1. Sound Financial and Asset Management.

We are fortunate that our five constituent councils have generally run a pretty good show financially. The financial challenges within some of our councils are fairly well known and we have to face up to them sooner rather than later.

I know that debt levels amongst the councils have climbed significantly in the last few years.

I believe this debt is justified so long as it is targeted at fixing our current core infrastructure. However where this money has been spent on building even more infrastructure it compounds existing financial strain with additional recurrent operational and maintenance costs.

My program for the financial future of the region is based on ensuring that existing infrastructure is sustainable so that we can build capacity and not just plug leaky holes. I see the airport, which has severe substructural and drainage faults, as one asset that needs work and already generates good revenue streams for the Council.

Our ability to manage the finances and assets of the region depends on sensible management and entrepreneurial solutions rather than necessarily cutting services or selling assets. I do not support selling the Roma Saleyards for example as a strategy to find the necessary funding to upgrade the airport as has been suggested by some. We need to retain our successful business units and the suggestion of selling a rural asset to upgrade an urban one does not sit comfortably with me.

Rob Loughnan and his boys at the saleyards