Gail responds to your questions
All questions are genuine questions received by residents. The responses to the questions are written and authorised by Gail Kilby.
Thank you for your questions. To clarify under the Local Government Act a Mayor is unable to “initiate” any projects through motions or resolutions, this is the role of the Councillors through decisions made in the chamber, the Mayor is actually obligated to publicly support all the decisions made by Council (The Elected Body). Any candidate that promises to implement radical changes to the Council is either running for the job with no understanding of the Local Government Act and the role of the Mayor in accordance with that act. Therefore whilst I can pledge to listen to community concerns, try and influence culture changes through sound leadership and professional behaviour, I cannot and would not promise to do anything I am prevented from delivering by law.
I can however answer your questions with my opinions or ideas based on my understanding of how Council does/could operate.
Q. The environment in our city and the new projects you are looking to initiate;
I am not certain whether you are referring to the environment in relation to tackling climate change etc or the aesthetics and infrastructure. I will try and answer both to cover all bases.
It would be great for the new Council to look at ways of investing in climate friendly and energy saving technology on Council buildings, assets and infrastructure. This would of course mean spending money initially to save money and that again would be the decision of the Elected Body.
I would like to see the way we manage waste management radically change. We have the wherewithal in our City to become leaders in waste management and recycling which in turn would solve the “china sword policy” issue and provide income, jobs and economic development in our City, which clearly struggling with high unemployment and lack of support from other levels of Government.
We also need to work with our colleagues in other Council areas, to share ideas and information to prevent double up of effort and costs across the Local Government Sector.
It would seem that in order to change the aesthetic and accessibility of our environment to higher standards, money would need to be spend, but working smartly and looking at how savings can be made whilst keep rates low is a job for the whole of the new Elected Body to crack on with.
Q. We need extra green bin collection - from once a month to twice a month. Discuss.
A. I am not against fortnightly green bin pickups if that is the appetite of the wider community and the Elected Body (who would actually be making that decision, not the Mayor). I would also push for better waste management in general and hope that Councils and other levels of government look to places like Sweden and other Countries to improve how we deal with waste State wide and across Australia
Q. Our previous mayor and the current CEO have dubious rrds on spending our money in inappropriate ways including legal fees to cover up other spending like golf fees for the CEO. How are you going to change this dodgy culture in our council?
A. You are very right in saying that the culture in Council needs to change, Local Government in general needs to be looking at reform in how it functions. The Code of Conduct for example seems to be a toothless tiger, that provides no real consequences to the unwanted and unacceptable behaviours displayed by some across all Councils in our state, at varying degrees. Councillors, staff or the community should not be hesitant to call out misconduct and investigations should not be so costly to our ratepayers. I have some ideas for improving that across the sector, including initial assessments and investigations being carried out by other Councils as part of a reciprocative arrangement that would eliminate some of the expense in paying expensive external investigators.
I absolutely don’t condone spending ratepayers money inappropriately, I believe that auditing and subsequent reporting needs to be easily accessible to both the Councillors making decisions, but the community as well. I don’t think one person would be capable of changing the culture of Council alone, it is about open and honest teamwork, between Elected members, staff and the community. Improvement in engagement and communication in a timely fashion would assist the community in providing their views before rather than after decisions are made. Council needs to be brought back into the community, with opportunities for residents to raise their concerns and ideas at regular Town Hall meetings and online forums that cater to the very different ways our community communicates and shares information.
It is important to elect a Mayor who has at least a modicum of understanding on how to chair meetings effectively and fairly, manage change and understand the Local Government Act and other related legislation. I have the most experience amongst the candidates with regard to these skills.
Q. In what ways will you as mayor lead with increased transparency?
A. I support the decision made by Council to webcast Council meetings, and also needs to be extended to committee meetings, workshops and briefings. Again I stress, this is not possible for a Mayor to implement if the Councillors are not on the same page. The decisions to make change come from the Chamber Floor and whilst a Mayor can add to the discussion in Committees and workshops, this is not permitted in Council meetings, where the role of the Mayor is to chair the meeting with fairness and equity and only has a vote if the decision is hung.
Q) Why you decided to nominate for mayor?
A) I feel that after 8 years as councillor, I think it's time to step aside and get some new blood in, shake up the dynamic and thinking processes and have more representative diversity. I have served a good apprenticeship for the role of Mayor and with that knowledge and experience it seems a logical next step to use that to progress our City. I love the City of Onkaparinga and am proud to live, work and serve here, and would love to continue doing so.
Q) What projects/initiatives will you push for as mayor?
A) For me the role of Mayor is not to push for my own agenda, it is to work with the Council to achieve the best outcomes for the whole community. I do however believe our City has so much to offer the world and we need to encourage business growth and entrepreneurship within our boundaries, to create more sustainable local wealth and employment. Services should be reviewed carefully and constantly but are still key in providing support to all our volunteer groups, sporting clubs and less fortunate citizens. Engagement processes and communication with our community needs a big shake up and a new way of thinking. I see the City moving forward and getting stronger and better, not moving backwards to an era of back to basics and little community support or well-being.
Q) What cultural changes would you like to see within the chamber?
A) I would like to see a more cohesive chamber. It is important to be able to disagree on issues with respect. Council elections by their very nature provide a combative arena and those who have fought against each other to win a place are then in a position where they need to work together for the common good. The Mayor can and should play a strong role in facilitating a respectful workplace.
Q) What leadership qualities you think you will bring to the chamber
A) I have successfully led cohesive and functional teams in the business (including in local government) and volunteer arenas. I am coherent with the Local Government Act and meeting procedures. I hold qualifications in business management and training which are useful skills. I have good relationships within the community and at state and federal government level. I am open minded, free thinking and adaptable to new ideas. I believe Local Government is the most accessible level of government, with the most impact on people's lives at a grass roots level and that Elected Members should respect and embrace that accessibility
Q. Do you support rate capping?
A. I am not in favour of rate capping – I am in favour in keeping rates at a manageable level, sound financial vigilance and service reviews to prevent waste.
Q. How did all the rorting of expenses and credit card abuse slip past you and the elected members? Flowers, gifts, lunches & dinners, watches, taxis & limos, golf. China trips, tennis trips etc. and the list goes on and on?
A. Due to the ECSA regulations, campaign material regarding actual decisions of Council is not permitted. From a personal perspective I am not aware that any “rorting” been proved, that is a serious accusation of Council and if anyone has evidence that “rorting” has occurred I would highly recommend they report it through the appropriate channels for investigation.
Q. In this year’s Business Plan it shows Rate income is up by $3 million yet the Council wants to borrow a further $14 million on top of that. Isn’t it time for the Council to stop spending money on non-essential and low priority items.
A. As above Due to the ECSA regulations, campaign material regarding actual decisions of Council is not permitted. I can confirm I support and encourage sound financial, open and transparent decision making.
Q. When do you think the debt should start being reduced?
A. Whilst it is important to manage the ratepayers money prudently, I don’t necessarily agree that debt is a totally bad thing, if managed appropriately – many of us manage debt in our daily lives to enable us to enjoy a certain standard of living. What is important is open minded and informed decision making. Debt reduction is the decision of the elected body as a whole, the Mayor has less say in this than the Councillors, who are able to vote on these matters, it would be a good question to ask those running for Ward Councillor.
Q. Do you think that the Council can ever become debt free and if so when do you think that could happen?
A. The Council could become debt free, of course. It could happen if the elected body have an appetite for it and put measures in place to enable the debt to be paid off. The Mayor has less influence on these decisions than the Councillors, and is duty bound to follow the decision of Council.
Q. Do you fully understand the Business Plans that are put in front of you each year and do you think you can believe what is presented in them to be accurate?
A. I do understand business plans, I have managed business plans and department budgets in my professional life. I have been an elected member for 8 years and have learned a lot about Local Government during this time, through training and experience. If I believe something to be inaccurate I would (and do) question it, as I would expect any elected member to do.
Q. In your opinion, how can the Council get back the trust of the rate payers, following all the fiascos that have been published in the media over the past few years?
A. you are right, they are fiascos, published by the media – not necessarily factual accounts or the beliefs of all residents (including those who pay rates). I do believe Council can make some big improvements on communication of information and engagement and would push for this.
Q. I recall that you also ran as a candidate in the last State Elections, but weren’t successful. You were prepared to move out from Onkaparinga Council then, but now want to run for Mayor. Just wondering what your motives were and are and where your loyalties lie. Or is it all about you?
A. You’re correct I did run for the upper house in State Government, I did this for a number of reasons, including my strong belief in putting my money where my mouth is regarding issues I feel passionately about such as equity, equality, diverse representative democracy, anti poverty, and rate capping. I knew the chances of me getting elected were minimal to say the least, but if I have an issue with the system I find the best way to deal with it is to put up your hand and try and change it. I would encourage others to do the same. I love the City of Onkaparinga, I live and work here and my commitment lies with the community I serve.
Q. Could you please explain your statement “ Genuine Alternative”? What does it mean?
A. A genuine alternative to the other candidates that are running for Mayor of course.