New member sets council ‘vacation’ date
Newly elected Member for Murray Austin Evans has said he will vacate his position as a Murrumbidgee councillor next month.
As part of Local Government legislation, Mr Evans can only hold his position as both a local councillor and state member for up to two years.
Mr Evans said all councillors were comfortable with his departure date.
‘‘I talked to all the councillors at the end of the recent meeting and put forward the suggestion that I resign straight after the next council meeting in November.
‘‘That triggers the three months the Electoral Commission has to conduct the byelection, and that should mean there will be a new councillor elected by the February meeting.
‘‘I wanted to stand down as soon as possible so the council can continue with its business.
‘‘It will mean they are only one councillor short for one meeting.’’
Mr Evans said the clash of his election of both Murrumbidgee Council and state parliament was simply a case of ‘‘poor timing’’.
The Nationals candidate won last month’s by-election to replace outgoing Nationals’ member Adrian Piccoli.
‘‘If it had happened a month earlier, I wouldn’t have put my hand up for council, and if it had happened a month later I probably would have put my hand up for mayor of Murrumbidgee Council.
‘‘My preference would have been to contest the next state election in 2019.
‘‘It’s a reasonably good outcome given the less than ideal timing.’’
Although the seat of Murray was officially called two weeks ago, Mr Evans told the Southern Riverina News he hasn’t been able to fully settle into his new role as yet.
‘‘You can’t really do anything, such as controlling staff or operating the office,’’ Mr Evans said on Thursday.
‘‘It’s only been a week, but I’m still carrying three phones, including one from the election.’’
Mr Evans said he would still live in Coleambally and that he was looking forward to working with Murrumbidgee Council in his new role.
‘‘I’ll be a Murrumbidgee Council resident, so the decisions they make will affect my family and I.
‘‘I’ve worked closely with the councillors as many of them were on the Local Advisory Committee (following the merger of Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee councils in 2015).
‘‘(Mayor) Ruth McRae and I have always worked together; we have not always agreed but have worked very cordially together.’’
Mr Evans also said his election to parliament would help him focus on the one role.
‘‘The last 16 months I’ve been doing my day job with Coleambally Irrigation and doing the administrator’s job with the new Murrumbidgee Council.
‘‘So it will be good to have just parliamentarian as my role, but I know it will be very busy.’’ ~ James Bennett