By Tony Foster OAM
I AM sure you’re like me in thinking where has this year gone? It seems like yesterday that I was reflecting on 2011 and here we are 12 months later looking back on the year that was. For our community, there have been a number of big issues throughout 2012, which should be highlighted.
Early in the year Brighton became home for a number of asylum seekers as a temporary detention centre on Defence Department property was established at the rifle range in Pontville. I look back now and say thankfully we as a community, not just those of us who live here, but the broader Tasmanian community, overcame an initial period of uncertainty to make the stay of the detainees one in which we can all be proud.
We were also able to maintain our fair rating system that restricts annual rate rises to no greater than the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and we continued to operate the leanest and most efficient council administration in Tasmania. At the same time, Brighton also stood up for its community against a concerted campaign by the ‘big end of town’ through the Property Council to try to get rate reductions for its own properties at the expense of householders. We have a very clear responsibility to protect our ratepayers and all our advice pointed to the Property Council’s proposal actually increasing rates and threatening services to the Brighton community. We would not and will not sit by and allow this to happen.
In the middle of the year, Council launched the Brighton Industrial and Housing Corporation (BIHC) to bring housing affordability to people who had previously been denied an opportunity to fulfill the dream of home ownership. Brighton is proud to be able to develop this innovative program to help people in our community buy brand new homes. The first new homes are now under development on the Herdsman’s Cove site more on the drawing board. The BIHC is also active in fostering economic development in our municipality.
We also developed the Brighton Town Centre Local Area Plan project for the central area of the Brighton township, taking a proactive planning approach to manage our projected high population growth and to harness new development opportunities flowing from the completion of the first stage of the Brighton Bypass.
And of course the Bypass has come to fruition with the first phase recently opened and which is reported on extensively in this edition of Brighton Community News. This is just one part of major infrastructure development for our region and we will continue to fight for our community to ensure the full length of the proposed Granton to Dysart Midland Highway upgrading, agreed to before the 2007 Federal Election, is delivered. These vital projects are both missing from the Tasmanian Government’s priority wish list for round two Nation Building funding covering 2014 -2019 and we are urging the State Government to reconsider its infrastructure priorities and ensure the construction of these next stages as a matter or urgency
Which brings me on to yet another issue where Brighton is standing up for its community. In the past few months Brighton Council joined with 11 other councils to demand action on what we see as an imbalance in decision-making affecting the State’s resource industries.
The councils have joined together because we believe recent decisions and actions involving forestry and other resource industries are impacting severely on the economy of our regional communities. We are very concerned that anti-development activists, emboldened by their success in halting development, particularly in forestry, are moving onto other industry sectors, further threatening the viability of regional Tasmania.
Our regional communities are fed up with decision-making that is pandering to anti-development and environmental activists which s dissuading investment and eroding jobs and further employment prospects.
The 12 Councils are: Tasman, Derwent Valley, Break of Day, Northern Midlands, West Coast, Brighton, Huon Valley, Southern Midlands, Dorset, Circular Head, Glamorgan Spring Bay and Central Highlands.
Our Councils represent some 80 per cent of Tasmania’s land area and probably a bigger percentage of the State’s resources, but we have not been consulted on important decisions affecting our regions and people.
We will no longer stand for our State and Federal Governments ignoring the will of the majority. We are determined to combat this and we want greater consideration from State and Federal Governments, and more balanced outcomes from resource security decisions.
So you can see there is still plenty to do as your Council represents you at every level and on a range of issues that impact on or affect our community. I am sure that the coming 12 months will be an equally challenging and rewarding year.
In the meantime, can I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and a prosperous and successful 2013.