Team Eden’s Response to Cairns Post on Teams vs Independents

Following Cairns Post questions on Teams vs independents, below are Team Eden’s responses:

Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

I think it may be worth providing a little background for you and there is the formal answer below.  Up to you if you use the background info but I hope you find it interesting and it may assist you in writing a balanced and well researched piece on this important topic.  Of course if you would like to discuss anything in this please do not hesitate to give me a call.

The last time there was a non-Team Council in Cairns was the Schier Council.  It was no secret that this Council struggled and was largely voted out – only Linda Cooper and Rob Pyne were returned in 2012.

Teams are a feature of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay and in fact most of the major cities in the State.  Again, it is no secret that Townsville and Mackay have achieved wonderful things in recent years while Cairns has struggled.

It is often pointed out that Jenny Hill (Townsville) ran as an independent in her first term (2012) and had a terrible time – she was completely in minority.  The next election and every election since she has run a team.  She actually had signs up around Townsville before the 2016 election saying ‘give me a team I can work with’.  All of her team was elected in 2016.

It is also worth noting that Cairns Council is a ‘divided Council’ meaning it is broken up into divisions.  This differs from other Council areas where there are no divisions.  This is an important distinction that does lend support to the concept of a team.

Finally and most importantly, there is no doubt we need change.  I think everyone agrees on that point.  The question is what is really the problem – the lack of independents or the current team’s leadership.

I joined the Unity Team in 2020 thinking it was a slick operation having won the last two elections.  It was anything but.  To be fair, Unity had two really good terms – eight years where they delivered a lot.  The problem has been the last four years.  To summarise, the problem over the last four years is not the existence of a team – it is the leadership of the team and it is clearly time for a change.

Now for the formal answer….

  1. Why have you chosen to run as a group, instead of running as an independent mayoral candidate?

Cairns Council is broken up into divisions and when people are voting they achieve the best outcomes where they can be sure that a Mayor and their Councillor are on the same page.  The last time Cairns Council did not have a team outcome was the Schier Council which struggled and resulted in nine of the eleven elected representatives changing in the 2012 election.

  1. What do you think the merits of teams in local government are?

Team Eden is a group of diverse independent thinkers who bring different skills and perspectives to the table. What brings these individuals together are their values of transparency, accountability and engagement and we are stronger together rather than as individuals.

  1. Independent councillors and council candidates have said teams are less likely to represent the interests of their divisional constituents because of bloc voting and rubber stamping, particularly from team members outside the leadership circle. What is your response to this?

The problem for the last four years has not been the team concept.  It has been the failure of leadership.  Unity had eight very good years where they delivered a lot and the people were happy and kept voting them back in.  Unfortunately they lost their way in the last four years and it is time for a change.

Regarding your questions regarding the Team Eden transparency plan

  1. What information is this going to turn up for Cairns residents that they can’t access already? Can you give specific examples?

Content published to the transparency integrity portal may include detailed financial records from Council and its stakeholders, asset management data, and procurement data relating to large purchases and contracts, presented in interactive formats. The range of data available through the TIP will be continually expanded over the next four years.

It is also about how the information is provided. This may include simple graphs or tables, trends, or interactive maps that will be easier for people to understand but also with the ability to ‘dig deeper’ for more detailed information.

The Mayor of Frankston in South East Melbourne, Cr Nathan Conroy said that, since implementing their TIP in 2019, it has made a huge difference on how people engaged with Council and has made the whole organisation more open, transparent and engaged with its communities.

  1. How is confidential information – such as legal or commercial, or private HR correspondence – going to be affected by a new transparency and integrity portal? Or will some information remain confidential?

The Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) recognises the importance of protecting the personal information of individuals. It contains a set of rules or ‘privacy principles’ that govern how Queensland Government agencies collect, store, use and disclose personal information.

“The introduction of the Transparency and Integrity Portal will see more information and data available publicly than ever before in formats that are easy to understand. Our communities will be able to easily see how the Council is performing and better understand Council decisions” Cr Amy Eden said.

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