New council ready to work
DOUGLAS has voted and the new Douglas Shire Council will be represented by Julia Leu as mayor and councillors Abigail Noli, David Carey, Bruce Clark and Terry Melchert.
While the vote officially continues until next Tuesday, more than 80 per cent of the roll has been counted and it appears these women and men are the five who will represent Douglas from next year.
With a composition of new faces and old, almost 90 years of experience in local government between them and fresh blood with new ideas to represent the region, the Douglas Shire seems to be in good hands.
All of the elected councillors and mayor expressed their gratitude to all those who voted for them and all said they felt ‘‘honoured and privileged’’, including elected mayor Julia Leu, who was thrilled to be elected the first mayor of a new council and the first female mayor in the history of Douglas.
‘‘Congratulations to Abigail, David, Bruce and Terry and I also want to pay tribute to all the candidates, including those who were unsuccessful. It is not an easy thing for people to put themselves up for the consideration and scrutiny that an election campaign demands,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m very much looking forward to the future where we have an opportunity to create or establish a modern inclusive council, with enthusiastic and committed staff.
‘‘In the next few weeks the actual financial position of the new council will be clearer and my absolute first priority will be the consideration and adoption of a financially responsible budget for the first six months of 2014 – under the existing de-amalgamation legislation this has to be adopted by January 31.’’
New to the work of councils is Abigail Noli, who received the highest invidividual vote for council.
‘‘It’s a very nice feeling to know people believe in me and I will bring a different way of thinking because I haven’t worked in a council before,’’ Ms Noli said.
‘‘I have a new way of thinking, a younger way and I have a lot of life experience and I listen to everyone’s opinions so when I make a decision hopefully it will be the decision of the people.’’
As a former Douglas Shire Council CEO, David Carey hopes to bring all of his experience and skills to his new position.
‘‘I am willing to work for the best interests of the community,’’ Mr Carey said.
‘‘Finance is going to be the first priority, I am looking forward to seeing the draft budget for the first six months, and obviously the issue of staff numbers is a priority and one that needs to be dealt with in a sensitive manner.’’
First-timer Bruce Clarke said his priorities are also about the budget and getting the Shire’s finances on the right track.
‘‘I hope I can make a difference to the new Douglas Shire and will be supporting anything council decides to do as a whole,’’ he said.
‘‘In this first stage I want to make sure ongoing works are not affected and we don’t have to do any cutbacks. My main priority after that is to the aged care facility.
‘‘Even though it’s not a council issue, more the government’s, I will be working with Marj Norris and can lobby the government on her behalf. Also the botanical garden is big on my list.’’
The biggest drawcard will be Terry Melchert’s ambition to stop any rate increase when the new Douglas Shire comes into power on January 1.
‘‘I will support no rate increase, to give ratepayers and businesses a chance to catch their breath in an economic sense,’’ he said.
‘‘I feel really humbled and privileged to serve the community for a new and different Douglas Shire Council and bring a long-term understanding of local government.’’
Induction, briefings and workshops will be arranged for all councillors in the next few weeks, to be prepared as much as possible for the council start date in the New Year.
NEW SHIRE: Terry Melchert, Abigail Noli, Julia Leu, David Carey and Bruce Clarke