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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Graham ousts Nicholson after election tussle

WELL-KNOWN New Norfolk businessman, activist and community worker James "Migloo" Graham is the fourth and final candidate elected in this week's Derwent Valley Council election, edging out former mayor Tony Nicholson after a day of vote counting.

Co-owner of the famed Old Colony Inn, Mr Graham was in his fourth election attempt. He unseated Mr Nicholson, who last night became the first Derwent Valley mayor to lose office at an election.

Sitting councillor Barry Lathey was the third candidate elected. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for the office of deputy mayor.

In the order of election, the successful candidates were:

  1. Scott Shaw
  2. Damian Bester
  3. Barry Lathey
  4. James Graham

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Change has come to the Valley

AT the close of counting tonight, the Derwent Valley has a new mayor, deputy mayor and at least one new councillor. New Norfolk drycleaner Martyn Evans is the new mayor and electorate officer Craig Farrell is the new deputy mayor. Former deputy mayor Scott Shaw and journalist Damian Bester look set to be the first candidates elected as councillors, with both polling strongly and obtaining a full quota each with 99% of votes counted.

Final figures for tonight were:

  1. Scott Shaw              969 votes (1.19 quotas)
  2. Damian Bester           852 votes (1.05 quotas)
  3. Tony Nicholson          454 votes (0.56 quotas)
  4. Barry Lathey             443 votes (0.55 quotas)
  5. James Graham           405 votes (0.50 quotas) 
  6. Phil Bingley               310 votes (0.38 quotas)
  7. Wayne Shoobridge     273 votes (0.34 quotas)
  8. Raymond Smith         180 votes (0.22 quotas)
  9. Alexander Moores      167 votes (0.21 quotas)
Counting will continue tomorrow (Wednesday) which will firstly see the distribution of Shaw and Bester's surplus votes, followed by the gradual exclusion of candidates with the least votes and the distribution of their preferences. Follow the count at the Tasmanian Electoral Commission website

Among the many people to congratulate new mayor Martyn Evans (left) and new deputy mayor Craig Farrell (right) tonight was the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Michael Polley MHA (centre).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lone wolf Parker retires from council

THE lone voice of change and procedural fairness on the Derwent Valley Council attended his final council meeting tonight. After several terms as a councillor, Richard Parker decided not to contest this year's election. He and his wife Christine recently sold their home at Lachlan and have settled into premises in the city.

A former police officer, postal worker and travel agent, Cr Parker spent many years lobbying the council to improve its performance. He has been a frequent voice of dissent at the council table and spent many years as a one-man opposition party, until joined by several like-minded councillors at the last election two years ago.

Tonight's meeting was the final gathering of the current council, although it did not pass up the opportunity for a final closed session. Before the mayor cleared the public gallery, Cr Judy Bromfield farewelled Cr Parker and wished him well in retirement. "I do wish you well and hope you gain all you wish for in retirement," Cr Bromfield said.

Mayor Tony Nicholson, Cr Barry Lathey and Cr Jim Elliott all added their best wishes on the occasion and Cr Nicholson remarked that Cr and Mrs Parker had been good neighbours of his own family.

In reply, Cr Parker said retirement was not on his agenda. He said he had nearly completed his masters degree in journalism and was still involved in the travel industry and overseas aid. "I will be working until Christine calls the undertaker to collect me," Cr Parker said.

Question cutbacks approved

ONLY two councillors voted against proposed changes to the public question policy when it was debated at tonight's Derwent Valley Council meeting. Several councillors expressed misgivings about the restrictions, but only Councillors Craig Farrell and Narelle Molan voted against the motion.

Councillor Judy Bromfield told the meeting she had been responsible for the introduction of public question time at the council and the original policy allowed only one question per person. She said understood the new allowance of two questions per person was in accord with the Local Government Act, but she queried whether or not questions could be debated. General manager Stephen Mackey said the Act allowed for questions to be asked and answered, but not debated.

Cr Richard Parker said the new policy was deficient in a number of areas, and noted that he had "availed himself of questions" before he was a councillor. He said the major deficiency was in the matter of debate, as on a number of occasions councillors could be able to provide answers to questions if they were allowed to do so. He said councillors heard many questions being asked, but they were not privy to the answers provided, if any. "We were questioned tonight by Mr Bester and I am sure someone could have provided the answer [instead of the mayor taking the question on notice]," Cr Parker said.

Cr Craig Farrell said he was in general agreement with the new policy but was concerned there had been no public consultation. Cr Narelle Molan agreed with Cr Parker's remark that councillors were not provided with copies of written answers. "Is it too much to ask to be provided with the answers?" she said..

The record of voting is as follows (note: Deputy Mayor Scott Shaw was absent from the meeting:

Those in favour
  1. Cr Nicholson
  2. Cr Lathey
  3. Cr Evans
  4. Cr Elliott
  5. Cr Bromfield
  6. Cr Parker

Those against
  1. Cr Molan
  2. Cr Farrell

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Council considers public question cutbacks

THE Derwent Valley Council will consider slashing the time allowed for public question time when it holds its monthly meeting tomorrow (Monday). In a written report, deputy general manager Robert McCrossen recommends that the council approve the following changes:

  • Reducing the time allowed for public questions from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, with provision for councillors to extend the period
  • Each member of the public is limited to two questions
  • Questions must be submitted in writing 10 minutes before the monthly meeting (increased from 5 minutes)
On the positive side, the new policy:
  • Says "questions on notice" will be answered in writing
  • Removes the individual time limit of three minutes per question
  • Includes "other administrative changes designed to improve the process of responding
  • to questions from the public" but these are not specified in the agenda.
On the whole, the new policy appears to further restrict the ability of ratepayers and residents to question the council. Notably, the new policy was not put out to the public for consultation, as shown in the following excerpt from the agenda:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keen crowd met the candidates

THE "Meet the Candidates" forum held last Saturday afternoon at the New Norfolk Lions Club rooms in Willow Court was praised by those who attended. "It was a really good opportunity to listen and question the candidates in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere," said convenor Ngaire Glover of Molesworth.

Chaired by Geoff Dodge, former general manager of the Brighton Council, the function gave all Derwent Valley Council election candidates the opportunity to speak for five minutes and the receive questions for five minutes.

All candidates for Councillor, Deputy Mayor and Mayor, with one exception, attended and took the opportunity to relate their claims to the position being contested. A good crowd of about 30 people posed a variety of questions of each candidate occasioning several lively debates. Afternoon tea afforded the opportunity for many to have individual conversations with the candidates.

A call for such a forum to be held every two years at election time was a common request and Mrs Glover said it was the best $150 (less $49.60 received in donations at the door), she had ever spent.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Noted New Norfolk woman dies

A FORMER New Norfolk woman referred to as the "Lady of the Air Force" has died in Victoria, aged 88. Gloria Gwendolyn Grace was born at New Norfolk in 1920 and came to fame as a result of her service during World War II. She and her younger sister Marcia joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force in 1943.

The then Corporal Gloria Grace was based in Melbourne when the artist Harold Freedman spotted her on a tram, carrying a briefcase with the distinctive monogram "G.G.G.". Deciding that she would be perfect for a new series of war service portraits, Freedman tracked down the attractive servicewoman and immortalised her in a painting which today hangs in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. From this portrait, she became known as the "Lady of the Air Force".

Miss Grace married Len Corcoran at St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, in 1947. The couple had three children, Michael, David and Andrew. In 1949 she was struck down by polio, and its effects remained with her for the rest of her life. Despite this setback, she gained a Bachelor of Education and became a teacher in the Catholic education system in Victoria. She died in a Melbourne nursing home yesterday, just short of her 89th birthday.

Both of the images used here have been sourced from the Australian War Memorial website.

The ABC has more on this story here including audio of tributes from younger brother Geoff Grace and childhood friend Ron Ruthven.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Land sales for closed council meeting next week

DEPUTY mayor Scott Shaw lifted the lid on the likely sale of the Willow Court sportsground last weekend, but the New Norfolk News understands a nearby supermarket car park is also under offer.

Councillor Barry Lathey inadvertently revealed the imminent sale of the Willow Court oval during his deputy mayoral campaign speech on Saturday afternoon, but refused to reveal further details when questioned. During his own mayoral campaign speech, Cr Shaw later revealed that a developer had offered about $500,000 for the oval, which was likely to become the site of a new supermarket.

A number of people present for the "meet the candidates" function expressed their opposition to the oval being sold, describing it as open space which had long been used by the public. It has now emerged that the council is also considering the sale of the public car park at the Woolworths supermarket in New Norfolk for about $300,000 to the same developer.

The council has been seeking a buyer for the Willow Court oval for some time. It rejected an offer for the car park several years ago and had not revealed that the property was still up for sale. Both matters are expected to be considered during a closed council meeting on Monday night, allowing the council to keep its decision secret if it wishes.

Liberty Swing lets special kids let loose

THE Derwent Valley's first Liberty Swing was officiallly opened at Tynwald Park, New Norfolk, last Saturday afternoon. The innovative swing was installed, thanks to the efforts of the Variety Club Bashers and the local community. Liberty Swings are a world-first Australian innovation which allow people in wheelchairs the opportunity to experience the joy of having a swing in the park. Until now, they have had to watch from the sidelines as their siblings and friends experience the freedom and exhilaration of a swing.

The swing at Tynwald Park was been made possible through support from the Derwent Valley Council, the Lions Club of New Norfolk, Norske Skog, Log A Load for Kids and Variety Tasmania.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Site security is Willow Court group's top priority

CONNECTING the electricity and installing electronic security and surveillance is the top priority reported by the Willow Court working party at its community forum tonight. The recommendation will go before the Derwent Valley Council at its monthly meeting on Monday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Next Willow Court forum on Monday night

THE promised follow-up to the recent community forum on Willow Court will be held tomorrow (Monday) at 7pm in the Derwent Valley Council social rooms. The recently-established Willow Court Community Forum will hold another of its unadvertised meetings in the morning, to prepare for the forum.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Science labs and radio studio for NNHS

TENDERS have been called for the construction of 10 science and language centres in government schools across the state, including New Norfolk High School. Premier David Bartlett said Tasmania had secured more than $43 million for 30 new science and language centres through the Federal Government’s multi-billion-dollar Building the Education Revolution (BER) program. “This is the greatest school modernisation program in Tasmanian history and we want every Tasmanian child to have access to the best facilities for learning,” Mr Bartlett said.

The New Norfolk High School project includes construction of a new science laboratory, as well as studios for the new community radio station which is soon to begin broadcasting from a temporary facility in the Valley Vision office in High St. Advertisements outlining the tenders were published last Saturday in the state’s three daily newspapers. Tenders close on November 4 and builders are expected to be appointed as soon as possible. “This will enable the builder to work closely with the architects, and satisfy council requirements, including building and other permits, before construction begins,” Mr Bartlett said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Council candidates to front the public

FORMER Brighton Council general manager Geoff Dodge will chair a “Meet the Candidates” afternoon at New Norfolk on October 17. Organised by Molesworth resident Ngaire Glover, the function will be held at the Lions Club at Willow Court.  Mrs Glover said it would give all voters an opportunity to listen and ask questions of the Derwent Valley Council election candidates.

"All candidates have expressed their willingness to attend however current Mayor Tony Nicholson of Lachlan has a prior meeting engagement and may not be able to do so," Mrs Glover said.  A gold coin donation will help with the cost of the venue hire. The Lions Club will provide tea and coffee.

Tim's new office officially opened

GREENS leader Nick McKim has officially opened the new office of Lyons MHA Tim Morris at the Cove Hill Fair Shopping Centre at Bridgewater. Mr Morris' former New Norfolk base became unavailable when its ownership changed earlier this year. His new rooms at Bridgewater were previously the office of former Franklin MHR Harry Quick. Mr Morris has had the office for some time, but the official opening took place on September 23.