Cr Terry Melchert confirms; â€œI will run again as Councillorâ€
Published Wednesday 27 January 2016
During his two year tenure as Councillor, Cr Melchert said despite working on “big projects” in Council, his focus will continue to be working with ordinary mums and dads in solving Council related issues which affect them.
Taking business and economic development within the Douglas Shire into 2020, Cr Melchert said reducing costs and reducing or removing the red tape for business should be a priority.
Commenting on the success of the inaugural 2015 Douglas Business Forum late last year, Cr Melchert stated that whilst the Forum allowed for the diversity of businesses to communicate their opportunities in business and economic development in the region, it’s red tape that needs to be addressed.
“From a Local Government perspective, reducing costs and red tape should be the most important thing for small businesses which is not addressed as a Council. We should be working with businesses to make it easier.
“Reducing or removing red tape for businesses so that projects are not stifled by issues which should be able to be dealt with in a timely fashion, will continue to be my focus. This is in line with comments made by business leaders,” he said.
While the Port Douglas Waterfront redevelopment continues to be an ongoing contentious issue, Cr Melchert said that Council is developing an expectation with the recent announcement of the conceptual design for the proposed Flagstaff Hill walking trail.
“Despite it being a good project, we are developing an expectation while the Port Douglas Waterfront is undeveloped. We haven’t done anything in two years. Should we be moving onto a new project when the current project is parked in neutral?
“My focus will be on completing projects like the Port Douglas Waterfront area down from the Tin Shed to Rex Smeal Park, rather than being constantly focused on doing surveys and designs for new projects which have no likelihood of completion in the short to medium term,” he said.
With the Mossman Botanic Garden (MBG) project, Cr Melchert said a research facility and joint venture with universities are real opportunities for this project. In terms of employment and training, he said that the Mossman Gorge and MBG should fit together and compliment each other with a possible light rail that runs between the two.
One of Cr Melchert’s major achievements during his two year tenure as Councillor and a project he has been most involved in, has been the Mossman Aged Care Facility.
“I have worked on the concept for almost 20 years and completed negotiations for the purchase of the land on behalf of Council many years ago,” he said.
As the only Councillor who is a qualified accountant, Cr Melchert said that he did not support the budget due to the rate, charges and fee increases being too high. Another successful achievement during his past two years as Councillor, was a reduction in these budgeted increases.
“I did actually convince Council to make them lower than what had been approved in the forward plan. So I had some level of success,” he said.
Constituents have a right to know that good Councillors are working with good Councils. Regarding the current Douglas Shire Council Administration, Newsport asked Cr Melchert if, as a Councillor, he was satisfied with the current Council Administration as it now stands.
“My view is in the current term the Council has done well in establishing and reinstating good quality Local Government services in the road, water, waste management, parks, library sewerage and the like services. These are the core services which are often taken for granted, but are so important to the community,” he said.
Acknowledging that the two year old Council has moved forward, Cr Melchert said a lot more could be done in terms of communication, especially with Councillors, to develop a culture in the administration which is more inclusive of the Councillors and members of the community.
Referring to previous Council Media Statements regarding Paws and Claws and the Flaggstaff Hill Walking Track being released, purportedly on behalf of Councillors, Cr Melchert said this is not how information should be disseminated to Councillors or the community nor how decisions should be made.
“When Councillors are not involved, the community are not involved and decisions become reactive not proactive.
“I will continue to push for the recording and podcasting of Council meetings so that all ratepayers and residents can view meetings and know that Council business is conducted in an open and transparent manner,” he said.
Another priority Cr Melchert’s will be focusing on for the Douglas Shire over the next four years through to 2020 includes keeping rates, charges and fees at a level in line with or slightly above inflation.
“Some candidates speak of their big ten year plan to make the Council sustainable and fail to mention it involves predicated rate, charges and fee increases more than double inflation and in excess of 20 per cent over four years. This scenario will make Council sustainable and business, both agricultural and tourism, and ordinary mum and dad rate payers unsustainable,” he said.
Cr Melchert also stated that he will be ensuring there is full, open and frank discussion on the Draft Planning Scheme and that it delivers development and job opportunities,while protecting the built and natural environments.