Lea Taylor at the 2016 Rockhampton Regional Council Mayoral Debate held at the Pilbeam Theatre. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Lea Taylor at the 2016 Rockhampton Regional Council Mayoral Debate held at the Pilbeam Theatre. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

VIDEO: Mayoral candidates have debt, money on their minds

A TROPICAL paradise, free public transport and a food bowl.

They sound like the foundation of the ultimate city but they were only some of the ideas Rockhampton's six mayoral candidates put forward at the Mayoral Debate on the weekend

But bold aspirations aside, money was on everybody's mind with council debt levels, and tackling them, both hot topics.

Candidate Lea Taylor threw around figures ranging from $171million to $200million but was unable to settle on exactly how much in the red he would be if elected on March 19.

"If you give me the chance to get in there, at that stage I will know what the debt is," Mr Taylor.

"At this stage I'm not really sure but I will tell you we must start a process of proper debt reduction.

"Unless we start it and are fair dinkum about it, we will never get on with it, the journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step."

Mr Taylor said the key to taking the first step in council debt reduction was to broaden the rate base and not to increase rates.

"It is getting to the stage where people in the region can't afford to pay their rates.

"At the end of the day we need to make sure people can afford to live here.

"Debt is a very unsavoury situation for this region."

Lea Taylor: Lea Taylor gives his opening candidate address at the Rockhampton Mayoral Debate at the Pilbeam Theatre.
Lea Taylor: Lea Taylor gives his opening candidate address at the Rockhampton Mayoral Debate at the Pilbeam Theatre.

Mayor Margaret Strelow said council was actively paying off debt which had "blown out to an appalling amount" post amalgamation.

"The debt is genuinely on the way down," she said.

"Our day to day money coming in and money going out, there is some left over that's how we are paying the debt down."

Mayoral Debate - Margaret Strelow: Mayoral Debate opening address by Margaret Strelow.
Mayoral Debate - Margaret Strelow: Mayoral Debate opening address by Margaret Strelow.

Michael McMillan said Rockhampton Regional Council needed to take leadership in regard to job creation and economic reform.

He said potential export markets held the key to expanding and exporting the central Queensland economy.

"I think what we need to look at now is every resource available to us as we move forward with a very strong export driven market agenda," he said.

"What this will require is using all resources, whether that be from Capricorn Enterprise or from internal council resources but also State and Federal government authorities.

"What we need to do is start from scratch and start looking at what industry sectors we have in our backyard that we can look to promote directly offshore."

Michael McMillan: Mayoral Debate opening address by Michael McMillan
Michael McMillan: Mayoral Debate opening address by Michael McMillan