Friday, August 19, 2016

A Green Mayor for the Shoalhaven – WHY NOT!

Kaye Gartner, Nina Cheyne, Greens MLC David Shoebridge, Amanda Findley and John Levett

Six months ago I was ready to stand down from Council and move on with my life and career as a teacher. I graduated late 2014 and really feel that teaching is in my DNA.

Sick of watching the fighting between the Liberals on Council namely Guile and Gash, I really questioned if my impact was worth the dross. I really was feeling over it. So with my decision made I started to tell people at various community groups that I wouldn’t be standing unless something radical happened to make me change my mind.

Something happened alright and that started with an amazing bunch of people putting their hand up to get into the trenches of council. The lead candidates Nina Cheyne, John Levett and Kaye Gartner would have to be the most formidable combination of minds that have graced the ballot boxes in a long time, they really are the perfect team. Behind them are 9 other wonderful people who have lent their names and energy to the campaign to get the lead ones elected.

Ward 1                                      Ward 2                                       Ward 3

Nina Cheyne                                 John Levett                                 Kaye Garnter
Terry Barratt                                  Julie Danser                                        Kiah Findley
Rosie Ward                                  Judy Kowalski                            Michael Hibberd
Jennifer Parkyn                           Kim Stephenson                          Gail Wild

These people all energise and every one of them has the right stuff to be a councillor.

People are getting sick of the old party politics in the Shoalhaven, for too long all three levels of government have been tied up with conservative outlooks that have a mantra that is a growth at any cost position. No matter what the result is on election day, I know that over the coming weeks of the election campaign The Greens in Shoalhaven, have a positive message of inclusivity and community based solutions which we can start to deliver over the next 4 years. With your help we can make it a reality not a dream ~ A Green Mayor the question isn’t why but why not. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Snubbing the Governments Expression of Interest for the job I was democratically elected to do!

Shoalhaven Greens councillor snubs State Government expression of interest.
Shoalhaven Greens councillor Amanda Findley is calling on fellow Shoalhaven Councillors to not respond to the Baird government’s forced council amalgamation Expression of Interest process but instead to submit to the Minister a Notice of Democratic Mandate.
“Councillors should not support moves by the Baird government to sack democratically elected councillors in areas targeted for forced council amalgamations,” said Shoalhaven Greens Councillor Amanda Findley. 
“I have altered the Expressions of Interest form sent by Minister Toole to councillors listed for possible forced mergers ‘who wish to be considered for a role in shaping the new council’, so that it now reads Notice of Democratic Mandate,” said Shoalhaven Greens Councillor Amanda Findley.
“The EOI form has a red line through all the Minister’s selection criteria and I am urging other councillors to highlight that they were ‘elected by the people of Shoalhaven to serve them until the September 2016 election’ and insist on their democratic right to continue to serve their local communities,” said Cr Findley.
  “I along with the other current Councillors have been elected by the people of Shoalhaven to make decisions that are in the best long-term interests of the broader community, not to act as a tool for the Baird government’s agenda,” said Cr Findley.
‘This whole process has been rushed, displaying incompetence which is even reflected in the Expression of Interest which lists the wrong email address for the lodgement of the form’.

Expressions of Interest were due on 15 April, but I urge all Councillors who have not submitted to send a Notice of Democratic Mandate in a show of solidarity against the proposed merger. I also call on Shoalhaven Councillors to reveal to the public if they have capitulated to the State Governments pressure and sent in an EOI.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Maquarie University Young Scientist Survey Huskisson

Macquarie Uni young scientists gather to present the findings of their week long intensive applied research methodologies 

On Friday 15 April, I had the great pleasure to attend a presentation at Huskisson Community Center.
Five teams of post graduate scientist have been very busy during this last week in Huskisson looking at a variety of Environmental issues affecting our coast. The five topics were Social perspectives, water quality, aquatic ecology, coastal geomorphology, terrestrial ecology.

The 5 groups presented the findings from their research during the week. With about 40 young scientist in the room I was prepared to be way out of my comfort zone and perhaps lost in scientific talk, but of the presentations I was able to attend, the data presented was very easy to access and interesting. All students had involvement in each topic as the objective of the week was to reinforce the application of research methodologies.

Fortunately for Shoalhaven City Council, Macquarie University has agreed to share this information with Council staff as it is mostly relevant to the work that Council does.

The first presentation is most close to my own area of expertise Social Science. A survey had been developed to gather information about how people felt towards Jervis Bay, the Marine Park and towards litter in the area.

The hot topic of the day at Council is Dune management along Collingwood Beach so the responses in respect to dune management were of high interest to me. In the Shoalhaven the discussion on dune vegetation has become so polarized it is extremely difficult to find any common ground on management strategies. That polarization stems around some (not all) beach front property owners wanting Council to clear the vegetation on the dunes to preserve views. Along the Collingwood Beach dune there is evidence of illegal clearing and vegetation damage due to poisoning.

Over the week the Scientist were able to survey a statistically significant group of 348 people who demographically were closely aligned to our census data and equally importantly were a pretty good split of 52/48 in percentage of residents to visitors.

What was very clear from the survey results was more that 88%+ of the people surveyed valued the area for its natural beauty and scenic environment and that walking and swimming were the most popular activities undertaken. The survey respondents had a high knowledge of the existence of the marine park, they also considered that litter in the area was most likely generated by the human activity rather than from marine debris- this was further qualified and quantified by the litter group.

In respect to dune management 25% of respondents had a lower level of understanding what dune management was about, but they did understand why dunes were important.

When reporting back to the collective the scientist were genuinely surprised that 90% of respondents thought that the dunes should be ‘managed for stability and ecological purposes’ and that they either holidayed or settled in the area for the natural aesthetic – the scenic environment and natural beauty. These respondents also understood that illegal clearing was one of the top methods of damaging dunes.
The options given to the respondents were
Should the dunes be…
Maintained for views
Maintained for stability
Maintained for bird and animal habitat (ecological purposes)
Maintained for recreation

These findings need to be taken into consideration as Shoalhaven City Council go about setting its future direction for dune vegetation management, the findings are not insignificant and with some further analysis would closely align to the attitude that Council encountered in its early rounds of consultation in respect to the current  draft dune management plan which set about to try and find some common ground and compromise around illegal clearing, views, maintaining vegetation and dune stability.

With the attitude of tourists similarly aligned to the residents in respect to managing dunes for stability and ecological purpose, Council needs to value the opinions of the variety of tourists who visit our coast and see our vegetated dunes as part of our delight. Managing for stability and ecological purpose will also help protect the tourism ‘product’ that has be parleyed into the #unspoilt #Shoalhaven tourism campaign.


The second presentation looked at mapping litter in and around Jervis Bay beaches with some control beaches just outside the area. The teams gathered litter that they found in different beach area’s and also measured the quantity of micro plastics within the sand by passing it through a 2mm sieve. They quickly realised that marine debris is currently not a huge issue in and around Jervis Bay. However the human debris was a different issue with the cigarette butt being a huge problem for Collingwood and Sanctuary Point Beaches which were the worst of those surveyed. The group offered suggestions from butt bins, to multilingual education signs and increased ranger presence. Overall though the beaches within the Bay were very clean on a global standard.

Aquatic Ecology was the last presentation I was able to attend. They scientists looked at marine biodiversity on rocky reefs and shores- in a nutshell their brief survey showed that in marine sanctuary zones biodiversity was improving- this backs up the ongoing data that is being collected by the Marine Park authority through a number of scientific sources.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Water ways at risk as Watson seeks to water down policy

Bomaderry Creek Landcare picture courtesy of

Water ways at risk

Greens Councillor Amanda Findley has warned fellow Councillors that potential changes to Council’s local environment plan put water ways at risk after Council supported a move away from Staff recommendations at development Committee (5/4/2016).

Staff recommended to Council that any rural boundary changes to create new rural lots should “not affect connectivity of riparian and vegetation corridors”. Councillor’s Watson and Guile declared the amendment as anti-development and were supported by all Councillors in removing the clause in the current round of policy amendments.

Councillor Findley however maintains that the changes should be made. Findley said “In removing this clause we are basically thumbing our nose at a number of State and Locally driven projects that have aimed to re vegetate creek banks and water ways and improving water quality.”

“ In allowing boundaries to run through creeks and water ways we in effect allow clearing to happen, as other policies exist that allow for boundary clearing for fencing purposes switching of Native Vegetation Laws that encourage conservation for water quality purposes”.

“It’s typical of Clr Watson who routinely aims to water down any policy that may protect the environment no matter how small a change it may be.”

“All over the Shoalhaven- Landcare projects have been funded by Local Land Services and Southern Rivers Catchment management authority to fence water ways, keep cattle from destroying creek banks and improving the vital vegetation that filters contaminants from entering the water. Shoalhaven City Council should reinforce the direction that the community is taking and follow best practice and encourage rural boundary changes to not affect these important parts of our landscape especially if it is unnecessary. “

“I am disappointed but not surprised that all the other Councillor’s followed the lead of Clr Watson and his development at any cost attitude.”

“Kiama in their submission in respect to amalgamations pointed out that Shoalhaven’s Planning is completely incompatible with theirs and this is another example of the narrow minded approach taken by the majority on Shoalhaven City Council.

REF: Page 38 Development Committee  5 April 2016, Shoalhaven City Council.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Shoalhaven : Kiama merger a financial disaster

Kiama / Shoalhaven Amalgamation :

Baird’s Bad Economics don’t add up and cost us democracy and local input.

“What is now absolutely clear to me is that Mikes math makes no sense” said Findley after the meeting of Shoalhaven Council on Monday night.

 “The State Government is like a python, squeezing Council services to death with this year’s proposed rate increase of 1.3% which doesn’t even cover wage increases, running Shoalhaven Council down and then forcing amalgamation on us regardless”.

 “ I asked the General Manager what the Shoalhaven expected to raise from its planned rate rises over the coming 4 years  and was advised that it was expected to net $21 million on current rates.”

“ At the current level of Council operations - Shoalhaven City Council needs to raise $21million to offer the current level of services and infrastructure.” 

“That $21million will not be raised under the State Governments amalgamation plan as they will freeze rates and give Councils $10million as compensation.”

 “Shoalhaven will be effectively in deficit $11million after the amalgamation and Kiama is expected to have similar projections.”

“This amalgamation isn’t about saving the ratepayer money; it’s about centralising power with the Liberal party, making the Liberal party look good because it transferred rate rises to future generations and removing representation from the community”

“With fewer Councillors in the way, we can expect unsustainable development over agricultural land and becoming another suburb of Shellharbour and corporate developers will be championed.”

 “The NSW State Liberal party are looking to get a better return on their Princes Highway investment and this is how they will achieve it – by throwing out Council’s and the respective Councillors that get in their way and developers way.”

“The State Government wants Shoalhaven and Kiama to amalgamate by 2016 /2017 and have promised no rate increases. To achieve no increases the State Government propose a rate freeze. When the freeze is finished we will have fewer services, less infrastructure, more debt and require higher rates than ever before”.

 “If anyone should be sacked it should be the State Government for grossly misleading the community into thinking that its amalgamation plan will save money in the long run when clearly it won’t!”

“The Shoalhaven was declared Fit for the Future on scale and capacity meaning we are already large enough. People already feel like they don’t get effective representation and that will get worse under an amalgamated Council.”

“Kiama ratepayers pay much more than the Shoalhaven and we do not want the rate burden from these ratepayers transferred to our towns and villages that already struggle.”

“The State Government has left the North Coast alone. The North Coast has recently dumped the Liberal party over Coal Seam Gas issue’s and elected The Greens, seems they are concerned about further alienating themselves. ”

“The Shoalhaven is traditionally a strong Liberal area and the State Government is taking this support for granted and expect little kick back from our community keeping their big corporate mates happy.”

"If our community fail to have their say-then Mayor Gash will most likely get behind the proposal as she has not ruled it out".