Audrey McKenzie has served on local government in Tumut for 24 years. She said the stakes have never been higher than they are in this coming election, one which will push her into a quarter-century of councillor experience.
“This council will set the foundation for the future direction of Snowy Valleys Council,” she said.
“I really mean that. We need to go in cohesively, all on the same page. You can’t go on being a one-issue council. [My priority will be] to ensure that our council works together well, with the commitment of achieving what is best for the community – not as someone who wants an individual project.”
As part of Council, Audrey has been involved in establishing the Visy Pulp and Paper Mill in Tumut, and she was also instrumental in getting the Murray Glen Retirement Village set up.
Outside of Council, she has represented the Country Women’s Association at local, regional, and state level. Of the many achievements of the CWA, Audrey is most proud of two areas in particular: two drug awareness forums, drawing hundreds of people, and a suicide awareness program. As a result of a lot of hard work by her and others, Tumut now has a Sufferers and Carers Group, and a fully paid Carer Support Worker.
However, despite her well-credentialed past, Audrey is determined to look to the future.
She’s particularly excited about the opportunities of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme for the Snowy Valleys, and for working together with Tumbarumba to make the best of the amalgamation of the two shires.
“I’ve always been very opposed to any merger,” she said.
“I feel if a council is financially viable and is abiding by the community’s requests, it should stand alone. I feel that the ‘local’ has been taken out of ‘local government’ in regards to us and Tumbarumba, and I feel very deeply for the Tumbarumba people.
“However, it has happened, and I think we should move forward, and I’m looking forward to working with the representatives of Tumbarumba. Ideally, I would hope that they would be elected, along with the candidates from Batlow and one from Adelong, which would give us a wide cross-section of the council area.
“I think there’s great potential for tourism right across the council area, so that’s one issue. The other one of course is rooted in that we both have an interest in timber, and I think the future could be there in value-adding to our industry.
“I think we live in a great area, and we have some wonderful, wonderful people in this community.”