Passion drives service for council
MARY Wilkinson stood for election to Bundaberg City Council 19 years ago because she was passionate about the region.
All these years on, the passion has not faded, but it has been tempered by the realities of politics and the treatment the Bundaberg region has received from the state government over the amalgamation issue.
“I was green as grass back then, totally naive,” Cr Wilkinson said yesterday.
“I was unhappy with a few things that were happening and I saw it as a chance to give something back to the community. This is a brilliant city.”
Cr Wilkinson said at the time she had no idea of the complexity of the task of being a city councillor, or of the political manoeuvring.
Two years after the Bundaberg, Burnett, Isis and Kolan councils were ordered to amalgamate, she said the new council and its senior officers were still working hard to smooth out the complex issues thrown up.
“These were four disparate councils made into one — we have urban, rural and coastal areas all under one local authority,” she said.
“In Bundaberg we’ve gone from a council covering 95sq km to covering 6500sq km.”
Cr Wilkinson, whose portfolio covers health and environmental services, said the biggest challenge was matching up the councils’ by-laws.
“Each council had their own laws covering parks, cemeteries and health services, and we had to get them all into one cohesive whole,” she said.
“We had issues with the four different IT systems, because each one was different.”
Despite all the problems and the challenges, Cr Wilkinson remains positive about the future for the Bundaberg region.
“This council is probably one of the best in Queensland for what we have achieved so far,” she said.
“The councillors, the CEO and our managers have worked so hard to bring it all together.”
She said the amalgamation was an opportunity to deliver great things for the people of the region.
Cr Wilkinson refused to give herself a rating for her work on the council, as the NewsMail asked.
“Let the people rate me,” she said.
An error in yesterday’s interview with Cr Lorraine Pyefinch indicated there were 300km of roads in the Bundaberg Regional Council area. There are, in fact, 3000km of roads. The News
Mail apologises for the error.