Australia: Wikinews interviews Les Harmer, South Gippsland local election candidate

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Sunday, October 3, 2021

South Gippsland Shire Council wards.
Image: Victorian Electoral Commission.

Nominations were declared on September 21 for South Gippsland Shire's upcoming council elections, to be held by post from October 5-22. A total of 24 people in the Australian council's three wards have put themselves forward to stand as candidates. The shire has been governed by administrators appointed by the Victorian state government since August 2019, when the council was sacked after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Les Harmer, via email. Harmer is contesting the Tarwin Valley ward, which elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council, and includes the towns of Leongatha and Mirboo North.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Improved communication between the community and council.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) No, things needed to settle down after the turmoil that occurred, I believe the Administrators have done just that, the path is now set for refreshed councillors to take the council into the future.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Since 1993, South Gippsland has not had a passenger railway service, when the V/Line service to Leongatha was closed. Do you think that these services should be brought back, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Only if economically viable, the public purse is such a valuable commodity the days of accepting unprofitable ventures are gone.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) What we would like to see and what can be achieve as a councillor is a tough one, as a councillor we deal mainly with what effects the community on a daily basis, personally I would like to see more emphasis put on renewables in longer term planning.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Great empathy with the local community and management qualifications.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Becoming an official tourist friendly town, the benefits to local businesses are huge.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Keeping the contact through email, newspaper articles, coffee meetings when allowed continuing connection with local groups of which I am connected.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Yes, some years ago stood for local council in the Shire of Yarra Ranges, was unsuccessful.


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Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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