Last week, we sent a survey to all the candidates standing in the 2019 Broome Shire election asking about their views on five matters of environmental concern: the development of a Shire climate change policy; better access to cheap renewable energy for Broome residents; environmental management and protection on the Peninsula with the sealing of the road; the fight against rubbish dumping and reinstating the cyclone clean-up service; and re-establishing an environment officer position at the Shire.
Eleven of the candidates provided responses (see below). We thank them very much for taking part.
You can use these responses to guide your vote. Voting closes at 6pm this Saturday, October 19.
Just four candidates did not respond to the survey: Peter Taylor, Natasha Aristei, Matt Sear and Bruce Rudeforth of the ‘Strong Community is Good Business’ team.
1. Climate change predictions for the Kimberley include rising sea levels and less frequent but more intense cyclones. Do you think the Broome Shire should have a climate change policy? If so, what might it include? If not, why not?
Elizabeth Ellis: Yes, I absolutely agree the Shire of Broome must have a climate change framework with supporting policy and procedures. The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility - Local Government Portal is a learned reference point to build a better business culture in the Shire of Broome towards an evidence based best practice climate change framework. In this regard, the NCCARF prescribes 5 critical success factors: 1) leadership 2) engagement, 3) connectivity, 4) sustainability and 5) cost. The Shire of Broome’s climate change framework should especially include policies and procedures to complement year round safe use of its wonderful community facilities, especially by families, to provide overhead awning options for year round enjoyment and personal protection. I will ensure these 5 attributes are upheld in building the culture change required to deliver a Climate Change Framework at the Shire of Broome.
Mala Fairborn: During my first four years on council, a number of papers and policies have been adopted to mitigate the ever increasing weather intensities of our region. One example is the completed coastal vulnerability study assessment which includes information and guidance on the predicted sea level and potential seawater intrusion flooding of Broome. With this and other information council is able to make better informed decisions around prevention, protection, and responsiveness regarding climate change. I am open to discussions on how the shire might improve current strategies and policies to aim to achieve best practice standards in dealing with Climate Change which may include investing in solar, energy efficient lighting, increasing recycling capabilities and encouraging households and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
Emily Cole: The Shire of Broome should have a climate change policy. I think the policy should include the following key-categories:
- Community risk. Physical health (disease, allergies and asthma, injuries due to extreme weather), mental health (fear of the future and lifestyle changes) and financial strain (which may come from increased prices in resources such as fuel due to carbon tax).
- Infrastructure Risk. Ensuring current building regulations for the region will be safe in line with the prediction of more intense cyclones.
- Environmental Risk. Extinction risk of flora and fauna and water availability.
- Emergent Risk. Currently unknown and emerging risks such as civil unrest.
I acknowledge that this isn’t my area of expertise and would like to see the Shire hire consults with expertise in the field. The policy needs to be flexible and will need to be frequently reviewed and updated, to take into account emerging research and developments in the area.
Broome Community Voice: Yes. We support the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) Policy Statement on Climate Change and will encourage the Shire of Broome to join 40 other local governments in WA and commit to WALGA’s Climate Change Declaration as soon as possible. The lack of national and state leadership on climate change will result in the costs of responding and adapting to climate change will be met in large part by local government. The current Broome Townsite Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan outlines planning and management considerations related to coastal inundation risks, but we need to do more than simply plan for rising seas – we need to take responsibility and show leadership in addressing the causes. The Shire of Broome’s Climate Change Policy must include a diverse range of approaches to combat both the causes and effects of climate change.
Andrew Chambers: The Shire should have an emissions reduction policy that seeks to limit CO2 release by taking as much of the Shires’ building infrastructure onto solar and for as much of the vehicle fleet to be electrified as is practical. There should also be a Shire sponsored program to assist rate payers and land holders to acquire and plant native tree species. I’d also advocate for the implementation of much higher standards for building sustainability in terms of energy consumption and emissions and would seek to make approval for air-conditioning subject to provision of at least the equivalent of renewable energy supply as is consumed by the plant.
I’d also advocate for the shire to consider moving mowing on council reserves to animal grazing based weed and grass reduction.
Another proposal would be to have a Shire backed program to “recycle” the current surplus of abandoned vehicles into electric vehicles to encourage a greater utilization by the urban commuters / tourists instead of the current over reliance on heavy, fuel guzzling 4WDs for short commuter trips.
I have also put forward a policy to create a cycling superhighway around Broome that allows for the safe day and night commuting by cyclists. We have the basis of a network of cycle & mixed use paths that do not have any priority in maintenance to keep them flat, safe, debris free or to provide any lighting for dangerous layouts and features after dark or to enforce a right of way for bicycles where a busy road or drives crosses over a footpath – the perfect example being the High School at drop off and pick up times – Stop Signs on either side.
Finally, if we are to make any real difference, there’s a need to develop regionally appropriate solutions to remote living which is why I have proposed the development of a local Appropriate Technology Development and Field Test Centre / Campus to develop, in partnership with suppliers, systems, training and skills that will provide the basic necessities of life on any remote community with minimal outside intervention or ongoing investment. At present we have a profoundly broken system that enriches a few well placed contractors while destroying the lives and cultures of our remote communities, a problem that has it’s roots in the party patronage of State and Federal politics.
Garry Waldron and Chris Mitchell
Council has developed recently a Coastal Vulnerability Study. This study identifies low lying areas that could flood from potential sea rise. Council has recognised that Chinatown may well need some sort of sea wall to protect property and people in these events. The result of this study will guide successful local change to combat climate variability.
In terms of a climate change policy, it may well be better to continue to pursue State government for improvements in our funding in order that Council’s energy consumption can be reduced through efficiencies across the Shire. For example more bike paths and workplace shower facilities. If you ride a bike to work in our major shopping centres most staff have no shower faculties or safe lock up areas for bikes, so they drive.
It is a multi-facetted problem which cannot be fixed by a local Shire having a “Policy”.
2. Should our Shire be doing more to bring cheap renewable energy to Broome? If yes, what should it do? If not, why not?
Yes, the Shire should be exploring the opportunities to bring cheap renewable energy to Broome. However, Horizon has marked a milestone in this regard with only the first 64kms of poles removed in a step towards cheaper renewable energy. The Shire needs to be clear with community on what is being discussed at the State and Federal level in this regard so community is aware of the ”affordable options” that we have any capacity to work towards. These options may never be affordable in the current generation, what would the impact be on our current lifestyle, living landscape and natural resources? At some point, there will be a cost to be borne. I will engage and consult with community on all things in this regard in the steps that the Shire takes to consult with the State regarding renewable energy options and what exactly is meant by “cheap”.
Cheap renewable energy is a valuable commodity to any region and is extremely relevant to the Shire of Broome. As a mother of four children I understand the necessity of keeping the costs of living as low as possible. I know that the current shire is a strong advocate in lobbying the State and Federal governments into opening up Broome and the surrounding region for more opportunities around accessibility and having renewable energy based locally. If re-elected I will remain committed to continuing strong conversations to secure an agreement on increased renewable energy availability in the Broome Shire.
I believe the Shire of Broome should be not only looking into, but starting to pursue renewable energy sources. I think solar energy is a fantastic, practical and very viable opinion to begin with. A large-scale transformation will take years which is why it’s so important that we can start advocating and coming up with a plan now to start making movement/traction. Horizon power reviewing and increasing the hosting capacity to allow for more solar panels to be installed was a fantastic first step, which now allows for more households to have their own solar panels installed.
Broome Community Voice
Electricity in Broome is provided by Horizon, a state monopoly, burning natural gas, trucked from the Pilbara. Only 10% of power is generated by renewables and Horizon has no target or timetable to transition to more renewable energy. The Shire has not taken any concrete action in the last 4 years on this front. The Shire has a real opportunity to work with the State Government and Horizon to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and reduce the costs of electricity in Broome. This can be achieved through lobbying for investment in the Kimberley Clean Energy Roadmap, helping co-ordinate investment in local smaller scale projects and working to reduce both the Shire’s and others’ electricity consumption through efficiency measures. Broome has the potential to become a renewable energy leader – with a new industry, jobs and cheaper power – but we must act now.
As clearly laid out in policy proposals to put before the people of Broome I would advocate for a Community Owned Power Company to work with Horizon Power in immediately making the Chinatown Trading precinct as self sufficient as possible with publicly accessible EV recharge points in the precinct and shopping centre parking. If this project was successful, continue the development of that model out into residential and industrial precincts based on energy producing clusters with large battery or energy storage connected to the grid.
Garry Waldron and Chris Mitchell
Council is not an energy provider. As future councillors we will support sound proposals for renewable energy. Who wouldn’t. It must be understood all proposals will require community input and environmental approvals. We were supporters of the Derby Tidal Power Proposal in the late ‘90’s. It was opposed by the then State Greens as an unworthy project that would deliver no environmental gains. The West Kimberley then got LPG powered generators.
Again, a very complex issue but in short, yes we support renewable energy and equally a reduction of energy consumption and remain open to its development here in the Kimberley.
3. The Dampier Peninsula is about to be made more easily accessible, with a new sealed road. This will mean thousands of extra visitors to the Peninsula. What would you propose the Shire do to make sure the Peninsula’s environment is properly managed and protected?
The Shire needs to implement rigorous and respectful consultation with the Dampier Peninsula communities, tour and retail operators through the Dampier Ward Councillor, with the support of the Broome Ward. The Shire needs to support Environmental Officer positions to lead and manage the perceived and ongoing environmental impacts and protection required to properly manage the Dampier Peninsula. I will support the Dampier Ward Councillor to address the scope of practice to establish the Environmental Officer positions and the ongoing strategic consultation required with communities, tour and retail operators.
There are a number of informative documents that have been produced both directly and indirectly focusing on the sealing of the Cape Leveque road including but not limited to the Dampier Peninsula Land Use Tenure Plan. The DPLUTP engagement process including seeking the direct advice of four representatives from each of the various traditional owner groups on the DP to inform the traditional owner, community and business owner aims, aspirations and concerns. The current shire continues close dialogue with the communities on the Peninsula and is committed to advocating their aims, aspirations and concerns through to the various levels of Government engagement including but not limited to the Regional Reform Unit. The current shire has recently met on the Peninsula with community members and other stakeholders hearing their voices directly. I propose the Shire continue to support a strength based approach to ensuring the objectives that the community members of the DP have documented are implemented to safeguard the Peninsula’s environment and ensure that it is properly managed and protected by the traditional owner groups in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders.
I think this is an important concern and that it should be closely monitored, particularly during the first tourist season. This way emerging issues that the area may face so can be prevented and promptly resolved.
I propose: Signs, including information about the local area and people, tying to the importance of respecting the land (helps motivate people to do the right thing and triggers an emotive response) should be installed; and allocated and promoted walking tracks and areas to help keep the majority of people out of certain bush lands (protecting flora and fauna).
Broome Community Voice
Whilst most of the land on the Dampier Peninsula is outside of the jurisdiction of the Shire, the Shire should work with local communities to help develop their capacity to manage access to that land. There are serious concerns about heritage places and the need to protect them. Decisions about access and management should be made by well informed and resourced local communities, working together with the relevant native title holders and rangers. The Shire can also play an important role in educating visitors and locals before they head up the peninsula and provide any infrastructure – such as passes at the beginning of the road.
As publicly stated and proposed I would push for the Shire to expand it’s deployment of ranger and other shire services out into the communities of the peninsular to provide local employment and to put real force behind enforcement of Cultural and Environmental protection. I am also in favour of limitations to numbers of tourists accessing this area, if it’s good enough for Australian Border Force to limit access to this sovereign land then it’s similarly fair and reasonable to allow the traditional owners of this country to decide who and how many may come on country and what they may or may not do.
Garry Waldron and Chris Mitchell
Council is working with the TO groups to identify issues since this proposal got the go ahead by the State government. We will be working to ensure that the road has the status of a Main Road and as such does not become a burden for the Shire to maintain. Chris has worked long and hard for the Kimberley Waste Management plan, which would seek rubbish removed from the Peninsula and returned to Broome for Recycling. It should be understood that the funding for the residents of the peninsula does not come through the Shire and in fact less than ten ratepayers are north of the new road construction project.
Environmental management is a responsibility to all levels of Government. We will as councillors be working to ensure that Communities on the peninsula have the support they need to manage the peninsula with sound environmental practices.
4. Do you think the Shire could do more to prevent the dumping of rubbish? Should the Shire reinstate the cyclone clean-up service? Please add your comments.
Indeed, the Shire should do more to prevent the dumping of rubbish and reinstate the cyclone clean-up service. There is also an emerging culture of giving things away via buy, sell, swap pages rather than disposing responsibly. There is a cyclone clean up service of sorts still in play, although not via roadside: http://www.broome.wa.gov.au/Events/2019/Pre-Cyclone-Clean-Up-Waste-Management-Facility-Open-Days
Encouraging businesses and households to maintain a clean and safe environment is important to the wider community’s health and safety. By providing 6 free passes to rate payers, unlimited passes to Housing Authority tenants, two weekends each year to take waste to the tip free of charge, along with skip bin availability for aged pensioners, I believe the Shire is providing opportunities for community members to frequently dispose of waste responsibly. I am open to discussion’s on continued improvement around increasing responsible rubbish disposal and a cost effective strategy to prepare for cyclone session.
I believe the cyclone clean-up service should be reinstated. Not everyone has access to suitable transport to and from the tip. I believe this not being reinstated could pose a hazard during a cyclone as some people are unable to remove heavy and bulk excess items from their properties.
I would like to look at the WA container deposit scheme I understand the start-up and continued cost of implementing the scheme in Broome was high, however I think it could be used as an initiative to keep our town clean. I would like to look into how the Shire itself can support organisations and groups who are interested in taking a lead on the scheme but can’t afford the costs.
Broome Community Voice
The Shire needs to entirely rethink its rubbish policy – from the creation, to the collection and disposal of waste. The fact that the current tip is almost full should encourage a consideration of alternative ways of dealing with rubbish as a resource. For example – separation of food waste for the creation of compost, the creation of a tip shop or locally based plastic recycling plant – rather than shipping waste out to Perth or overseas. The Shire should also investigate reinstating the “Trash for Cash” scheme. Education, community action and pride will solve this problem, The Shire can lead and look at new ideas to fix the problem, waste must pay otherwise good rate payers’ money is going to garbage. So, attacking all sources of waste/rubbish, a digital reporting and response team, collaboration with all Rangers, review of penalties and sustained education could be considered. Tip tickets are good if your landlord gives them to you, and there are lots of rental properties here. The Shire already has a cyclone clean up, but the big beef is that it is not a verge pick up. We should return to the verge pick up because for whatever reasons many people can’t get to the tip, rubbish accumulates weeds, vermin and contaminants, safety issues for children and reducing “flying objects” during cyclonic weather.
The Shire should immediately begin training and recruitment of local Rangers from across all ages and demographic and give them powers to issue instant infringement notices / fines for anyone caught dumping illegally.
The Shire should also be at the forefront in partnering with recycling companies to create local based sorting and processing for recyclables primarily financed and motivated through the Container Deposit Scheme and the sale of processed product coming from the recycling of waste. We can no longer afford the road miles to export our precious resources as waste material to be dumped in someone else’s yard with little to no responsibility or over sight.
The annual clean-up was a great way to redistribute the use, recycling or storage of unwanted goods and for them to be collected rather than dumped, as is so often happening now – tip passes should be allocated directly to RESIDENTS, not just rate payers.
Garry Waldron and Chris Mitchell
Illegal dumping is never easy, if you see it take a photo and report it. The cyclone clean up did not stop illegal dumping.
Following a review of the Cyclone clean up Policy Council developed two free waste drop off weekends. Any casual observation of the junk left on the kerb for the Cyclone clean up revealed washing machines and fridges sometimes from one property. No attempt was made to remove these items as they broke. Perhaps the State could legislate mandatory pick ups on the sale of a new fridge and other large domestic items? Tell us and we can lobby for these type of changes.
The Shire takes the health and safety of the towns residents seriously and has the power under the health act to force yard clean ups. The Shire is approachable to help those in need to get on top of their living situations in terms of rubbish.
We look forward to the drinking container refund legislation to be introduced next year and we will be lobbying the State to expand the bottles collected to include all glass.
5. Do you think the Broome Shire should have an environmental officer position as it has had in the past? Please add your comments.
Yes, the Shire of Broome should have environmental officer positions as it had in the past. The scope of practice for this role is important in the development of best practice policy and procedure to maintain the cultural equilibrium that is uniquely Broome. We need cross-culturally trained officers whom can identify the social determinants that have a heavy impact on health and wellbeing in our community. People, Place, Prosperity!!
I will hold the Shire to account to see the position’s endorsed. This is an opportunity for the Shire to implement a Reconciliation Action Plan and promote employment and traineeship opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Local Government, in Broome! Leadership is key to respecting our past, present and emerging generations.
If referring to an Environmental Health Officer, my understanding is this position is currently in place. The Director of Development and Community has included in their portfolio “……to provide a liveable, safe and healthy environment for community……”___The Environmental Health Officer work within the Directors team to achieve the relevant outcomes. I would be interested to learn more about what specific duties an Environmental Officer role would entail and specifically how that position would work collaboratively with other existing relevant positions such as the traditional owner ranger groups, shire rangers, DPAW staff, Roebuck bay working group and Environ's Kimberley etc. I feel that the mentioned groups are doing fantastic work and rather than creating another position at the Shire, perhaps we should be focussing on improved integration of services and increasing sharing of communication on shared interested and goals.
I believe that the Shire should have an environmental officer. I think this role will be essential to create, progress and implement a local climate change policy and plan. I think a key component of the role should also entail environmental education and this officer should be made readily available to community organizations. I think the Shire should be setting an example and showing the community their commitment to our environment by employing someone in this role.
Broome Community Voice
Feedback from dedicated Shire officers indicates that the creation of a position in the Shire workforce without a change in the general attitude and commitment to environmental and sustainability issues is unlikely to have much effect. Instead the Shire should consider creating a sustainability working group to harness the passion, experience and skills of community members and help drive the policy responses. WALGA has done some great work, and there are many fine examples of other Shires in Western Australia adopting and implementing the model policies and programs. With the support of the elected Councillors and senior management an environmental / sustainability officer can then help implement these policies in collaboration with the Shire and other local organisations.
Yes, it should have an advocate and officer for every facet of council business and community concern. We currently have a “team” based approach to running council that seeks to eliminate any noise or opposition and this is very bad for Democracy. Without that there is no point in a vote, not that there’s much point at present given the unchallenged nature of the mandate for the term of the council.
Yours, mine and everyone’s views and votes are equally important and worthy of consideration which is why you should be doing everything possible to make the deliberative and decision making processes as open and honest as possible.
Without that we will have what we have now, unaccountable “teams” pushing through their own polished agendas without fear of criticism or meaningful censure.
Change the system, not the team, that’s what people did when they started EK, I’m just hoping that, as an organization, you’ll be as active in promoting a clean and healthy world of thought and action as you have been in promoting the preservation of our Kimberley Environment. Vive la Evolucion!
Garry Waldron and Chris Mitchell
It is our belief that Environmental matters are everyone’s issues. From a simple oil spill from a road accident to the localised burning of bushland.
We will call for the establishment of an environment policy for Council. It exists in many forms and is included already across many areas of Councils operations. It is not a difficult task to lift the details of these policies and create a linking document that demonstrates how the work of Council is set to preserve the towns environment, be it rubbish or flora and fauna as it seeks to deliver projects to enhance the liveability of the Shire.
It is our belief that if we create a position of an Environmental Officer, then it will create the belief that individuals are less responsible. The fact is we should all be operating as environmentally soundly as we can. The CEO has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that Council follows its policies.
Authorised by M.Pritchard, 44 Blackman Street, Broome.