By – Vish Viswanathan
“The Council is for community and should not be a playground for political parties” – Yelda Chembirika, Independent candidate
“We need a Council that will do everything they can to secure jobs into the future for Blacktown, so less people need to travel hours every day to and from work” – Kittu Randhawa, Independent candidate
Due to the support in the community for similar sentiments, unprecedented number of over 30 independent candidates are participating in the NSW Local Council Elections for Blacktown to be held on 10 September 2016.
Blacktown on the verge of economic development
Blacktown is home to 340,000 people in 2016 with a $14.billion economy. In twenty years, Blacktown population will grow to nearly half a million people, with an estimated economy over $30 billion. It is the second largest local government area in New South Wales with 48 suburbs including new developing suburbs. Blacktown has diverse cultures and young, thriving communities and is a home to people from approximately 180 countries.
Blacktown local government area is separated into five wards with a significant number of Independents contesting. The Liberal Party, Labor Party and Christian Democratic Party are facing a big challenge by the Independents in the council race. The Independents from multicultural backgrounds, are united for a mandate to serve the community with no political interest or alignment. Independents count for more than one-third of the 80 candidates contesting from five wards. A number of Indian origin candidates have taken part in the Blacktown council elections
The Indian Telegraph spoke to a few of the Independent candidates, and chatted with them on two key issues – the current concerns and how will they make a difference, if elected.
KITTU RANDHAWA (Ward 4: Blacktown City Council Independent)
Senior Procurement professional and founder of Indian (subcontinent) Crisis and Support Agency (ICSA)
“I arrived in Blacktown nearly 25 years ago from the UK; I had no idea that Blacktown and Western Sydney had a bleak reputation as Westies. In these last 25 years, the area has grown and prospered, but that tag has not gone away.
Our neighbouring cities like Parramatta and The Hills have managed to detach themselves somewhat from the negativity, but not Blacktown. In recent years I have participated in projects, forums and submissions driving Western Sydney to be more towards the top end of town. Unfortunately, I have rarely seen our Local Council and Councilors engaging or participating in the bigger plans. I feel our council is holding us back.
I know the people of Blacktown are quintessentially Aussie Battlers. Our local community is there to help each other. Our local small businesses are some of the best examples of Aussie built and run by Aussie families, employing Aussie locals. The people who come to Blacktown are surprised at the diversity. I want to see Blacktown as one of the strategic centers for business, economy, and quality of living. I want our Council to drive the values of our community, build our local economy, capitalize on our diversity and be a leader in setting the pace for policy and debate.
I can make a change by taking an active part in decision-making at the Council level in the interests of the residents; I am well equipped to do this as I have worked in Blacktown City Council and therefore am keenly aware of how things can be done better.”
YELDA CHEMBIRIKA – (Ward 1 – Group D) Mortgage Broker
I arrived in Australia from Afganistan with my family 20 years ago as a 14-year-old. I studied English for 6 months in Holroyd Intensive English Centre. The principal’s wise words encouraged me to try my best despite the difficulty in English.
I couldn’t achieve my dream of becoming a doctor as I didn;t get enough marks in HSC due to the language barrier. Being from a war-torn country I was passionate about helping people in need so I decided to become a nurse. I completed Bachelor of Nursing from UTS.. Unfortunately, due to family commitments I had to quit nursing and change my profession finance (mortgage broker). My aim is to help the community in any way possible, Australia is a wonderful country that has given me so much in life so therefore I want to give back to Australia.
If elected my goals are to achieve a Children’s Ward in Blacktown Hospital, introduce Green Bins for households, Dedicated Car Parking Spaces at Schofields, Riverstone & Vineyard Stations, reviewing council rates, improving Hospital Parking (first-hour free parking and capped parking rates), upgrading sporting recreation facilities.
VIVEK SINGHA (Founder FOXG1 Foundation – Ward 4)
“I am contesting the elections to raise awareness towards the cause of my Son Kush who is the first child in Sydney diagnosed with FoxG1. FoxG1 syndrome is caused due to a mutation in the FoxG1 Gene. This is a condition for which there is presently NO cure, but there is hope. The FoxG1 Foundation, in less than a year of formation, has already started research with UNSW towards a cure.
My Son Kush is three years old. He has spent more than 6 months at the Westmead children’s hospital. The Blacktown hospital doesn’t even have a Children’s ward. One thing that we will demand for is a Children’s ward at the Blacktown Hospital.
The rail line passing through Blacktown is a golden opportunity for development waiting to happen, if zoning laws are properly managed Blacktown can be a fantastic business centre. Blacktown can be the next business and tourist hub with great food and shopping strip and businesses in high rise buildings, using the Blacktown and Seven Hills station to come in for work.
I worked in the special economic zone in Noida NEPZ when I was in India and have seen the economic development possible in outskirts of the city. Let’s work for a better Blacktown. Look at Norwest and Parramatta, we want technology business and tourism investment for a better Blacktown.”
With visionary Independents putting up a big fight, it is certain that Blacktown Council will have a new road map after the September 10 elections.
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