Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Local Council Elections: New South Wales
This Saturday most residents of New South Wales will be heading to the polling booths for our local government elections. As always, they are hard fought—occasionally civil, occasionally not—and bring a passion to local communities that are typical of local government. I myself had the great privilege of serving for two terms on North Sydney Council. It was a privilege because it was a level of government that involves working, perhaps, closest with residents on issues that affect them extraordinarily directly.
Today I don't want to comment on what will happen on Saturday, but I do want to talk about some of the councillors who have decided not to recontest at the elections. On behalf of my entire community, I want to thank them for their service, because—and many people don't realise this—councillors are effectively volunteers. They get a very tiny stipend for their service.
I want to start with the two mayors in my electorate who are retiring from office. I want to start with the mayor of Willoughby City Council, Gail Giles-Gidney, who has done an exemplary job as the mayor of such an important area of our city. I've worked with Gail during my time as the federal member, and it has been a pleasure doing so. She has brought a real and genuine commitment to Willoughby and to one of the most diverse council areas in our community, and I see that in the practical achievements that the council has been able to deliver under her leadership. I also want to acknowledge the outgoing mayor of Lane Cove Council, Pam Palmer. Pam and I have also worked together on many projects that benefit our local community. I'm thinking particularly of things like the Lane Cove swimming pool, which was at risk of falling into the oval below it. We secured federal funds to support council to rebuild that and for many other projects for the local community. Pam and I have spent the last three months with a regular date on Fridays doing Zoom citizenship ceremonies, and I've seen the warmth and genuine commitment that she brings to those tasks and when working with residents. To Pam: thank you for your service to Lane Cove.
There are, of course, many councillors that have decided not to recontest. Unfortunately I don't have time to mention all of them, but I will mention a couple I know extremely well: Tony Mustaca; Judith Rutherford, who has provided an incredible service on Willoughby City Council for over 20 years; and Christine Tuon, who was, I think, the first person of Taiwanese heritage on Willoughby City Council. In North Sydney, the deputy mayor, Kathy Brodie, is not standing again. At the other end of the spectrum, I think probably their youngest councillor ever, Sam Gunning, is retiring as well. In Lane Cove, I want to mention Karola Brent, who I know well, particularly through her incredible support for the local arts community. They have been fine representatives. Some have been Liberals; some have not. But I do know that they've been genuinely committed to working for residents and our community, and for that I say thank you. I wish you all the best in your next endeavours—as long as you're not standing for federal parliament!