HER POSITION AND BIOGRAPHY:
HAVING owned Showtime Saddlery in Warwick for six years and with executive management experience under her belt, Gina Doulis says she is confident in any business management system.
The single mum, who moved to Warwick from Cedar Grove, said she had plenty of ideas to improve the region through local government. Ms Doulis said her business ran itself, allowing her to be 100% focused on the job should she be elected.
The mayoral candidate said she didn't support a divisional council. Instead, she argued councillors should be using their skills to their advantage.
She said watching 15-year-old daughter Zoe grow up in Warwick has made her realise more could be done to keep young people in the area.
Owning an equestrian shop, Ms Doulis said she was involved in sporting circuits and would like to see Morgan Park used more frequently, and for a "wider range of disciplines".
That, she argued, would improve tourism and help bring people to Warwick. The other important issue for the business owner was to make rates more affordable, although she didn't reveal her plan to make that a reality.
She also said rates notices should be given out quarterly instead of yearly, to help reduce the burden for families.
• There is a concern about bureaucratic control stifling the power of council. What way is there to stop top management from having so much control? Is the red tape in the planning department stopping development? Does the CEO have too much power?
I agree that the bureaucrats have too much control and question the purpose of the top management positions if they are not fullfilling the needs of the community. The mayor must ensure the council staff follow direction and not dictate to her.
The postion and the wages of the CEO and the top executives have come under much scutiny lately and the viability of maintaining such positions would have to be taken into consideration when the council budget is prepared.
Red tape is stopping progress in our Shire and it must cease. Our small businesses are struggling, people are leaving our towns because of the lack of employment and our children have few opportunities to study or work because the Shire has ground to a halt. We must encourage and welcome progress and development for the long term benefit of our residents.
• CSG issue. Would you as mayors move to protect the region? Do you see opportunities for this region to benefit from CSG or only dangers?
As mayor, I advocate that CSG will have no place in our Shire. The detrimental effects far outweigh any benefits which may be offered. I would ensure that all residents are educated on the dangers of CSG drilling and encourage them to "Lock The Gate".
• The key to a successful team is its members. Pick your team of eight councillors with a brief explanation of why. Pick your deputy. Who wouldn't you have?
I would choose John Randall as my Deputy because of his knowledge of all Council related procedures and his integrity. For my Councillors, I would choose people who are prepared to get out of their chairs and talk to people, those who are team players and will follow direction when asked. I want "ideas people" who can bring something to the table when the need arises.
I would discount any Candidate who is only interested in becoming a Council employee for the benefits it may offer.
• What would be your five specific priorities in your first 100 days after election?
1. Quarterly Rates Notices
2. Lobby State Government for funds to improve our highways and major roads.
3. Investigate the viability of opening a University Campus in the Shire.
4. Develop a plan to encourage National and International businesses to move to our Shire to create employment opportunities.
5. Reduce Council debt by cost cutting and reducing excesses which presently exist.
• How would you support and encourage council and the wider community to shop locally? What do you think about the current shop local campaign? How would you address the issue of Warwick businesses being used for Stanthorpe jobs and vice versa?
As a local small business owner, I believe that most people in the Shire prefer to shop locally, in spite of any campaigns in place. Where the Council could help is to encourage people from outside the Shire to shop with us. A website which highlights the diverse range of businesses and attractions to potential tourists, would be far more beneficial than the current campaign.
The "us and them" implication of the last question is one which I find distasteful. We are all part of the Southern Downs Shire and this is unlikely to change in the near future.
• There is a fear council jobs in the south are being whittled downs by natural attrition and indeed the office could close. What will you do to ensure council jobs still exist in Stanthorpe?
Because of the diversity of our Shire, I am in favour of maintaining the Council chambers in Stanthorpe. It is not unreasonable to operate a mini-Council out of Stanthorpe, where local employees are more familiar with local issues.
• What is your opinion on deamalgamation?
I would be in favour of deamalgamation if the costs were not so prohibitive. It is obvious that Stanthorpe residents are unhappy with the present situation and nothing has been done to ensure their inclusion in the Shires restructure.
• There was an obscene rate rise in last budget. Was it acceptable, what would you do to ensure no more of the same?
• A) The last rate rise was not acceptable and the reason for it is still a mystery to most ratepayers. I have plans for more development in the shire which will increase the revenue base of the Council and ultimately, stabilise the costs for all residents and landholders.
• What do you think council needs to do to facilitate business and help business growth in the region?
The answer to this question is to, quite simply, relax the strict regulations the Council imposes on businesses and make the Shire attractive to new enterprise. There is presently, no benefits to opening a business here and if something doesn't change quickly, the existing businesses will close their doors too.
• WIRAC would you privatise. Mowing of sports fields in either end of region?
WIRAC is a huge money pit and the sooner it is privatised, the better. Revenue raised from leasing the facility, will benefit other sports venues. Surely the users of the sports grounds should be resposible for the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities.
• Tourism. What do you think of the current tourism structure? What is your vision for tourism in the region?
I feel that Tourism in the Shire is well managed however, so much more could be done. I would like to see more sporting events promoted outside the region ie. the Motorsports, Polocrosse and Horse Trials at Morgan Park. We should also consider the facilities we have to offer tourists. Parking for caravans and motorhomes is minimal in the townships and we could attract more people to the annual Rodeo if there was more budget accommodation.
My vision for Tourism in the Shire is to have a major sporting facility which attracts International level competitors, judges and visitors. An entertainment and conference venue is also long overdue in the region.
An airport to cater for a commercial airline, which links directly to Brisbane or the Gold Coast Airports would also ensure a steady stream of visitors to our towns. We could also look at a rail network for Queensland commuters.
• What parts of the community plan would you implement as a priority? How would you do so? Have you read the community plan?
I have read the Community Plan, and there are many areas which should be implemented immediately.
1.5. Develop and implement a Community Safety Plan to improve community safety.
Safety is the right of all residents. Consultation with local police, improved street lighting, kids safe houses, and neighborhood watch are ways to achieve a safer community. 2.8 Lobby State and Federal governments for increased funding for health services for the region.
The need for more health care professionals in the Shire is now a matter of urgency. This would be done immediately if I were Mayor.
3.5 Raise the level of formal qualifications of members of the community to attract quality employment opportunities and increased wages.
A university campus is long overdue for our region and this is on my list of priorities.
• How would you cut the budget? Do you have the economic skills to put together a budget in such a short period of time?
The cost of outside consultants is crippling and must be reduced. The largest cost of any business is its staff so we have to look closely at areas which overlap or which aren't productive.
I spent 15 years in Executive Management postions, in the public sector, where I was responsible for budgets of up to $900 million. I believe I have the ability to manage and increase the council's revenue and put together the budget after the election.
• Which council sporting fields/facilities/complexes within our region should council maintain as part of its community obligations.
I am of the belief that those who use the facilities, should maintain them. This could be offset by reducing the cost of using the facilities. The expense of maintaining the grounds is enormous and it is more practical to pass the resposibility to the leassees.
• Have you recently been to a Southern Downs Council meeting? If so, what did you learn, if not how do you know what to expect from your job?
I have not attended a Southern Downs Council meeting, simply because I have not had the hours free to leave my business. As I previously mentioned, I have had many years experience working in large companies ie. Yellow Pages, Peters Foods, Metway Bank, Defiance Milling, and the council should be run as any large business. I would listen to and observe those who work at the chambers and consider the advice given by the councillors.
• Your biggest achievement in the last four years and biggest mistake.
My biggest achievement has been to keep my business flourishing during the GFC, while other businesses of the same vein, closed their doors.
My biggest mistake was to take advice from someone who didn't have my best interests at heart.
• Why should we vote for you?
I can see the areas which need attention and the potential that the Shire has. I have the business experience required for the position and the ability to manage the budget without causing pain to the residents. I am very focussed on Customer Service and would relish the opportunity to make the council more people oriented.
• Tell us your vision for the region.
My vision is to see more development on non-agricultural land, and to see the Shire become the place where everyone wants to live. I see the area becoming a more affordable place to live with ample employment opportunities. The Southern Downs would have a University Campus which caters for locals, interstate and overseas students and world class sporting facilities.
*Answers have not been edited