Local government plays a huge role in protecting and preserving the environment, and The City of Onkaparinga has a strong tradition of introducing positive measures and initiatives based on environmental and sustainability issues.
For that reason, a number of local environmental and community groups have contacted all the candidates standing for Mayor of Onkaparinga City, as well as those standing in the Southern Vales and South Coast Wards, to offer them the opportunity to introduce themselves to our collective membership, and to let us know where they stand on a number of key environmental issues in the City of Onkaparinga.
Each candidate was given the same ten questions to answer. Here are the responses of Joshua Reiter, Candidate for South Coast Ward.
- Where do you live? What attracted you to where you live?
I’ve lived in Aldinga Beach for about 10 years. I wanted to move here when I was a teenager after visiting the Eco Village on a school trip. Having the hills, vineyards and ocean close together, access to both the city (for work and studying) and the Southern Fleurieu were all part of what made this place I wanted to move to and start a family in.
- What’s your political background?
I am proud to have a history of collaborating with politicians from various parties to secure funding for local projects as well as to address issues including Juvenile Diabetes and Domestic Violence. In high school, my English Teacher was a previous State Liberal MP, but he ironically encouraged me to join the Labor Party, which I did. My values of supporting those who need help initially drew me to the party, which has many like-minded members. While in the Labor Party, I worked for a then Premier and before that the then Health Minister. I learnt a lot from my time in the Labor Party.
I left the Labor Party as I felt I could contribute to the community, focused on outcomes instead of focusing on serving political masters. I have since supported a range of candidates based on the individual policies and personalities of the candidates.
- To which community groups or associations do you belong?
I’m currently the President of the Aldinga Bay Residents Association, Secretary of Tribe FM (Local Community Radio station) and a Board Member of the Willunga Recreation Park. I’ve also been involved in many other local groups including the Southern Community Forum and the Aldinga Sellicks Alliance.
- If elected, what will be your priorities?
Some of my key priorities are:
Putting aside land for the needs of our community, primarily for an Aquatics Centre and Diamond Field in the Aldinga area.
Reducing the costs and administrative burden for community groups, sports clubs and local businesses.
Ensuring proper engagement with the community, (including first nations groups and younger community members) which isn’t focused on one method of communication. I’d like to restore the council being ‘out’ in the community, through regular community meetings in each of the wards, and by continuing to be visible and approachable in the community (if I’m elected).
Proper and thorough consideration of council on promotion and corporate spending
Safer walking and riding options between communities
- What are your policies regarding the environment and biodiversity?
The council need to engage with communities, partnering together to facilitate the planting of native trees (not just species that are appealing to drive past), use our verges better (i.e. edible verges!) and provide more support for the creation and maintenance of community gardens.
- Do you think the City of Onkaparinga should re-visit declaring a Climate Emergency?
No, we need result drive policy on restoring our environment and making sure that future generations can enjoy living in our area, free from drastic weather events. Our community is sick of all talk and little to no action on this issue!
- How can Council accelerate decarbonisation within the community?
Plant more native trees, not just trees that aren’t appropriate for the area and will die or need to be removed in a year or two, this could also be happening on “surplus” land (instead of selling it off).
The council should also make it easier for community groups and residents to work together on projects including solar installations and energy-efficient measures. The current grants on offer aren’t easy for groups to use. Encouraging residents to walk and cycle more as well as taking up electric vehicles where possible will also go a long way to ensuring we are doing our bit.
- How would you make Onkaparinga a better place to live with less resource consumption?
Council needs to work more closely with Government and Developers to ensure that we are making our area the ideal area to live in. With leaders willing to think outside the box, we can be known for world-leading communities which are focused on caring for our environment. Council can also provide more incentives for communities to share resources instead of wasting them through duplication. Local groups and communities are well placed to lead projects on sharing, building better and reducing waste but the council needs to do more to support them.
- How would you aim to influence Elected Members to be effective decision-makers?
We need to be able to put aside personal differences, listen to all points of view and then make decisions based on a range of facts. I’ve made sure to not get involved in favouring other candidates in this election or making alliances so that I can say to the community “I will work with whoever is elected to get the best outcomes.” I have a proud history of actually going to the council to speak up on an issue and gaining support from them on a range of issues, I’ll seek to continue this after the election regardless of if I am elected in this election.
- Do you have ideas for championing improvements in energy efficiency and lower resource footprints of new and retrofit development, both domestic and commercial?
If I am elected to the council, I will bring experts, community groups and local businesses together to take action focused on fixing our current issues and future plans for our area. I believe it is the role of Council to facilitate these discussions, and not claim to have all the answers themselves. I have a track record of building community alliances to find solutions to problems and I already have established connections in the community with environment and local business groups.