Councillor Profiles - This month from Light Regional Council, South Australia

Article image - Councillor Profiles - This month from Light Regional Council, South Australia Councillor Bill O’Brien, Mayor

Wine country
Light Regional Council is located on the northern fringe of greater metropolitan Adelaide. The region has a resident population of approximately 15,000 people, and is growing at a rate above the South Australian state average, as it has done for 10 years or more.
Council’s area is diverse. The region contains some of the State’s best farming land for cereal and legume crops, but is also home to many well-known wineries and viticultural sub-regions. The western half of the Barossa wine region is situated within Council’s boundary.
Our main towns are Kapunda, Freeling, Greenock, Roseworthy and Wasleys; as well as the ‘suburb’ of Hewett adjacent to the town of Gawler.

Besides agricultural pursuits, our region is diverse and tourism plays a major role, as we are nestled nicely between the Barossa and Clare Valleys. Winery cellar door and food experiences are plentiful, and from experience, very enjoyable. The geography of the Council area is pleasing to the eye: flatter land in the west, rolling hills to the north and east. Kapunda Copper Mine gives the visitor a sense of the early mining history of the State, and its input in the mid-1800s to the economy of South Australia. The Roseworthy Campus of the University of Adelaide is also prominent.

Close to the action
From a part time position with what was Kapunda Council I was appointed as Tourism & Economic Development Manager with the ‘newly’ amalgamated Light Regional Council. Three years on, I was appointed to the position of General Manager of Central Darling Shire Council based at Wilcannia in NSW a position I held for eight years. On returning to Kapunda I purchased a small IGA supermarket in the town. Being in local business and close to the action and listening to the concerns of local residents, I felt I had something to offer and decided to stand for election as Mayor in 2010. I was elected and was fortunate be re-elected in 2014. It has been an interesting transition from the position of a Council General Manager (CEO) to being a Mayor.

Being an elected member is a privilege and comes with the responsibility to serve your community to the best of your ability. Communication is my major platform I talk to constituents, listen to them, advocate for them. But, when needed, I’m prepared to debate with them for the greater good of the community and region. I also regard it as vital to respect and maintain an excellent working relationship with the Council staff.

I love this region and enjoy the lifestyle and its people. To relax and unwind I enjoy a good Barossa red wine and a beer with my mates. I also keep fit and run-walk around the countryside every day. I need a goal to do this and recently I ran the ‘Pichi Richi’ Marathon in the Flinders Ranges and prior to that the Big Red Run across the

Simpson Desert.
Economic development
My focus is on tourism opportunities and today’s youth, and I would like to see more opportunities open up locally for our young people in order for them to work and stay.

Council’s survival economically is directly related to the growth of the region in terms of population, agricultural, commercial and industrial opportunities. Sustainability is the goal. The district needs to continue to grow its population, by increasing township residential development, and encourage value adding to primary production and business activities.

The Gawler Water Reuse Scheme is an example of some of the work happening at Council. This $21.4million project will see captured water pumped from the Gawler River to the western edge of the Barossa Valley and used for irrigation purposes. Council has partnered with Seppeltsfield Winery Pty Ltd in a public-private partnership. The construction phase of the project is about to commence with the pumps to be turned on in 2016. The Federal Government contributed half of the funding for the project through the National Urban Water & Desalination Plan grant program, which will reduce reliance on River Murray water.