Councillor profiles - Ian Earl Shire President, Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Western Australia

Article image - Councillor profiles - Ian Earl Shire President, Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Western Australia

A place for nature lovers
Located three hours south of Perth, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River is home to the renowned Margaret River wine region. It’s all here – world-class wine and food, stunning walking trails and beaches, world-famous surf breaks, whale watching, ancient caves, forests of timber giants and captivating heritage – Margaret River is a destination you need to experience for yourself to understand its magic. Nearly half of the land area within our shire is state forest or national park. The Southwest corner of Western Australia is recognised as one of the world’s 34 declared biodiversity hot spots.

Nature-lovers will be blown away by a breathtaking array of land and seascapes, where almost 80 per cent of plant species are found nowhere else on earth. The original inhabitants of our area, the Wardandi people, live by six seasons instead of four. After Djilba, the October/November season is Kambarang, followed by Birak, Bunuru, Djeran and Makuru. Traditionally, hunting and gathering groups would stay only two months, i.e. one season in each place, allowing the land ten months to regenerate after they moved on.
My favourite place in the region is Cowaramup Bay and Hamelin Bay as I am a keen fisherman and swimmer.

Community minded
I am in my eighth year in local government. I have long been heavily involved in many aspects of voluntary community organisations: Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), fire brigade, football and cricket at all levels. I have been on the Sport and Rec. committee of council for 25 years and the Bushfire Advisory Committee for about the same.

As well as my role as Shire President, I am an electrical contractor (have been for 40 years) and employ 10 people. This gives me the ability to see how Local Government operates compared to private enterprise and gives me a good balance.

When I’m taking time off I enjoy fishing, grandchildren, gardening (and not necessarily in that order).

Meeting challenges
We are continually under the pump from the reduced funding from State and Federal Governments for day-to-day running of Council. We are a rapidly growing community with a large amount of tourists and events coming to use our facilities. We need to keep our rate take down while providing for the community and tourists.

In October last year Council led an initiative to make the town’s main street smoke-free in a move to promote making healthy choices. Since this time we have been approached by other local governments who are interested in implementing similar proposals in their areas, showing that public health movements such as these are gaining popular support. Most recently the Shire was recognised for creating environments that protect and support the health of children in Western Australia’s sixth annual Local Government Children’s Environment and Health Awards.

Works are underway to develop a Bike Plan for our town, providing an opportunity for Margaret River to create an example of regional cycling infrastructure for other towns to aspire to. The Shire is considering best practice planning guidelines from the Netherlands and other countries.

Looking ahead
When I came onto Council I was pleased with the direction and stability that had been about for a number of years. My aim was to help continue that.

We have also had some terrific projects come to fruition or that we have received funding for in my time on council: the Augusta Boat Harbour, Perimeter Road, Main Street upgrade, Cultural Centre redevelopment, Surfers Point upgrade, plus major works for the High School and a new primary school for our rapidly growing population.
The best part of local government is all the nice people that I meet who are doing great volunteer work. Citizenship Ceremonies are the best event that I officiate at. I find the worst part about local government can be when self-interest plays a part.

Into the future, I hope to continue to have a strong, progressive Council that continues to look out for the community and
the environment.