All eyes on the candidates
Posted on 3 October 2012 by e-news
By Andrew McKenna
Last week MASG sent all candidates in the forthcoming Council elections a questionnaire, seeking their views on a range of environmental issues. Our list of candidates was complete at 26 September, and because of our tight timeframes we had to request that the candidates respond by Monday, 1 October.
Those who did not respond were Tim Barber, Chris Cole, Tony Bell, Stuart Dunn, Keith Roberts.
The questions revolved around pertinent environmental issues to this shire. We asked:
- would candidates would support a community-owned wind farm, as MASG has proposed;
- would they support Council putting solar panels on Council buildings;
- did they support better footpaths, bike lanes and off-road trails;
- did they support investigating alternatives to an expensive landfill upgrade, which would commit the community to 10 or more years of pollution;
- did they support efforts to protect and maintain the biodiversity in our shire;
- did they support economic, social and environmental (TBL) accounting in the shire; and
- did they believe Council has a role to play in supporting the production and marketing of local food and related initiatives.
While this is an array of issues for the candidates to get up to speed with, and to formulate an opinion if they had not done so already, we sent background information on each issue, so at least candidates had the opportunity to school themselves if they had no knowledge of the background or scope of the topics.
We readily admit to a shortcoming with a questionnaire of this type. Candidates who do not support environmental initiatives can cage their language in such a way as to suggest they have outstanding green credentials.
A simple ‘yes’ may be heavily qualified, as may a ‘no’. Some candidates were concerned with rates and financial burdens on the shire, and their interests apparently lay more in economics than in environmental issues.
So we received many statements that candidates supported particular initiatives ‘in principle’, or paid scant – or no – attention to detail. Some candidates brushed over complex issues, and the nuances of their views would be better understood at the candidates’ forum tonight, or at least by reading their statements on the Victorian Electoral Commission website: http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/Current/MountAlexanderCandidateStatements.html
It’s also important to check where candidates are placing their preferences, as that will give some indication of their principles and beliefs.
So, at great risk of simplifying complex debates and multifaceted topics, following is a glance at the responses we received. We used the proposed wind farm as a kind of ‘litmus test’, or a finger in the air, if you like, to gauge candidates’ views.
“I have helped to promote wind power in the local media and am both a member of MASG and Friend of the Wind power project,” said Hans Paas.
“I absolutely support the establishment of a community scaled wind farm in MAS,” said Margaret Rasa.
“I have been campaigning on climate change for close to 20 years now. I think a community owned wind farm, together with projects such as MASG’s Comfy Homes project, are essential parts of the jigsaw of mitigation and adaptation,” said Bronwen Machin.
“Unsure … the jury is still out with me,” said Grant Thomas.
“It is incumbent upon us to ensure that we pursue our green technology, to invest in our future and to re think our future energy uses,” said Scott Victor Gordon.
Stephen Carthew is supportive of the concept, but “I am unsure about the corporatist notion of ‘vision’. Although ‘community ownership’ is supported in principle, I would require details (and the scope and nature of ‘community’ commitment) to be clearly spelled out before fully endorsing on behalf of Council.”
“I would like to see the Council strongly advocate that the State government change its position on this critical issue,” said Jessica Howard
“Any means of power generation that does not use fossil fuels can only be beneficial,” said Alby Vickers.
Bill Bayliss was a “yes” with no comment.
“I find the whole idea of wind farms appalling. They are the classic idea of someone who does not have to live near them. Thankfully there are state laws which will stop these from happening on a great scale,” said Steve Kendall.
Rod Hadfield was a “yes” with no comment.
Jacqueline Brodie-Hanns was a “yes” with no comment.
“Hopefully it’ll be possible to find a suitable site and have the state government see reason,” said Christine Henderson.
“I would support the establishment of a small community owned wind farm, but as with all things this would need a lot of consultation and co-operation with stakeholders,” said Sharon Telford.
“I have actively engaged with lobbying the minister for Planning to reduce the limitations on wind farm development west of the Calder Highway,” said (Mayor) Janet Cropley.
Jennifer Adams supports hydropower but is “unsure” about wind farms.
Download the full ‘scorecard’ here