If you had to pick one word to sum up the messaging from Wednesday night’s Meet the Candidates meeting in Tumbarumba, it would be unity. All candidates emphasised the importance of working as a team and listening to small communities, in introductory speeches aimed at winning over a not-entirely-friendly crowd at the Tumbarumba Memorial Hall.
“Probably the most important thing is to have a unified council with a can-do attitude,” said Bruce Wright.
“My priorities are to have fair representation for all communities, and a long-term strategic plan.”
James Hayes spoke favourably about the former Tumbarumba council: “I always saw Tumbarumba Council as a can-do council,” he said.
“My problem with the old [Tumut] council was that you’d take an idea to them, and you’d find out all the reasons why you couldn’t do it. In Tumbarumba, they’d say okay, how can we do it?”
Julia Ham shared her first interaction with the Tumbarumba shire council. After she was involved in a car accident with her two young children in the vehicle, she wrote a letter to Tumbarumba council complaining about the section of road. Much to her surprise, the section of road was fixed within six months, and a councillor personally approached her to discuss the matter – an approach that, coming from Wagga, was not something she was used to.
Margaret Isselmann highlighted her position as a “starving mule between two hay bales,” being a representative for Batlow. She’s a former Tumut councillor, but also has had a lot of involvement in the town of Tumbarumba.
“I’d like to recognise that there are former Tumbarumba councillors here, and LRC members here, and I’d like to personally thank you for coming,” she said.
‘Tumbarumba Council had some really cutting edge ideas, that were not necessarily taken up in Tumut.”
Cate Cross drew listeners’ attention to her long history of working with disadvantaged members of the community, and her core values of compassion and respect.
“I’ve learned the value and the power of working as a team, the ability to listen, and the importance of taking on different point of view,” she said.
“I’m really heartened by the fact that my values are matched by my fellow candidates.”
John Larter is looking forward to capitalising on the recent uptick in industry investment in the region.
“I see opportunities like Snowy 2.0 and Visy as being fantastic for our region, and they need to be harnessed to make the most of these opportunities,” he said.
“There’s a lot to learn from Tumbarumba Council, and I think we need to listen to how you did it so well.”
Geoff Pritchard shared with the audience his history living in Tumut as a child, and his experiences working as a surgeon.
“Health issues have become more of a problem now,” he said.
“We used to have three anaesthetists in the region, and now we’re struggling to get one. So we need to raise the question with the politicians, with Snowy Hydro, and Visy: how do we get procedural GPs in this area?”
Cor Smit said he had always seen the Tumut and Tumbarumba regions as a singular area, and that he thought there was a lot of good that could come from making that conceptualisation official.
“I am not a stranger here,” he said.
“You may think that there are only two people representing you, but I’ve been within this shire for 17 and a half years. As part of my experiences I’ve come to really love the shire; it’s all come together now and I’m really happy about that. We all love the place we’re in, it’s just that now we’ve got a bigger place, more neighbours, and more opportunities to work together.”
Candidates Andrianna Benjamin and Audrey McKenzie did not attend the meeting.