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    ELECTED: Hindmarsh Shire’s newly-elected deputy mayor Wendy Bywaters and re-elected mayor Brett Ireland are looking forward to the coming 12 months of the council.

Brett Ireland, Wendy Bywaters take lead at Hindmarsh

By Abby Walter

Hindmarsh Shire councillor Brett Ireland has been re-elected mayor for the final year of the current term, with support from newly elected deputy mayor Wendy Bywaters.

Cr Ireland was first elected to the council in 2020 and served his first term as mayor this year. 

He was the only councillor nominated for the role.

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Cr Ireland said it was humbling to have the councillors’ support and faith for another 12 months in the role.

“I look forward to working with you all again, our new chief executive Jessie Holmes and staff,” Cr Ireland said.

“I’m excited about the coming year.”

In his 2022-23 mayor’s report, Cr Ireland said highlights of his first mayoral term included openings of Nhill Tennis Club, a Rainbow Lake facility and female-friendly netball change rooms at Rainbow Recreation Reserve.

“Attending various conferences on behalf of the shire, including the National General Assembly in Canberra and MAV State Conference and Rural Summit in Echuca, were also most beneficial in my role in bringing information back and sharing it with our communities,” he said.

After some debate, the council also voted in favour of electing a deputy mayor.

Cr Bywaters said the position of deputy mayor allowed for mentoring and support opportunities for councillors and the mayor. Cr Deb Nelson said it was good business practice to have a continuity plan in place.

“A deputy mayor keeps that continuity going if the mayor is unavailable,” she said.

Cr Rob Gersch said he believed the council did not need to elect a deputy mayor because it had ‘five deputy mayors’ in place.

“If the mayor was unable for something in Rainbow and the deputy mayor had to come from Dimboola, Gerang or Nhill, that’s roughly 140 kilometres of travelling time and there’s a cost to that, when there’s a councillor in that area who could be there in five minutes,” he said.

“I see it as ludicrous for a deputy mayor to travel and be involved like that when there are councillors who, I believe, are all very capable of standing in for the mayor on those occasions.”

Cr Bywaters was the only councillor nominated for the deputy mayor role for 2023-24. 

She takes on the role from Cr Melanie Albrecht.

Cr Bywaters said it was a great honour to represent the community through the position.

“I have been deputy mayor before and it was the most enjoyable time I’ve had on the council,” she said.

“We only have less than a year before our 2024 elections and I want to make, with everyone’s help and the support of the mayor, our council and all councils the best place for young people, young women and diverse people to put their hands up.

“I want to make local government a safe, inclusive place to be so everyone feels they can come and represent their community.”

The entire November 15, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!