By TONY FOSTER
MAYOR OF BRIGHTON
UNDOUBTEDLY, waste management and the impact of climate change are two of the most challenging issues confronting the Tasmanian community over the coming year and beyond.
These issues are the responsibility of all tiers of government, indeed for the entire community and local councils have an important role to play.
Already, we have experienced the impacts of climate change with record summer temperatures stretching into autumn, the disastrous bush fires and massive storms and floods in Tasmania last year and in other States in recent months.
As well, I have spoken many times of the challenge of waste management and the time is rapidly approaching when we will have to come up with real solutions if we are to properly protect our environment for today and for future generations. We cannot continue to create waste and throw away unnecessary packaging and other materials without developing practical and responsible solutions for its disposal.
For Brighton Council’s part, we intend to focus considerable attention on waste management over the coming months. Council will be conducting full review of our current arrangements and what will be required for Brighton in the future. And we’ll be working with other councils to get the best solution for our community.
That is why, at our March meeting, Council decided unanimously – nine votes to nil – to reaffirm our membership of the Southern Tasmanian Councils’ Authority (STCA). In this way, we will be working with our neighbouring councils and have input on the crucial areas of waste management and climate change.
The STCA has determined to continue its Waste Strategy South and Regional Climate Change initiatives and agreed its secretariat support would be funded from reserves. So, member councils will not have to pay subscriptions for the 2019/2020 year, but we will be able to work together to come up with appropriate strategies and hopefully, solutions.
The Clarence City Council recently voted to leave the STCA and Kingborough and Glenorchy followed suit. This is a mistake, as together, local government can achieve much more, at considerably less cost, than working in isolation. The North and North-West have strong and active local government groupings and it is important that the South has the same to articulate a clear voice for local government in our region.
As I have said, waste management and climate change are critical issues, not only for Brighton, but for all councils and we want to participate in developing strategies for the future. Indeed, we have a responsibility to do this and we can do it collectively and most effectively through the STCA.
As well, the STCA Board will also examine its proposed activities over the next 12 months and the advocacy role it can play representing local government in southern Tasmania. Brighton is also keen to work with our neighbouring councils on strategic and infrastructure planning as well as initiatives to promote regional economic and tourism development.
It is important to appreciate that following last year’s local government elections, there has been a significant change in the composition of the STCA Board, with a number of new Mayors representing southern councils.
While there has been agitation on the part of some councils to leave the Authority due to perceived inaction and lack of results, Brighton believes it appropriate to allow the new Board to develop strategies for the organisation and shape its future direction.
With the enthusiasm of the new Mayors and the experience of returning local government leaders, I am confident that we can, at last provide an effective and united voice for our region and perhaps, more importantly, tackle the looming challenges of waste management and climate change.
Brighton Council considers it is important to remain part of the regional group to work with the southern councils on these matters. With municipalities outside the cities continuing to grow, the STCA can be an effective vehicle to gain more influence in decision-making processes in the future.
With no costs to Council for remaining in the group for the next year, it is an easy decision. We can play a role in determining the future of the Southern Tasmanian Councils’ Authority and in doing so, continue to be involved and work together to develop solutions to the vital issues confronting our communities and Tasmania.