Councillor Profiles

Councillor Alan Morris, Port Augusta City Council, SA

Q. How long have you been on Council?

I was elected in 2003 and am running again this November. The experience has been fantastic. I had previously been the Regional Manager of the South Australian Housing Trust – the State’s Public Housing Authority – and felt that over time, my ability to actually effect community change had been diminished. Council has given back that desire to work and manage that change.

Q. Why did you become involved in Local Government?

It came at a time when there was tremendous angst in the community about the building of Baxter Detention Centre and the negativity that it generated. I really wanted to be part of a sound leadership team that managed this and other outstanding community issues. However, the exciting thing was discovering just how important outsiders thought our community was, and how we were poised to be part of the resources boom that was taking off.

Q. What makes your local area special or different?

It truly is the crossroads of Australia in all directions. It features pristine coastline and there is much potential to develop, grow and attract families. Our community has only started realising this in the last decade, because people who visit can’t believe what we have and tell us this. With the backdrop of the beautiful Flinders Ranges, it is awe inspiring.

We also have a rich Aboriginal cultural heritage, which is evident throughout the Local Government area.

We have a great Mayor with more than 35 years’ experience, and a great Council. It is a good team.

Q. Tell us about your day job and how it contributes to your role/views as a councillor?

I have worked in Health these past few years, firstly as CEO of three Flinders Ranges Hospitals, and more recently, as the Director managing Country Health’s response to the crippling drought. As a result I have very clear views about health services in the country, which are fantastic, and the need to recruit and retain health care professionals and make them welcome in a town.

Q. What are they key challenges facing Council?

Controlling the growth that comes with being strategically located, and the impending impact of the Olympic Dam expansion project. Olympic Dam is the world’s fourth largest remaining copper deposit, fifth largest gold deposit and the largest uranium deposit. It also contains significant quantities of silver.

While we have a coal fired power station, we are keen to project the community as the place for families to live, grow, and develop. Others can have the heavy industry – we would like to retain Port Augusta as the best place to live, and play.

As with any council, the balance of development and heritage is sometimes quite a challenge.

Q. What innovative projects or policies is your Council working on?

Our Development Plan Amendment is something near and dear to all of us, but it takes so much time.

We are about to have a skatepark built – something myself and another Councillor have been working on for a few years.

We are also keen to develop our sports and recreation areas.

Q. What issues are important to you?

I am passionate that communities such as ours have a vision and plan for the next 30 years. In controlling our impending rapid growth, I am concerned that we have no overall master plan that has involved the community in setting our future and what they want us to look like in 30 years time. We need to tell the developers what we want when they knock on our door, rather than think that we should be grateful they have chosen our great city.

I think we integrate our Aboriginal heritage here well, and have a tradition of welcoming people for what they can contribute to the community and and how they can enhance community life and spirit. This community has so much potential and we as a Council need to help harness that.

Q. Tell us about a memorable moment on council.

Two things stick in my mind: the arrival of the first Ghan on its way to Darwin and meeting Gough Whitlam; and secondly, having my head shaved by Her Worship the Mayor, Joy Baluch, to raise money for leukaemia, last year!

Councillor Morris can be contacted by email at amorris@portaugusta.sa.gov.au

 

Mayor Gillian Aldridge, City of Salisbury, SA

Q. How long have you been on Council?

I have been a member of the City of Salisbury Council for approximately 24 years.

Q. Why did you become involved in Local Government?

I am a people person, and am passionate about Salisbury. It has a wonderful rich history, and a close knit community. As a long time resident of the area, I was interested in the community’s ideas and concerns in making Salisbury a better place to live, work and play, and got involved in local decision making through Local Government.

Q. You have lived in Salisbury for 42 years. Tell us what keeps you here and what you like most about the area.

There is such a sense of community and history in Salisbury. Our community is resilient.

In the early days when there wasn’t a lot of infrastructure, I was part of the community effort to start our local Community Club, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Many happy times have been held at this club, and together with others that have sprung up in surrounding areas, this has underpinned the strong communities that thrive in this region.

The exciting part for me has been witnessing the growth of new suburbs within our Council boundaries.

Q. What issues are important to you?

A thriving Salisbury community is important to me and I believe jobs, housing, education and the environment are the major elements to achieve this. The City of Salisbury’s City Plan 2020 is a vision for a sustainable future and encompasses these four major elements. Council consulted widely with the community to learn the expectations of both our residents and businesses.

Providing jobs is paramount for our community. Our local economy continues to grow and the City’s Economic Development Strategy places a high importance on building skills within our community. The City of Salisbury is committed to fostering partnerships between education, research and industry to build a skilled local workforce.

During the next decade, our population will expand by more than 50,000 people and Council is investing time and effort to ensure we have suitable housing available. We have been very successful in developing an affordable housing scheme, ‘Brahma Green’, which received a National Award for Local Government for showing innovation in the use of Council owned land for affordable housing, and assisting first time homebuyers to get into the housing market.

Q. With a lot of industry moving into Salisbury, it is fast becoming the economic heart of South Australia. How is Council managing and capitalising on this?

Salisbury is home to important industries in defence, electronics, automotive and IT. There are more than 4,000 businesses in our region and this is expected to increase by 2015, with a workforce growth of about 25 per cent.

The Edinburgh Defence Base will become Australia’s largest defence community with the consolidation of the 7th Royal Australian Regiment transferring to Adelaide in 2011. This will boost population numbers and result in more demand for housing, jobs, retail and education.

The Northern Expressway and Northern Connector road network will soon be completed, which will stimulate further economic growth by connecting the national network road links from Sydney and Perth/Darwin.

Salisbury is also a world leader in water management. Our area is an oasis of green in the driest State in the driest continent. A series of wetlands have been created to hold and clean stormwater, which 20 years ago would have been allowed to run out to sea. It is now home to more than 100 bird species and frogs, fish, yabbies and turtles.

I am very proud that the City of Salisbury is a leader in sustainability practices. Our future growth is secure knowing that our precious water resources are in good hands.

Q. Tell us about a specific success you have had.

Becoming Mayor of this great City has been a wonderful achievement, and watching Salisbury grow and witnessing the change in people’s attitude to our region has been satisfying. The most satisfying part of being Mayor is getting to know your community, knowing you are making a difference to people’s lives and being part of the history and future of the City of Salisbury.

Mayor Aldridge can be contacted by email at galdridge@salisbury.sa.gov.au