open.  I support direct question time being reintroduced at Council meetings.

 Our rural areas need to be directly canvassed as to their most important priority to ensure that rural areas needs are addressed.  Our rural areas are telling me they feel they are neglected.

 I am standing because if I want things to change I have to be part of the change.

 What can you offer as a candidate?

I am an independent candidate and have a track record of being able to successfully stand up to Council when required.  It isn’t easy when you feel like you are swimming against the tide of opinion.  Residents need to know there is a strong voice acting in the community’s interests on Council.  I will be out and about in the community including our rural areas on a regular basis and invite people to talk to me in informal settings about what their issues are.

 I come to this election with no hidden agendas and am willing to listen to all parties before making decisions.

After four years of interacting with and directly observing Council procedures, I feel I have obtained a good grounding to undertake the role of a Councillor.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Resilience, hard work, honesty and integrity, good research skills, the time to do the job properly, a good listener and being accessible to the community.

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

Management of our creek system, in particular Bendigo Creek.  The Bendigo Creek levee system requires repair and the Bendigo Council has made no commitment towards the cost of upgrading it.  As an unmanaged system, it can’t be assumed that the infrastructure will provide flood protection.  I am actively involved as a community representative on flood mitigation suggestions to Council in the Epsom/Huntly area

 We need to be actively working with our rural communities to support them. I put forward a budget suggestion this year that farmers get a bigger reduction in their rates, in line with what other Councils offer their rural communities.  In talking with residents of rural areas, the overwhelming feeling is that they contribute more in rates than they get back in return.  I want rural communities to decide priorities for their areas, so that these can be included in the next Council four year plan and budget. 

 There are greater efficiencies to be made within Council which would benefit all wards.  These efficiencies could then be used on core services.  I want to see real rate capping for residents as continual increases directly impact residents on fixed incomes.

 What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

Waste management. It’s time to have an open and honest discussion with residents in Bendigo about what they can do to help reduce waste.  Initiatives like a hard waste collection service could be discussed.  Would this reduce the dumping of rubbish in our bushland?  Could charities reduce their costs if they weren’t having to pay waste charges for rubbish dumped at their doorstep? 

 How can we as a community live more sustainably and reduce our waste? For those people producing little waste, can 90 litre garbage, recycle and organic bins be made available with the charges for these directly matching the size of the bin?

 Let’s invite residents to come forward with their ideas on what can be done to save money for Council.  There were three submissions to the Citizens Jury on managing waste, so people are already thinking about this issue.

 Longer term what can be done with our waste. Can we convert our waste to energy? Can we build something here within Bendigo rather than transporting our waste to other areas?

 There are no simple fixes, but we have to start the conversation in a way that encourages people to have their say.

 What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo? 

We need to look at what efficiencies this Council can make, so that the impact of rate capping has a minimal impact on the services council provides to the community. This will lead to discussions and decisions about what Bendigo Council should be spending its rate money on.  Always there are competing priorities. Services may need to be rationalised if there are other sectors that can deliver the same service, but before anything is decided we need the community to provide their feedback on the issue. Sometimes it isn’t always about dollars.  Additionally, the issue of cost shifting from other levels of Government to Council will be an issue that needs to be addressed. 

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

I am not aligned to a political party and am standing as an independent candidate.

Malcolm Pethybridge

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

I have lived and worked in Bendigo, over 40 years. I would like to promote Industry and Business to come to Bendigo and to help preserve the business we have along with our jobs.

What can you offer as a candidate?

40 years of knowledge in mechanical engineering, gold mining, house and factory building, farming, and working with contractors.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

Understanding, listening, and common sense, while listening to rate payers, businesses of all types, including our farmers.

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

Roads sealed, in the urban areas of the Whipstick Ward for safety on our roads.

Footpaths around schools and around suburbs this is for safety for our children and for our elderly to accommodate mobile shooters and walkers.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

Industry, business and jobs, let’s get Bendigo working.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Harmony, truth and common-sense between the council, councillors, and all the people of the Greater 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?


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


Julie Hoskin

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

I am standing as a candidate in the City of Greater Bendigo council election because I think drastic change is needed regarding the operations of Council and the City of Greater Bendigo business arenas and I believe I can contribute to making a change for the better.

 What can you offer as a candidate?

 As a former employee of the COGB, I worked in the Building and Planning Department and other areas of council. I have invaluable training and experience that gives me understanding of, not only the broader protocols and procedures of council, but also the interdepartmental procedures and protocols. This provides an enormous advantage when it comes to dealing with specific council departments.

I’m a fourth generation Bendigonian and have lived and worked in Bendigo all my life,  operated my own business, raised my family and managed properties here, which has given me a broad understanding of the needs and concerns of residents and businesses.

Regular attendance to council and ward meetings has kept me abreast of issues. I have strongly advocated for residents over matters relating to council decisions, including VCAT and the courts.

I have hosted many international guests of various ethnic and religious backgrounds in my home for extended periods.

I have the skill-set to equip me to deal with most areas of council and its employees, to relate to and advocate strongly for residents of all persuasions and to work cohesively with other councillors for the benefit of our region.

What qualities do you believe are important for a councillor?

  • They need to consult and bring the people with them in their decision making, ensure that residents can access clear, complete information from council so they can make informed decisions about matters that impact them and together act to resolve concerns in a timely manner.
  • To be pro active in seeking new ideas, funding and incentives to facilitate job creation, education, health and wealth building for the region.
  • It is important for councillors to develop a good relationship with the business community (city and rural) to  ensure that wealth and job growth are fostered.
  • They need to be proficient in liaising and negotiating with executives and staff at the City of Greater Bendigo business offices and to work maturely and cohesively together to facilitate and expedite good outcomes for the community and for the future development of the region.
  • To quickly develop a good grasp of the financial/economic and strategic planning positions and agendas of the COGB in order to manage issues surrounding those critical aspects of council business.
  • It’s important that councillors recognize the importance of their unique  as representatives of residents and understand that the COGB CEO and executives are accountable to them, not the other way around.
  • They must maintain a high level of integrity and accountability and adhere to the Councillor Code of Conduct and the Local Government Act.

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

Consultation with residents and businesses across the ward needs to happen before councillors move to implement plans. Due to the dissatisfaction levels toward council, a problem that is consistently raised in the numerous council reviews, it’s imperative that a fresh start is facilitated to bring residents alongside councillors in their decision making and to restore confidence.

  • Business and Job creation: Bendigo has great schools and universities producing high quality students who are job ready but we have a lack of suitable employment opportunities to keep those skills in the Bendigo region. Whipstick ward has possibly the highest level of unemployment and requires a wide variety of employment options and solutions to accommodate and encourage participation of long and short term unemployed residents of varying degrees of education and qualification. Encouraging and facilitating new and existing businesses to expand/broaden their horizons in order to take on more employees from the Bendigo region is a priority.
  • Infrastructure and maintenance issues need to be addressed where there has been long term neglect of council responsibility, particularly in rural areas.
  • Address issues of waste and mismanagement within council and reinstate those funds to areas of primary need such as community care programs.

What issue in our community are you most passionate about?

Social justice under an honest, uncompromised and transparent council. A fair go and equal opportunities for all Bendigo residents to be consulted and to have their concerns properly and honestly addressed by the relevant authorities, to obtain meaningful employment, decent services and infrastructure, health services, housing and opportunities to advance themselves in business and education (for future job growth) and to live in a quality environment. To achieve this, councillors must perform at a high level to address the financial, planning and core operational arenas of the City of Greater Bendigo business as well as functioning in their duty to act as representatives of the people.

What are the biggest challenges facing greater Bendigo?

Rebuilding confidence and trust in the community. Financial limitations and restrictions due to present and past waste and mismanagement by council. Lack of infrastructure and jobs to cater for the growing population.

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?

Maintain the vital, separate role of the function of Councillors from the CEO and executives instead of allowing them to dictate agendas.

Upheld my duty as a councillor to be transparent in decision making-ensure that residents were brought alongside, given the right to challenge areas of council decision making and offered meaningful resolution to issues that impact them.

Kept the CEO and executives accountable to produce clear, accurate and current information in a timely manner.

Ensure that senior management and staff held relevant qualifications for their positions to ensure that residents enjoy best outcomes from their council and call for the resignation of those who consistently fail to produce satisfactory outcomes under their respective portfolios.

Change the Mayoral rotation system and involve the public in such decision making.

End abuse and waste of public monies and unjust litigation through VCAT.  Eg: Mosque permit, Hopley Demolitions and Kangaroo Flat Community Centre.

  Ensured that councillor’s  pecuniary and business declaration interests were accurate-avoid conflict of interests. Stop councillors from voting in a bloc to force through agendas contrary to the will of residents. Stop the falsification of records of ward meetings that skews historical accounts of meetings.

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

I am independent.

James Williams

I am standing for council to deliver outcomes for the region. The Bendigo Airport, Ravenswood interchange and now federally acknowledged Calder bypass to the west of the city along with jobs and growth are part of what I am motivated by. This includes helping grow not just Bendigo but also our small towns and rural communities. I am currently chair of the Airport , Livestock exchange, Farm advisory committee, Rural Wellbeing committee, Rosiland Park and deputy chair of the Calder Improvement committee.

What I offer as a councillor is a wealth of experience and work that has both helped grow and advance the region. My time on regional and state boards along with the independent review of council have helped drive both savings and the agenda for reform of the City of Greater Bendigo council. The review has instilled a culture of change and ongoing reviews that will continue to both look at and reform services and delivery into the future while saving dollars that can help maintain a healthy budget going forward.

Qualities I believe are required by a councillor are that they need to be inquisitive, willing to read and work long hours to better inform themselves, truthful and open with both staff and the community and willing to work together to grow a better future for us all. A background in finance is desirable and understanding budgets and how to act strategically when dealing with issues is important if you are going to have an influence. Communication skills are essential and working with a whole diverse raft of people, organizations, businesses and council will occupy a lot of time. Councillors need to be able to listen and have an open mind to a whole range of differing and alternative views and ideas.

The three top priorities for Whipstick ward are the flood strategy for Epsom, Huntly and White Hills which will help identify issues associated with the Huntly Epsom levee bank, Bendigo creek and associated tributaries. This will form the basis for a submission to both state and federal governments for funding of the associated remedial actions that will need to be put in place. A bypass down Leans road to the Allies as an alternative route to Howard Street for trucks coming to the saleyards and act as a potential bypass to the north of the city linking the Calder and Northern highways. Growing our rural towns and communities by providing better and more connected communities with access to the NBN, better and more frequent rail services and upgraded facilities as identified in the Rural Communities Strategy.

I am passionate about rural communities and the opportunities we can create both economically and socially by value adding produce from the regions. Bendigo needs the rural sector as much as we need the city. I believe the 1.3 billion Agri business sector has huge potential to be expanded on to the benefit of the entire region. By value adding rural product and identifying markets and access to South East Asian markets we have huge potential for growth. Hazeldene’s, Australian breeders, KR Bacon, O’Sullivans transport etc. are just a few examples of large agri businesses that have the potential to both grow jobs and add value to the regions produce.

The biggest challenge for Bendigo and the region is growing the jobs and infrastructure to enable the city and region to grow. This includes a raft of initiatives such as the regional hospital, airport, Marong business park, better rail and road connects, sporting facilities, Ulumbarra Theatre, the national broad band and the associated opportunities all these things provide to make our places a better healthier and interesting place to live. Being connected to Melbourne is important but just as important to grow the region is access to ports and other regional areas. The importance of the airport, Marong Business Park and the associated roads and need to duplicate the Calder to Bridgewater cannot be understated. This will help provide both transport efficiencies and jobs. The rail line to Inglewood needs to be re-instated for both public transport but just as importantly freight.

 During my term as a councillor I have worked hard to deliver the airport upgrade, Ravenswood interchange, Napier Street widening along with a raft of sporting and other upgrades within the region. I would like to further investment from overseas to grow jobs that value adds produce and product from the region and have established links and relations within South East Asia. I have few regrets as to what we as a council have delivered over my term but am determined to progress the opportunities provided by accessing markets in SE Asia and creating jobs by value adding produce in the region.

I was briefly aligned with the National party many years ago but recognize the need to work with all political parties and most particularly local members. I have good relations with our local members whom I believe work hard and co-operatively for our region. It is important to me that I retain friendships, relationships and confidentiality with all parties and their members. I am not a fan of politics in local government.