OPINION: Leadership Spills in Canberra and Moss Vale

The Shire's new Mayor, Cr Larry Whipper
The Shire’s new Mayor, Cr Larry Whipper

In a week where all eyes were on Canberra as Malcolm Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott for leadership of the Liberal Party and the nation, Wingecarribee Shire’s leadership also faced a coup.

The Mayor Duncan Gair was turfed out in the annual September circus, meaning we’ve now had three mayors in this term of council. Larry Whipper takes up the mayoral chains and said his priorities will be “to ensure councillors work together towards common goals that will benefit and progress our community.”

Given council’s record of code of conduct complaints this term – the most of any council in the state – it seems unlikely that they will be able to pull together under Cr Whipper’s leadership.

The new Deputy Mayor is Ian Scandrett.

The new mayor added: “Just some of the issues I believe our community wants us to action include improving Council infrastructure and services, investigating green initiatives and exploring greater opportunities for our youth.”

Unfortunately for Wingecarribee, it seems only one of the two leadership coups was legal. The Southern Highland News reports that because council did not give notice of the meeting or publish business papers, it may fall foul of the Local Government Act 1992 (NSW).

Cr Garry Turland certainly thought it did, and refused to take part in the vote. The Office of Local Government has reportedly said it is in contact with Wingecarribee Shire Council.

Meanwhile this week, the state government announced it was placing Hurstville Council into administration because the local government minister “has lost confidence in the council’s ability to conduct itself properly.”

Hurstville Councillors will get a three-month breather while an administrator takes over.

Given the apparent contravention of the Local Government Act and the huge waste of resources invested into code of conduct complaints by Wingecarribee, the ability of a council to conduct it’s business properly seems to be at a rather high threshold.

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Tributes to Alby

Alby Schultz, long time member for Hume
Alby Schultz, long time member for Hume

Politicians across the spectrum have paid tribute to former Hume MP Alby Schultz, who died last month aged 76.

In Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Mr Schultz was “one of the great characters”. Continue reading

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Rowell, Hodgkinson Dumped In Ministerial Reshuffle

The newly re-elected members for Cootamundra and Wollondilly – Katrina Hodgkinson and Jai Rowell – have been dumped from Mike Baird’s new cabinet, reports The Sydney Morning HeraldContinue reading

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What’s in a Home?

By our count, three of six candidates on today’s ballot paper for the electorate of Wollondilly live outside the electorate. Continue reading

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Turland’s Name Change

Voters in the Wingecarribee Shire may soon be asked whether the Shire’s should be changed to Southern Highlands.

At tonight’s meeting, Councillor Garry Turland will move:

THAT Council request the NSW State Government and the Electoral Commission to allow Council to ask/survey the residents of the Wingecarribee Shire to change the
name of the Shire to the Southern Highlands at the State Election in March 2015.

If passed as proposed, the state could give permission for the shire to conduct a plebiscite next March. The vote would be non-binding on council as it is not a referendum.


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Meet Jai Rowell

Jai Rowell gets acquainted with some locals in Bowral
Jai Rowell gets acquainted with some locals in Bowral

The redistribution of the electorate of Wollondilly, finalised last year, represents a homecoming of sorts for incumbent Liberal MP Jai Rowell. Continue reading

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Labor Lines Up for Wollondilly

Ciaran O’Brien, Labor candidate for Wollondilly

Quietly pre-selected five months ago, Labor’s candidate for Wollondilly at March’s state election is finding his feet on the Hustings. Ciaran (pronounced Kieran) O’Brien’s corflutes have started to appear across the electorate and he’s been going along to community events as they come up. Continue reading

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Lay of the Land

Angus Taylor at a wind farm, from the blog StopTheseThings.com.

One year on from the election of the Abbott government and our local MPs are firmly ensconced in their new jobs.

Throsby’s Stephen Jones is now in his second term and rising through the Opposition ranks and is currently Assistant Shadow Minister for Health. Hume MP Angus Taylor, a first-termer replacing retired warhorse Alby Schultz, has taken up the campaign firmly against wind farms and the renewable energy target.

Meanwhile, the region’s state MPs are eyeing off the end-of-year before a sprint to the 2015 March state election.

Liberal Pru Goward will re-contest the seat of Goulburn, which has largely been redistributed away from the Southern Highlands but retains Moss Vale and the southern villages. She will not be challenged by Burrinjuck Nationals MP Katrina Hodgkinson, who will run in Cootamundra instead.

With the redistribution underway, Goward’s office is expected to be relocated to the city of Goulburn in coming months, leaving the Wingecarribee shire bereft of any local MP office for the first time in living memory (well, my living memory – yours might be longer).

At the election, Bowral, Mittagong and the northern villages will come under the seat of Wollondilly, presently occupied by Liberal Jai Rowell, currently Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Health. Rowell’s office is presently located in Tahmoor.

Labor’s candidate in Wollondilly is yet to be publicly announced but there should be some news on that front soon.

Fortunately, our local MPs have so far not raised the ire of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, whose current investigation has claimed more than a few scalps.

Here’s the scorecard for those playing along at home:

Down the hill, Shellharbour MP Anna Watson this week avoided facing a pre-selection challenge after the matter was referred to the ALP head office.

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