Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

March 19th 2009
Questioning the candidates

Unfortunately Magnetic Times has returned from recess only in time to catch this tail end of the Queensland election campaign. But to help our readers decide on their preferred party or parties this Saturday we compiled six questions to try and ferret out some real points of view from the field on specific Island issues as well as a broader perspective . Sadly, by the deadline today, we had only received answers from three of the candidates but, they are, we think, revealing both in what they answer and what they don't.

Following are the questions as we put them to the candidates.

1. Magnetic Island's roads have suffered major damage following the heavy wet season rains. Realising that road maintenance is a council responsibility what measures would you be taking to support council in repairing the roads on Magnetic Island?

2. No single building on Magnetic Island has been assessed as a safe enough to serve as an cyclone shelter in the event of a major cyclone. What initiatives would you be prepared undertake to insure public safety in preparation for a dangerous cyclone?

3. Magnetic Islanders have, for years, sought the completion of the Nelly to Arcadia walkway to end the dangerous use of the road route by pedestrians. What priority would you give to the completion of this project?

4.The State government allows the Townsville Ocean Terminal and other "major project" status projects to proceed exempt from usual state planning and EPA regulations and the right of public appeal. Do you support this approach?

5. Following very high tides combined with storm damage to beaches in January Townsville Councillors flagged much greater caution over the way in which development approvals will be considered into the future with climate change and rising sea levels in mind. How do you rate these concerns in terms of state government planning?

6. Why do you think voters should vote for you?

Here are Family First candidate Michael Punshon's responses

Family First's Michael Punshon

1. I will support and work for specific funding to Magnetic Islands road maintenance and upgrade. This will enable the Townsville Council to complete the work.

2. Labor under Beattie promised cyclone shelters along the entire coast and like Labor they were empty promises to regional Queensland. I will work and support the building of a suitable evacuation centre on Magnetic Island. It must be remembered that we all live, by choice, in a cyclone region and are all individually responsible to have our own cyclone plans despite what the government has prepared.

3. The Nelly to Arcadia walkway as a public safety and convenience project with its tourism value should be a high priority and at present should be included in the Federal Government infrastructure program.

4. All government projects should be subject to appropriate right of public appeal.

5. All government planning should evolve to cater for known eventualities. these changes must be appropriate and thought out before implementation.

6. Magnetic Island as your Family First candidate I stand before you and raise my hand to be your Member of Parliament. I will be your true voice in government and tell the government what Townsville including Magnetic Island wants; not be a party mouth piece. I believe in Townsville and its families; I believe that the voice of Townsville has been silent in Parliament; I also believe that we all deserve transparent and accountable government.

Because of the small population, the major parties have little regard for Magnetic Island. This is clearly shown by the state of the roads on the island. Family First is focused on families and this includes the families of Magnetic Island. I believe that Magnetic Island is part of Townsville and should receive the same service that the rest of Townsville receives. As your Member of Parliament, I will voice the concerns of Magnetic Island not the political endeavours of a party. I will work for Magnetic Island for all their concerns such as to improve the roads and a sensible and coordinated transport system.

To vote for me is to vote for real change in magnetic Island and a real voice in government. I will work for Magnetic Island and not a major political party.

Here are Townsville Greens' candidate, Jenny Stirling's responses:

Townsville Greens' Jenny Stirling

1. One of the reasons TCC is strapped for cash to attend to core business is that the State government has unfairly burdened Councils with the costs of Amalgamation. It is only fair that the funding for this state sponsored idea should be borne by the state.

Also the state imposed V8 Supercar race means that there are not enough funds to build roads around the city.- this project is likely to have huge cost overruns.

2. I have been calling for a cyclone shelter for Magnetic Island and Palm Island since 2007. I suggest that the new school buildings that are going up in communities along the cyclone affected areas, should serve as dual purpose buildings - that is in the event of a cyclone, they could shelter people whose homes are not likely to stand up to gales. Magnetic Island, like Palm Island, has a very vulnerable population in the event of a monster like Cyclone Hamish coming into the coast. We know that, as a result of climate change, there will be more intense and more frequent cyclones and it is highly remiss of a government not to act in a precautionary manner when we know that lives could be lost.

3. I have listed this project as a funding priority since 2007. It is a safety issue first and foremost and a duty of care is owed to the tourists as much as to the Islanders. I also think it would complement Maggie's tourism, providing a wonderful venue for photographers and backpackers to appreciate the Island's uniqueness.

4. No! and the Greens have lead the fight against a number of projects because of this reason among others. Effectively what the government is saying is that it thinks it knows what is best for Townsville- better than the members of this community. Invariably there have been major design flaws in these projects that locals have pointed out easily and have just as easily been dismissed. For example, Chalco and TOT. Environmental, social and even economic concerns have been pushed aside for the sake of vested interests.

5. Scientific research has rated the danger as real and one JCU researcher in 2007 went so far as to declare that no new projects should be built within 300m of the coast. And still the state government overrides local Council concerns. And we the rate payers have to pick up the tab for shoring up (literally) residential properties built after the knowledge became available. But make no mistake, insurers will not be so hamstrung. In future, coastal properties will be very expensive to insure, if at all.

6. It's simple really. The Greens were formed because we knew these times would eventuate and we have the policies to address the emerging concerns. Do we have all the answers? I don't think anyone has a monopoly on being right but we have a fundamentally different way of looking at things. Our way is to look at all the facets that are in the mix. This whole brain thinking, if you like, is the way of the future. The way the other parties are thinking is that way it has always been done. And as Einstein said: the thinking which causes a problem cannot be the thinking which solves the problem.

Here is an abridged version of Labor candidate, Mandy Johnstone's response. (Due to the approach her response took it wasn't possible to assign the question reference numbers)

Labor's Mandy Johnstone on Magnetic recently (Photo: Des Lavery)

Thank you to Magnetic Times for the opportunity to respond to your questions put to candidates in this weekend's state government election. I visited the Island this week and spent time meeting with residents, retailers and other traders whilst I was there.

At the core of many of the issues raised were the often competing needs of protecting the natural environment and the growth in commercial development and infrastructure on the island.

This includes many council issues such as the condition of local roads, foreshore development and degradation, coordination of bus services with ferry arrivals in Townsville and roadside walking and cycling paths.

We need to ensure the unique experience Magnetic Island offers is retained for residents and visitors alike.

I want to protect the unique experience Magnetic Island offers by working with residents and the council to create a shared plan for future - and ensure the appropriate checks and balances are put in place to achieve that plan. Working
with and taking advice from relevant experts on any of the issues you raised is obviously another important element in ensuring that appropriate planning and preparations are made so that residents, property and the environment stand the
best possible chance during weather or other events.

At the end of the day, you, the residents of Magnetic Island understand your community better than me or other non-residents. You have the expert local knowledge that should be drawn upon and incorporated with decision making processes that affect the island.

Working collaboratively with all stakeholders on any issue that crosses the desk of your state government representative is critical. I can and will do that for the people of Townsville. This includes working with council on how they might progress their priority projects.

It is only a Bligh Labor Government that has the leadership, skills and the plan to steer Queensland and subsequently Townsville, through the current economic crisis.

On Saturday, I am asking the people of Magnetic Island to vote for me because for the past twenty years I have been working for the people of Townsville in numerous roles both within all levels of government, the community sector and more recently in my own business. I understand this community. I am the mother of two small children (aged three and six), and even though each family is unique, I do understand of the range of issues and competing interests facing Townsville families.

I possess skills and experience in the areas of housing, homelessness, domestic and family violence, advocacy and lobbying. Being a Townsville born woman, I know this community well. I understand the impacts that a job loss can have on individuals and families.

This year there will be no polling both at Picnic Bay. The only two Magnetic Island polling places will be the Magnetic Island State School on Mandalay Avenue and the magnetic Island Bowls Club at 18 Marine Parade Arcadia. Polls open from 8am and close at 6pm and remember, voting is compulsory. For more information about how voting works in our optional preferential system (click here).

George Hirst

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Questioning the candidates
Chris C
March 19th 2009
Good to see you back online George.

Pity you didn't ask Michael Punshon to explain his esteemed leader's actions on Alcopops!!
Chris C
March 21st 2009
I forgot to mention that the Nelly Bay booth is at the pre-school and NOT at the school!

March 19th 2009
Thanks MagneticTimes for your effort at the last minute. It really makes a difference. And if the other mob get word of this 'forum' maybe their candidate will respond in this comments section?
A small response to Mr Punshon's answer to Q.4 about the Ocean Terminal - AKA luxury gated canal estate with little terminal attached. By a sort of legal sleight-of-hand the TOT/canal is not exactly a "government project". The site, next to the casino/marina/stadium was 'created' by the Queensland government in the early 1980s and divvied up into various parts which were then sold on to non-government entities - like the casino for example. In the last few years the last of the sites were sold to various developers including at least one, City Pacific, that is now only the shell of an entity. The $1 Billion canal estate with $15 million ocean terminal attached is not a government project but it is sheltered by the Queensland Government from oversight by any third party. Only the QG (or more accurately the Local Government minister) can assess the plans for this project. No Townsville Labor politician has ever questioned any issue in this project and Anna Bligh personally exempted the project from legal or planning intervention when she was Treasurer and Deputy Premier.
I don't expect Mandy Johnstone to turn all that around in a single election campaign but if she finds it hard to get support from cheesed-off locals she might like to consult her political masters about where their priorities have been for the last ten years. Some of us have short memories - but only some of us.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
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The poll
Should Magnetic Island commission a sculpture to celebrate the achievements of Julian Assange?
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