Questions to and answers from Mik Aidt

Candidates receive a swarm of questions. Below are some of questions Mik have been asked recently, along with excerpts of the answers he gave:

How does your policies differ from the Greens’?
Have you ever been affiliated with a political party? If so which one(s)?
Should Geelong change the date we celebrate Australia Day?
Are you supportive of fishing, target shooters and outdoor activities?
Would you please articulate your views on the value or otherwise to the community of heritage properties in general and of Osborne House in particular?
How do you plan to address the population growth?
Do you have any policies or a position on the role GPAC plays?
What is your position on rate capping?
Would you put or support a motion put to Council advocating/lobbying for an increase in the Newstart allowance?
Do you support increased CCTV as a crime deterrent?
What is your position on social justice issues such as marriage equality, refugees, housing affordability, etc?
What qualities makes someone a good Councillor?

What should we do about…
public transport?
heavy vehicles driving through the city?
safety for cyclists in Geelong?
climate change?

Surveys and questionnaires

Geelong Advertiser: Geelong council election 2017: Your guide to the Brownbill Ward
Geelong Indy: What is the most important priority for Geelong’s next council?
Geelong Sustainability: Condensed Candidate Scorecard
Bay 93.9: Survey
Alternative Aspect Media: Quick summary of what the points of the candidate’s campaigns are

How does your policies differ from the Greens’?

Our Council should reflect the multitude of opinions, age groups, work sectors and the diversity of cultures and religions in our city and be free of party politics that require you to follow the party-line even if that means compromising on your own personal convictions and principles. We need to be able to make compromises and reach consensus across the political spectrum of colours.

Many of my policies do align with the Greens including questions around sustainability, climate action and rights for the indigenous people of Australia. But my policies about creating stability for business and investment align with Liberals’, and the Victorian state-wide ban of fracking align with Labor. As a candidate who campaigns on a platform calling for honesty and responsibility, I must follow my heart and – like a chameleon – I sometimes find myself changing colour, depending on the topic.

We need to create a healthy, sustainable balance between all three aspects: Profit (liberal), people (Labour) and planet (the Greens). If that is called being ‘Centre’, then I guess that is what you can call me. But I will still reserve the right to jump out of whatever box you put me in when there is a need to make all ends meet.

» More about Mik’s policies

Have you ever been affiliated with a political party? If so which one(s)

No, I have never been affiliated with any political party. Our council should reflect the multitude of opinions, age groups, work sectors and the diversity of cultures and religions in our city and be free of party politics that require you to follow the party-line – even if that means compromising on your own personal convictions and principles. We need to be able to make compromises and reach consensus across the political spectrum of colours.

When I talk with citizens of Geelong on the street, many of them tell me – or show with their body language – that they are sick and tired of politicians and the game our pollies play. I was recently quoted in the Geelong Advertiser as saying: “We give voice to what a lot of people feel. They have lost confidence in politicians who spend most of the time mocking each other while they fail to create safety and optimism for the community and for our environment.”

Through my entire life, I have observed how party politics often mean doing deals and trade-offs that go against your personal conviction, and I have never had any personal aspirations to try and boost my platform as a community leader with seeking political influence. With a Council that got sacked and a ‘Clever and Creative Future’ vision, however, I think we have a unique opportunity for creating a Council that genuinely works and closely communicates with the community, and this has the potential to be a very different kind of journey than ‘going into politics’. Rather, it will mean ‘going into community-building’ – and this is why I stand for Council:

I want to ensure that the Clever Creative vision actually gets implemented, and help seeing to that the new Council helps lifting our community into an optimistic era of collaboration with a focus on good health, stability and sustainability in the community.

Should Geelong change the date we celebrate Australia Day?

“Hi Mik Just wondering where you stand on the issue of Australia day. Are you keeping it as it is or changing the day / name? Your answer is important to me Thank you”

It is not a local government decision to change Australia Day. Is a federal government decision. But we can push this issue up to the federal government. We can give our opinion – as individuals, and, if there is a general consensus, as a community.

A number of councils in Australia have made a decision not to call it Australia Day and to not participate in the formalities currently associated with the 26 January such as citizenship ceremonies.

Australia Day is a day when people come together, have barbeques and play cricket with family and friends. It is a day that should represent unity and togetherness. Yet the custodians of our land, who Councillors carefully make sure to pay their respects to when opening a meeting, view this day as ‘Invasion Day’. What happens to that respect to the Aboriginal community on 26 January?

I believe the first people to this land have a legitimate position and that this should be raised at a federal government level.

The prosperity of a multi-cultural society such as Australia depends on whether we learn to show empathy towards each other across our various cultural and religious divides. To show empathy means actually caring about and trying to imagine how it would feel to be in somebody else’s position. This is what SBS, my work place, is all about: assisting this diverse nation in acquiring and improving our intercultural competences. And this is what I will always advocate for.

However, whether Geelong Council makes a decision on changing the date of Australia Day or not should of course not rely on my personal opinion, or on a decision made by 11 elected representatives in a Council chamber. It should only be done if the community supports it.

On 23 October 2017 1:34 pm all 53 candidates received the following letter from Vicky Grosser, President, One Fire:

Subject: Australia Day: proposal to change the date – Geelong Council Election Candidates

Dear Geelong Council Election Candidate,

Thank you for your commitment to our community through your decision to put yourself forward to stand for Council.

I wish to bring your attention to community discussions which have commenced about moving the date of ‘Australia Day’ celebrations and citizenship ceremony in Geelong.

Geelong One Fire Reconciliation Group proposed that Geelong Council invite community views, through a letter to local papers in August.

Responses varied, and those that did not agree appeared to be unaware of the impact of holding celebrations on a date: 26th January, which many Aboriginal people experience as a painful association with invasion, and disrespect shown for their community and Country.

One Fire members are in agreement that the date should be changed, to one which everyone can celebrate.

Recently in a letter I sent to the papers, I quoted (with her agreement) Wadawurrung Traditional Woman: Corrina Eccles:

“Australia Day should definitely be moved from 26th January, as it’s a day which is painful for Aboriginal people. I believe it should be held on 27th May: when Aboriginal people received ‘citizenship’ in the 1967 Referendum. New citizens could then be welcomed on this day about citizenship, creating a diverse community and celebrating all cultures.”

We look forward to working alongside you to address this issue, should you be elected. Good luck!

Kind regards –

Vicky Grosser
Acting President

Geelong One Fire Reconciliation Group
We respectfully acknowledge that Geelong One Fire is located on Wadawurrung/ Wathaurong Country, and pay our respects to Elders, both past and present

Are you supportive of fishing, target shooters and outdoor activities?

The support and growth of outdoor activities in our region is one that is backed not only on a personal emotional level, of fond childhood memories climbing trees and fishing. It is also backed by stats. The Victorian healthcare system avoids somewhere in the region of $265 million in annual costs, attributed to nature-based outdoor activities.

Outdoor activities make us reconnect with how humans have lived on this planet and shared it with other species for thousands of years. We have an obligation to leave this place in the same – or even better – state than we found it. This means that our activities in nature must be carried out in respect and in balance with the natural environment. Seen from a Council table, this implies not only respecting, but also protecting and investing in our region‘s green spaces. In the case of hunting and fishing, it implies respecting each animal that we kill.

If or when I get the opportunity to speak to an entire room full of people who enjoy the outdoors, the first thing I would do after a short introduction of aspects such as those I have mentioned here, would be to listen to their advice and to engage in an open brainstorm on how we can get the community more involved in these activities and how we develop and strengthen them further, because they are so beneficial to both our mental health and our economy.

Would you please articulate your views on the value or otherwise to the community of heritage properties in general and of Osborne House in particular?

Another voter asked: “Mik, I am not happy with approval being given to developers to knock down character houses that dont have heritage listing in favour of building so called architecturaly designed ugly box houses….what are your plans to address this?”

Mik’s reply:

I grew up in Denmark – a country where our major cities have a thousand-year long history behind them, and where the history of our ancestors very much is a part of who we are today.

When I first came to Geelong five years ago, I was wondering what had gone wrong in this city as far as city planning was concerned. Where was “the old part” of the city? Most European cities have such a place – the old city. Nowhere to be found in Geelong, except maybe in spirit in the Botanical Garden.

I have seen other cities in Australia where you get a sense of the city’s history and origin simply by walking through the streets of its CBD. In this case I’m not talking about museum-like tourist attractions such as Ballarat’s Sovereign Hills, for instance, but more like the streets with old renovated buildings in the inner city of Bendigo.

Whoever has been in charge of planning house demolishing in Geelong over the last decades clearly has seen no value in preserving the historical buildings which in my view are such an important part of what gives a city its heart and soul.

The Osborne House is one such place which needs our attention, and it is a disgrace how it has been neglected, as you also describe it. In my view we have to save and protect and re-establish as much of Geelong’s history as at all possible, and on that list, the Osborne House should be a first priority. 

The issue with anyone saying something like that is the inevitable economic question: “So where is the money for that going to be coming from?” 

I hear a general call from citizens who demand lower rates, and no parking fees, but at the same time, they seem to expect roads and infrastructure to be maintained at the highest standards, and historic sites refurbished, as if the money for that just magically would appear from the sky – or somewhere else. 

We can do better! I want to work for creating a city where we are proud of our history – where we keep exploring it and “digging for gold” in it – and where enough of us are prepared to contribute with a bit of support in one way or another whenever our valuable historic assets need a helping hand.

This was the question asked – in its full length:

“Good Afternoon,

I seek your opinion on an issue that has bemused and confounded 7 successive councils over the past 22 years. Should you be elected to Council for the City of Greater Geelong, you will face this same issue again and I seek your view in order to determine my vote.

I refer to Osborne House in Swinburne Street North Geelong: closed indefinitely to user groups and the public on 13 April 2017 by the Administrators, on advice of an externally appointed Hygienist due to mould spores being detected.

This heritage listed building was constructed in 1858 for grazier Robert Muirhead, became Australia’s 1st Royal Australian Naval College [1913-1915], 1st Australian submarine base [1920-1922], a WW1 convalescent hospital [1915-1919], a WW2 Australian Army Transport Training base [1940-1945] and the headquarters for the Shire of Corio for 52 years [1937-1993]. The Shire also set up the Geelong Maritime Museum in the Stables in the 1980’s and until April this year, the Geelong Memorial Brass Band had occupied rehearsal space above the Stables for over 50 years.

Since amalgamation of Geelong’s municipal councils in 1993 Osborne House has been without a definitive future despite countless consultant’s reports, expressions of interest, a favourable but rejected feasibility study [at a cost to ratepayers of approx. $23K in 2002] and considerable community input, effort and voluntary time.

Since 2010 it has been the base for 12 community user groups but the first floor of the main building comprising approx. 25 rooms, has not been accessible to anyone by order of council officers, for the duration of those 22 years. It is not derelict. It is as vacated by the Shire of Corio when all services were relocated into the CoGG.

Osborne House has been a 22 year unresolved issue for 8 mayors and 7 successive councils and is currently in lock-down due to neglect of regular roof maintenance by council as the responsible authority.
It now has mould and major roof structural issues in some areas, which caused all 12 user/tenant groups to have been denied access since April.

The Osborne Park Association Inc [the lead tenant at Osborne House] received a grant of $33k from council in 2015 to restore the 1910 ballroom and contributed $10k of their own funds plus hundreds of volunteer hours to this project, completed with a formal opening in January 2017. The kitchen was being renovated at the time of lock-down. The Vietnam Veterans Geelong Branch have had to close their museum on site and relocate their members. The Maritime Museum – which has one of the largest collections of naval and maritime history in the country- is closed indefinitely to the public. Rotary-in-Kind has had to find new premises for their community work.

This iconic property is owned by the City and therefor by the community. It could be transformed into a centre for artisans & lost trades [along similar lines to the Abbottsford Convent] – a heritage facility presenting some of Geelong’s history which the limited space of the National Wool Museum is unable to accommodate, while re-establishing the groups above mentioned.
The soft option would be to sell the property and rid the new council of the dilemma.

Would you please articulate your views on the value or otherwise to the community of heritage properties in general and of Osborne House in particular.

It is irrelevant in whose Ward this property sits – it belongs to the people of Geelong – all of whom the new council will be representing when voting on many issues.

Thank you for your consideration of this email. I look forward to your response.”

How do you plan to address the population growth

How do you plan to address the population growth in regards to our vast green spaces being razed to build housing estates…how do you plan to protect our green space? Also the Moolap salt pans…plans are to make an estate like to canals project in Queensland as well as retail and light industrial….what about the preservation of at least half to protect it as wetlands as an environmental concern? Thanks

Geelong has many good cards to draw, but the city also faces new challenges that it hasn’t faced before. Big companies – Alcoa, Ford – have been closing. Unemployment has been rising. At the same time we are told that population is set to double – we will be having two times the size of Ballarat moving in over the next decades. Our urban space is going to get denser. How do we maintain the quality of life in our region?

Just give it a thought for a minute: Why are more and more people coming to Geelong? Why did we come here ourselves? – and now that we are living here, what do we want to protect?

I can speak for myself: we are a family of five (plus Joey, Dora and Pips – our dog and two chicken). We came here four years ago because we saw the beautiful waterfront and Eastern Beach… and we said, wow! We came to live in Melbourne, but this looks much better than what we can find anywhere in Melbourne, or anywhere else we had seen. It looks safe, calm – a great place to grow up as a kid.

But when we open up for two Ballarats moving in: How do we plan for that?

I don’t see any candidates talking about this in their campaign material – flyers, advertisements, speeches. I hear talk about free parking and lower rates. Free parking sounds very nice, certainly, but is free parking in the CBD really going to prepare us for the arrival of two Ballarats?

All those new houses that will be built – what will happen to our open space? Are we okay with the fast food recipe? – suburbia that’s sprawling with new roads that don’t have any protection for pedestrians or cyclists, and houses built by cheap materials, just because it makes them cheaper at the sales point, and ignores that these houses are much more expensive to heat and cool in the long run, and that cheap materials means large carbon footprint over time?

People come to Geelong – we moved to Geelong – because we like the space – the fresh air. We can smell the sea! We can ride our bikes for hours along the river.

How do we ensure that it is smart, safe and sustainable when we roll it all out the new residential areas? What about access to child care? New schools?

There is a lot of good energy and entrepreneurship in Geelong! How do we maintain that positive spirit?
How do we support culture and hang-out spaces in new areas? How do we get more great hang-outs like Little Creatures?
How do we make sure that the Moolap Wetlands aren’t transformed into yet another suburb?

When I write, ‘Careful town planning’ on my letterboxing-flyer as one of my key priorities, then I do that because that is what I see as the answer to all those questions.

We must plan and prepare for a future where we don’t mess up the environment and the advantages of our area more than it already has been messed up. That doesn’t mean we can’t develop and build, on the contrary: it means that when we do, we make sure it is done properly and with regard for what we want to protect, and not just as one private enterprise or another may see fit to accommodate their short term business interests.

Do you have any policies or a position on the role GPAC plays?

“I’m interested in your opinion on the role GPAC currently plays, and the role you think it should play, in supporting local theatre.
Currently I am not aware of anything that GPAC does for the local theatre community, they never buy in local shows or offer any kind of financial incentive for local theatre companies to use their facilities or services. We have a number of highly experience professionals from the theatre world in Geelong, and in my opinion it is a shame that this local talent is not encouraged and supported by what seems to be the Geelong Performing Arts Centre in name only. Do you have any policies or a position on this at this time?”

The Geelong Performing Arts Centre is a state-owned and state-funded cultural agency, our regions’ only regional arts centre. The centre’s roll since its inception has been to bring the performing arts to Geelong, and they do that well. The cater for the regional audiences with touring shows and performances of generally excellent quality.

Since GPAC’s funding is guaranteed, I guess they don’t have all that much incentive to do much more than it does. And that’s why the institution is being criticised for not having much to offer to local artists, entrepreneurs and companies, even though this is the other half of their charter.

A friend of mine said, “GPAC is hidebound by the professional necessities. It has very expensive theatres to run and provide personnel for, so the end result is that staging a show at GPAC becomes a very risky proposition for a local group. Most theatre companies in Geelong are one show away from disaster.”

Without having researched or asked around, I’m not aware of how much influence Council would be having on GPACs policies or the use of its facilities. My guess is: very little.

As you may have notived, I’ve put ‘Vibrant arts scene’ as one of my five priorities in my election campaign, so I’m happy to be given the opportunity to tell you a little about my general position. The following is my take on the topic of Council supporting the arts and theatre scene at a more general level:

How can Council best support our local theatre life in Geelong?
Small and local theatre groups need a proper scheme in which both municipality, state and federal governments have coordinated not only how and to which extent they provide support and assist with frameworks and facilities, but also have a clear agenda with why they do it.

First a bit on the why:

The growth layer
Small and new theatre groups often work to find new forms of expression, go other ways and develop their own style that for instance especially appeals to the young audience. I think this is very important. We have to make sure that the young audience is catered for, and that our students and residents in their 20s and 30s get involved in those, at times, existential questions and topics that theatres are able to raise.

Small theatre groups are able to capture and stage new currents in the theatre world, while they cultivate talent development in “the growth layer” and create new organisational and artistic frameworks for new projects. Some may be short-lived, but others tend to grow over the years but then all of a sudden we see them becoming the prime and the pride of Australian theatre at a national level.

Local talent development
One of my favourite annual events in Geelong is Geelong After Dark. This event has a quota of 80 per cent local content, I’ve been told. But how is Geelong After Dark going to get better year after year if there are no institutions developing our artists skills and careers?

Currently we have no real arts educational institutions in Geelong. The Gordon offers Animation, and Deakin has Visual Arts but there is little else. Also, the small theatre in GPAC is prohibitively expensive to rent if you are a small company, and it is the same for the Courthouse theatre. There are major opportunities in youth development and expression that largely go unaddressed because of the expense of doing stuff.

Partnerships and models to learn from
A major area for development could be striking up meaningful partnerships with venue operators such as the Potato Shed (council run), Shenton Theatre (Geelong High School), and the Courthouse Youth Arts (Council/State run and financed).

I also think it could be worth looking at other places in our state for models and lessons of how we can do better in Geelong. For instance we could be looking to the Frankston Arts Centre – what their HATCH program is doing is very close to what I reckon you were asking about. Footscray Community Arts Centre has become a great multicultural arts incubator, and for cutting edge modern dance and theatre, the Arts House in North Melbourne is an example of what could be done.

The Geelong scene
From what I have seen and learned in the relatively short time I have lived here – five years – Geelong has a diverse cultural and theatre life with some great talent, as you also mention. It caters to the various local communities of the city as well as to visitors from Melbourne. In my view, dance and performance is a part of this. In recent years, dance as an art form has grown from being a niche to becoming mainstream.

Let’s make Geelong a thriving platform for innovative and experimental theatre, as well as for children and family theatre. It would attract more artists and visitors to our city and make it a great place to live for everyone. For those of our kids and the youth who get involved, it would provide meaningful, engaging and confidence-building activities.

It is important that our Council supports and helps cultivate this cultural life, and that it is not only established arenas and theatre groups, but also the smaller groups, many of which are not well-known but are dynamic, innovative units that help develop and challenge the established part of the scene.

Council getting involved and taking initiatives could help create a push for some of the philanthropic trust funds devoting more to the arts.

And support is not only a question of finances. There are various ways a Council can help ensure that its city has a varied and diverse theatre scene with an exciting ‘growth layer’. In a recent structural plan, Council has designated the area around GPAC and the Geelong Gallery to be known as the cultural precinct of Geelong, so there will be a concentration of culture and arts activities in this area. Small and new local theatre groups must be included in this scenario, and I this is something I will be keeping at the forefront of the discussions when they come up in the new Council. Certainly, there is room for improvement in the area of making the public more aware of what Council is doing, could be doing and possibly should be doing to support the local theatre.

What is your position on rate capping?

The rate capping system that is in place, which is ‘A Fair Go’ rates system for Victorians, is meant to ensure that rates are will not increase more than 2.5 per cent per year, which approximately levels out the annual inflation of around 2.5 per cent. The idea with the capping system is to protect the Victorian rate payer so that Victorians can rest assured that their Council can’t use rates to plug holes in their budgets. Higher jumps in the rates would affect other prices, so the rate capping system also seeks to ensure that Victorian home owners will not see a massive jump in their cost of living.

A mechanism that aims to create certainty and stability, in other words. I think that is good.

However, I am also aware of the criticism that has been raised against this system, for instance by the Victorian Local Government Association. VLGA’s opinion is that, “Rate capping inhibits local government’s ability to deliver services to local communities and seeks to control democratically-elected councillors.” ( They go on to say that rate capping results in “a significant cut in spending, especially for infrastructure maintenance and renewal.”

If Council wants to invest in necessary but costly infrastructure and maintenance projects which have full support or on request from the community, how can this be done then? We could look at asking for a dispensation in Geelong, by applying to the state minister, of course, but I’d suggest that rather than increasing the rate by more than the 2.5 percent per year, Council should be examining other forms of funding, both internal and external.

If elected, I will be working with my fellow councillors, who have supplementary skills to mine, in order to address this issue properly. We need to identify how best Council can deliver on the large backlog of infrastructure and maintenance projects that have built up in the last couple of years.

In short: I don’t think Council rates should be lowered, as some candidates are suggesting. I also don’t think they should rise more than 2.5 per cent per year. We must aspire to improve Council’s performance to that level where a majority of residents say they are content with paying their rates – and with the level of the rates – because they feel they are getting really good value for their money.

Would you put or support a motion put to Council advocating/lobbying for an increase in the Newstart allowance?

This is not a local government decision, and as such, I do not see why I or anyone would be putting a motion to Council to advocate or lobby for increasing the Newstart allowance.

Anyway, you asked to get an answer – so I’ll tell you my personal opinion on the matter.

The current Newstart Allowance – the main income support payment while you’re unemployed and looking for work – is set to $538 for a single person per fortnight. ( That’ $269 a week.

Reflecting on the shortage in affordable housing and the relatively high cost of living in Australia, I can only imagine how hard it would be to get by on this.

In other countries, similar allowances have been set to a percentage – typically around 70% – of the minimum wages. In Australia, minimum wages are set to around $615 a week after tax. In my opinion, this is a base that could be used as our guide to setting the Newstart Allowance. 70% of $615 is $430.50 per week, or $861 per fortnight.

But as I said: I don’t think this is a Council matter.

Do you support increased CCTV as a crime deterrent?

Studies are being done on the effectiveness of CCTV footage as a crime deterrent. They show that benefits from installing CCTV can fade over time. The criminal activity may move to other locations – or the types of crime change to ones less susceptible to CCTV surveillance.

This means that CCTV surveillance does little to prevent long term criminal activity. In my view, this is what we need to be looking at. How do we reduce crime in the long term?

As a council we will need to come up with a long term crime prevention strategy and CCTV will be a part of that, because CCTV surveillance does work in some cases. Each situation where CCTV is being considered will need to be assessed and evaluated whether it can be part of an overall crime prevention strategy. CCTV on its own is not enough.

What is your position on social justice issues such as marriage equality, refugees, housing affordability, etc?

Treat others the way you would want to be treated. That’s what this question comes down to for me.

Regardless whether we are rich or poor, young or old, men or women, feeling safe is extremely important for all of us. We can lock ourselves in behind thick walls and closed doors in order to feel safe, or we can live in fear among people we don’t trust… neither is the basis for what I would call a good life.

In order to help create and maintain a community where we don’t feel isolated or live in fear, the most basic precondition is that we show respect and care for one another – and that we do this without judgement of our various cultural backgrounds or sexual orientations.

Marriage equality is currently subject to a federal government survey. During this time we are all able to express our own views.

Refugees are in the federal government domain as well.

The way our world is divided – some say unfairly – in poor and rich countries makes the refugee crisis complex, and how Australia should deal with it has already become an issue that gave birth to new parties such as One Nation and has changed governments in the federal parliament. Discussions about refugee questions have changed the political landscape in parliaments all over the Western world.

Most of us are ready to help when confronted face to face with a person who needs help. If we look back in history, many of us are children or descendants of refugees. In my case, my grandmother on my mother’s side was a refugee from Germany, who was granted asylum in Denmark after the Second World War.

But when authorities or ‘the system’ steps in and uses taxpayer money to help larger groups of people, it somehow becomes a different story. The ‘ready to help’ feeling changes and for some turns into suspicion and fear. Suspicion of being exploited or misused. Fear of strangers and how they will fit in – or refuse to fit in, because of cultural differences.

Unfortunately, we can expect more turmoil and migration in the world because of wars and conflicts caused by draughts, flooding and extreme weather events in the years to come. And with growing pressure, we can expect this topic to become even more politically explosive and divisive than it is today – though, again, not at Council level. This is State and Federal territory.

The situation for a lot of Victorians – including refugees – on housing affordability is a real situation that should be addressed in the realm of State Government. What Council could do, I reckon, would be to provide mechanisms for the entry of various organisations that are able to deliver affordable housing in our city.

What qualities makes someone a good Councillor?

A good Councillor is a person who knows what is going on in the community and who, based on that knowledge, in alignment with Council’s long term policies and strategies, and in collaboration with fellow councillors is able to make the best decisions for the broader community.

To know and understand what is going on requires giving priority and finding the necessary time to hold face-to-face meetings, to be able to listen and not only talk – and what is maybe most important: to ask the right questions.

In a Council of 11 people, it is important to be able to collaborate with others across differences of political stance, party colours and of personal opinions. Sometimes that means being able to accept a compromise, or even to advocate for one.


Public transport

Public transport in Geelong needs a kick in the butt. Why don’t Australians experiment more with the collective transport opportunities? We are still fatiguing with plans for more asphalt for wider roads and more passenger cars, as if we were in the happy 1960s or something. Meanwhile, China builds a train which is four times faster than an airliner. And the Danes are testing self-driving shuttle-busses which circulate in the city with four-minutes intervals, free of charge to enter for citizens and tourists who want to get from A to B within the CBD.

Who wants to sit around and wait for an old, polluting bus that comes every hour and may or may not show up? Who wants to sit in a train that is so crowded that you can’t even find a seat to sit on – and where there is no wifi or even mobile phone connection? Not me, anyway.

Public transport’s got to be more convenient and smart than driving yourself, otherwise it will always remain a fringe activity and a last resort, as it currently is for most people in Geelong. If we can’t achieve that, as a city, we are missing the point.


Heavy vehicles driving through the city

Heavy trucks need to get out of Ryrie Street. We have been saying this for years but nothing is happening! Will you make it happen?
L. & J.

The long-term vision paper for Geelong states on page 18 that in 30 years’ time, we will have a “diversion of road traffic around urban centres”.

In other words, assuming voters elect a group of councillors who will be taking this vision paper seriously, (#Vote1FOrOurFuture), it is not a question whether heavy vehicles should be going through the city or not. Heavy vehicles are to be diverted out on a ring road, going around the city through non-residential zones, as it is done in any modern city around the world.

The only question is when this will happen, and that depends primarily on financing.

Looking 30 years back, it is a pity those councillors who came before us weren’t capable of making proper plans for a bypass road. Since the city keeps growing, the longer we wait it will keep getting more and more expensive to construct such a ring road.

The main streets trucks use to cut through Geelong are VicRoads’ domain. So Council will have to keep advocating and negotiating with VicRoads to get that situation fixed, and yes, should I get elected, this something you can count on that I will be doing. From where I am coming from, it makes very little sense to me that a Council has no influence on what happens in the streets of the city it is supposed to be governing. Actually, I find that rather absurd.

There has been a trial restriction of heavy vehicle movements in Mercer and Malop Streets. VicRoads commissioned an evaluation of the first stage of the project, which is currently underway. So the trial has a second stage, and concerned citizens in the community need to keep a close eye on this – and keep speaking up about this issue.


Safety for cyclists in Geelong

Bicycle Users Geelong asked:
“Rideable, walkable, people friendly streets for this city in Spain. Achieved with parking restrictions, removing on streetparking, shared streets, 30km/hr speeds, redirecting cross town routes and installing a bunch of raised pedestrian crossings… Can our next mayor do this? Mik Aidt Eddy Kontelj”

» Cityschope – 30 August 2017:
How a city in Spain got rid of its cars

The new ‘Clever and Creative Future’ 30-year vision, which was launched last week, states that “the measures of success are that in 30 years, 50 per cent of journeys to work are made by public transport, walking or cycling.”

This will happen when a majority of the community wants it to happen. No mayor or council can force it through if Geelongians aren’t ready for it.

So in Geelong, I think we need to know more in detail what the community thinks about it. Not only asking “Who is for and who is against?”, but “If you consider so and so, what do you think of such and such changes?”

Once we know that, we will also know how much more information, communication and public debate is required before we are able begin the journey of transformation which many of us can’t wait to see happening this city. Personally I can say I think our city is SO ready for this, and I hear many people agreeing with me on this.

Some basic infrastructural safety improvements will have to be rolled out first, so everyone has a chance to experience how it can make a difference. This is already under way, for instance the new ‘Copenhagen-style’ bike path from Belmont to the Waterfront, which is scheduled and financed to be constructed very soon, as far as I understand it.

This is not just some vague dream. Ballarat City Council, for instance, has taken some very positive steps in this direction recently, adopting a new bike plan aimed to get more people on bikes in the regional city between now and 2025.

 And so has Melbourne.

» See: Ballarat boosts bikes

Bike safety first

When Ballarat can do it, surely the fresh new Council in Geelong, which you will be helping getting voted in, can do it too.

According to the new Council vision paper, which surveyed 16,000 Geelongians, “the Greater Geelong community values are sustainable, connected and networked walking, cycling and public transport services that allow all abilities access into and across the city-region.”

The long-term vision paper also states on page 18 that in 30 years time, we will have a “diversion of road traffic around urban centres”, and cycling will have become “a credible and safe on-road commuter option.”


Climate change

We see the signs of emergency in Florida, Texas, California, Bangladesh, Italy… We saw them in Queensland not so long ago. Devastating destruction from hurricanes and flooding, from bush fires and draught.

All the way through an entire century, we have chosen to ignore the warnings from the scientific community that this is what will happen when we continue treating the planet’s atmosphere as it was an open sever.

If there would be anything to be scared of, it would be those cynical people who decided to make this safety threat part of their business model. It is not ‘climate change’, and not ‘nature’, that puts our safety and future at risk. It is human beings. People with names and addresses.

Once we understand this, the good news is that humans have always been quick to respond to a threat. We can act. And that is what is happening already.

With its new Climate Emergency Plan, Darebin City Council shows what responsible leadership in 2017 looks like.

In the introduction to its 84-page plan, Darebin City Council writes:

“Council recognises that we are in a state of climate emergency. Unless we restore a safe climate at emergency speed, there will be dramatic and negative impacts on our community and around the world. In Australia we are already seeing more intense and frequent heatwaves, heavy rainfall and flooding, the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and extreme weather leading to more bushfires.

Around the world, ecological tipping points are being reached. The vast ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland have started to melt, with the potential to raise sea levels enough to flood some major cities and the river deltas where much of the world’s food is grown.

Climate change has the potential to contribute to conflicts and mass migrations, as natural disasters and scarcity of food and water increase. There is therefore an urgent need to take action on climate change to ensure safety for ourselves, our future and all other life on the planet. Darebin Council is committed to taking action to preserve a liveable planet for our children and the generations to follow.”
~ Excerpt from Darebin City Council’s Climate Emergency Plan

Darebin’s new Climate Emergency Plan provides a tangible and action-oriented framework for the entire community – homes, business, organisations or community groups – which the new Geelong Council can look towards, learn from and then launch its own Geelong-version of.

Already, Geelong Council is not far behind, having endorsed the One Planet Living framework with its Zero Carbon principle, and by already having committed to achieving zero carbon emissions for council operations.

» Geelong Council’s Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2017-2020

»

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“It is actually quite simple…”

Whether we want to solve the problem with rising global temperatures because of our air pollution from coal, oil and gas is entirely up to us. Don’t blame your neighbour, it is not going to help. When our oldest son Alex was eight years old, he understood this. As we were walking home from school one day, he told me with clarity and conviction how we will solve the climate crisis. “It is actually quite simple…” he told me. In its essence, his story was about the transformational snowball-effect that optimism and the right attitude can have.

I published Alex’s idea as a little shortstory, entitled ‘The Solution – A Vision for Our City’

Surveys and questionnaires

Geelong Indy

From: Luke Voogt
Date: 4 October 2017 11:00 am
Subject: What is the most important priority for Geelong’s next council?

Good morning candidates. 
As part of our coverage of the upcoming Geelong Council elections we would like to find out what issues candidates think are the most important. Please rate the following issues from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most important priority and 10 being the least. The deadline for response is 9am tomorrow.
      Council services
      Financial management
      Regional development 
      Social issues
      Clever and Creative Vision
      Other (please specify)
Please provide sentence of 25 words or less on why your number-one choice is your priority.
Thank you for your time.

Luke Voogt
Geelong Indy and Geelong Coast Magazine

From: Mik Aidt
Date: 2017-10-04 16:52 GMT+02:00
Subject: Fwd: What is the most important priority for Geelong’s next council?
To: Luke Voogt

Thank you, Luke, for this initiative! Very good!

My list:

Why my number-one choice is my priority:

For our community to prosper with employment and safety, we need the stability that comes from creating consensus around our long-term goals – and from united leadership.

Regional development and jobs, lasting solutions to social issues and crime, and the protection of our environment, including the climate – these are all among our community’s most important issues, but they are not only Council’s concern, they are influenced by state and federal government policies as well as initiatives in NGOs and private enterprise, and they all have an influence on one another. So it doesn’t make any logical sense, I think, to be putting them in some hypothetical prioritised order.

Mik Aidt
Candidate for Brownbill Ward

Bay 93.9 survey

Mik Aidt

How long have you lived in Geelong?
5 years

Journalist, radio host (SBS, The Pulse)

What do you hope to bring to the council in a professional sense?
With integrity, and with the professional skills and tools I have gained as a radio journalist, a director of the Danish Centre for Arts and Interculture, and other jobs, I can help bring Council and the community closer together to work collaboratively to achieve the 30-year vision ‘A Clever and Creative Future’. The prerequisite for creating a city that thrives – where residents are healthy and content, cultural life is vibrant and the environment protected and cared for – is that our leaders in Council are good both at listening and communicating. This is what I have done for a living for over three decades.

What do you hope to bring to the council in a personal sense?
As an independent, Danish immigrant father of three, I represent that quarter of our community born overseas. Our Council should reflect the multitude of opinions, age groups, work sectors and the diversity of cultures and religions in our city and be free of party politics that require you to follow the party-line – even if that means compromising on your own personal convictions and principles. We need to be able to make compromises and reach consensus across the political spectrum of colours.

Your greatest personal attribute:
Known as a ‘bridge-builder’, I have a track-record of successfully bringing people together to work as a team, creating optimism and stability based on honest, approachable, responsible leadership.

Favourite football team:
The Cats

Favourite food:
King prawns and salad at Christmas time

Favourite band/singer:
Peter Gabriel

The three top issues facing Geelong:
• Preparing for a future that will be disrupted by new technologies as well as by changing weather patterns with a population growing by over 6,000 new residents every year.

• Unemployment higher than the national average due to lack of certainty for business.

• Individuals feeling disconnected from our community leading to higher crime rates and levels of drug abuse.

The three top issues facing the ward in which you are standing:
• Careful town planning to create a liveable CBD for people, businesses, arts, and culture.

• Better waste and recycling management in the CBD for businesses as well as for all residents.

• Improved moveability around the city, including bike lanes and walkways, while preparing for new modes of transport such as the driverless taxi and e-bikes.

Are you a member of a political party?

If yes, which party?

Who is funding your campaign?
I am. Around 10 individuals so far have kindly been giving me cash donations. These are listed in full transparency on

What are your plans for preferences?
The political party tradition of putting each other on a preference ranking list is not constructive for the process of creating trust and mutual respect between one another as future local government councillors. In my opinion, the ‘How-to-vote’ cards are a first step towards creating a divide between potential Councillors before we even get into Council. Our joint task today is to form a Council where we can collaborate across our differences, which means I have no plans for preferences. The public should decide which people to vote for and not be influenced by party politics. Geelong should be governed by Geelong.