Yesterday’s Mayoral candidates forum started to put a lot more flesh on the bones of what is the Sunshine Coast Council mayoral election with creation of jobs, diversification of the economy and providing strong leadership being common themes.
This is the second forum of it’s type to be held on the Coast. Yesterday’s forum was organised by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), an association representing the property development sector. The field of candidates had subtly changed from the first forum with the participants on this occasion being Brett Winkler, Debbie Blumel, John Edds, Michael Bloyce, Kim Edwards, Warren Blee and Mark Jamieson.
The lineup pitched seven of the eight declared candidates against each other on their vision for the Sunshine Coast and their positions on a range of subjects including the economy, transport, community and council.
Brett Winkler was looking to building a new culture of unity in council, from the councillors through the executive and acknowledged his fellow candidates all know what needed to be done but varied in the detail and style of how policy should be delivered.
Debbie Blumel differentiated herself as the only one with existing experience on Council together with a demonstrated track record of what she describes as “Getting things done”. Such an ability Ms Blumel believes will be critical for the delivery of major job creating projects on the table for the coming years, such as the airport expansion, the exhibition centre, Caloundra South, Palmview and the Sunshine Coast University hospital precinct. Ms Blumel also wants to work closely with business and flagged the creation of a Sunshine Coast Industry Group with the aim of reducing obstacles, pursuing opportunities and building local people, resources and assets for a more prosperous business sector.
John Edds was offering stability and leadership, resolving to end current councillor infighting and remove the economic road blocks and aid development creating jobs for our kids and grand kids. Big ticket policy items for Mr Edwards were a 4 years rate freeze and an opposition to light rail.
Michael Bloyce has vision of the Council as a “service provider and not a service denier”, leveraging the Coasts strengths of lifestyle, sustainable environment, small business innovation and micro business creativity. Mr Bloyce aims to expand the Coast’s economic base beyond tourism construction and retail, seeing great potential in knowledge industries, business tourism, events and creative industries. Mr Bloyce is seeking to attract businesses to setup or relocate to the region, the expeditious rollout of the Coast’s major projects, the construction of an Arts and Convention Centre and sports stadium, streamlining of council processes and procedures and the creation of Enterprise Sunshine Coast to represent the regions Council, business and Chambers of Commerce.
Kim Edwards was another that focused heavily on leadership, pointing to her business track record, awards and her ability of leading a team. Ms Edwards encouraged the Sunshine Coast to be more internationally engaged especially in education and tourism. Education being one of Australia’s biggest export industries.
Warren Blee offers his 30 years experience in Business and an impressive list of community achievements on the Sunshine Coast. Mr Blee promotes his team building style of leadership and the importance of maintaining diversity within the Coast’s various communities.
Mark Jamieson believes his Leadership, particularly that of his corporate experience, knowledge and networks as a key consideration for his candidature. Mr Jamieson sees the need to broaden our economic base and believes council needs to lay the groundwork for some of the big economic stimulators on the horizon such as the airport extension, Kawana hospital and Maroochydore principle activity centre. He aims to task the council, early its term to “real economic, environmental and lifestyle goals” with key performance indicators to focus on fast tracking job creating investment, attracting new and complimentary business & industry and the growth of regional GDP. Mr Jamieson is also committed to improvement in the health of our waterways & air quality, improved job security and careers, progress in civic infrastructure and facilities and success in advancing our social, cultural and sporting achievements
As is typical of these forums it’s natural to ask who did best on the day. Such things are always subjective and coloured by an individual’s perception and predilections. Talk around the room suggested that Blumel, Bloyce, and Jamison remain the key contenders with Brett Winkler being the most surprise performer and one to watch.
With some many contenders its inevitable that the subject of preferences will be raised. Debbie Blumel has down played the role of preferences and believes that she currently is leading in the polls. Other candidates who could more readily be classified as coming from the conservative side of politics are uncomfortably aware that preferences for them are a reality to either one get them across the line or two push across their most favoured opponent.
In a bizarre twist to end the afternoon, UDIA’s President Frazer Dean chose his closing remarks to take a non too subtle snipe at Debbie Blumel saying that it was important the next mayor showed both leadership and teamwork.
“There is definitely no ‘I’ in team but there is an ‘I’ in Debbie,” Mr Dean said.
While incensed by Mr Dean’s comment, Ms Blumel dismissed it as an individual’s inappropriate comment and maintains that she has always maintained a very good relationship with the development industry. Ms Blumel suggested that perhaps the source of such was more to do with that she would not be beholden to the development industry or any other interest group or person for that matter in the execution of her duties as an elected representative.
“I will exercise my duties and make decisions without fear or favour,” Ms Blumel said.
UPDATE – Video from the afternoon.