Port Macquarie-Hastings has been without elected Councillors for almost 5 years now. With election day not that far away, we catch up with candidate Luke Hadfield about his vision for the future…
Tell us a little about yourself and why you are running for Council.
I was born here in Port Macquarie and have lived in Bonny Hills all my life, recently making the move to Lake Cathie.
In my free time, you can find me bike riding, fishing, catching a movie or out on the streets talking to people. I first discovered my ability for leadership when I was asked to join the Student Council in Year 8, where I was an active member until being selected as Captain for Years 11 and 12. Through these roles, I developed a desire for entering politics.
As a person who is known to be very interested in politics, people would talk to me about certain issues that they come across and after consultation with some close family and friends, I decided that I can be one of those 9 Councillors that people will find easy to talk to and willing to do what has to be done to help and serve this community.
I enjoy the skill of listening to people, and I am always seeking wisdom and guidance from those around me. I believe the best Council is one that is diverse and represents all parts of the community.
What are some of your policies leading into the election?
A few of my policies include building stronger relationships with our local community groups, businesses and neighbouring Councils. Building upon existing promotional campaigns for the Hastings to increase the exposure of our community in an attempt to boost our tourism industry.
One policy that I am very passionate about is to try and increase employment for the youth. I feel that increased employment levels for the youth will contribute to lowering levels of anti-social behaviour and give the local economy a little kick – more youth with money is more money spent in the local area.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of my policy plan, but over the next few weeks I will be hosting information sessions where people can find out more, as well as launching my campaign, when my complete policy plan will be released.
If you could fix just one pressing issue for the Hastings immediately, what would it be?
I would like to see some common sense and realism returned to the Council. Most of the issues I have been looking into could simply be solved by giving it some real thought and practical action, which would lead to positive and win-win results. I know Council is often doing what they think is right but as a concerned resident, I think some changes in this regard are necessary.
What is your overall vision for our area heading towards 2020/2030?
My main overall vision is for the Hastings to have a stronger economic status, with our $95 million debt reduced in a fair, manageable and positive way.
I want to see the roads repaired properly and carefully maintained. I believe that the flow on effect from seeing these two visions become reality will be very beneficial for all the people of the Hastings. They don’t necessarily represent the individual views of each resident, but a happy and healthy economy can offer a lot to the community – more than debt can.
Do you feel any pressure from the community at the possibility of being one of the first publicly elected Councillors in almost 5 years?
There is no doubt that I feel some pressure, but I feel that I am stepping forward for the right reasons and overall, I do have a plan. Some may say that a person of my age lacks the experience, particularly ‘business experience’ as a required key or asset to be a good Councilor.
I think most people would agree that that particular asset didn’t work out too well for the last Council. Importantly, it’s not my goal to elect ‘Team Luke’, but to elect a group of capable people who know how to connect with each other and build relationships with our community at large.
As an 18 year old candidate, do you view life experience as a key attribute for candidates to have?
This has been put to me by a few people in the community recently and while I think life experience is important and has its benefits, I don’t think it is the key to a good Council. I want to remind everybody that it is a Council that is being elected, not the Prime Minister, and I think it is important that Council has a large diverse group that will represent the diversity in the area.
I often think, where is our Council now? Where did their years of experience take them? Life experience or not, anybody can still make big mistakes. In life it is unavoidable, and it is not up to us to be solo leaders; we are a team whose task is to listen to the people. One of the huge challenges for youth today is that no one is willing to take them on and give them a go. It is not age that gives someone wisdom and experience; it is the experiences they live and encounter day to day. Many elderly people have had experiences that I will not be able to comprehend right now, but in my few 18 years I have done some pretty amazing things also.
What would you say to people considering putting their hand up to run?
I would say stand up and have a go. The people in this community deserve a large range of candidates, and I think there are lots of people out there who have a lot to offer this community if they choose to. I also think it is important that they start getting out and about now, so the community has a chance to really get to know them.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I think one thing would be that as a young contender, I have more ability than the community may assume I have, and I am so ready to build on that ability – which is fuelled by a desire to make our home area greater.
Mob: 0408 461 038
Facebook: ‘Luke Hadfield for Port Macquarie Hastings Council’.
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This story was published in issue 78 of Port Macquarie Focus