Andrew Connor 4 MVC

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Electoral Redistribution affecting Meander Valley

I strongly oppose the Australian Electoral Commission’s revised Tasmanian redistribution proposal.

This  proposal that would put all of Meander Valley’s communities into the Division of Lyons.

Urban areas of Meander Valley Council, namely the suburbs of Hadspen, Prospect Vale, Blackstone Heights and Travellers Rest are currently part of the Bass state and federal electorates, bounded by the South Esk River near Hadspen. Other areas of Meander Valley are in Lyons.

Urban areas of Meander Valley have a more substantial social and economic connection to greater Launceston which sits in Bass, than the vast rural areas of Lyons.

The proposal cites a shared "community of interest" with others but this would lump urban areas of Launceston in the same electorate as Brighton, Port Arthur and Sheffield. Instead of sharing a community of interest it would drive another wedge between the urban areas of Meander Valley and other parts of the Greater Launceston.

Most importantly it would cut off Meander Valley’s urban residents from logical representation with the rest of the Launceston urban area in Bass.

Rather than using natural boundaries like rivers, this proposal would draw a line down the middle of streets and along back fences, something that simply isn’t necessary in Tasmania. Already Meander Valley Council’s boundary splits streets in Prospect/Prospect Vale, another invisible barrier isn’t welcome.

In light of the Tasmanian Electoral Commission recently backtracking on a proposal to remove Hadspen from the Legislative Council seat of Launceston, this proposal from the AEC with little support from submissions seems very odd.

Meander Valley Council has had good success in dealing with members of state and federal government from two electorates and I do not think this change is warranted.

I urge residents of Greater Launceston to make a submission to the inquiry via the AEC
website and make their thoughts know to me, other Councillors and State & Federal members for Bass.


Friday, 26 February 2016

WiFi Popular with Firies at Mole Creek

Since last week, interstate and local fire fighters have been enjoying free Wireless Internet (WiFi) at the Mole Creek Fire Staging Area to stay in touch with loved ones while away from home.
The service I setup with the assistance of others has been popular with up to 39 concurrent users during periods of downtime for the fire fighters and support staff.
WiFi allows personnel to reliably stay in touch with their family, friends and businesses while they are helping fight Tasmania’s bushfires. Mobile coverage in the Mole Creek area can be patchy at times, which is a big problem for interstate visitors.  WiFi provides more data availability and capacity while relieving the mobile networks of congestion for essential use.
The free WiFi service came together in just 48 hours with the assistance of Tiers Technology for installation, Meander Valley Council loaning equipment and the Mole Creek Hotel supplying the Internet connection.
Since being installed on February 17th, around 150 unique devices have used the service and over 35 gigabytes of data have been downloaded or uploaded.  The most popular times for use are 6-8pm & 6-7am.
Access to Public WiFi in times of emergency for frontline service personnel and the public is essential for modern communications. Meander Valley Council has plans to introduce Public WiFi in locations across the municipality this year.

Background:
The Mole Creek Fire Staging Area was established at the Mole Creek oval in late January as a helicopter base for firefighting activities around Lake Rowallan & Lake Mackenzie. Since then it has grown to service more helicopter traffic and accommodate over 100 volunteers overnight.
I'm Unit Manager of the SES Northern Region - Incident Management Unit and a member of the Meander Valley Council - Emergency Management & Community Recover Committee.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

NBN Cost Estimate Info & Prospect Vale meeting

Information and commentary on some key issues covered in today’s Meander Valley Council meeting.

NBN upgrade for Westbury and Hadspen
Council decided to release cost estimate information received from NBNCo for a potential upgrade of the NBN rollout in Westbury and Hadspen.  It revealed that the incremental cost to install fibre-optic broadband rather than second-rate copper (Fibre-to-the-Node) broadband was between $2,200,000-2,750,000 million for Hadspen and between $2,750,000-$3,300,000 for Westbury.
These amounts are clearly beyond the resources of a small council such as Meander Valley to fund. Furthermore, there was little substance as to how the figures were arrived at and it appears that no on-the-ground investigation was undertaken to support these estimates.
Council will write to NBNCo and demand a refund of the $10,000 application fee due to the lack of information supporting these estimates.  Ballpark figures such as those provided could have been arrived-at with publicly available information, we needed more substantive figures and supporting information to even consider progressing this upgrade.

NBN Cost Estimate - Hadspen [PDF]
NBN Cost Estimate - Westbury [PDF]

Holding a Council meeting in Prospect Vale – Rescinded
Council today rescinded their decision made in the November meeting to hold one regular meeting in 2016 in Prospect Vale.  Usually council meetings are held monthly at the chambers in Westbury during the afternoon, however in recent years’ council has opted to hold one meeting per year in Prospect Vale during the evening. This was done to make the democratic workings of council more accessible to the 42% of the Meander Valley ratepayers who live in the urban areas of the municipality. 
Some Councillors sought to overturn their earlier decision on the basis of a minuscule cost saving and supposed safety concerns of staff driving in the dark.
Council needs to be open and accessible to its community. It needs to accommodate community needs, not dictate them.  It is disappointing that council time is wasted on this kind of motion when there’s far more important issues to consider he added. 

I foreshadowed a motion that will mandate Internet streaming of council meetings using recently installed audio-visual equipment that will make all meetings more accessible to ratepayers.