If you can’t make the commitment... OPINION Tyla Harrington

August 25, 2017

THE most disappointing thing about Murray River Council’s forum was the apologies from so many candidates.

People attended the MRC forum on Thursday night so they could make an informed vote before heading to the polls next month.

But that was not possible.

Because out of the nine candidates in the Moama and Greater Murray ward only five showed up.

From the Moama ward Chris Bilkey, Geoff Mackenzie and Nicole Cohen attended. Gen Campbell was an apology.

For the Greater Murray ward only Tom Weyrich and John Pocklington were present while newcomers Nicole Stenhouse, Geoff Wise and Tony Aquino were all absent from the floor.

Greater Wakool candidate Neil Gorey found the time despite not being invited to speak.

Committee for Echuca Moama chair Geoff Kelly said it was ‘‘disappointing’’ but he understood not everyone could make the meeting.

The host was much kinder than I, however.

I understand people have commitments or appointments. We are all human.

But if you are putting your hand up to be a councillor on the recently amalgamated shire, unfortunately you won’t have any other choice but to find the time.

Cancel your appointments and clear your diary.

Because this has to come before everything else.

And the reason for that is simple — you all have your work cut out for you.

Not only do the new councillors have to get their heads around almost 12,000 square kilometres, they also have to forge a path forward, while carrying the baggage of the suspended Murray Shire.

That’s why I wasn’t forgiving when I didn’t see all the candidates at the Moama Bowling Club on Wednesday night.

If you can’t spare two hours to speak and answer questions how can I expect you will find the time to be a councillor?

The answer to that is simple — I simply can’t.

We have an opportunity here to change the sad history of what was Murray Shire.

But we can’t do that if those elected to do so don’t have the time to do it.

So I ask those who did not attend the meeting on Wednesday night: Do you really want this?

Do you really want to be elected to Murray River Council?

Because by no means will this road be an easy drive.

There will be bumps, pot holes and dead ends.

We need people who are not only capable of navigating such difficult terrain but those who have the time and passion to do so.

We can’t afford to have councillors stuck on the side of the road juggling appointments they can’t afford to miss.

That — I’m afraid — will not be good enough and the ratepayers of Murray River Council deserve better.

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