Removing barriers between Council and the public

One of the things I expressed my commitment to when I was seeking election to Council, is to improve the perception that Councillors are accountable to the public, interact easily with the public, and welcome public participation at Council meetings.

Immediately after the election, my worthy colleagues and I began a conversation about measures to implement this desire. It was commonly agreed that removing the boundary cordon between the seated Councillors and the public gallery would be a symbolic yet significant gesture, as would dispensing with the security guard, since in the recollection of our Councillors who had been on Council for 17 years, not a single incident requiring security action had ever occurred.

At the council meeting on Tuesday 11th October, a Mayoral minute to this effect was put forward, with myself as a co-sponsor.
Immediately as the proposal passed in the Chamber, I was one of the Councillors reported as rising to physically remove the barrier. 

I am confident that in this Council term, visitors to our public gallery at Council meetings will interact positively with us, and that mutual respect will prevail.


Elected to Hawkesbury River County Council

At the Council meeting held on October 11, 2016 a preferential ballot was held to elect the Council's delegates to the Hawkesbury River County Council. I am pleased to say I was elected as one of Council's two delegates for the four year term.

The County Council operates effectively as a Council body in its own right, and its elected representatives are sent from the Councils in Hawkesbury, Blacktown, Penrith, and the Hills.

The Council's remit is largely concerned with weed management in the waterways of the Hawkesbury Nepean river and its tributaries. I am proud to be one of our community's representatives to this body.


Fitzgerald Aged Care branding launch

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The "Photo-Op". Is there anything more clichéd and typical of the politician's photo album?

You get invited to the opening or commemoration of something in which you can take next to no credit, and you pose, mugging for the camera in the hope that your Mum (or better still, a voter) sees you in the paper/ social media afterwards. I suppose I should resign myself to this early. Sometimes, people are right to be cynical.

But perhaps there's something else going on here. Let's explore.

I attended my first outside function as a Councillor this week when I attended the launch of the revamped branding of the Fitzgerald Aged Care facility. I learned about their plans for ongoing improvements at their premises in Rum Corp Lane in Windsor. Despite having driven past the place all my life, I had never been there, tucked in there as it is behind the Sebel. I was unaware, for example, of the amazingly long history of the organisation out of which Fitzgerald had grown, dating back to the formation of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society at a public meeting in 1818. This society had as its sole object "the support and relief by voluntary contributions of all real objects of charity in the Hawkesbury district" and "for the relief of such poor persons belonging to the district as through age, accident or infirmity (who) are unable to support themselves". It is pleasing to think that a body formed for that purpose two centuries ago is still discharging its duty!

If I had not been invited to that launch, I would not have been spurred to lose an evening diving into Trove and beginning a study of the storied history of the Society from which the present organisation descended. Fascinating.

As I attended the launch, I also heard from the residents, board members and staff of how the culture of Fitzgerald was distinctive for the commitment and kindness shown to its residents, and the friendliness and professionalism shown by the staff. I was particularly pleased to make the re-acquaintance of the Board President Dr Jules Whitty, whom I knew in his days as a surgeon, as he reminded me that as an independent facility, the challenge to remain modern and well resourced  was constant. My new colleague on Council, Clr. Sarah Richards has also been a member of the board on and off for some years and her pride in the work of Fitzgerald was plain.

So there's a better reason why a newbie politician like me should go to photo ops like these. It's not about me. It's about giving some recognition to people and organisations who plug away doing worthy things with less thanks than they deserve. Did you know about this hidden gem in our local community? I didn't, and now I have a better appreciation for it, and for the staff and board who work so tirelessly for its betterment. Worth standing there for a photo.

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