We last spoke to Dr Fred Lips as the Australian Labor Party Candidate in the last Federal Election. This time Fred is part of the Country Labor team and running for Councillor.
Tell us a little about yourself and why you are running for a Councillor position.
I have lived in the Port Macquarie area for the last 23 years and now live in the Camden Haven. I work in the health care sector as an anaesthetist and pain specialist.
I raised a young family here, but now my wife, Pam, and I are raising a young macadamia orchard in Herons Creek, in my spare time between my professional work, tennis, golf and various aviation pursuits.
I am running for Councillor as a member of the Country Labor Team, because I care about my community in that everyone should have a fair share of the resources that Council can bring.
What are some of your policies leading into the next election?
As Councillor, I will represent the interest of all residents of the Port Macquarie-Hastings area, but would also like to be a local champion for the Camden Haven.
There, I would like to see the reopening of the Kew Visitor Information Centre and the planned beautification of Kew become a reality. Kew will become the gateway for the Mid North Coast, and we should encourage travellers to stop by and learn what amenities can be enjoyed in the whole region, not just in the Camden Haven.
As a past President of Port Saints Soccer Club, I know how important structured sporting activities are to our community – especially for our juniors. There is a shortage of sporting fields and courts, which I want to address as a Councillor. I will work with club executives to make their job easier in gaining access to better facilities for their clubs.
I will look to solutions for the early retirement of the debt incurred from the building of the Glasshouse. I will also work with the supporters of the Glasshouse to maximise the value of this cultural and artistic centre of Port Macquarie, thereby reducing its cost to ratepayers.
Last, but arguably first in importance, is to find better solutions to build and maintain our road and ageing infrastructure.
If you could fix one pressing issue immediately, what would it be?
The retirement of the debt incurred from building the Glasshouse and running it profitably. This will free up valuable funds that the Council can direct elsewhere, including the implementation of policies I have mentioned above.
What is your overall vision for our area heading towards 2020/2030?
Managed growth and development of our community, while preserving the natural environment, which I believe is the chief drawcard for tourists and future residents.
A large part of our community is in retirement, and we need to ensure their easy access to healthcare and mobility – which will require better footpaths and cycleways for their scooters.
For the others who make up our community, they need optimal health, educational and employment opportunities. I will work with Council to lobby the State and Federal Governments to contribute their fair share of resources to make this happen.
Do you feel any pressure from the community being the first publicly elected Councillors in almost 6 years?
Not really. The fact that there are no incumbents leaves an open field, and the electorate can have a fresh look at each candidate on their merits. There was some controversy initially over whether candidates should have affiliations with political parties.
I think now the debate has moved on to the fact that candidates contesting the Council elections should be transparent about their political ties. I am proud to be a Country Labor candidate, as it is the Labor values of fairness and a vision of the future that will inform my decision making and conduct in Council if elected.
What’s something our readers don’t know about you?
I flew a glider across Australia with the Leyland Brothers many years ago. The skill of making judgments incorporating situational awareness to keep oneself safe when gliding I find useful in most things I do.