Good evening ladies and gentlemen
I’m Charles Hodgson and I’m a candidate for Division 5.
Firstly, a little bit of my personal background …
My wife and I moved to the Sunshine Coast HInterland from Sydney, fifteen years ago. We now have two boys, one each in primary and high school.
One of the main reasons I am standing at this election is my kids, and not just my kids, everyone’s kids. I want them to have opportunities, a great place to live and a bright future.
I have a degree in business and have owned multiple small businesses.
For over twenty years I was a consultant in information systems, developing, implementing and managing, complex business systems.
So I know how to listen, negotiate, solve problems, stick to budgets and be accountable.
Ten years ago I moved into news and media, publishing the View News Sunshine Coast social media channels and website.
Over this time, I have produced hundreds of news videos on the Sunshine Coast and council, accumulating a wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of council, together with the valuable historical context as to how we got to where we are today.
I know where things can be improved, and the challenges facing the Sunshine Coast.
Things like, our need to deal with the consequences of faster than expected population growth, while maintaining our treasured lifestyle and environment.
The need for greater consultation with local communities and businesses on decisions which directly affect them.
Ensuring equity in divisional funding and that the Sunshine Coast receives the infrastructure and services from state and federal governments in line with the population and in line with their responsibilities.
Engaging on issues that our communities are concerned about, homelessness, domestic violence, social isolation, suicide and mental health.
But what am I going to do for you?
For a start I am not going to make a long list of promises.
What I can do however, is help you understand my beliefs and thought processes which I would use to represent the residents of Division 5.
So here’s a list.
- I understand that Division 5 and other Hinterland towns have their own character. They have different aspirations and priorities than those of coastal communities.
- I believe in the equity of services and facilities delivered by the council. Our parks, libraries, sporting, art and community facilities should be as good, look as good and be maintained as well, as those along the coastal strip.
Providing good tourism experiences on the coast, shouldn’t be at the expense of high standard services and facilities for hinterland residents.
- I believe in the preservation of greenspace, habitat and wildlife corridors. That there is need for a measured increase in infill development and to use already developed land more wisely and creatively.
- I believe in direct action on climate change. Now, whether you believe in man made climate change or not (for the record I do), regardless, it just makes good sense to do things now to protect the Sunshine Coast’s greatest asset, the environment.
- I believe in greater community consultation. That individual communities should have a greater say in decisions that directly affect them. On development happening in their area, in identifying local priorities, in the design of local facilities and services council provides.
- I believe in supporting local and small businesses.
- Increasing the use of local suppliers on council contracts.
- Helping hinterland businesses access council’s game changing projects such as the expanded airport and the undersea broadband cable.
- Helping businesses innovate and create the jobs of the future.
- While our natural environment is so visibly on show in the Hinterland, another of our key assets are our people, clubs, groups and associations. They are the curators of our heritage, foot soldiers for our environment, carers of our wildlife, character builders for our youth, places of camaraderie and supporters for those who have fallen on tough times. I will work closely with our people and organisations to help build strong and compassionate communities.
- On public transport, I believe in achieving better linkages for hinterland residents to access public transport and to making Division 5 towns more active transport friendly for walkers, bikes and scooters.
- I advocate that council undertake a more aggressive program to seal and maintain hinterland roads.
- I support programs to reduce illegal dumping, like a well designed and targeted voucher system for household cleanup collection.
- I do not agree with candidates disguised as independents. I am a genuine independent. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member or donor, to a political party.
- Not only am I politically independent, but I am also unencumbered by any real or perceived conflicts of interests that would prevent me from representing Division 5 residents in critical votes.
Ladies and gentlemen I know that’s a lot to absorb, but I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to present to you this evening and to later answer your questions.
There’s often much attention focussed on the candidates for Mayor, as they set the region’s overall direction.
I think perhaps more importantly for Hinterland residents, will be the necessity to elect a determined, knowledgeable and qualified candidate as their representative. Someone with the ability to listen and articulate each case convincingly on behalf of Hinterland residents.
From my time in media, I have learnt many things from observing current councillor Jenny McKay. These are the necessity to stay close to the people, engage widely, listen genuinely and demonstrate the tenacity to continually prosecute for positive outcomes, even when it appears the tide is against you.
In me you will see the same resolve. The Hinterland is not the coastal strip. There are different priorities and additional needs, issues, and considerations for those living west of the Bruce.
I will ensure residents are heard and that Hinterland communities remain relevant and share in the success of the modern Sunshine Coast.