Councillor profiles - This month from Litchfield Council, NT

Article image - Councillor profiles - This month from Litchfield Council, NT Mayor Allan McKay, Litchfield Council, Northern Territory

Tropical rural lifestyle
Litchfield Municipality is situated on the outskirts of Darwin.

It boasts a tropical rural lifestyle spread over 3,100 square kilometres.
Home to just over 21,000 people, we have a comparatively small rate base for such a large geographical area.

I believe we are a council area that is thriving, with many large-scale Territory developments currently underway in our area, including the construction of a new prison, abattoir, and the Ichthys Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.
An important goal is to work on continuing to grow our council area to its
full potential.

Downsizing to upsize
I would like to see us start to allocate smaller blocks of land to future buyers.
Currently our allotments range in size from five to 20 acres or more.
We have a lot of residents who love our lifestyle and want to continue to live in our community, but realistically the block sizes are too big for them.
For example, our retirees are moving out of the area in order to downsize their lifestyle.

We are also seeing a lot of young people leave the area because they can’t afford to buy large allotments.

So having that diversity in allotment size will give people more choice, and also help increase our rate-base.

Having a small number of rate payers spread over such a large municipality means it can be a challenge to meet ratepayers’ expectations with such a small rate-paying base.

Financially, our rate base doesn’t always cover what our residents have asked for.

The Litchfield area contributes about $500 million annually into the Australian and Territory economies, mainly via agricultural channels.

But we don’t see as much contribution from Government in return.
A key challenge is to try and turn this trend around, so we start to see more of a return, which will effectively help us to better meet our ratepayers’ needs.

Opportunity for growth
As a resident of the Litchfield Municipality for several years I already had a keen and active interest in its governance.

I decided to run for Council because I believed improvements could be made to benefit the ratepayers and community and was elected Mayor in March 2012.

We live in an exciting and innovative area, and the potential for future growth is huge.

I wanted to make sure we had a Council that was looking forward towards growing our area and maximising potential opportunities.

The most difficult part of the job would be trying to meet the expectations of all residents.

Realistically, everybody has different concerns that are important to them, so the need to prioritise and look at the bigger picture is important.

Having the ability to engage with the public and also becoming involved in the community are two key aspects of being a good Mayor.

I make an effort to attend as many community events as possible, and I am always available for residents to discuss their concerns with.

Knowing what the concerns of people are goes a long way toward being able to make a difference in growing our community, and meeting the needs and expectations of our residents.