Ballot packs for the 2020 Council elections have been mailed to all registered voters and must be returned before Friday 23rd November. Many of AIDA’s objectives for the environmental protection and responsible development of our part of the coastline depend for their success on the support we receive from the Surf Coast Shire and its Councillors.
Over the years, we have been well served by our local councillors on matters of interest to AIDA. With the ward structure, residents will be voting for councillors representing individual wards. However, all elected councillors will be required to vote on issues pertaining to all wards. For this reason, we have requested all candidates to give us their view on a number of issues, as it is important for AIDA members to have an understanding of the views of councillors in all wards and of their familiarity and agreement with AIDA’s values and objectives.
We have asked each candidate in each ward to share with our members their views on four key questions for our part of the Surf Coast Shire. We have provided – in alphabetical order by ward and alphabetical order by candidates within each ward – the candidates’ answers to each question exactly as they have given. We are aiming in this way to provide an even-handed opportunity for our members to understand Council candidates’ views on locally important issues, and compare them with those of other candidates. At no stage prior to the election will AIDA recommend or publicly favour any candidate.
The list below shows the candidates and also notes those who did not respond, or who did not give specific answers to the questions. If you would like to view the candidates’ election statements go to the Victorian Electoral Commission’s Surf Coast Shire Council Nominations page
The candidates are:
Mike Bodsworth (new)
Raylene Fordham (new)
Tony Revell (re-standing)
Libby Stapleton (new)
Liz Wood (new)
Gary Allen (new, automatically elected as only candidate, did not receive questionnaire)
Paul Barker (new)
David Bell (re-standing, did not respond)
Rob Bullen (new, did not respond)
Maurice Cole (re-standing, did not respond)
Martin Duke (re-standing, did not respond)
Kate Gazzard (new, did not respond)
Rose Hodge (re-standing)
Liz Pattison (new, did not respond)
Amber Potter (new, did not respond)
Monica Winston (new, did not respond)
James McIntyre (new, did not respond)
Kirsty Metcalf (new)
Tony Phelps (new)
Adrian Schonfelder (new, did not respond)
Heather Wellington (re-standing, did not respond)
1. What aspects of the neighbourhood character of Aireys Inlet to Eastern View do you consider most important, and how should Council seek to protect them?
Sense of naturalness, ‘unpolished’ built character, peacefulness, people active outdoors, mix of bushy and rural landscapes, small scale, public spaces/facilities that aren’t over-designed.
The ‘lived-in’/organic feel is important (e.g. mix of formal and informal pathways). Town character reflects community life, not just Council standards.
Neighbourhood character differs between Aireys and Eastern View; reflecting that in planning/design guidelines is important. Mitigation of tourism impacts (parking, crowding, traffic, noise) is very important but difficult. Council should respect and support community leadership in protecting local character.
The Aireys Structure Plan defines character well: Council should stand by it.
Certainly the unspoilt natural beauty and informal coastal village atmosphere, nestled in bushland, offers a relaxed casual lifestyle and retreat from more urbanised areas.
The Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan outlines the low key coastal character, natural values and distinct qualities of the towns and seeks to preserve and enhance these for current and future generations of residents and visitors. However, community vigilance to support the strong planning controls is a necessity and as a local councillor I commit to keeping the community informed about potential threats and working with communities to advocate your interests.
The essential character of Aireys Inlet is that of a coastal town with a relatively informal nature that interacts with the surrounding natural environment.
Respect the intent of the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan.
Dealing with town boundaries, land use, building scale, density and the need to visually connect
Revisit the planning scheme as and when appropriate.
Councillors that are supportive of Aireys Inlet Character.
It is important that the Anglesea Ward Councillors are committed to the intent of the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan structure plan.
Ongoing Community Engagement prior to any infrastructure design work.
Low-key, non-suburban coastal village character and natural beauty; township contained within existing boundaries, surrounded by natural, protected environment. Low profile housing that is sensitive to vegetated coastal landscape and potential impacts of climate change, e.g. increased bushfire risk. Relatively undeveloped open spaces for recreation that support community needs and local amenity.
Council must ensure application of planning controls that reflect current Structure Plan, protect significant natural values and minimise impacts of increased environmental risks (including bushfire and climate change). Advocate for responsible tourism. Review processes to ensure effective consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders; facilitate educational opportunities with local community.
The dominance of vegetation over built form combined with the visual and physical connection to the ocean, Great Otway NP and openness of the Valley are key components of neighbourhood character. Informal gravel roads, low-density housing and absence of street lighting are important qualities. The Municipal Strategic Statement, Structure Plan, Neighbourhood Character and Environmental/Vegetation Overlays are important planning tools that require strengthening to protect neighbourhood character. The current bushfire regulations requiring defendable space, result in wholesale clearing of blocks to facilitate building a house. This policy is a significant threat to neighbourhood character. A better balance needs to be achieved.
It’s quiet, small town charm and the soldiers memorial arch. Protecting these implies controlling people, something I oppose. With regard to protecting the idyllic charm, a low-growth managed plan in line worth the SFP is something I’d support based on what I currently know.
The most important aspects are to maintain the village feel and the informality of the townships. Ensuring buildings do not dominate the landscape that they are low key and sensitive to the landscape. Open space should remain unspoilt. Focus should be allowing people to access to enjoy its natural state.
The quintessentially unique character of our coastal region is irreplaceable. It should be protected and preserved as a precious gift to be given forward from the current care holders to our next generation of custodians through:
- Low density development sensitive to and reflective of the planning framework;
- On-going renewed reporting to address developmental concerns and further planning controls.
- Protecting our local vegetation, the palette of our landscape;
- On-going liaising with community groups and community;
- Best practice to minimise environmental footprint. (Example, stairs installed at Jan Juc were airlifted by helicopter with no environmental impact using this lifting method).
I’m not familiar enough to comment on the most important aspects of Aireys Inlet neighbourhood character – that is very much something for the Aireys Inlet residents to advise. However, in all our Surf Coast Shire communities, development not in keeping with surroundings needs to be controlled.
As Councillor I aim to be an agent for community. If the community majority is clearly against a development, it simply should not proceed. It will be interesting to see how much influence Councillors and council have though. State Government keeps steam-rollering decisions.
2. Recent issues over development affecting the Painkalac Creek Valley have brought renewed attention to the conflicting demands of private development, and the protection of public amenity, and of environmental and landscape values of the Valley. How would you ensure that this critical feature of the town is protected and maintained, and diverse community interests are balanced?
The Structure Plan is there to provide vision, principles, strategies and actions that are true to the town’s identity and community preferences. My understanding is that the plan seeks to protect the valley – a stronger Council commitment to the plan may be required, if the valley still faces threats from development. Unity of purpose (Council and community) is critical to defend shared values.
Well informed, creative, sensitive planning and design in collaboration with the community should be able to find the balance. If a balance can’t be found, it’s important that those involved can say ‘we did our best’.
Councillors must to be fully aware of the existing planning controls such as the Structure plan and the protections this document affords the area. Pressure on the open landscape of the Painkalac Creek Valley has been exerted for decades. While change is constant some things are non-negotiable, this is one of them. The priority for any future development must be vigilance and strong advocacy from the Ward Representatives, that people have every opportunity to be informed and participate in the decision making process.
The Painkalac Valley is one of Aireys Inlet’s most significant assets. As well as public amenity considerations, it is also important in supporting the local economy as an attraction to the area.
Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan and Planning Scheme intent is for the Valley to remain rural in character and calls for protection of the open landscape. Council must respect this.
Rural Conservation Zoning (RCZ) must apply to private land outside the town boundaries.
Applying the Planning Scheme. I would be arguing for tight restrictions on development and stronger weighting is applied to conservation and environmental factors.
Conditions exist to protect the Painkalac Creek Valley and it is Council’s responsibility to help preserve the valley’s open landscape character and environmental values. It’s a highly valued natural feature of the Aireys/Fairhaven landscape and is identified in the Structure Plan as a place of environmental and cultural significance. I would advocate for its protection, and consult with AIDA, relevant agencies and other stakeholders to better understand conflicting needs. I can help build relationships and collaborate with various community interest groups (e.g. Aireys traders, local school, horse riders) and aim to educate/encourage community members to celebrate and treasure the valley.
I’m not a geographer, but in my view the Painkalac Creek Valley is what gives us the inlet! It is both ancient and integral to the town’s character and identity. The Painkalac Creek is recognised as a Nationally Significant Ecosystem and listed as an important threatened ecological community. I believe further infrastructure within the floodplain is not desirable. Local communities have worked vigilantly over many years to protect the valley. I place high priority on these community values, community consultation and ensuring Federal, State and LGA policy integrity is respected and strengthened to protect the Painkalac Creek Valley.
Balancing those competing demands is never going to result in a perfect solution for anyone. I’d support plans that cause no to minimal harm to the natural environment and improve public amenity. Growth of the town is quite restricted. What’s AIDA’s position on expansion of the town boundary, proximity of housing to forest and the fire risk associated with that?
Every application has to go through the planning process, both sides of the application needs to be heard. In the latest planning matter of a bridge over the Painkalac we saw a split vote of Council. Council can do more to support the Environment Management plan and ecosystems. I believe my vote against the bridge was appropriate. The VCAT outcome will be of interest.
From my understanding there lies a historical point of contention between the landowners, council and parties keen to protect the ongoing interests of the valley. In principal, I agree to the priority for our ongoing need to protect and preserve the attributes of the land, vegetation, water and indigenous animal life within the valley. However, I respect landowners are invested in maintaining their business needs. To honour the sensitive nature of this conflict I would require further background and historical information, reading, briefing and consultation to offer informed commentary.
I can’t comment on Painkalac Creek Valley as I don’t know the issue. But the same principles apply as in Question 1 – does the development degrade important or critical natural environment, do the majority of local community actively reject it, are there overriding reasons to allow it (eg. public safety) and, above all, do we even have the ability and the power to have a say? What needs to change to allow community to have control? I want to start with that.
3. How should Council establish the best balance between increased tourism and the needs of the local community along our fragile coastline, particularly with the declaration of the Great Ocean Road as a destination and the creation of the new GOR Authority?
Council should work with communities to clarify ‘who we are’ and base tourism planning on preserving those characteristics– to offer diverse experiences that celebrate those characteristics without degrading them. When we have good plans, we should stick to them!
The things permanent and part-time residents and visitors love about this area are roughly the same: naturalness, lack of overdevelopment, unpretentiousness, natural beauty, accessibility, peacefulness. Locals and visitors can enjoy sharing a love of those things. Tourism that threatens those things is the wrong kind of tourism.
Council should base tourism decisions on top quality evidence and expertise.
The new authority must implement stringent community consultation structures immediately. Whether this is through a coastal alliance or via a town by town engagement arrangement, it will be critical in informing and influencing its decisions. The authority and other key stakeholders must understand the unique relationships between balancing retaining our precious natural environment and small town feel, while fostering vibrant, friendly communities and supporting a strong local economy that delivers our needs. I will advocate that strong natural asset management plans be put in place, otherwise the very reason so many of us moved here, could be at risk.
Encouraging visitors to spend longer time during their stay, get more deeply involved in our region.
Protect the fragile beach environment by reducing our reliance on surf and beaches. Encourage visitors with the walking and cycling trails and the hinterland generally.
Encourage visitation during the shoulder and winter season.
Support events that run outside of peak times.
Council Interactions with State Government Authorities and Organisations Work in a constructive and collaborative manner with them. Ensure that they understand our requirements to balance tourism economic measures alongside other considerations.
Responsible tourism is needed for the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of the Great Ocean Road. Council must advocate for the newly formed GORCPA to undertake an impact study on projected tourism growth, and determine future carrying capacity of the GOR so that appropriate limits can be applied. Liaise with GORT to promote nature-based ‘slow’ tourism that respects and celebrates the stunning natural environment, while better supporting local business. Explore opportunities to introduce licence agreements for large tour operators to better manage access to and impact on the GOR.
COVID has changed tourism along the GOR. We are now in the unique position of being able to ask important questions about how tourism might look into the future. The GOR Authority will play a lead role in managing visitation and government investment in the region. This means Council will need to establish a strong working relationship to influence investment policy. Its approach must be based on sustainable tourism. Achieving a better balance requires shifting away from traditional, volume measures of success, to a focus on the quality of encounters and experiences, and increases in overnight stays.
What are the needs of the local community? I support free trade and movement of people. This means that at times we experience high numbers of tourists. I’d support community-led decisions on how to best manage this. How the new authority functions will be interesting and determine my view.
The Authority needs to focus on the natural beauty of the area and ensuring it can be protected and enjoyed, not just a bus route to the 12 Apostles. The best way to enjoy our coast is getting out to the bush or beach. Getting people to stay a little longer (helping local businesses) but keeping the activities low key in the natural landscape.
Tourism does play a vital role in the prosperity of our community. Finding this balance is a critical key to the ongoing preservation of our fragile coast. This can be achieved through implementing the following:
- Adopting principles that work in collaboration with local community groups, businesses and individual townships through consultation.
- Regular reporting of what is working for the locals to achieve this balance.
- Regular revision of planning controls.
- As leaders in decision making ensure that our most valuable asset is protected and preserved.
- Guarantee the footprint of future development is minimalised, this includes consideration of the building process.
“Growth” is constantly touted as the solution to all issues. I disagree. The Great Ocean Road and its communities directly benefit from more tourists spending more money more often. I think restrictions are required. You know how a thing becomes more attractive and more appreciated when it is scarce? It’s time to apply restrictions to development of and even access to GOR. Not bigger carparks – controls over who and when. Not more concrete. Fewer walkers. How? I don’t have the answer. Yet.
4. What is your view of the long-term social and environmental impacts of the proposed Eden project at Anglesea?
Eden could deliver significant benefits, but it could also threaten the things people love most about this area. Risks and benefits need to be carefully, independently assessed before a commitment is made.
Eden would be part of a much bigger visitor precinct. It’s essential to consider the risks and benefits of the whole precinct, not Eden in isolation.
Anglesea’s economic and social health is excellent. Without Eden, Anglesea and district will be fine. With Eden, our district’s priceless ‘unspoiled’ character could be lost.
I’m also concerned about community ‘disempowerment’ impacts, if proponents override community concerns.
Consideration of a possible Eden outcome, or any other considerations for the mine rehabilitation, will need to align the social, environmental and economic impacts and have community support. As a Councillor, my role will be to ensure that I listen and invite community to share their views. Being open to this discussion, to me, means being open to consider all potential impacts such as visitation numbers, access road and traffic volumes, pedestrian access as well as impact on our small shopping village. I will champion to the relevant authorities that all of these form part of their decision making.
Opportunity to develop 4ha of a disused industrial site into eco tourism attraction.
Social Impact – significant employer, recognition of indigenous culture
Critical issue is integration with the town. Eden and Anglesea must add to each other.
Traffic management. Eden would attract visitors during the quieter traffic period. Encouraging more involvement so the number of extra vehicles does not correlate with expected number of visitors.
Environmental Impact. This is a proposed tourist attraction that focusses on showcasing our environment.
Southern Rural Water are yet to advise in relation to the environmental impact of providing water.
‘Proposed’ is the key word. Until we have a plan from Eden, it is difficult to assess the actual long-term social and environmental impacts. A cost-benefit analysis and extensive community consultation would be required. Potential negative impacts to consider include water supply, loss of heathland, increased bushfire risk, projected tourist numbers, traffic management, over-engineered landscape and economic impact on existing retail environment in Anglesea. Possible benefits include significant investment in local region, employment opportunities, and education of thousands about the significance of our unique natural environment. We need to advocate for responsible tourism that respects and protects our natural environment.
The first social impact is that it’s a very divisive community issue. Other impacts relate to viability, increased visitor numbers, traffic, and associated bushfire management issues. Tourism dollars/investment/opportunity may be diverted from existing businesses and initiatives. While the environmental impacts are not fully known, water will be a key issue (where does the water come from to fill the lake?). The infrastructure requirements to build and then operate the project will be significant. People are deeply concerned about Eden and many questions remain unanswered. The community needs answers to all questions. I encourage all residents to get engaged and informed.
It sounds promising. I endorse its creation without ratepayers financial assistance. What are the views of AIDA members of the road access plan advising Anglesea?
A difficult question as we are yet to see a formed proposal about Eden. The Eden project in Cornwall is highly respected as an educational and environmental facility. I have heard a tag of an “environmental theme park” given to the project- I think of it more as a botanical garden, honouring the health and indigenous history. I am concerned with traffic and its impacts and also the points I raised in question 3.
The Eden project aims to engage best practice towards mine rehabilitation. For our education, arts and science sectors to raise environmental awareness whilst leaving a lasting legacy between people, the natural world and resources.
Potential Social and Environmental impacts include:
- Risking Anglesea’s resources and community wellbeing to manage tourism increase;
- Utilising the opportunity for local business and employment involvement;
- Ongoing commitment to working and engaging with the Wadawurrung people and local community.
- Adequate road infrastructure and need for future upgrades;
- Environmental consequence of required infrastructure, facilities, resources, sewers, drains, to support Anglesea as a key tourist destination along the GOR.
The Eden Project sounds fascinating. A pretty cool reclaim for a mine site. Creates jobs, fixes up an eyesore, adds a significant drawcard to the region. But it’s big, likely to be a year-round pull for many many visitors (it would have to be, to be financially sustainable). I’d like to know what the projections are for how traffic will reach and leave Eden. What impacts will there be outside the project (sewage, power, noise, light)? What happens in a bushfire?
Enrolled voters will receive a ballot pack in early October, which must be returned before Friday 23 October.