Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Bruce Kent. My wife Jenny and I have a family that includes our 4 children, their partners and 6 grandchildren. We moved to Bass Coast in 2010 to follow a career opportunity, and we have not looked back. I am passionate about Bass Coast. The people and what the area has to offer are truly unique. We have just recently completed our new home in San Remo.
I joined the Victorian Police Force in 1980. I took the opportunity to run my own business in 1996, and then rejoined the Victorian Police Force in 2000. As the Station Commander of the San Remo Police station, I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know members of the community from all walks of life and across many businesses.
In 2016 I was elected as a councilor for Western Port Ward forming a strong, productive and working relationship with Councilor’s Clare Le Serve and Geoff Ellis. Working together achieved a very strong representation at council for our community. During the past four years I have chaired the council committees of ‘Emergency Management’, ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Fire Management’. I have also been involved in numerous other community groups covering areas of transport, roads, environment, family violence, mental health and housing.
During this period, I have achieved positive outcomes for the community. Some of these include:
• A strong representation for the saving of the Holden Proving Ground
• Skate parks at Waterline Communities and future planning for Kilcunda
• Extensive sporting upgrades at Dalyston, Bass, Grantville and Newhaven
• Bus shelters at The Gurdies
• The reclaiming of The Carnival Site, Cowes
• Upgrade of Hughes Reserve
• Community Covid Resilience Grants
• Live Streaming of Council Meetings
• Dog off lead areas and fenced areas
• Approval for new Cowes Cultural Centre
• Advocated strongly for University Hub, new Cowes Medical Centre, upgrade to Wonthaggi Hospital and new Wonthaggi Secondary College.
• Achieving future road and drainage improvement of Pioneer Bay
I have enormous respect for business owners and operators who are demonstrating their commitment to our community and I have fully endorsed council strategies to reduce the impact of Covid 19 that our community is currently experiencing.
If elected again as your representative:
• To be held accountable as your representative
• Proven evidence of achieving results
• Proven commitment to this role
• Open and honest communication
• I bring 4 years’ experience as a councilor including one year as Deputy Mayor
• I bring proven, excellent communication skills
• Commitment to work with positive perspective and strong team
• Active member of the community and more importantly, your active representative on council
In this election, please consider your vote carefully. Your vote will impact on the next 4 years of opportunities and outcomes for Bass Coast and for the recovery of our community.
Bruce C Kent
Questions 1 thru 15 are from BCRRA and 16 thru 34 are collated from the community questions received. Candidates were asked to respond to all 34
- Why do you believe the community should vote for you?
“I was voted in as a Western Port Councillor 4 years ago. I believe that I have done a good job and contributed to the development of Bass Coast and its community. I would think that the community will base its vote for me on what I have achieved over the last 4 years.”
- What are your strengths in working with people?
“I listen to people. I always allow people to tell their story. I empower people to take charge of their direction and issue. I am known for my honesty, integrity and mediation ability.”
- If elected, how will you demonstrate that you stand at the front of the community rather than standing beside the bureaucracy?
“I can only go by what I have demonstrated over the last 4 years at council. At times, I believe that councillors may have a better understanding of an issue due to their involvement and believe that council could be better explaining issues. What grieves me is that representing the community doesn’t always mean that you are representing all of the community.”
- What considerations, inclusions or deletions will you take when forming your new Council Plan?
“The Council Plan was worked out over many weeks of work involving councillors, council officers and comments received from the community. My strongest considerations at the time were the feedback from the community and the strength of it. I was representing the community thoughts which were the main influencing factor of my decision making. Any inclusions or deletions will be strongly changed by strong community sentiment, not mine.”
- How will you demonstrate that you remain focused on financial discipline at Council
“Again, I hope that I have demonstrated this already over the last 4 years. The council is a huge employer and should be congratulated for this. I do hold the council accountable for its financial decisions and do believe that overall it has achieved good outcomes for the community. There is a continuous auditing process conducted by independent suitably qualified personnel that I have faith in. We also have the Auditor General who has been requested to look at different practises from time to time. I have also represented the community who have come to me voicing financial concerns and had these concerns addressed.”
- Is Council’s 4 year Strategic Resource Plan together with the 10 year financial plan appropriate to meet the future needs of The Bass Coast Shire Council and its Ratepayers?
“No, I don’t believe that they now address all of the needs. With our current Covid and environmental needs, I believe that changes will have to be made after consultation with the community. Our world and community needs have changed.”
- Will you be prepared to challenge the system (council officers and fellow councillors) to keep your constituents well informed
“Always, as has been demonstrated in our open council meetings. I don’t waste words just to be heard and I am normally very polite but I will not and have not held back when I feel that an injustice is taking place.”
- Will you take action to investigate the 10 year Waste Contract details in the first 12 months of your term as a councillor? Will you review the contract model settings and make findings publicly available?
“Yes I will. What I can’t answer is the legalities of making public some tender details.”
- Will you support continued live streaming of open Council Meetings and availability of a publicly available video archive?
- Will you take action to review the Governance Rules Policy in the first 12 months of your term as a councillor including community consultation?
“Yes, including community consultation which should explain a better understanding of what is proposed or in-situ.”
- Will you take action to Review the Media Engagement Policy in the first 12 months of your term as a councillor including community consultation?
“Yes, including community consultation with a better explanation of the policy.”
- If elected, what commitment will you make to improve Council engagement with the wider community and build community engagement with your local ward?
“Out of all of the wards, I strongly believe that the current Western Port Ward Councillors have the strongest communication policy that I could currently ask for. We have our own community news letter, we have formed a strong partnership where at least one of us have always attended every community meeting. We have the largest amount of Community Asset Committees (Old 86 committees) which we fully support. We also answer our phones or get back to you promptly. That might seem a simple thing to do but it appears to be hard for some. We also question the customer service shown to the community by the council. We can always find room for improvement, but I feel that the current group has done an excellent job.
- How will you ensure that the CEO and officers genuinely and respectfully answer all public questions with a sincere response that address the core of each question?
“I and my fellow ward councillors have voiced our concerns on occasions regarding answers given to the public. I personally believe that a Mayor has the power to alter the content of an answer. The Mayor also has the decision as to whether a question is read out in full and whether the question will be read out if the author is not present. Some of these practises have changed with live streaming and Covid restrictions. If I was Mayor then my practise would be different.”
- Do you believe that keeping any increases to rates, fees and charges within the State Government Rate Cap or below the CPI increase is paramount for Council?
“Yes I do. In saying that, I would love for the council to gain some further finances but not at the cost of the ratepayer.”
- Would you be in favour of regular virtual community connection sessions in lieu of the previous model used by Council?
“I would be in favour of both. Being a people person, I love that contact. I also believe that some of our community do not speak as freely when using IT. A combination of both I believe would work. I can see it would suit a lot of people not to have to leave their homes and we also need to address internet connection issues.”
- Why are you standing as a Councillor?
“I believe that I have unfinished work and can contribute to the community.”
- Do you live in the ward you seek to represent, and why should we vote for you?
“Yes, I live in San Remo. I believe that your decision should be based on my last 4 years as a councillor which I believe I have carried out with the community representation in my thoughts.
- Council recently commenced Live Streaming meetings (for a trial period). They also recently adopted policies defining Council engagement with social and other media. How do you feel about these?
“I am in favour of live streaming and other media engagement including facebook. I have been hesitant in the past as with my other career; I have seen the negative sides of this engagement such as bullying and stalking.”
- How would you improve Council engagement with the wider community and build community engagement with your local ward?
“I believe that the current Western Port Ward Councillors have the best community engagement out of all of the wards. We run our own news letter. We attend every community meeting and support our Community Asset Committees. We answer our phones or get back to you promptly. Others could learn from us if they wanted to.”
- Public Transparency and good Governance are at the core of BCRRA’s purpose. Council has recently adopted new policies covering Governance Rules and Public Transparency. Leads into next question.
- Do you feel there is a need to review these policies, and if so when should this be done?
“I have stated that I would conduct a review within the next 12 months.”
- What role do you feel community consultation has in reviewing these policies?
“I am here to listen to your thoughts and judge the community strength of same. I am then there to represent these thoughts at policy making.”
- What measures would you put in place to demonstrate honesty and transparency in your decisions and spending of ratepayers’ money?
“A lot of decision making is formulated on 4 year and 10 year plans that have already been put to the community for consultation and comment. We have money spent on employment, maintaining assets, providing services and providing new assets. Every major decision has to go to an open agenda. Every large tender, again open agenda. I open to suggestions but I know that my conscience is fine when it comes to integrity and ethics.”
- Do you think ‘The Fair Go’ rate cap is better or worse than limiting rate rises to CPI?
“Our rates are high but our overall budget is low. My council rates are in excess of $4000 (it hurts). I believe that the council achieves a lot for the spending that they have. I also believe that we are treated at times as the poor country tax payer by the other two tiers of government. We are not getting our fair share of grants.”
- Bass Coast Shire has budgeted for a significant amount of Capital Works in the coming years. How do you feel about the level of borrowing necessary to deliver these?
“I am happy with the level of borrowing with the current opportunity of low rates.”
- What is your opinion of Council’s current financial position? And of the outlook projected in the Long Term Financial Plan?
“I am happy with all aspects of our position. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great to borrow less to achieve more but we have limited funds but a guaranteed income. I would just like to see the extras increase from other avenues.”
- What is your opinion of the 10-year waste contract agreed by the last Council late in 2016?
“I believe contracts should not be signed at the last moment. To some extent, I believe that we are trapped within this contract but I also feel that we have very few alternatives. There are few players within this industry and I do not see the State Government stepping up. We need to look at other alternatives such as conducting our own recycling.
- And what do you think of the (uncapped) charge for waste services being separate to the general rate charge?
“It is a common practise for this to occur. We do have an expensive service but we should also remember that we are running one land fill site and three transfer stations. The service must cover a large area and we have diverted over 70% of land fill which is good for our environment and back pocket.”
- What is important for you about township boundaries and character within the shire?
“I believe in town boundaries. I say to people that just because you were the first here does not give you the right to be the only residents, but, people want to come here for what our community offers. We offer a balance between rural, environment, industry and housing. We do not want to get out of balance by extending our boundaries in inappropriate areas.”
- What is your feeling about the condition of council owned roads and footpaths and bike paths?
“Overall the paved roadways and footpaths are of a reasonable to good condition. The gravel roads are looked at every 6 weeks for consideration of graving. We don’t always maintain these roads to a high standard. We have too many unpaved roads and not enough shared footways. We certainly don’t get our fair share of government grants to address the issue.”
- What are your views on the level of importance of art, culture, and indigenous recognition in the Council framework?
“High importance. I did not understand the high importance of art until I became a councillor. I now love it. We are learning how to capture our culture and indigenous recognition but I believe that mistakes have been made. This process is still taking place but I believe that we are moving forward on a good path.”
- Statistically, one in four Bass Coast Residences has a dog. How do you feel about existing restrictions in place? What, if anything would you change?
“I am one in four. I hear arguments from both sides of the fence. I am a responsible dog owner and understand that not everyone loves dogs and that not everyone is responsible. I have no issues with the regulations that I have to abide by with my dog.”
- What would you like to see BCSC do to address Climate Change?
“Make changes to planning requirements. Have people replace worn out hot water services with heat sink solar tanks. Commercial companies to consider electric vehicles. Better public transport. Advocating for 100 percent renewable power production.
- How do you rank the importance of tourism against local amenity?
“We can’t get away from the fact that tourism is so important and reliant to our economy. One cafe owner told me that he makes 70% of his income from the period running from the Grand Prix to the Easter weekend. He said, “I wouldn’t be open in winter if it wasn’t for the tourist.” The other fact that we can’t get away from is that about 50% of our ratepayers are not residents. Importance, we are all important.”
Questions 35 thru 88 are ALL community questions exactly as we received them.
Candidates were given the option to reply to as many or as few as they wished.
(Questions 16 – 34 above were collated from these)
- What topics or subjects do you consider very important for the Councillor Induction Training workshop?
“Have you got the time and do you understand the commitment?”
- Do you live in the ward to which you seek to be elected?
“Yes, San Remo.”
- I would like to know what you are standing for.
“Accountability and let’s get something done.”
- I would like to know who will stand up for the local people of this area
“The councillors are there to represent the ratepayers and residents of Bass Coast.”
- On what matters are you standing for council?
“Township boundaries, recovery from covid, best value and accountability for our rates, address local environment issues, get our roads/footpaths and garbage back on track. Get the State Government on our side when it comes to major roads and grants.”
- What is your number 1 priority for the council?
“Covid recovery which covers a lot.”
- Are you now, or have you ever been, affiliated to a political party? If so, which one?
“I consider this private for all candidates. I am not sponsored by any party and I am not allowed to receive and donations due to my other career.”
- Will your loyally be to the Ratepayers first and foremost as it is the Ratepayers who will be voting for you to represent them?
“Always but not all decisions suit all ratepayers.”
- Given the current inadequate four days notice for publication of the detail of items for decision at council meetings, would you vote to extend this to one week extra (as per the previous council)?
“I would consider a part notification but a full notification would limit the amount of issues you could deal with and these would then have to be held over to the next meeting.”
- How will you focus on building community engagement?
“Yes, but as a Western Port Councillor I believe that we have a good history. We have made a few mistakes along the way and would always like to improve.”
- If elected, will you work closely with the various Ratepayers and Residents associations, including attending their meetings (face-to-face or online)?
“Yes, at Western Port I would say that we have sent along one of our councillors to every local meeting over the four years and have attended other groups outside our ward on invitation.”
- What capability and experience do you have to manage the CEO in order to bring improved transparency, financial discipline, and genuine community engagement to Bass Coast Shire?
“As a councillor you voice your expectations and level of competency that the CEO must maintain. I bring 4 years experience as a councillor and my management skills within my other career.”
- Will you support all council meetings being fully open to all ratepayers and video cast all council meetings?
- Will you support the continuance of live streaming of Council Meetings?
- Being an Elder of the LGBTIQ community – what do you intend to do to you show your support to us [reminding everyone that we make up approx 15% of the community]?
“I already support the LGBTIQ community which is well documented. I personally like looking at our community as 100%, not 15% of LGBTIQ of 51% women etc and etc. I believe that we are a whole made up of all diversified groups. We are different but we are one. Everyone gets my same respect and attention.”
- Are you prepared to join in with and work with a local LGBTIQ group and help suggest and work through ideas and processes?
“Yes I am. I hope that one day we do not have to label groups but that we are all accepted by everyone for whom we are with prejudice.”
- How will you demonstrate transparency in your decisions and spending of rate payers’ money?
“A lot of decision making is formulated on a 4 year and 10 year plans that have already been put to the community for consultation and comment. We have money spent on employment, maintaining assets, providing services and providing new assets. Every major decision has to go to an open agenda. Every large tender, again to open agenda. I am open to suggestions but I know that my conscience is fine when it come to integrity, honesty and ethics.”
- What measures would you put in place to ensure transparency to the ratepayers of council decisions
- Will you take action to review the Governance Rules Policy before mid term of your councillor period and set a review period of 4 years and seek public comment?
- Will you truly promote and conduct an open and honest council
- What is your measure of Performance for the CEO and Mayor of council at this time?
“I believe that the CEO has done an excellent job. As a current councillor, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the performance of the Mayor. Please do not read anything into this, it just would be inappropriate.”
- Do you support maximum CPI increase in rates each year, including waste charges?
“Rates I do. Waste no as a charge can only be made to recover cost.”
- The Strategic Resource Financial Plan and the Budget are extremely important to Ratepayers and the operations of Council. What concerns have e you with the current finances of council?
“I do not have any concerns. Like everyone, I would like to borrow less and achieve more but we have borrowed well within our means at a very good rate.”
- What steps and actions will you take to ensure Councils Capital Works Projects listed in the budget are achieved during the budget year and is councils Investments in the best interest of ratepayers?
“I believe that cash is invested in safe areas with little risk whilst the council has a very good history of achieving its capital works projects within the designated time.”
- Are there any plans to extend the cycle path networks in the Bass Coast area?
“Yes, there is a long term strategy.”
- Do you believe that P.I is getting a fair share of council services
“I believe that it has improved but more could be done.”
- Do you support all Phillip Island beaches being dog friendly, on lead, all year round, and the 3 off lead beaches being off lead all year round?
“I support the idea of on lead all year and the off lead all year but abiding by the time restrictions especially if a popular swimming beach in warmer weather.”
- Do you support giving responsible dog owners more opportunities to walk their on-leash dogs on Bass Coast beaches? Do you support having designated off-leash beach areas in each locality?
“I support on-leash areas. I do support off-leash areas in each locality but not to the detriment of other users. It only takes one irresponsible owner to spoil it for the many, and I’ve seen many. I am a dog owner.”
- Do you support the duplication of the bridge from San Remo?
“ At least 3 lanes to assist with the now current ‘blue’ line.”
- Do you support the introduction of more off lead beaches on the island?
“I would have to know where these are proposed.”
- Is there a focus on improving art & culture and indigenous recognition?
“High importance. I did not understand the high importance of art until I became a councillor. I now love it. We are learning how to capture our culture and indigenous recognition but I believe that mistakes have been made. This process is still taking place but I believe that we are moving forward on a good path.”
- Preamble: Phillip Island has an unacceptable problem with excessive rubbish during major tourist season as a small red bin, and large yellow bin pickup once/fortnight is far less than required for such an increase in population with excess rubbish demands during the festive season. Please note, this will not increase the amount of rubbish collected, it will just save residents trying to store rubbish or being required to pick up rubbish dumped around the island.
Question: Will you assist Phillip Island residents and business owners by doing everything you can to ensure there is an appropriate increase in rubbish collection (both red and yellow bins) during peak holiday seasons?
“If there is an issue with everyday residents then this should be addressed. If the issue is with high priced rental properties that attract thousands of dollars per week with multiple users then I believe the user pay system should cut.”
- What emphasis will be put on maintaining the roads in the council? In particular the streets in residential towns.
“I believe that our residents deserve paved roadways and footpaths. Once constructed, the council is responsible for all maintenance.”
- What is your policy regarding dogs and dog friendly areas, especially relating to beaches?
“I voted in favour of the current policy. It is not perfect and in my opinion will never be perfect. There are people who just like dogs, there are irresponsible dog owners, there are dogs that are apparently trained but obviously not, there are good owners and well trained dogs. Most dogs are good on leash. There are other considerations such as wildlife. With all of these considerations, you are never going to get if perfectly right.”
- Why have you been against some of the developments that have been put forward, namely the United service station in Inverloch which would have without question resulted in cheaper fuel which would have ultimately been of benefit to the large number of retirees in the area?
“This is one of the areas that you are not going to please everyone. There was plenty of opposition from parts of the community stating that this location and design was inappropriate for this location. I do not believe that there was any opposition in principal to another service station, just not at this location.”
- Would you support adding more / adding to playground areas?
“I think we are doing fairly well. Play grounds must be upgraded every 13 to 15 years and must comply with current safety regulations. Certainly in new develop areas we need the correct balance. What a beautiful play ground our back yard is here at Bass Coast with all of our beaches and coastline.”
- Do you believe that Business is getting full support of council.
“I believe that it is but I also believe that we could make the flow of requirements be achieved a lot smoother. We need to address our risks but we need to promote our local business and employers. We have room for improvement.”
- How do you propose that Council promotes community connections to facilitate the interaction of individuals and groups and to provide role models for healthy, active, and positive living?
“The council does this already with the support of community groups offering this type of expertise. Whether it is supporting PICAL or the local community Asset Committee. There are so many community groups out there that promote community connections but that are also supported in some fashion by the council.”
- How should Council support programs to counsel the community in general and individuals on mental health problems and the abuse of drugs and alcohol?
“With my other career, I have a pretty good insight into this issue. I always say, “Let the people with the knowledge, do their job”. Our Health Hub and Wonthaggi Hospital now offer some great services for these areas. We now have a huge referral group supported by Bass Coast Health and the Police force. Our mental health services have improved greatly over the last two years with patients now not having to travel over to Latrobe Valley for service. If these experts come to the council seeking assistance, then we should give it. I have confidence that our referral agencies are working well from first hand experience.”
- What would be your attitude to the coordinated development of the arts (particularly music, art, and dance), in the Shire?
“I am in favour which would actually give arts a stronger voice.”
- What do you propose to do about the erosion along Silverleaves foreshore area?
“I have received briefings from the experts. When I ask are we looking at saving the beaches or saving our homes they have all come back that we are at the point of saving the homes. The opinions I am hearing are stating that we need ‘hard’ structure that will probably change the gradient of the beach. These structures are expensive and we must advocate strongly. Council money will only go so far.”
- What will you do to reduce carbon emissions in Bass Coast?
“Personally I have just built a new home. I have solar power (wired for batteries), solar hot water that I don’t need to use the booster unless we have visitors. The house is also designed for passive heating and cooling. Not everyone can afford this but we can recommend that everyone replace their hot water when it wears out with a heat pump (sink) hot water service. We can ask commercial businesses to consider the purchase of electric vehicles. It’s such a small step for individuals but such a huge outcome for our community. The council must advocate for this and possible offer incentives to individuals”
- Will you support (or possibly increase) the current council targets and community aspirations for greenhouse gas emission reductions?
“We have to sell this to the community first as they will be empowered to run with this strategy. Council can lead by example such as 100 renewable power and also offering incentives to go green. We should also be advocating for cheap renewable power for the whole of our community. I am on record as saying that it is ridiculous that Tasmania will be 100% renewable within a couple of years and we can’t. Why not?
- What are the principles that guide you to ensure that the environment of Phillip Island and the entire Bass Coast Shire is adequately protected from industrial and residential development?
“As stated, I believe in township boundaries. I believe that Phillip Island has reached its peak and that the gaps within developed areas should be filled in. I would like to see what we have of a border between Cowes and Ventnor maintained as well as the border between Cowes and Silverleaves. We can protect our areas by not allowing rezoning and making sure that our commercial areas are confined but well planned and utilized.
- The Albert Ruttle wetlands is a 22 acre community reserve in Inverloch, which has been enjoyed by residents for more than 25 years. Via a planning loophole it is now in private ownership as two housing blocks. What action would you take to ensure the council applies the development plan overlay and returns this unique wetland to the community as a public reserve?
“This question has been answered to the author to my knowledge on many an occasion. It is unfortunate that the land is privately owned and no enforcement can be made. This development occurred prior to my election. It is unfortunate but my briefings state that no further action could take place.”
- What is your priority on protecting local ratepayers’ and residents’ rights first and tourism second?
“A reasonable question but what are your ‘rights’. We live in a country where we have the freedom of speech and the right to be treated fairly. I will support anyone who shows others, respect, kindness and does not impose their thoughts on another. I purposely try not to go into Cowes for the four weeks over Christmas as I accept that the place is crazy and not for me. But I also accept that it is good for the economy of the Cowes retailers. I am open to what rights you want protected.”
- Will you ensure local By-Laws are applied to tourists in the same way they are applied to local residents?
- Will you promote infrastructure needs e.g. footpaths etc. ahead of infrastructure for tourism.
“I see that the two can be connected. I would like to see the Island offering a greater opportunity of alternative modes of transport utilising shared footways which could address both tourism and local need. Again, public transport needs to be upgraded to offer a better service to the community but to also offer a convenient alternative to the tourist.”
- What is your vision for Tourism development?
“Tourism is a major part of our economy and we should either embrace it or find an alternative. I am not in favour of the increase in B & B’s as I feel that they are imposing themselves upon our community and basically a commercial venture is being run in a residential area. We should be looking at purpose built accommodation in the right location which can bolster the economical strength of our sole traders. We should be supporting our private tourism ventures as they invest and employ with our community but again, conducted in a fashion that does not impose upon our full time residents.
- How will you reduce increasing urbanisation on Phillip Island?
“Will lock in town boundaries and have minimum size blocks of land to be decided by consultation with community.”
- What is your view on the density of housing development on Phillip Island?
“I believe that it has reached its peak. It appears that Cowes has just about joined with Ventnor and also Silverleaves. I believe that we must keep our town boundaries which will maintain the attractions of Phillip Island.”
- Do you agree that the proposed development at 92 Norsemens Road Coronet Bay is inappropriate in scale for the location and does not meet the requirements of land titled Rural Activity Zone?
- Given the more than adequate supply of residential land within the shire, will you hold the town boundaries where they are (or reduce them where they are inappropriate)?
“I not sure what you mean by adequate supply? I believe that we do not need to just keep on supply land as we will lose what we cherish. I want to hold onto town boundaries and not expand. I would look at the argument of inappropriate boundaries.”
- Will you fight and oppose foreign takeovers of land and environmentally damaging developments?
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