Policy Platform 2020 Election

Strong leadership, a clear economic plan and a brighter more secure future for Douglas

The time has come for new opportunities, ideas and representation to move Douglas to its next stage of progress as a shire.

For many years, our shire has been plagued with issues of division, caught in the grip of historical attitudes and shouted down from being the best it can be by loud minority beliefs.

But this can change. Through ongoing community consultation and transparent and open operations, I believe council can better deliver what the community wants.

Amalgamation and de-amalgamation caused great angst in Douglas and the result of this process was a large financial burden on ratepayers. It’s done and dusted now and we are an individual shire that must continue standing on its own two feet for the sake of the rate base that lives and invests in our relatively small shire.

The goal and direction of the incumbent mayor to be in the black by 2019-20 financial year has been brutal for ratepayers and many also believe economically damaging to the infrastructure of our tourism townships and the locals who live in them. While record capital works may have been undertaken, you have to ask whether the projects delivered have been what you, the ratepayer, are aware of or wanted or needed. With over $11m in losses since de-amalgamation, even as council currently receives more than 28% higher rates revenue income than it did in 2014, this goal of surplus still comes with what appears to be a budget forecast that is unachievable without cuts to services. After years of constantly raising rates to cover the costs of de-amalgamation, as a ratepayer myself, I believe I speak for many when I say that rates in Douglas are no longer a value-for-money proposition. Many roads are in poor shape, parks and gardens are often no better than paddocks and trust in the judgment of investments made by the shire is shaky at best.

With rates and body corporate fees at levels higher than most regions, Douglas is no longer a place where investors want to place their portfolios either. As properties elsewhere attract higher and safer returns, the shire’s gross regional product now sits lower than pre-de-amalgamation, so as other councils have grown, ours continues to decline. This, in turn, has led to near-negative availability of rental properties as owners try to cover their costs through the short-let AirBnB market in the hunt for better returns. And those who haven’t been successful in keeping their investments profitable are part of the 20% plus of owners with properties currently listed on the market desperately trying to get out of what appears to be a worsening situation. Council needs to refocus and turn this dire situation around, retaining residents of all ages through improved housing and employment outcomes rather than face a rising tide of “For Sale” signs as locals and investment property owners of our community leave.

Our local environment is our lifeline. It’s the reason we live here and largely why tourists visit us, so it’s also our responsibility to ensure the environment is preserved for many generations to come. We must have an educated, rational and holistic approach to our environment and its protection, setting out achievable but realistic goals to ensure we are playing a role in both the environment’s and residents’ long-term survival. Council governs for all in the shire but it must act for the benefit of the majority, so we need to consult and gain consensus with ratepayers on our environmental stance so we can commit to how, what and when environmental goals are achieved. 

The Douglas Shire Planning scheme is complex, constraining and often frustrating. While the essence of the scheme is to protect and limit development, it also creates difficulty for developing projects that our shire needs and wants. It’s time for the scheme to be reassessed with minor changes made as part of our economic recovery growth plan.

Although we live in the wet tropics, water is always a constant issue, with water restrictions imposed on a seemingly constant basis. The economic downturn that this creates is tenfold: Locals live with dust and dead gardens; landscapers, gardeners and horticulturists lose work; and visitors arrive to be disappointed or even critical of the shire as a tourist destination. We need to nip this in the bud and make better water planning a central part of the next council’s agenda.

As our population and the regions around us grow, and as we attempt to revitalise the tourism sector, it’s vital council has a plan to identify ways to improve our road networks so we can all better access areas throughout the region. I will introduce a Road Network Plan that will be used as an important guide when planning for improvements, repairs and future road developments.

Having pride in the way our towns are presented to visitors and residents should be a high priority for council. If we are to grow as an international tourist destination and present our shire as an attractive place for people to move to, we must take more pride in how our region is presented. Major town strips in the shire can be improved and our parks and gardens need to be given the priority they deserve through restoration works, improvements (where necessary) and ongoing care to ensure we remain proud of a shire many of us still believe is a tourist destination jewel in the crown for Far North Queensland. As part of this, we must also ensure we can achieve realistic material and services budgets for maintenance in the shire, which are currently forecasted at below the 2016/2017 actuals.

Finally, I personally feel and am sure it’s a sentiment held by many, that it’s time we as a community and council show our ageing population how important they are to us by finding ways to help them stay in our region during their later years. Despite our shire’s ageing population and being an attractive lifestyle option for retirees, we have little in the way of cost-effective housing options for an older demographic, so the issue of affordable housing must be addressed in areas of Douglas that desperately need it.

These are the ten key items (click on each of the tabs for more detailed information on each) that will be my lead priorities if elected mayor in the 2020 election and that are key to my 2020 vision for the shire.

Towards a Transparent and Consultative Council

The shire boasts a very interactive, tight-knit community. To strengthen this around governance, I will introduce a new community engagement framework via a “Douglas Shire Council Transparency Code”. This code will be created to assist council placing more power into ratepayers’ hands, and in doing so increase democratic accountability, making it easier for residents to contribute to the local decision-making process and help shape the future direction of the shire. Why, because it is the right thing to do.

Three principals will guide the development of this code:

Demand-led. There are growing expectations that new technologies and publication of information should support transparency and accountability. Public bodies like council must recognise the value to the public of data being held by understanding what they hold, acknowledging what their communities want and then releasing it in a legally compliant, approved fashion for use by the public, developers and the media.

Openness. To improve and drive accountability, provision of public information should be an integral component of council’s engagement with local people. The availability of information should be promoted and publicised so that residents know what they can access, how to access it and how it can be used. The presentation of this process should be helpful and accessible to local people and other interested persons.

Timeliness. Timely provision of public information is vital and should be made public as soon as possible even if initially unaccompanied by detailed analysis.


This code will ensure local people can see, access and comment on data covering:

How money is spent. For example, all spending and contracts valued over $50,000 to be available for viewing (amounts to be determined).

Use of assets. This code ensures local people can scrutinise how well their local authority manages its assets, giving locals the information needed to ask questions around this and whether best-use of assets is occurring.

Decision making. How decisions are made, who is making them, why they are being made and any information relevant to that decision.

Issues important to local people. These issues include roads, parks and gardens, caring for our environment, tourism and more, and the amount spent on these areas and why. Residents and ratepayers will have the opportunity to take ownership, and make comment of the breakdown in these spending areas.

Consultation results. Will be available for public viewing before continuing with projects

Alongside this, the new Community Engagement Framework guidelines I will enact will ensure the implementation of council’s community engagement policy.

Good community engagement will lead to:

  • Better project and service delivery outcomes
  • Improvement in the quality of policy being developed
  • Building more resilient relationships with the community
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Being a check on council that it is meeting local needs
  • Increased understanding of community issues
  • Better shared partnerships and networks
  • Enhanced ability to deal with complex and emerging issues
  • Opportunities for diverse voices to be heard
  • Communities being able to identify priorities for themselves and own the solutions.

In summary, it is imperative that council is transparent in both its day-to-day business dealings and when dealing with issues that directly involve community members. Deceit or fraud can thrive when decisions are not open to scrutiny and when the details of spending, contracts and service provision are hidden. Greater transparency, and the provisions in this code, can help combat these issues and are the foundation of local accountability – the key that gives people the tools and information they need to enable them to play a bigger role in our region. The availability of data can also open new markets for local businesses, the voluntary and community sectors, and social enterprises to run services or manage public assets.

Water Security for Now and Tomorrow

Water security and council ensuring water needs are met are a must for Douglas.

Currently, the council’s ability to produce water at times barely meets the current needs of the community, which is a precarious position to be in as water restrictions occur more frequently due mostly to a lack of storage rather than a lack of water on an annual basis.

Besides water’s inherent importance in our daily lives, it’s also an essential part of our tourism offering, particularly in terms of presentation of the shire. As a world-class destination, we must look the part or face damage to an integral sector of the local economy. This means having water available to keep our shire green. Without water to ensure gardens are pristine, we put at risk the jobs of important regional workers such as our horticulture, landscaping and gardening tradesmen who we cannot afford to lose.

While planning for quality, quantity and reliability of water supplies is important, the focus on long-term planning to supply ample water to our communities, alongside appropriate water-use education, is paramount. If successful in my run for mayor, I will introduce a Douglas Shire “Desired Water Security Level of Service (LOS)” plan, which is particularly important for long-term water supply planning and already in place in other regions of Queensland.

Water LOS objectives can be viewed as a planning tool that set targets for long-term water supply security for a community. The objectives relate to the bulk water supply system, or in other words, the “bucket” of water available for treatment and distribution to a community. LOS objectives contribute to a community’s understanding of their water security position and guide planners and decision-makers, particularly regarding investment, to ensure there is adequate long-term water supply by investing strategically.

In the past four years, council has invested $30.8m in water infrastructure capital works and yet we have still had strict water restrictions in place. The LOS will ensure we are investing wisely as well as having the ability to discover alternative water possibilities for irrigation and pools, which is currently assumed to make up 2/3 of our water-plant’s processed water that is suitable for human consumption.

LOS objectives commonly include statements about:

  • How much water the water supply system will typically be able to supply
  • How often and for how long water restrictions might occur
  • The possibility of needing an emergency water supply due to a prolonged drought
  • How much water will be required over a certain period
  • How water is being used
  • Alternate methods of supply and storage.

The selection of water security LOS objectives is affected by water demand, supply infrastructure and supply operations, including factors such as:

  • Historical water use, population projections and predicted future demand
  • Infrastructure capacity and hydrological nature of the network
  • Cost (social, environmental and financial) of supply, changes to operations and of additional infrastructure
  • Supply characteristics, water restrictions and community resilience
  • Consequences and likelihood of emergency measures
  • Storage characteristics and climate variability.

Through the LOS, council will be able to estimate how much more treated water we require and plan accordingly to investigate and install further water supply inlets, larger water-holding areas and possible access to underground aquifers.

Greywater treatment and usage must also be further investigated to ensure local parks and gardens remain pristine year-round, with education programs and possible incentives for households to be water smart, garden savvy and to utilise recycled water systems collecting water from sinks, baths and showers for garden usage. I will also introduce smart water meters (example) to the shire so that residents can constantly monitor their water usage.

Water infrastructure is a top-level priority for Douglas and more infrastructure is needed to provide higher water-supply performance. This extra infrastructure will also provide the benefits of reducing the risk and associated costs of water restrictions or of not having sufficient water supply that will ultimately restrict Douglas from continuing to grow.

Strong, Steady, Sustainable Economic Growth

FACT: Over the past six years, our economy has shrunk meaning that since de-amalgamation, the Douglas Shire economy has gone backwards. At de-amalgamation in 2014, our Gross Regional Product was at $793,000,000. As of today, it sits at around $710,000,000. So, rather than growing like the rest of Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, Douglas has declined by $83,000,000, or a 10.5% drop from 2014.

FACT: 2018 saw the first negative population growth in Douglas. Alongside a shrinking population is a contraction in our full-time equivalent employment which has dropped from 6,147 in the 2013/2014 year to 5,473 in 2018 or around 11%.

FACT: Housing building approvals in 2014/15 were at $31,607,000. In 2018/19, this had dropped to $16,507,000, effectively nearly halved. These stats point to either a lack of need or availability and have negative flow-on effects to our economy given only 258 ratepayer properties have been added to our rate base since de-amalgamation

FACT: Australian CPI has consistently been below 2% but our Shire rates increases have been far higher. With recent general rate increases of 5.2%, 3.9%, 3.9%, 3.9%, 3.9% and 1.8%, and with forecasted rate increases of 2.9% each year, the current economic strategy from de-amalgamation is not working for ratepayers.

Douglas needs an “Economic Stimulation and Recovery Plan” to reverse the broader economic and population decline caused by a lack of economic drivers in the current council’s policies. 

This can be done in several ways.

Developing New Revenue Streams

Firstly, council can begin formulating a range of alternative revenue streams to reduce pressure on rates increases by utilising more effectively the standout professional skills of our highly qualified CEO and managers. Together, our team can also create and deliver a confident marketing plan that includes KPI’s and performance outcomes for a new Tourism and Economic Development Officer who will work with both the Tourism Body and Chamber of Commerce. 

Encouraging Appropriate Development

As a team, the mayor, councillors, CEO and development officer should also be encouraging and inviting developers to the shire who we feel will serve our economic needs, while planning ways to inspire future developments that are suitable for and benefit our location. We must create a change in mindset by improving confidence for investment so that we can once again join other traditional councils of FNQROC in moving in a positive direction.

Reducing the Need for State & Federal Assistance

While council has been very successful in gaining grant funding for various projects since de-amalgamation, the growing gross debt of both the Federal (Dec 2019, $561B) and State governments (2019 May Budget, $71.4B) means that future assistance to tourism townships is likely to diminish, particularly as more funding is required for disaster relief or to account for changing global economic headwinds. 

As a council, we need to position ourselves strongly for a future where we will more often need to stand on our own feet without higher-level governmental funding. To do this, we must work on stimulating local job growth by increasing our share in the regional tourism market and securing Douglas as a thriving holiday destination, but also across other job sectors that offer year-round employment opportunities in various trade and non-trade industries. Council must also encourage year-round businesses to the region through incentives and initiatives that will make them confident investing in our region. This will bring back more permanent residents to the area, further stimulating local businesses and growth opportunities in affordable rateable properties, which will, in turn, allow increased council infrastructure to cater for residents and tourists needs.

Through this plan, and after hearing the results of the selected members of the Economic Development Group discussion panels – which will help flesh out the plan further – I believe we can work together to enter a new decade full of confidence, productivity and prosperity for our region.

A Shire Connected by Safe and Sound Roads

Council should recognise that keeping the shire’s road network flowing – in good repair and available – is a social and economic driver.

As our population grows, the shire must have a plan to identify ways to improve its road networks and continue to offer better access to areas throughout the region. I will introduce a Road Network Plan to be used as an important guide when planning for road improvements, repairs and future developments. This plan will include supporting the implementation of sealing gravelled roads throughout the shire, reducing flood-affected roads that block residents from their homes and a regular maintenance program of current roads.

During the consultation process, the Road Network Plan will receive valuable input from key stakeholders, including the Department of Transport and Main Roads, council staff, the SES, RACQ, residents and current contractors. It will also recognise the need for State and Federal governments to uphold their financial commitments around continuing to better roads within our shire.

The delivery of this plan will be guided by a very simple principle – that the shire delivers road projects that are cost-effective and which represent value for money for ratepayers. We will achieve this by focusing on enhancing existing road infrastructure, ensuring accessibility on all roads and, only where needed, building new roads.

The Road Network Plan has four priority actions:

  1. Develop a targeted strategy to reduce roads affected by flooding.
  2. Undertake a targeted road upgrade program across the gravel road network.
  3. Advocate for state and federal roads to be regularly maintained at appropriate times throughout the year.
  4. Introduce a regular road maintenance program for council roads throughout the shire.

In addition to these priorities, this plan focuses on working collaboratively with the State Government to ensure a more reliable, safer road network.

A Green, Lush Region Proudly Protective of its Parks, Gardens, Streetscapes and Natural Beauty

We are an international tourist destination that prides itself on being a tourism icon, so also having pride in the way our towns are presented to both residents and visitors should be a high priority for council.  While we have the Reef and the Rainforest available to tourists, Port Douglas, Mossman and Daintree Village are also destinations in and of themselves, with tourists spending time during their holiday wandering around our towns, which means that in beautifying our parks, gardens, streetscapes and suburbs, council adds further value to tourist stays in our region as they spend time in these public open spaces.

Of course, it’s not only tourists who enjoy our green spaces. When locals leave their homes or offices, they find themselves surrounded by tall trees, wide lawns, flowers, birds, bees, butterflies—and something positive happens to them. People respond to beautiful, well-planted surroundings, which all add value to our residents who should feel proud of where they live. Having beautifully maintained public spaces helps provide a sense of place, improves community wellbeing, increases property values, enhances shade and temperature moderation, and provides further habitat for local fauna.

As a range of benefits is progressively identified, understood and measured, street trees are also increasingly being recognised and managed throughout Australia as important community assets. 

The beautification of our parks, gardens and streetscapes will include:

  • The preservation of our million-dollar oil palms lining the entrance to Port Douglas. A report given to council over ten years ago stated these Palms are at high risk of dying due to not being provided with mulch or fertiliser and constantly being underwatered.
  • Parks and gardens will be assessed, with proposals put forward as to how best to beautify a range of locations such as possible sporting areas, public gathering areas, off-leash dog areas, wildlife reserves, outdoor fitness equipment etc.
  • Introduction of beautification grants. Individuals and community groups will be able to apply for funds for landscape enhancement projects throughout the shire.
  • Footpaths, walking trails and cycling paths will continue to be considered as part of this strategy.

Community Consultation on Climate Change and Carbon Emissions Policy

It’s time our shire has a frank and open discussion about climate change so that a community-led and agreed-upon policy based on a sensible approach is taken by council around this very complex issue.

With council elected to be the voice for local ratepayers, while we must establish policy that adheres to State and Federal regulation, it must also importantly be crafted after listening to the needs, concerns and opinions of all but ultimately the will of the majority. This is particularly important given I’m reminded regularly that many in the community had no idea what council was doing in this area until the recent public outcry over the Qantas / Green Collar deal.

This outcry and wider community confusion come from what I perceive as a lack of strong leadership on climate change and carbon emissions policy, with poorly communicated and ad-hoc ideas thrown around rather than a focused, coherent plan put together. I want to bring clarity and transparency to this important issue and take ratepayers on the journey with council as we develop policy that is in lockstep with community attitudes to climate change. And because this policy might in many ways affect so many other policy areas, I’m keen to get moving on it soon after taking office.

This will not change the current focus council has on protecting our immediate environment through sensible planning scheme decisions and holistic measures and protections throughout our pristine region as was requested through the community consultation completed for the 2019-24 Corporate Plan.

Accountable and Responsible Yearly Rates’ Revision

During the de-amalgamation debates, the Friends of Douglas presented strong statements around rate changes:

“There will no additional impact upon rates and charges beyond what might be considered normal CPI movements imposed by the New Douglas Shire. That is, the status quo in terms of a financial impost on the ratepayers of the New Douglas Shire will be maintained when compared to the current Cairns Regional Council rates burden. In that respect, the model demonstrates that the costs of de-amalgamation can be absorbed”.


“The FODS financial model proposes no rates and charges increases are required over and above CPI (or its local government equivalents) to cover the costs of de-amalgamation and that those costs can be effectively absorbed with no adverse impact on the other services and financial obligations of NDS.”

Sadly, the reality of actual rates increases following de-amalgamation tells a very different story. Ratepayers have taken the brunt of the de-amalgamation, with rate increases more than double CPI over the past six years.

2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020 TOTAL
DSC 5.2 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9 1.8 22.6
CRC 1.5 1.5 2.5 2.3 2.6 1.7 12.1
CPI 1.7 1 1.9 2.1 1.6 1.7 10

These yearly increases have not matched the grand statements previously made by the Friends of Douglas or been in line with community expectations. To get increases in check, with the aim of aligning them more to the CPI, council must start increasing other revenue sources and expand its broader rates base.

Addressing rates and how rates are calculated across the shire to bring back fairness and balance to ratepayers will be one of my first priorities if elected mayor, and going forward I will ensure council exhausts all possibilities around revenue-raising before considering increasing future rates above CPI.

Becoming Australia’s Leading Tourism Destination

With tourism recognised as one of the four pillars of the Queensland economy and a significant contributor to employment and the future economic prosperity of our region, developing a sustainable tourism growth plan is key to driving regional economic development for our region.

Our reef and the rainforest attractions consistently appear in “Top Ten Places to visit in Queensland”, but as many locals know, we are so much more. This is why I will introduce a Strategic Tourism Plan spearheaded by a tourism body to represent the entire shire to help showcase our many world-class offerings while also shining a light on new and innovative experiences we have in the region. With a 2025 target, I want Douglas Shire’s townships to become more involved in and benefit from an improved visitor economy. Well-developed tourism products supported by effective marketing will enhance the overall visitor experience, improve regional dispersal and increase length-of-stay, benefitting all. Eco-tourism will remain a key part of this, but the plan will also identify the authentic Douglas brand that encapsulates the entire community. Each Douglas township should be recognised for its specific importance in tourism and events and for its economic ability. My new Strategic Tourism Plan will articulate our shared vision and provide links for growing the visitor economy while positioning our region, both domestically and internationally, as a must-visit tourist destination.

The Role of the Strategic Tourism Plan

The plan will rely on the experiences and knowledge of the broad range of stakeholders throughout our community and across the shire to identify future objectives and opportunities. It will incorporate the development, management and marketing of the entire Douglas Shire and identify the initiatives, big and small, across the region aimed at growing tourism.

The strategy will provide a framework for council to plan and prioritise projects and make decisions relating primarily to:

  • Facilitating a range of tourism infrastructure projects for the commercial sector.
  • Infrastructure design, development and maintenance.
  • Linkages to strategic regional projects derived from the Douglas Shire Development Plan.
  • Providing linkages to local stakeholders who manage the local waterways and forests.
  • Assisting tourism and hospitality businesses via initiatives such as industry training and the adoption of new technologies.
  • Allocating funds and assistance towards community-based projects and events.
  • Advocating State and Federal government for funding for local and regional projects.

Working with the CEO and senior management team, a plan will be developed that includes KPI’s and performance outcomes for a new Tourism and Economic Development Officer who will work with both the Tourism Body and Chamber of Commerce. 

Action a Whole-of-Council Cohesive Strategic Planning Process

The upcoming election offers an unparalleled opportunity to launch into a new decade of prosperity, growth and improved outcomes for residents of Douglas. To help enable such a positive future, council needs an integrated, cohesive, strategic planning process.

My 2020 strategic planning process will consider, clarify and synthesise a range of documents already created by council – including the Corporate Plan, the Operational Plan and the Corporate Sustainability Strategy – to reassess how viable and relevant each plan remains, particularly when integrated and viewed in a whole-of-council way with the addition of the new 2020 Economic Development Strategy. Where required, council will amend plans to suit a more progressive, overarching new look for us heading into the next decade.

This process will confirm and state core aspects of council, including:

  • A Vision Statement. Simply put, if we want to be a visionary council preparing the shire for the future, stating our vision is critical for strategic thinking. Having a clear image of what the shire’s future could or should look like, expressed through a succinct declaration that is realistic, yet inspired, provides clarity of purpose in a big-picture way, telling the world (and reminding ourselves) what we want our shire to be.
  • A Mission Statement. This defines why council exists – what it is formed to do and why – and is the starting point for recognising issues and setting broad goals and objectives. Acting as a concise, solid foundation for policy and governance, a well-crafted mission statement serves as a filter to separate what is important from what is not, while communicating a sense of intended direction to the wider organisation.
  • Core Values. These are the guiding principles by which staff make decisions and conduct themselves. Unlike vision or mission statements, which help define goals/objectives and strategies and can thus change over time, core values are constant. They are the foundation of an organisation’s culture, in turn guiding overall strategy. 

Examples of what Council’s core values might look like include:

    • Customer Focus: Council will strive to understand community needs and build this understanding into policy and service provision;
    • Responsive Service Delivery: Council will provide customer-focused services and facilities promptly;
    • Good Governance: Council will act with honesty and integrity in the best interest of the community while fulfilling its ethical and statutory obligations;
    • Cost-effective Management: Council will apply sound financial management principles and prudent management practices to ensure efficient and effective use of its resources;
    • Effective Communication: Council will use frequent and varied communication methods to inform the community, seek input/engagement and demonstrate transparent decision making;
    • Responsible Custodianship: Council recognises its responsibility to future generations in its use of resources and protection of the environment;
    • Accountability and Transparency: Council will communicate honestly and openly with its stakeholders, displaying responsible business ethics in fulfilling its governance and statutory obligations.


  • Goals & Objectives. These are higher-level statements formed from the bedrock of our vision and mission statements that can be reasonably achieved within a defined timeframe and with available resources, providing the foundation for the development of relevant and effective strategies.
  • Strategies. These are detailed plans directed towards the achievement of a goal or objective, with any number of strategies able to be assigned to a goal or objective.
  • Key Performance Indicators. KPIs help organisations understand how well they are performing in relation to their strategic goals or objectives in both a financial and non-financial sense. They provide crucial performance information that enables council and its stakeholders to understand whether the organisation is on track to achieve goals and objectives. Given this, care must be taken to design appropriate KPIs that assess the aspects of performance which matter most, as while it is tempting to set KPIs to measure what is easy to collect and calculate, this won’t necessarily lead to meaningful information about achievements.
  • Outcomes, performance measures and targets. These provide the basis for performance measurement, which must accompany a Strategic Plan to gauge and report on progress to key stakeholders, specifically ratepayers and local businesses. Outcomes are generally set at the goal/objective level and contain a longer-term vision of what successful strategies seek to achieve, with potentially numerous outcome statements attached to a single goal/objective. Outcome statements can also be accompanied by targets describing how success will be measured. Targets can be useful in providing further insight into the desired outcome, the activity necessary to achieve it and the measure of its success. Given measurement and reporting are internal council functions, targets should be outlined during the implementation phase and later in report documentation on outcomes rather than in the published plan.

The intention of this process in drawing together many of the plans already available is to ensure that these plans fit with community expectations of council’s performance and are cohesive when viewed as a whole. Confirmation of these documents will go towards advancing the shire in an actionable, accountable and achievable way, and importantly in a direction that the majority of the community wants to see us take.

Caring for Our Ageing Population

As our population ages, it has become clear that Douglas Shire currently lacks enough facilities to care for its ageing community.

Suitable affordable housing is minimal, with many of our elderly forced to move away from the much-loved region they’ve called home for many years and where they’ve spent most of their working lives. Rather than see out their later years surrounded by families, friends and a community they’ve helped build, retirees in Douglas find themselves with little choice but to leave, or in some dire circumstances are even forced into homelessness, another issue that also affects other groups in our community and for which we are ill-equipped.

The introduction of land within the planning scheme to allow for the construction of suitable and safe retirement accommodation and assisting the local Douglas Shire Aged Persons Inc with developing such can help alleviate this pressing issue.

Our wonderful weather, beautiful environment and well-thought-out townships also position Douglas as an ideal location for non-locals to retire to. Increasing our stock of aged-care accommodation in a considered and responsible way will permanently boost our local economy, while also facilitating a much-needed increase in the availability of non-seasonal, permanent employment.

The mayor and councillors of Douglas have it in their power to unite the various communities of our shire, but this is impossible if council operates under the weight of a specific agenda or the strong opinions of only certain individuals or communities rather than in the broad interest of all.

Over the past few decades, disunity due to factionalism, legal battles and what might now be viewed as the semi-disastrous (and pointless) amalgamation (then de-amalgamation), have resulted in increased monetary outflows from council, leading in turn to higher rates and diminished services. Balance needs to be restored in the way council operates so that residents feel a just return from the rates they pay, which can only occur by council servicing the communities they live in more efficiently, effectively and fairly.

I pledge that I will be a mayor who unites our communities with inspired, energised positivity, which combined with my fresh eyes and new vision for Douglas, will ensure the fruition of so much of the policy agenda I’ve laid out.

I can’t do this alone, but if voted in as mayor of a unified council I would hope to work with councillors whose beliefs and wants for the shire mostly align with mine. I urge you to thoroughly research your future councillors and vote for those who also believe a visionary council can help our shire be so much more.

I look forward to the challenge and ask you to join me on this exciting journey.







Michael Kerr

Change before you have to

– Jack Welch