FORMER Tamworth mayor James Treloar hopes to add another civic title to his impressive local government career today, Wednesday, by being elected the new president of the Local Government Association of NSW.
The Tamworth councillor is one of eight candidates vying for the votes of some 561 ballot papers from delegates to the state conference in Sydney. Another is Walcha councillor Maria Woods.
The vote is made up of metropolitan and regional or country councils.
While Cr Treloar’s not confident about his chances, there are plenty of bush councillors who are expected to give him their vote.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray and deputy Russell Webb have been lobbying for a Treloar vote.
Cr Webb said Cr Treloar was an astute bloke with a high degree of credibility within local government circles, not least because of his background but also because he might be seen as fair and unbiased, with a keen knowledge and integrity in local government affairs.
The conference today will elect the first president of the new joint body, which has brought the old shires association and the bigger local government body together.
Councils are distributed votes on their population size. Tamworth Regional has four votes, Narrabri has two but some of the bigger Sydney councils have six or seven.
Cr Treloar said he believed he could bring a moderating influence to the new job, an independent stance outside the factionalism and party politics that has characterised metropolitan council matters.
But above that, he believes the new association has to reflect a new, modern, workable and inclusive relationship with the state.
“The independent review panel did suggest we need new ideas and a fresh way of working with the state government, and that’s what I think I can possibly bring to the organisation,” the long-serving councillor said yesterday, on the eve of the conference.
“The two bodies need to respect each other’s roles in government and provide outcomes, rather than one side chucking hand grenades at the other.
“We need to establish a good framework to work with each other and respect those different views, to provide the community with good outcomes.
“At the end of the day I don’t believe our organisation is a shadow opposition to the state government.”
Cr Treloar said the state government had asked the local body to engage with its communities in establishing their 10-year strategic plans and he saw that role as one of advocacy, so local councils could bring community needs and demands to the state.
In the case of Tamworth, he suggested issues like health and law enforcement were community priorities; and, while councils weren’t responsible for policies or decision-making for issues like that, they needed to advocate on the part of the public for the government responsible for their funding.
He said there needed to be clearer guidelines on traditional local and state roles, citing examples like pensioner rebates.
If local government was expected to get involved in things like that, they needed to be funded to do it, he said.