Mayor Shields’ speech, part 5
can rest assured I will do my absolute best, within my legal responsibilities, to either fix or at least reduce the burden of this radical new bin system.
22. Democratic Review Committee
In further regard to my disappointment on the direction of Council under the long administration period, I will soon be moving for the creation of a Democratic Review Committee. The fact remains that both Wellington and Dubbo have had democratic scrutiny and representation for at least 160 years – unbroken until recently.
I believe the 17 months of unelected rule is by any measure a scandal that will be rightfully judged harshly in the history books about our region.
We owe it to our community to establish a committee that over time goes through the agendas, reports and minutes of all decisions made by the Administrator.
This committee is not in any way a reflection personally on the former Administrator. It’s a policy review. That’s not to say we should overturn every decision he made. It is simply a mechanism for democratically-elected Councillors to make sure the policies, procedures and decisions made are in the best interest of the community.
23. State and Federal Members
The first task for me (as Mayor) is to arrange a meeting with Troy Grant. Mr Grant has been very successful in getting a number of financial grants to our region. In order for this Council to continue to secure the right grants and direct the grant funding to the most needed areas, I intend on having a very close working relationship with Mr Grant.
Alongside arranging a meeting with Mr Grant, it is also just as important to meet our Federal members, Mark Coulton and Andrew Gee. Mr Coulton’s electorate covers Dubbo and Mr Gee’s electorate covers Wellington. A working relationship with the Federal Government will be vital to the continuing success of the Council.
We are very lucky in this area of NSW where the three men who represent us in the State and Federal parliament share Council’s view of continued sustainable growth while pushing for our region’s fair share of investment.
Councillors, we have a huge job ahead of us. The community is depending on us. The only way we will be successful is for us to have open communication with one another and to work as a solid, united team. The next three years will be extremely challenging. So my commitment now as the Mayor is to always be open, honest, respectful and accessible to all Councillors.
In closing, again, I would sincerely like to thank my friends and family, particularly my mum, dad and partner for their ongoing support.
I would lastly like to thank the people of Dubbo for their trust. They elected me as a teenager and I have in some ways grown up in their eyes. Like all people, I have made mistakes, but this community has kept electing me and putting their trust in me and I am grateful for it. I know there is a range of opinions about me in this city and can I say the last two weeks have well and truly brought that home.
Sometimes when I meet people in Dubbo for the first time, they tell me I am not quite what they expected. It was the great Nelson Mandela who said, ‘There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered’. Well, I have never left Dubbo, but I sure am not the same person I was when I attended my first Council meeting the night before my HSC.
Over the next two years, I intend to grow even more as a person through serving this community as Mayor. This position that I have been elected to is something I am going to live and breathe. I will perform the role full-time and I am sincere when I say that as Mayor my position will be to serve everyone in our region – no matter what political persuasion they may be and no matter what they think of me.
It is my sincere hope that in this role as the first Mayor of the Dubbo region, I can help create a united Council driven on goodwill, growth and consensus.
Mayor of Dubbo Regional Council, Ben Shields.