Councillor profiles - Mayor Sue Moore Singleton Council
There’s no truer saying than you don’t know what you can do until you try, and that’s how I came to be elected firstly as a councillor and then the Mayor of Singleton.
I ran for Council in 1999, and when I look back now, it was just so unlike me. But a local issue at the time got my attention and I felt someone needed to step up. However, I quickly learnt the role I had taken on was much more than one issue.
It was very humbling to sit and think all these people had this confidence in me, and I’ll admit at the time I probably didn’t have it in myself. But I enjoyed helping people, and getting answers for people: it was that simple. So I ran again, and served as the council-elected Mayor from 2008 to 2012 as the first female Mayor, and then the first female popularly elected Mayor in 2016.
Understanding rural ways
My other ‘job’ is as a primary producer, working alongside my husband and son raising Angus beef cattle on our farm. I feel it benefits my role as a councillor and Mayor because of the connection with our rural community: they see me as one of them with an understanding of rural ways. It’s easy to get side-tracked chatting with local people at livestock markets when we sell cattle, and we support local businesses for farm products.
There are also many similarities between a career on the land and in local government, particularly around economic and environmental sustainability, and being respectful of the past while embracing new technologies and new approaches to modern industry.
Which is why it’s an exciting time to be the Mayor of Singleton. Our local government area is at an exciting juncture, where the past and the future are colliding as we prepare to mark the bicentennial of the European exploration of our area in 2020, at the same time as drawing our vision for the next 10 years and beyond under the Community Strategic Plan. And there is the real possibility that the Singleton we know now will be significantly different to the Singleton of the future.
Singleton is the economic engine room of New South Wales, as the largest contributor of mining royalties in the state. However, we’re preparing for more people to move to our area just as our industry base is at the centre of national and global discussions focused on the future of energy – and the outcomes will unavoidably have implications for our area.
That’s why socioeconomic planning has become a major focus for Council, as we look at partnerships, strategies and programs to promote industry diversification and maximise economic benefits for everyone in our community, now and into the future, and maintain Singleton’s importance to New South Wales.
But we need government support. Advocacy has become a major part of my role, and I spend a lot of time lobbying Macquarie Street on issues such as a fair share of Resources for Regions funding for our community, construction of the New England Highway Bypass of Singleton and upgrades in policing.
And we’re seeing progress. We heard earlier this year that our long campaign for more passenger train services to connect Singleton to the Lower Hunter and beyond had been rewarded, with the announcement of up to three additional return trains to start in early 2020.
Turning red to black
Council is also looking at its own operations for improvements to better serve the community into the future. In just the past five years, Council has turned deficit budgets in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 into consecutive surplus budgets in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, with another surplus projected for 2019/2020. Our total operating expenditure over the same period tracks from $55.1 million in 2015/2016 to $55.3 million projected for 2019/2020, with little variation in between. And that’s while increasing Council’s capital expenditure without compromising on community services and without raising costs to the community.
But the real best part of being the Mayor in a community like Singleton is being able to help people. I can’t always deliver the answers that people want, but just being able to work with people to navigate Council processes and try to solve their problems is a reward in itself. We’re also fortunate in this term of Council to have a great team of councillors all working together for the benefit of
You don’t know what you can do until you try. I think a lot of people have the ability to do anything – including running for Council – but underestimate themselves. I firmly believe that everyone has capacity in different ways, and if we all work together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve for our community.