Councillor profiles – Mayor Alan Hall, Wellington Shire Council
Wellington Shire is the third largest municipality in Victoria encompassing the High Country, the sea, and all in between. We have a strong agricultural sector, a major energy supplier for Victoria, we are the home of the Roulettes, and we are the gateway to the Gippsland Lakes and Ninety Mile Beach. There is so much to offer visitors and residents alike.
I obviously have a love affair with the Wellington Coastal area as my wife and I live at Loch Sport, an amazing part of the world that is literally a peninsula between the Ninety Mile Beach and Lake Victoria. We believe we invented tranquillity were the sun doesn’t set it melts into the lake and we can enjoy a glass of champagne and the daily procession at kangaroo o’clock right from our veranda.
Long history in the sector
I was elected in 2016, following the Victorian Electoral Commission decision to subdivide Wellington into wards.
At the time Jill and I operated the Marina Hotel Loch Sport on the shore of Lake Victoria, and a close friend and patron, the late Ralph Brown (and then others), asked me to stand. I agreed, and then Ralph died. I’d made an undertaking I couldn’t go back on, and was subsequently elected with strong community support.
My interest in local government is long standing. My uncle was City of Coburg town clerk, and following a career in accounting, particularly in the health sector I found myself as Director Finance, City of Ballarat. I served as an independent member of the Audit Committee for the Shire of Melton and I continue to be both amazed and privileged to be involved with high energy, skilled professionals who operate in the complex world of local government.
It is my view that hotels in one hotel towns fulfil a very significant community role, and it was only after we sold the business that I was prepared to nominate for mayor, because it would have been impossible to do both competently.
In between mayoral duties my wife and I are able to spend time with our children, grandchildren, and with each other.
One of our very favourite things is the theatre. We are very fortunate to have the WEDGE Performing Arts Centre at the Port of Sale complex; a world class facility staging world class performances. Sale is an emerging destination with a great array of eating and accommodation to offer.
I am rediscovering fishing the surf on the Ninety Mile Beach and playing my guitar, which is best described as therapeutic.
Rate cap limits service
Wellington Shire Council is well positioned to deal with its day to day challenges. We have a strong supportive collegial council and senior staff. Our relatively small ratepayer base and rate capping has meant that maintaining our very large road network and meeting our communities’ expectations on service levels is always a challenge.
We were pleased to see the new Federation Training, Sale campus, come on line to provide higher learning to assist business growth and retain population.
Council recently rolled out its award winning EDUCLOUD project providing enhanced access for students through our Port of Sale facilities and other libraries throughout the municipality. We have provided additional support to neighbouring municipalities. This initiative is a key driver to establish a shared services model for delivering greater efficiencies throughout the region.
Success in local government is never about individuals but rather the product of the team, and Council proudly celebrates the success of our Port of Sale project incorporating the Gallery, Library and Visitor Information Centre. If success is measured by attendance and response, then we can be well pleased with ourselves.
I think the other measure of success is community response. The changes to the electoral system have given our smaller communities a greater sense of belonging and perhaps a better application of service, with positive community response.
Whilst it sounds cliché, the best thing is having the opportunity to make a difference. It is rewarding to contribute to the decision making, and to the future view, while supporting and being supported by a great group of people who are motivated by community wellbeing.
And it’s pretty special for your community to own you as their councillor and now their mayor.
While there will be decisions some people are unhappy about, understanding that we will not always agree on all things is just a part of life. How you manage it is what’s important.
There is so much to do!
I’d like to see our small communities prosper and grow, particularly the ones that service the tourism and visitation space. By strengthening their populations they are better positioned to service tourism seasons.
I have been quoted as saying ‘turning visitation into population’ and I would like to see a genuine population policy and regionalisation strategy developed nationally rather than the thought bubbles that emerge without substance.
Whilst local government is the third tier perhaps leadership starts here.