Councillor Moira Girando, President, Shire of Coorow, Western Australia
Q. How long have you been a Councillor?
I was first elected to Council in 1997 and was elected as Shire President in 2003.
Q. How did you become involved in Local Government?
My inspiration to become an Elected Member was purely a personal one. My husband Steven and I moved to Coorow to re-roof a client’s house in 1975, with all of our possessions fitting onto an old Holden FC utility and a trailer. This was with one baby under 12 months and another imminent.
We were made so welcome by both the residents and local businesses that rang us to introduce themselves and make us part of their community, so we decided to make our life in Marchagee and raise our family in the Coorow Shire.
Many years later when our by then three children had grown and moved away to pursue their own careers, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. It was then that I made the decision to put something back into the community that had done so much for me and my family. I don’t have much spare time now, but love what I do for Local Government.
Q. Tell us about Coorow. What makes it special?
The Shire of Coorow is located 260 kilometres north of Perth, and about the same distance from Geraldton. This makes both major centres easily accessible in a few hours, but it does pose problems of just what region we fit. Contacting service and product suppliers is complicated as 1300 numbers tend to direct you to wherever they classify as your area. This is a source of frustration when trying to obtain a direct phone number. Also, being on the fringes of State Government defined regions, which are not always consistent across the board, creates issues.
The Shire of Coorow has two coastal towns with pristine beaches, good fishing and relaxed holiday accommodation. Both towns – Leeman and Green Head – are becoming increasingly popular with retirees seeking friendly and safe communities in which to live. Coorow, some 120 kilometres to the east, is a farming community in the true sense. Residents of the town and surrounding areas embody the true spirit of a welcoming and friendly rural community.
Q. What issues are important to you?
The loss of our younger generations to the city is impacting greatly on our ability to have a stable population. While in some cases sons come back to the community to family farms, daughters seldom do. There is a lack of employment opportunities for those of both sexes with tertiary qualifications. The attractiveness of high wages in the mining sector also contributes to this population drain, as well as Council’s and local business’s ability to attract and retain staff.
Q. What challenges are currently facing your Council?
Current Federal Assistance Grants fall way short of being able to maintain services and infrastructure at existing levels, let alone catch up on the backlog.
Structural reform has been on the agenda as long as I have been involved in Local Government. The current situation in Western Australia is extremely disruptive on everyday operations within the Shire of Coorow, and I dare say many others. This atmosphere is particularly demoralising for our staff and their families.
Q. Tell us about a great Council achievement?
The stand out achievement has to be the completion of sealing the Coorow – Green Head Road. This road is some 120 kilometres in length and is a major link between our community at Coorow and those at Leeman and Green Head.
Personally, I am particularly proud of the abolition of General Business from our agenda and the fact that we very seldom admit Late Agenda items, as both of these can lead to problems by making decisions in haste.
Q. What do you find most rewarding about working in Local Government?
Being able to help people. Not everyone gets what they want from their Local Government, but I do ensure that every one gets a fair hearing in their dealings with Council.
Councillor Girando can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrie Short, Deputy President, Shire of Dandaragan, Western Australia
Q. How long have you been on Council?
I was first elected to Council in 2001. Having worked as a Licensed Surveyor since 1965 prior to that, I had many dealings with councils throughout Western Australia. The accumulative experience has been a great learning curve, as well as a most rewarding experience to serve one’s community, district and indeed the State.
I have been Deputy President of Dandaragan since 2005.
Q. Why did you become involved in Local Government?
With a maternal Great Grandfather (John Cook Snr) and maternal Grandfather (Frederick William Cook) as foundation members of the then Dandaragan Road Board in 1890, as well as various cousins serving since then, it was inevitable that the interest would avail itself to me, particularly when I returned full time to the farm.
As our Shire is in an area with significant change, I wanted to bring some of my experience with developers, urban and rural planning issues to Council, while ensuring the best outcomes for our district.
Q. What makes your council area special?
The Shire of Dandaragan covers about 7,000 square kilometres, with 90 kilometres of it on the Indian Ocean coastline. The newly completed Indian Ocean Drive has its last 60 kilometre leg from Lancelin in the Gingin Shire to Cervantes in Dandaragan Shire, linking Perth to Geraldton. The entire road is about 420 kilometres long.
Dandaragan’s Administrative Centre is situated at Jurien Bay, which is designated as a Future Recreational Regional Centre for the northern suburbs of metropolitan Perth. Jurien Bay is around 100 minutes drive from the existing largest centre of Joondalup, which has a population of 160,000 people that may well be future vistors. There is a 9,000 lot structure plan at Jurien and about 1,000 lots have been developed over the last five or six years, doubling the size of the town.
The current residential population of Jurien is only about 2,200 people, but during the holiday season, the population can increase to more than 5,000 people. The Shire’s total population is just 3,400 people, but with large farms of up to 12,000 hectares, the drive in/drive out and backpacker workforce is estimated at about 600 people.
Q. What issues are important to you?
Law and order, good planning, community service and infrastructure, as well as the ability to consider the future use of our resources, such as contained water systems, to ensure the best outcomes for all.
Q. What innovative projects is Council working on?
Given the expanding interest in flying, there is also a demand for the training of international pilots, who require the provision of additional infrastructure. Consideration is also being given to the inclusion of two storey accommodation/hangers for the Travelling Light Plane population, as well as fly in/fly out facilities for mining workers. We are looking at the possible concept of a plane owner subdivision, providing plane access to individual hangers on owner’s lots. High rise developments of up to 10 storeys are also out for community consideration.
Q. Tell us about a success you have had.
I believe my success is the continuing acknowledgment by my peers, with appointment as a Delegate to the Avon Midland Zone, and election to the WALGA State Council with the membership of the Infrastructure and Roads Forum, Service and Finance and Municipal Waste Advisory Council. I also have Deputy membership of the Western Australian Planning Commission and Coastal Council.
I am a member of various other committees, and collectively, I believe that the issues raised therein have given me the opportunity to contribute to better social and economic outcomes, which may not be pinnacles of prominence, but hopefully a small brick in the wall protecting the future.
Councillor Short can be contacted by email at email@example.com