Councillor profiles - Neil Martinson Mayor Renmark Paringa Council

Article image - Councillor profiles - Neil Martinson Mayor Renmark Paringa Council

The Renmark Paringa Council is located in the Riverland of South Australia where the River Murray enters the state from Victoria. We have a population of approximately 10,000 people with the majority living in Renmark and the smaller towns of Paringa and Lyrup. Our community is mainly based on tourism, horticulture, viticulture, citrus, almonds and dry land farming.

Obviously, the river is our main attraction for locals and visitors and with our beautiful weather it’s ideal for tourists. We have the working paddle steamer PS Industry located in Renmark, the Argo barge situated at Olivewood, our Rose Festival in October of each year and numerous eateries and accommodation facilities throughout the district.

In my younger days I played tennis and umpired football and basketball. I now enjoy getting on the river and my time with the family and the grandkids. 

Long career in local government
I became involved in Local Government because I consider myself to be a community person and I believed I had a lot to offer with my local government experience.

Being elected mayor for my fourth term at the 2018 election was a huge personal success.

My first involvement in Local Government was my appointment to the position of District Clerk with the former District Council of Redhill in 1981 and I then transferred to the District Council of Paringa in 1984.

Local Governments were encouraged to amalgamate in the nineties and Paringa amalgamated with the Corporation of Renmark in 1996, and I transferred across as the Deputy District Manager at Renmark.

I had a change of direction in the late nineties for three years and was then appointed as the Director of Environmental Services at our neighbouring council, District Council of Loxton Waikerie.

During my tenure with the Loxton Waikerie Council I was elected Mayor of Renmark Paringa Council. This arrangement continued for four years before I retired from Loxton Waikerie after 26 years in local government administration.

After my initial retirement, I worked part time as the Administration Manager with the Renmark Irrigation Trust and finally retired my working life in 2016.

I have held the position of Chair of Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland for the past 11 years, am a member of the Basin Community Committee with the Murray Darling Basin Authority and am a Board Member of Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB).

Renmark Paringa Council’s biggest challenge is to maintain a balanced or surplus operating budget. We have the seventh lowest rates in South Australia out of approximately 60 councils and to maintain our infrastructure we will need to increase our rate base over the next 5-10 years.

Council is currently re-developing the Renmark town centre and upgrading the swimming pool. 

Working together with the community
Serving the community is the best part about being a councillor and trying to get residents and other councillors to recognise and appreciate other peoples’ point of view is the worst. People have to understand that councils need to consider the whole community when making a decision and not a selected few or a select group.

My aim for the future is that councils are the community and the community are the council and I would like to change the attitude it’s a them and us situation as we should all be working for the same purpose.