DIV 7: Q&A with Jim McKee
THE QT asked the nine candidates in the division 7 by-election to answer these questions.
1. How would you make the most of the city's heritage appeal?
When Diana and I opened Cactus Espresso Bar in the heritage listed Bostock Chambers in 2003 we took care to preserve as much of the original building as we could. In the Top of Town, as elsewhere, it is the preservation of the history of the buildings that gives them their appeal. More recently we established our kitchenware store in the old QT building.
We need to encourage the re-purposing of historic buildings to suit our needs without compromising their history.
2. How would you bring people back into the CBD?
The top down approach, where Council imposes a big new design on everyone whether they like it or not, doesn't work. That model has been tried for 9 years and failed. We need a bottom up approach where the community brings their expertise and experience to bear.
The 'Renew Newcastle' model which has been successful in Parramatta, Geelong, Townsville, and Adelaide would make a good starting point for our CBD. Small local businesses are encouraged to occupy vacant shops on a rolling monthly basis. This encourages innovation and gives start-up businesses an opportunity to tryout their ideas.
3. Please name three major issues for the division and how you plan to address them.
We need to support local businesses and the local economy. Local businesses employ more people dollar of turnover than national and international ones and the money they earn is ploughed back into the local economy.
We need to shift the focus of economic development a bit more towards industry and industrial development and to assist projects that help local business and local entrepreneurs to realise their ambitions.
2) Urban planning
The continuing destruction of farmland and bushland for an ever widening circle of housing estates has to slow down. We need to be encouraging developers to utilise land that already has existing services and especially land that has a high walkability score.
We need to have planned development with guidelines that the community have agreed to.
3) Accountability and transparency
I was the only candidate campaigning for accountability and transparency at the last full Council election. I am pleased that our new Mayor has taken this issue seriously. The CCC investigation into Council election funding and the charges brought against our former Mayor and CEO are very serious matters. We need Councillors with the integrity to call out inappropriate behaviour when they see it.