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Putting experience and background to the vote

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Putting experience and background to the vote

Here’s your chance to have a say in the future direction of the place we call home by deciding on who will lead our new-look council.

As the countdown to the local election begins, it’s a time of great excitement for Sunshine Coast residents as they are presented with an opportunity to voice their values, aspirations and concerns to help shape the future of our wonderful region.

The outcome of the mayoral race will not only determine who takes the reins of our region but also, importantly, will signal a new chapter in the collective journey of the Sunshine Coast.

In the race towards Sunshine Coast Council’s top job, the candidates have been doing the rounds, visiting community groups, attending panel presentations and delivering grassroots campaigns to connect with locals and listen to what matters most to them.

It’s no surprise some of the most-pressing issues the successful candidate will be facing as the new mayor include infrastructure growth, local transport and the dire housing situation on the Sunshine Coast.

Hailing from many different backgrounds and bringing a wealth of experience to the table, each of the candidates presents a vision for the future of the region, with their own innovative ideas and solutions.

With the power to influence decisions that will impact their daily lives, locals in the voting process have the important role of selecting a candidate who embodies their chosen ideals and offers the best vision for 2024 and beyond.

We are delighted to bring you the first of a three-part series where we ask the mayoral candidates some of the questions you want answers to.

We wish each of the candidates the very best of luck with their campaign.

Ashley Robinson

I have been a successful manager of people and businesses for the past 35 years.

If I get the job, I know I can do the job.

It’s clear from speaking with the community that the council needs a cultural change. I believe I’m the candidate with the skills to deliver that change and deliver a council that genuinely listens and is part of the community, rather than dictating to it which is the current  perception.

I will make sure the next Planning Scheme – presently in its development stage – correctly and sufficiently reflects the community’s vision of the future it wants. I will insist that the Planning Scheme is respected and heeded, because that’s the only way we’ll have certainty about the areas in which we choose to live, play and raise our families.

I’m detail and solution driven, have the capacity to help people row the boat in the same direction and have a genuine and deep-rooted connection to the community through an active involvement in sporting and charity organisations.

I’ve been chair of the Caloundra Events Centre, the Sunshine Coast Falcons and the Sunshine Coast Rugby League, co-founded the Island Charity Swim, and been inducted into the University of the Sunshine Coast Hall of Fame for administration. My wife and I are life members of the Sippy Creek Animal Refuge, I was awarded an OAM in 2016 for services to the community.

Wayne Parcell

Growing up in challenging circumstances in public housing developed my resilience and perseverance.

With hard work and help from others, I qualified as a solicitor, with a deep sense of purpose about community service. A leader needs to be brave to pursue difficult or untried ideas. My service awards for leadership qualify me to negotiate complex issues for better outcomes.

My leadership is demonstrated by my award of the Public Service Medal in the Honours List in 1996 for outstanding service to Australia. The Special Award in 1995 from the Australian Tourist Commission recognised my outstanding contribution to tourism from Indonesia, with annual visitor visas rising from 30,000 to more than 120,000 in under three years.

Past performance is the best indicator of future delivery. My 40-year career means I can deliver performance and not politics. My 15 years’ government service in taxation, intelligence and security, defence and immigration included implementation of Royal Commission recommendations, supporting ministers and diplomats, dealing with significant budgets, complex national and international issues, and negotiating with the ACTU, international agencies and foreign governments. Over 12 years, I delivered exceptional immigration services internationally, resulting in my business being acquired by a global consulting firm where I worked more than 10 years, including as a global partner overseeing an 1100-strong team.

Jason OPray

I bring you 12 years of experience working within the Sunshine Coast Council as Division 8 Councillor heading economic development.

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council is a complex, billion-dollar organisation and in my role, I manage small businesses, tourism, sports, major events, clean tech industry, aviation, food and agriculture and the digital industry.

As the chair of economic development, overseeing the Regional Economic Development Strategy, I’ve contributed to lifting household wages over the past 12 years. Our best and brightest did not believe that they could have a career or afford to stay on the Sunshine Coast. Now, we have developed new jobs, new industries and new opportunities. I bring the plan to build off these successes to take us through to the Olympics and beyond.

My established relationships with staff, fellow councillors and other government levels uniquely position me to lead effectively from day one. This hands-on experience eliminates the need for a learning curve, ensuring I can immediately focus on delivering results and realising our vision for the Sunshine Coast community.

I believe the past 12 years have been a success for our region. We must double down on the gains secured over this time, for our economy, environment and lifestyle. I am ready to be your mayor of the Sunshine Coast.

Rosanna Natoli

I have almost three decades of experience listening to the people of the Sunshine Coast and writing, speaking and caring about the issues that matter most, through my work as a journalist and presenter with 7News.

Attending and reporting on council meetings has been part of my career, and I have keenly watched local government workings over this time.

Council has been part of my family’s life for decades, giving me a unique insight.

I am an excellent communicator, which will allow me to work with the councillors and staff to achieve the best outcomes for our region.

My leadership style is collaborative, and I truly believe that representing the people is vital to the role.

Apart from my work with the news, I am also a researcher and academic at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where I lecture in journalism.

This has trained me to be a critical thinker, with attention to detail and a strong commitment to accuracy and the truth, accountability and transparency.

This is as important in governance as it is in research.

Cost-of-living pressures, housing stress and our lack of infrastructure are impacting on our daily lives and I know my skills, my passion and my commitment to excellence will allow me to make a difference.

Michael Burgess

I was in business for some decades where my wife and I grew a $1000 start-up into a $12 million-a-year enterprise in a very competitive industry.

Our business became a leading, if not the leading, independent Australian-owned movie distributor and wholesaler. That background in business, where we had our own money and skin at risk, ingrained in me the pragmatism and persistence the new council will need to overcome the obstacles the new council will face.

I became troubled by the council’s free-spending ways eight years ago and began protesting against it as they borrowed $450 million in the ratepayers’ names and spent it on their internally decided-upon ‘special projects’ that had no community input or benefits.

Since that time, I have been one of the few consistently active community critics of the past three councils and, hopefully, that activity prevented some worse excesses from happening.

My general policy is the council has acquired layers of fat and privilege which requires the new council’s first job to be to stop the borrowing, slash spending and return the council to an organisation serving the community. After the council has been stabilised, we can return the discount for early rates payment and begin a program to reduce the overhanging debt.

Many political promises are being made – all of which require money the council doesn’t have and can’t get without more borrowing in your names.

Min Swan

With a $1billion budget and the need to capitalise on the already invested assets, financial acumen, economic understanding, clear decision making, and the ability to initiate action through teams, communities and organisations, are vital in the mayoral role.

As a unique, multi-faceted candidate, I bring a high-performing track record of evidence-based results, introducing leadership that is focused on outcomes. I started my self-employed career at 21 in financial services, growing that business to one of the largest in Southeast Queensland before joining the executive team of a large national organisation in Sydney to lead a five-year strategic planning review. Returning to the Sunshine Coast 15 years ago, I established the successful events management firm White House International which is heavily ingrained in both the business and wider community.

Managing eight chambers of commerce and industry groups, being president of the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network and on the Leadership Team for Sunshine Coast 2032, among a myriad of volunteer roles, I am a ‘mayor’ that is already connected and facilitating community collaboration, future proofing the Sunshine Coast. Over my 30-year career, making things happen, delivering with excellence, developing creative solutions, leading by example and not stopping until the result is achieved have become cornerstones to my reputation of no ego, no grandstanding and only accountability to those I serve.

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