Ad­min­is­tra­tor role a pos­i­tive one for Kneipp

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By NA­TALIE HOLMES

IT’S the end of an era for Michael Kneipp, whose role as Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tor came to a close with the in­stal­la­tion of 10 new coun­cil­lors.

In many ways, it’s been a long and chal­leng­ing 16 months for Mr Kneipp (pic­tured in­set), who stepped into the role when the for­mer Welling­ton and Dubbo City coun­cils were forced to merge in May 2016.

“My time as ad­min­is­tra­tor has ended,” he con­firmed a day af­ter Cr Ben Shields took the reins as the amal­ga­mated re­gion’s first Mayor.

“It was cer­tainly ex­cit­ing,” he said of his ex­pe­ri­ence. “It was also a huge learn­ing curve. And a great priv­i­lege to be shap­ing the new Coun­cil.”

Some of the high­lights for Mr Kneipp have in­cluded see­ing the new Coun­cil elected and staff ap­point­ments. And he says many peo­ple have been good to him.

“The five direc­tors and staff, they are a re­mark­able team.

“The Dubbo com­mu­nity has been very fan­tas­tic, both as a col­lec­tive and as in­di­vid­u­als.”

Mr Kneipp has also rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity to work with higher tiers of govern­ment to achieve in­vest­ment in the re­gion.

“I have been very priv­i­leged and it’s been great to have the sup­port of the State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments, the Fed­eral govern­ment in­vest­ing in the air­port and the State govern­ment in the hos­pi­tal and to have the Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice train­ing cen­tre rep­re­sents a huge in­jec­tion of money.

“The big­gest an­nounce­ment has been the XPT Ser­vice Cen­tre. That’s go­ing to be mon­u­men­tal.”

The great­est chal­lenge faced by Mr Kneipp was knit­ting the two com­mu­ni­ties in the face of opposition.

“They were not very happy over the merger. And while the amal­ga­ma­tion was tak­ing place, over­com­ing the re­sis­tance that came from both com­mu­ni­ties was dif­fi­cult,” Mr Kneipp said. “Both com­mu­ni­ties had strong feel­ings to re­main separate – that early hos­til­ity was one of the big­gest challenges.” As a fam­ily man, Mr Kneipp is now look­ing for­ward to spend­ing some more time with his chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. He will also fo­cus on run­ning his busi­ness Bush So­lu­tions, and fit­ting in some bush­walk­ing time on week­ends.

“One of the things I found very de­mand­ing was the amount of read­ing you had to do, and go­ing back to staff to clar­ify. I will now be able to do some more bush­walk­ing. I also have my own corporate train­ing busi­ness, and have a cou­ple of clients. And I will spend a lit­tle bit of time with fam­ily, in­clud­ing my new grand­daugh­ter.”

His ad­vice to the new coun­cil­lors is sim­ple: to keep in mind that they have a $214M bud­get and a huge or­gan­i­sa­tion in their hands.

“They are mak­ing de­ci­sions that in­flu­ence in­vest­ment in de­vel­op­ment. The fo­cus is on em­ploy­ment, and con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment in Dubbo and vil­lages in an eq­ui­table way. The chal­lenge is to make de­ci­sions based on the en­tire Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil. They do have a very big in­flu­ence on the Dubbo econ­omy and tak­ing that into con­sid­er­a­tion.”

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