Corangamite candidates vie for your votes

The Coastal ward, the North Ward and the South-Central Ward of Corangamite Shire Council are uncontested this year.  Peter Harkin will be elected to the Coastal Ward, Geoff Smith will be re-elected to the North Ward and Jo Beard will be re-elected to the South-Central Ward.  

Central ward candidates

CHRIS O’CONNOR

Cr Chris O’Connor says pressure from federal and state budgets will be one of the major challenges Corangamite Shire Council faces during the next council term.

First elected in 2008, Cr O’Connor said the impact from the federal and state budgets will make it harder for the council to attract grants.

He also pointed to Corangamite Shire Council’s bill of $2.9 million for the statewide superannuation scheme shortfall, which he said would cause more financial pressures for the council.

“That’s really the basis of my concerns,” he said.

“Two areas where I think council can kick goals are providing cheap industrial land and better aged care services.”

Cr O’Connor said the municipality had good industrial land available and the council needed to work with developers to open the land up.

“Industrial land doesn’t need to be in Warrnambool,” he said.

“We have cheap industrial land. We need to work with developers to free it up.”

Cr O’Connor said better aged care services would ensure people didn’t move away for services.

“We can provide this as well as anyone else,” he said.

“People will move to Warrnambool if we can’t provide it, they don’t want to move from their family and friends.”

WAYNE OAKES 

Retired policeman Wayne Oakes said one of his primary concerns was the dwindling numbers of medical practitioners in the south-west.

Mr Oakes said he had spoken with general practitioners in the Corangamite Shire and it was an issue which ratepayers had raised.

“I’m very keen to support local doctors in their quest to attract more doctors,” he said.

“I think a lot of graduates look down their noses a bit at GPs practising in country areas.

“They might think it doesn’t have the prestige. I think it’s just a case of inexperience.

“As a council we need to make it more viable and attractive for GPs to come here.

“It’s the same with the police who can be a bit city centric.”

Mr Oakes said ratepayers had approached him calling for improved passenger train services.

He said it would be good for Camperdown and Terang residents who worked in Warrnambool if they could catch the train to work but there needed to be appropriate services returning passengers.

Mr Oakes said tourism also needed to be encouraged inland and Terang and Camperdown needed to provide appropriate parking.

“The inland areas are not marketed as well,” he said.

“I think it would be fantastic if we could have the Butter Factory in Camperdown housing boutique businesses combined with a tourist information centre.

“I’ve been here 26 years and I’ve always loved Camperdown. We have so much to offer and so much to build on.”

RUTH GSTREIN 

Cr Ruth Gstrein says if re-elected, one of her primary concerns remains improving the condition of the local road network.

Cr Gstrein has been a Corangamite Shire councillor for 10 years, serving three as mayor.

She said the council had allocated $6 million for local roads in the 2012-13 budget but they also needed to continue to lobby government for more investment. 

Cr Gstrein said the council provided about 100 services to the community, from maternal and child health to aged care services and the council needed to maintain their service levels.

“I realise there are a lot of pressures on ratepayers at the moment,” she said.

Cr Gstrein said economic development was essential to the shire’s success, particularly maintaining existing businesses.

“Establishing new businesses is important, but we need to support existing businesses,” she said.

“There’s not much point attracting new businesses if others are closing because of economic hardship.”

Cr Gstrein said ensuring there were livable towns through sports and art and culture opportunities would help attract people.

She said the Terang Streetscape, connecting Terang to natural gas and a play space in Camperdown were some of the projects she was committed to seeing realised.

“We need to keep our towns viable,” she said.

ROB FLEMING 

Rob Fleming says if he is elected he will support the whole shire.

Mr Fleming said he wanted the Lake Bullen Merri Road re-opened.

He said he wanted to see the Camperdown courthouse opened to the public and was concerned about unmanned visitor information centres in Camperdown.

He said the courthouse could be used as a community centre.

“I just think it should be used for something like that, instead of being empty,” he said. Mr Fleming said ratepayers had raised with him the importance of a retirement village in Camperdown.

He said there was land available and it was a project which could be done.

“It’s gained a bit of interest in Camperdown,” he said.

“We would need to cover all bases. But it could provide affordable housing.

“They would be small units which are easy to maintain.

“These are what I’d like to see from the start. Of course I haven’t got a crystal ball.

“I’m enjoying the campaigning. People are supportive.

“But the ballot will tell the story.”

Mr Fleming has lived in Camperdown for the last 65 years and previously served as mayor of Camperdown Town Council.

CHRIS MAGUIRE 

Corangamite Shire council candidate Chris Maguire says an improved road network and increased passenger train services are just some of the issues facing the council.

“I am concerned about the condition of the roads,” he said.

“People also want more passenger services for Terang and Camperdown. 

“I know it’s also an issue in Warrnambool.”

Mr Maguire said he wanted to see a lot more work done to ensure Terang was connected to natural gas.

He said the recent announcement of $6.5 million was welcomed but the project was not a done deal.

“There still needs a lot of effort to go into this,” he said.

Mr Maguire said the Terang College school crossing on the Princes Highway needed to be improved because it was a safety issue. 

He said he wanted Camperdown and Terang to both have manned visitor information centres.

“They both feel they’re missing out,” he said.

“I’d also like to see the courthouse in Camperdown opened and be made a public building.

“People are concerned with what will happen. I’ve been part of a push for it to be an arts and community hub.

“Some people are asking me why I’m running for council and I’ve said I’m sick of banging my head against a brick wall.

“I’d like to see what it’s like on the inside.”

South-West ward candidates

SIMONE RENYARD 

Dairy farmer Simone Renyard said if elected her role would be to act as a voice for the community.

“It’s not about my personal opinions,” she said.

“I would bring an objective opinion to the council table.”

Mrs Renyard said a priority of hers was to ensure the Timboon blueprint was followed closely by council.

“That’s one thing I would work towards,” she said.

“We need to follow it closely because that is our voice.”

Mrs Renyard said she wanted to ensure any expert consultants employed by council were justified.

She said if any expert consultants were used on any project the council needed to ensure it was money well spent.

“I announced I was standing two months ago and since then I’ve spent time educating myself and meeting with residents and local groups,” she said.

“I’ve wanted to get a better understanding of what the issues are.

“People want to see Corangamite continue to prosper and grow. Without population growth the flow-on effect is minimal.

“I’ve spoken to older people who want to see small projects maintained that can slip under the radar. These are projects to help them get around a bit easier.”

Mrs Renyard said she would be a passionate voice for farmers. “Twenty-six per cent of the Corangamite population are dairy farmers,” she said.

“We need roads and infrastructure to support the industry.”

NEIL TROTTER 

THE condition of arterial roads, fire safety and roadside vegetation are some of the concerns by Corangamite Shire Council candidate Neil Trotter.

Mr Trotter said in terms of fire safety, main arterial roads needed to be safe enough for people to get in and out of towns.

He said he had fears conditions were similar to Marysville prior to Black Saturday.

“Motorists need to have safe access on those roads. If limbs are falling on roads they become immediately impassable,” he said.  

Mr Trotter said he was committed to improving roads in the shire.

He said Ayrford Road, the Cobden-Warrnambool Road and Main Street in Timboon were just some of the examples which needed urgent attention.

He said there had been huge investments in farms and properties in the area but it was not matched with investment in the roads.

“My family settled here in 1844 and a lot of roads haven’t improved from that time,” he said.

“We’ve got farm businesses worth millions of dollars. The roads in some cases are substandard.”

Mr Trotter said he also wanted aged care services in the shire improved.

He said Timboon residents with high care needs were having to leave their family and friends and go to other towns for services.

He said tourism in the area is abysmal and council needed to look at getting a better value for the dollars they spend. “People are coming here and not spending money,” he said.

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