Mayoral musical chairs

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Campbelltown’s next two mayors will be two councillors who share a first name, Paul. That’s in Paul Lake and Paul Hawker. According to my information, and I promise you my sources are impeccable, Lake, who has already served as mayor previously, will assume the mantle of mayor this September when the one year term of Clinton Mead expires. And, the deal is that a member of the Liberal Party’s team will be our number one citizen between September next year (2015) and the next Local Government elections in September 2016. It means that my little mate Freddie Borg will cop collateral damage because by the end of the term he will have been on council for 16 years without once having tasted the ultimate taste of success. Knowing Fred, he will plough on and almost certainly run for another four year term in 2016. As for Clinton Mead, he bowed out graciously last week after chairing his last meeting in the big chair. ‘‘It has been an honour and a privilege, thank you,’’ Cr Mead told fellow councillors when the meeting got under way.

No mayoral dramas north of the border at Liverpool City Council, where the young mayor Ned Mannoun is enjoying a four year term after winning a popular vote at the last elections. I have it on very good authority that the job is his for another four years, if he so chooses, or unless he goes to Macquarie Street as the next State Member for Liverpool. If Mannoun runs in the state election next year, as street talk has it,he will have a tough job dislodging the immovable Paul Lynch, who’s held the seat for Labor since 1994, and looks like he wants to continue doing that for ever and a day. Each to their own, I guess. But a popular mayor will provide a stern test for the veteran MP. The election is due to be held on the last Saturday of next March.

Liverpool Council is leading the fight against plans for a giant container terminal at Moorebank
Liverpool Council is leading the fight against plans for a giant container terminal at Moorebank

Speaking of Liverpool, the council needs to be congratulated for spending a lot of time and effort in fighting the plan for an intermodal terminal at Moorebank. Well, two, actually, but it looks like it will be one after all. It is obvious that the residents around the site do not want it because they believe it will ruin their way of life, so it is right and proper the council shows leadership, as well as fighting for the rights of its residents to enjoy clean air, instead of the noise and pollution that will accompany this proposal if the federal Government does not come to its senses and look at the other two sites mentioned, much more appropriate, at Badgerys Creek and Eastern Creek. They would also fit in perfectly with the new airport plans for Badgerys Creek, especially the transport infrastructure. So, yes, it’s in the national interest this intermodal, nobody’s questioning that. But the national interest can be served at a site that does not subject nearby residents to extraordinary increases in truck movements and the noise and pollution that would bring.

The state government plans for a third major stadium somewhere in the west or south west is going to pit Liverpool and Campbelltown in a friendly battle for the spoils. The stakes are high – a superb stadium with all the facilities which will host a lot of elite sport when it’s ready. It will bring a lot of revenue to the area it gets built in, so it’s no wonder places like Penrith, Blacktown and Parramatta are pulling out all stops to win the bid. And that’s pretty much what it amounts to, a bid like cities make to win hosting rights for the Olympic Games every four years. So if Campbelltown and Liverpool are to have any chance they need to lift their game, which is what former mayor Paul Lake told his colleagues on Campbelltown Council at a recent council meeting. Lake made a passionate appeal for everyone in Campbelltown, not just the council, to get behind the local bid. We should not only just get this stadium, we must have this stadium, we deserve this stadium, Lake told the council meeting. We want everyone supporting it, including this bloke, Eric Kontos, he thundered as he pointed to me sitting at the media table. I tried to hide but there was nowhere to go. Look, I love the passion of Paul Lake and I really hope he gets back in the big mayoral chair in September, but this is going to be a tough ask. Penrith, and Parramatta in particular, wield a fair bit of power in state politics, so maybe the south west should think about a unity ticket as another option. It may be a little late for this, as Liverpool is also pushing hard for it to get the stadium, with Mayor Ned Mannoun getting plenty of exposure in national media outlets.

I’ve been meeting up with a lot of people across the south west as I try to get the Voice up and running, and it’s brought home to me what a great corner of the world we live in. So many community minded people in Liverpool and Campbelltown, working so hard to help their communities in many ways. And working together, that was the other thing that came out as a distinguishing feature of how we do things around here. And it has also reminded me that successive governments, state and federal, have done very little for us over the years. This has slowly started to change in recent times, but we still mostly miss out when the cake pieces are passed around. Which probably explains why we’ve just decided to get on with it and help ourselves. And you know what they say about those who help themselves. But I got the most pleasure out of finding out that two high profile people of the south west, who belong to different political parties, were planning another dinner together. Yes, another. I know it’s that rare, but out here everyone gets on with everyone else no matter their political leanings because they put what’s good for the community first. Always.

If the next premier of NSW has to be a woman, I think I know who it will be, Melanie Gibbons, the member for Menai. Really, not Gladys Berejiklian, the transport minister? All I know is that Gibbons  will hate me for writing this, because she is a very humble person, but all you can do in this caper is try to call things as you see them. And the way I see things is that this young Liberal member of parliament has got what it takes to sit in the big chair in Macquarie Street some time in the next few years, especially if the Liberals can get their act together and win the next two elections. She is smart and tough, but she’s also a really good local member, extremely loyal to her constituents and their concerns. When she first got elected to parliament in 2011 I remember asking her how far she wanted to go in politics, and from memory I think she said, oh, maybe minister, and I said, not premier? I think if she wants it and is prepared to go for it, well, time will tell.

I think all of Australia’s hearts have gone out to the Perth couple who lost their three young children in the Malaysian Airlines disaster in the Ukraine. There couldn’t possibly be a more heart breaking thing than a parent to lose a child, and they lost all three. A few weeks back I attended the funeral of the 26 year old son of old friends of the family, and thought about the cruel twists and turns of fate that afflict all of us through a lifetime. But I just could not think of anything that could possibly equal the pain parents would go through after losing a child. Awful, simply awful.

That’s it for another week, thank you for reading on to the end. Catch you all next week. In the meantime, please let us know what you think of the Voice and how we can improve it. Let me know at


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