Councillor profiles - Mayor Reg Kidd Orange City Council
Orange, in Central Western New South Wales, is three and a half hours from both Sydney and Canberra. My favourite aspect of Orange is its heritage history and incredibly diverse economy embedded in a ‘greenscape’ second to none. We have four beautiful distinct seasons influenced by our elevation and the dominant landscape feature Mount Canobolas (an extinct volcano). Nearby, at Ophir Reserve the first payable gold was found in Australia in early 1851 and gold is still important to the region now with the Newcrest’s Cadia mine close by. Orange was also the birthplace of AB (Banjo) Paterson, Australia’s well known poet.
Thriving regional centre
The population of forty-three thousand support a diversified economy including manufacturing, mining, farming, horticulture, stone and pome fruits and viticulture – with numerous wineries and cellar doors. The State Department of Primary Industry is headquartered in Orange which, since decentralising to Orange some 30 years ago, has expanded to become the Department of Primary Industry and Environment.
Orange is also renowned for its medical facilities, with a large modern public hospital and two private hospitals, and over 140 specialist doctors. This year Orange welcomed the first cohort of medical students at Charles Sturt University’s new state-of-the-art training facility; the university also conducts dentistry, pharmacy and other medical related courses. Sydney, Newcastle and Western Sydney Universities all have a presence in Orange. We have a Ronald MacDonald house (for children), Cancer Care West Lodge for patients from Western NSW undertaking cancer treatment in Orange, a large psychiatric hospital and a forensic unit.
Staying up to date
I was elected Mayor in 2008/2009 and became the first popularly elected Mayor in 2017. I ran for Council in 1991 with a male and female friends’ ticket and we were all voted onto Council. Our reasons (and still mine) was to do something for our community that had done so much for us in our formative years and then in our professional careers.
I was a lecturer and Regional Head of TAFE in the Rural Studies section and at the nearby Agricultural College (now Charles Sturt University). I hold a degree in Agricultural science several graduate diplomas and training and education qualifications. I believe it is necessary to keep yourself well trained and open to new trends and technology, and I just recently completed a drone flying and use course.
I started my own Agricultural Consulting business in 1999 (Agassist Pty Ltd) and was CEO of the Australian Rural Marketing and Supply Association.
Having experience in the public service sector as a teacher/ trainer then manager and now small business operator, has given me the experience and knowledge to be able to deal with a complex business (Council) with a large budget and that has to be transparent and accountable to its stakeholders (the community and Government).
While on Council, I have continued training to keep me up to date with law, compliance and Governance, including the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AIDC) qualifications.
Goals, challenges, achievement
I believe the key challenge facing Council is to always be cognisant of the infrastructure needed for a growing, vibrant city (water, transport, shopping, greenspace, entertainment, sport and cultural activities). We also need to keep astride of our renowned education and medical facilities, one of the key attractants for ‘sea-changers’ from metropolitan areas.
We were the pioneers of stormwater harvesting for potable water in Australia, and continue to be at the cutting edge of new technologies for sustainable water usage and availability (Orange is one of the few inland cities in Australia not on a river!).
Council has several innovative projects underway at present including;
- another stormwater harvesting project
- a $25 million sporting precinct
- a regional conservatorium of music (an expansion program)
- expansion of our regional art complex
- a regional museum
- further development of our medical precinct
- expansion of our food and wine tourism and
- support for businesses in the process of moving to Orange.
People not politics
The best part of being a councillor for me is being able to give back to a community that has been so good to my family (past and present) and I suppose being part of what we’ll become, Orange’s history and heritage.
The only down side is a frustration you get occasionally with councillors who do not totally understand their role and responsibility and see Council as a platform to a political career. People should not run for Council on single issues, and personally, I do not believe in party politics. A councillor’s job is to represent the best interests of their community irrespective of who is in government. I also believe all councillors should undertake the Australian Institute of Company directors’ course (or equivalent) unless they can show that they have an understanding of governance and particularly financial capability (as you are making multi-million dollar decision on behalf of a community).
I have enjoyed being able to represent my wonderful community for 31 years and the last four years I have done it full time as its first popularly elected Mayor. I have been part of a Council that has seen enormous growth in Orange and see it now as a sustainable growing multifaceted community that has a ‘critical mass’ to face all sorts of issues.
Whilst I have been courted by all political persuasions to run for either state or federal politics, my beloved Orange has been my only ambition. The end of this year I am retiring from Council, but will remain involved in a number of Council community advisory committees. I will get back to my business, my family and friends who have supported me and enjoy my interests –the environment, Primary Industries, golf, horseracing, cricket and football and most of all I owe my wife ‘big time’ for her support and understanding over these 31 years.