DouglasNews.Network has contacted each of the eight candidates for the Cook electorate, to obtain a deeper insight into their values, interests, and their priorities for the Douglas Shire and broader electorate. Deby Ruddell, candidate for the Greens, chatted with us first, and was not able to attend yesterday’s Douglas Shire Ratepayers Association forum, so we’ll kick off with an introduction to Deby today.
Deby grew up in the Aussie suburbs, and describes herself like Lisa Simpson, “a bit of a hippie square”. Her first job was working in the snack bar at the footy, which inspired her to work in hospitality. Taking a step back, she realised that people can be downright rude, so she decided to get a factory job instead. In her new job, Deby was elected as a health and safety representative and soon promoted to safety and environmental officer. She went on to gain her Diploma of Health and Safety. With a tertiary qualification behind her, many different opportunities arose, leading to her professional work experience in government, construction and now sugar milling. Deby moved to the Douglas Shire six years ago and describes herself as in awe, every day, as to how beautiful our region is.
What inspired you to join the political world?
I was always a swing voter, depending on who was leading the party. When Labor and Liberal kept in-fighting and changing leaders I got extremely frustrated at the waste of resources, focus being taken away from real issues, and now someone was in charge I didn’t vote for. It seemed they didn’t care about those who voted them in and just wanted to fight among themselves. I heard Richard Di Natale (former Greens Senator) on the radio saying that “instead of being frustrated, do something, join a political party, I don’t care which party. Do your research, find a party that aligns with your values and get involved in the political system. That is the only way you can make a change.”
So that’s what I did.
What are your three top priorities for the Cook electorate?
1. tackle rising unemployment, particularly youth unemployment,
2. address our inadequate services, such as power supply,
3. stop the rising cost of education and health care.
What are your top three priorities for the Douglas Shire?
1. provide more employment opportunities,
2. reduce the cost of electricity for end-users and increase our renewable energy production,
3. improve services for our youth, no school fees, free school meals and free sport club membership, including rugby, AFL, gymnastics and dancing.
What do you see as the biggest issue facing the Douglas Shire for 2021?
What are you most excited about for our region in 2021?
Working with the local community, businesses and Council to make a future for all of us.
How will you specifically support tourism to get back on track?
To promote our wonderful region to New Zealand and those Australian states that can travel here.
What are your views on development in the Daintree?
I believe the reason the bridge is being considered is due to the lack of traffic management.
There is only a queue for a few months of the year, at mid morning, on the south side, and afternoon, on the north side. This is due to there being no way for a tourist to book their trip in advance and people arriving at similar times. If there was a pre-booking for all tourists, the traffic management problem could be addressed with limited numbers of tourists each hour.
The Daintree is unique place that we as residents have the responsibility to protect and limit impacts that large numbers of people will cause.
And to introduce microgrid power?
We need to address the large diesel generators that are being used to power businesses in Cow Bay and Cape Tribulation, therefore a microgrid makes sense in these high density areas.
However, for the residential properties from Forest Creek to Cape Tribulation that are not in close proximity to these high density areas, solar and battery rebates are a better options than tearing up the rainforest to lay power cables.
Are there any other specific Daintree related issues that are on your political agenda?
Weeds management needs more resourcing, increasing our ranger numbers, and giving our wonderful medical centre in Cow Bay major renovation or building replacement, and getting it connected to a microgrid.
What does your professional experience in workplace health safety environment and human resources bring to your new political career?
Researching issues, planning improvements, budgeting the project, consulting with those who will be affected and implementing action is what I do every day to reduce risks and improve conditions for people and the environment.
When you have a snippet of it, how do you enjoy your down time?
Long breakfasts, potting around the garden, walking along the beach and picking up rubbish, and spending time with family and friends.
What is your favourite place to escape to within the region?
Cape Kimberley beach, walking to the mouth of the Daintree River.
What is your personal mantra?
May all beings be happy.
Who is your personal hero or heroine?
My mum. She worked one full time job and four casual jobs while I was growing up to give my brother and I, a better childhood than she did. She has relentless energy and strength, and is always taking joy from life. Even in her seventies she isn’t slowing down, and is completing a Certificate IV in Horticulture.
Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers today Deby?
Don’t vote for the candidate, do your research, look at each party’s webpage and decide your vote from there.