• Tony Bosworth

Group Focus - Hawkesbury Alliance – no place for big parties, protect Hawkesbury, work for community

This group of independents - Group I on the ticket - is led by well-known local, and current Hawkesbury councillor, Pete Reynolds, a man known for telling it as it is.

He’s a local bloke - born, raised and schooled in the Hawkesbury - and his family have been here for seven generations, so he knows his way around.

He’s also been a Hawkesbury small business owner all his working life and is highly respected in the music industry for his audio amplification designs.

As a hobby, and a former member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, he has built and modified engines that have won state and national championships - setting a lap record for himself along the way.

So he’s been busy but locally, he is probably most well-known for his relentless activism to protect Hawkesbury’s heritage and for the past five years as a fiercely independent councillor on Hawkesbury City Council.

The Hawkesbury Alliance team - L-R: Phil Dunesky, Darren Wurth, Pete Reynolds, Tiffany Morrison, Colleen Turnbull, Kirsten Radunz

He says he’s committed to ensuring community involvement and transparency in Council decision-making, protection and promotion of Hawkesbury’s rural character and heritage, strategic place-based development and sound evidence-based solutions for the Hawkesbury community into the future.

“It should never be about short-term profits for hit-and-run major party donors and developers."

In this last extended five-year council term, as Chair of the Traffic Committee he helped put in place a Hawkesbury-wide, industry standard traffic study to properly inform planning decisions and provide hard, independent data that in part has seen the government commit to another river crossing at North Richmond.

During his council, term Cllr Reynolds has also been a member of the Heritage Advisory, Floodplain Risk Management, and Infrastructure committees, and a member of the Companion Animal Shelter and Enhancing the Arts working groups.

He is joined on the Hawkesbury Alliance ticket by Darren Wurth, Colleen Turnbull, Phil Dunesky, Tiffany Morrison and Kirsten Radunz.

He says his team share the belief that major parties have no place in local government, that council should operate in the best interests of the community, and that Hawkesbury’s rural atmosphere and heritage should be protected.

Here are the group’s answers to our questions:

Could you outline why you, or your group are running for council?

"To represent the interests of the Hawkesbury people. “My tribe”, says Cllr Reynolds.

What are your priorities?

“Making sure the local community has a strong voice in Council. That what we love about the Hawkesbury – its rural character, rich agricultural lands, rare heritage - is valued, protected, enhanced, and not lost by sacrificing it to the government's mates like miners and ‘hit and run’ developers.”

What specific attributes and experience do you and your candidates offer?

"I have been a councillor for the past five years and have demonstrated my commitment by standing up and putting my community first. Even if it means being arrested!" [The councillor was arrested by police because he wouldn’t leave the old Windsor Bridge during a protest against its demolition. He appeared in court, where the magistrate ordered no conviction be recorded].

Cllr Reynolds on old Windsor Bridge not long before he was arrested for entering 'inclosed lands'. In court no conviction was recorded

Are you or your candidates acting free from external influences or party direction?

In characteristic Pete Reynolds no-nonsense form, he says,

“Bloody oath. I firmly believe that party politics and their agendas have no place on local council."

“I stand firm and do not take direction from any party, something which I have clearly demonstrated during this last term of council. The community must always come first.”

Have you, or any of your candidates, ever been a member of a political party?

“Yes. In 2018, I was asked by Labor to run against Dominic Perrottet in the 2019 State election. Of course, I said, yes.

“I was extremely disappointed by Mr Perrottet and wanted a crack at him, believing that major party backing would assist in banishing Dom from the Hawkesbury.”

“So I joined the ALP, making an agreement endorsed by the local branch that I would remain a fully independent councillor and vote accordingly.

“Unfortunately, there were some within the [Labor] Party who tried to leverage the situation and force me to vote for a Labor mayor, which I believed was against the best interests of the community. I believe we should always have a truly independent mayor.

“I stood my ground, was hauled over the coals and put on a charge for not voting for a Labor mayor. Ultimately I resigned my membership of the party rather than betray my commitment and pledge to our community. Again, the people always come first.

“It was a life lesson and proof that major parties on council and the best interests of the community do not mix!”

Where will your preferences flow at the election?

"I’ll be preferencing independents and minor parties who put the community first and who I know will work hard in the interests of the Hawkesbury.”

What is your vision for the future of the Hawkesbury?

“We need a Council who understands and appreciates that our people love the Hawkesbury for its rural character, it’s beautiful agricultural and rural lands, its rare heritage"

"A Council that puts the community ahead of developer and major party interests and who will stand firm against a government who wants otherwise.”

“While developer donations are illegal in NSW, they are not illegal at a Federal level. ICAC has shown developers are making donations to entities associated with federal parties, who effectively launder it, then palm it out to the states.

“Large political party councillors have to put their party first - because if it wasn’t for their party they wouldn’t be councillors.”

Will you commit to organising at least two public forums open to all residents of the Hawkesbury each year to report on local matters, and seek local views?

“I very strongly believe that Council needs to be accountable to the community and that the decisions it makes on behalf of the Hawkesbury people need to be fully transparent. Full and frank discussion with the people we represent is essential. So, yes!”

In what ways will you ensure the implementation of Hawkesbury Council’s Net Zero Strategy that was adopted this year?

“It’s not really rocket science anymore - despite what the federal government may say. The technology to achieve Net Zero Strategies is readily available and being put to use by other councils right now.

“The big issue will be overcoming the inertia created by those on council with big party agendas or with other political motives - such as we saw in this term when the installation of free electric vehicle chargers was rejected.”

What do you see as being the biggest land conflict issue that will affect the Hawkesbury in the next 10 years, and what will you do about it?

“Over development and sand mining on our agricultural lands.

"Fight the NSW government who make it all possible against the wishes of the Hawkesbury people. The government policies must change despite pressure from their developer mates.”

What do you see as being the biggest challenge facing the Hawkesbury in the next 10 years, and what will you do about it?

“The encroachment of Sydney’s development onto our floodplains, increasing overland flooding, putting more people and property at risk. Natural disasters are on the increase all around the world, increasing flooding and endangering people is madness. Stand up for the community and advocate against unsustainable developer-driven planning.

Richmond Bridge Duplication: Which route do you support, and why?

“The basis for their decision is dodgy and it reeks.

“First off it’s important to remember at the 2016 council election the government/Liberal position was that the proposed Navua Grose River bridge would alleviate the Northo traffic issues.

“It’s one of the triumphs of the last Council term to get them to admit another main road bridge was needed and to commit to building it.

“But where to build it has turned into Windsor Bridge Mk2 with all its deception and duplicity.

“TfNSW documents obtained by the community by GIPA (freedom of information) prove the initial TFNSW preferred option was the Purple Route. The same documents prove TfNSW was told by the government to “work up” the green route instead.

We know this occurred after the government/TfNSW consulted with the new owners of Hambledon Park on Terrace Road, which the owners openly admit they want to develop.

We know the Purple Route was made unpalatable by TfNSW by drawing it going straight through the Redbank estate, outraging residents there, when it doesn’t have to, and by the total failure of TfNSW to consult with the hundreds of residents impacted by the government’s Green Route on both sides of the river.

“In between all this TfNSW actually proposed a hybrid option with a new bridge just downstream from the existing bridge and then follow the existing corridor through North Richmond. This would cost a lot less and perhaps the money saved could go towards an elevated flood evacuation route like the Jim Anderson Bridge in Windsor.

“The government needs to come clean and explain why they told TfNSW to “work up” the green route. If it’s because in the future there will be thousands of extra vehicles coming down Terrace Rd from Hambledon Park they should be honest and tell us.

“And they should tell us why we can’t have a proper high-level flood evacuation road and bridge to the south, which goes around Redbank and uses existing road corridors to minimise property acquisition. After all it is what TfNSW preferred in the first place!

Warragamba Dam: Do you support raising the dam wall – or not - and what are your reasons?

“No. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is flawed as other options have not been considered in detail, such as increasing desalination output and lowering the level of the dam as it is. This provides flood mitigation and gives us a drought proof water supply.

“For the first time I can remember I am in complete agreement with Dominic Perrottet, we must consider all other options properly.”

If you haven't already voted by pre-poll in the Hawkesbury Council election, the full poll opens this Saturday

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