The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Haswell elected first-time mayor


Rob Haswell will lead Northern Grampians Shire Council as mayor into the 2024 elections.

Cr Haswell was elected to the top job at a statutory meeting in Stawell on Monday night for a mayoral term just shy of 12 months, due to local government elections scheduled in October 2024. Cr Karen Hyslop also contested the role. Cr Haswell, of the Stawell Ward, was first elected to the council in 2016.

Originally of Sydney, he has a background in interior design and is the owner-manager of a heritage accommodat­ion business in Stawell and online furniture business.

“I’ve been very much mindful of my community from the word go,” he told the meeting.

“I believe I will make a good mayor. I will be responsibl­e and have an ear to my community all the time and proceed exactly as they would want me to proceed.”

Cr Hyslop, of the Kara Kara Ward, told the meeting that after two terms as a councillor, she was willing to become mayor.

“I would love to be a mayor that people can be proud of. I put in the hard work and I think I’ve earned the right to stand for mayor,” she said.

Cr Haswell takes the gavel from outgoing mayor Kevin Erwin, whose contributi­on and that of his wife Julie, was recognised.

Cr Erwin said it had been a ‘hectic’ 12-month term, including the appointmen­t of chief executive Brent Mcalister; welcoming Thomas Foods Internatio­nal to Stawell, formerly Frew Foods; and the start of a major housing developmen­t which would give rise to new properties in 2024.

Councillor­s also debated the merit of appointing a deputy mayor, with Crs Eddy Ostarcevic, Lauren Dempsey and Karen Hyslop voting in support.

Crs Ostarcevic and Hyslop said a deputy mayor could support and share the significan­t workload of the mayor.

Cr Dempsey said the mayor’s job required significan­t commitment and travel, and appointing a deputy, officially, was a ‘drop in the ocean’ in terms of the related allowance.

She took aim at comments that the remaining six councillor­s were ‘unofficial deputy mayors’ and asked for a show of hands from the gallery who wanted a ‘progressiv­e council’.

“The commentary around being equal, six deputy mayors is a joke,” she said, with Cr Murray Emerson calling a point of order.

“It’s been argued several times at this meeting 12 months ago, and the course of other statutory meetings, that we’re all unofficial deputy mayors, we all give equal opportunit­y for unofficial deputy mayors to assume the position.

“I would be wondering if everyone around this table feels they are provided with that equal opportunit­y, because I’m certainly not.”

Cr Dempsey said a deputy mayor could also provide a learning environmen­t between experience­d and more recently-elected councillor­s to ‘benefit and thrive’.

Crs Emerson and Trevor Gready, among the majority voting against, said the appointmen­t of a deputy mayor would create an additional, unnecessar­y $11,000 ‘impost’ on the public purse.

The allowance for Northern Grampians shire’s mayor is $79,492 per year, under its classifica­tion as a ‘category-one council’, while councillor­s receive an allowance of $25,650.

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