Councillor profiles - Mayor Julie Low District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
Coastal living and a growing rural area
The District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula surrounding the City of Port Lincoln encompasses an area of 4754 square kilometres with a resident population of approx 5000 people, 709 kilometres of coastline, and a road network of 1323 kilometres, including 140 kilometres of sealed roads. Major population centres are Cummins, Coffin Bay and the growing rural living area abutting Port Lincoln.
Agriculture, aquaculture and tourism are the principal industries; service, health and community services are also significant employers.
The main agriculture sectors are grain production (wheat, barley, canola, pulses and oats), sheep and beef cattle. Aquaculture is principally oyster farming in Coffin Bay and abalone at Point Boston.
Road management is a big-ticket item for our Rural and Coastal Council in order to meet increasing usage of road trains on our unsealed roads and to meet rising community expectations.
A significant component of the Rural Living zone was approved many years ago without sealed roads. As a result Council in the last 15 years has developed a strategy to undertake a gradual sealing program as traffic counts increase significantly.
Council owns and operates Port Lincoln airport, which has Regular Passenger Transport services to and from Adelaide. It is the largest regional airport in South Australia and is self funding from user charges. In response to growing passenger numbers and a need to introduce security screening a $13.4m project, which included a completely new terminal was undertaken in 2012/13. The receipt of $6.9 million of Federal Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) and State Regional Development Innovation Fund (RDIF) grant funding allowed us to deliver a new terminal and other upgrades without any great increase in costs for passengers.
Following the devastating “Wangary” Bushfire in 2005 and a number of other significant fires since, Council is participating in a pilot “Disaster Ready” project. The project, designed to provide a basic framework for Council operations during the Recovery Phase of any disaster or significant event, is to be developed as a template for South Australian Councils to adopt and adapt.
Council has instigated a study to identify and document health and ageing needs of our ageing community with a view of developing a business plan to support the business of Health and Aged Care, while recognising the role of Local Government and the community in supporting our residents. I believe this will assist Council and the community meet growing requirements.
The importance of collaboration
I was elected as a Councillor in 1995, became Deputy Mayor in 2002 and Mayor in 2009. I am a great supporter and believer in the community and how individuals can have a significant and positive impact on their community. Council recognises that regional collaboration and a unified voice for our region (Eyre Peninsula) is important, and is committed to working with our neighbouring councils. I have had the privilege to represent the region on the State LGA Board for a few years and have served on numerous regional committees.
Whilst being a Councillor can be challenging this is offset by the many and varied opportunities where you and fellow Councillors can positively influence the strategic direction for community across a wide-range of issues ranging from waste to finance and governance to strategic plans. It also provides opportunities to meet with leaders, both State and Federal, as well as meeting a diverse range of people from your own council area. I have also attended interesting functions, visited numerous areas and businesses I may not otherwise have had the opportunity or privilege to visit. I am proud of my years in local government and still consider listening to community individuals and groups, and yet retaining a commitment to ensuring the community’s long term aspirations are reflected in Council’s Strategic Plan are as important now as the day I became a Councillor.