As we approach the stroke of midnight tonight and say farewell to 2016, I’ve just been looking back over my diary. This is my 5th year as Lord Mayor and what a year it has been for the City of Darwin.
My role as Lord Mayor
People often ask me what the role of the Lord Mayor is all about and the answer is complex. There is no duty statement but lots of expectations.There are the Civic and Corporate roles.
The Civic Role
This last year as part of my Civic role, I have attended on average between 15 and 20 events every month. These are events such as fundraising dinners, multi-cultural festivals, opening of halls and buildings, receptions at Government and Parliament House, school assemblies and sporting events. Of course, most of these events are held on weekends or after hours, so it does impact on my family time, but I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband.
I also host Mayoral receptions at the Civic Centre, recognising many community groups. Just recently we held the launch of the NTAHC World Aids Day Program and the International Volunteers Day celebration. Some events are very small, but I am always happy to lend the gravitas of the Lord Mayor’s position to a good cause.
The Corporate Role
The Corporate role is what I call doing the business of Council. This includes 2 ordinary Council meetings and 3 standing committee meetings most months. Meetings with constituents, consultants, staff and politicians from other levels of Government.
Some ordinary Council meetings may have up to 300 pages of pre-reading (one memorable one had 600+), committee meetings tend to have between 80 and 100.That is a lot of reading that needs to be done before each meeting.
I read most of my papers on my iPad as it allows me to make the print bigger when I get a little tired. Not sure what Dad did before all this technology came in!
2016 in brief
A bi-election late in 2015 meant that in 2016, there were two new Aldermen joining the team. Both Aldermen Palmer and Young came in to represent the Lyons Ward.
So many great things happened this year and these include, but are not limited to:
- A Council decision to NOT increase casual parking fees for the 2016/17 financial year
- Installing shade structures over 37 community playgrounds
- Commencing work on the Parap Pool Redevelopment
- Adopting the Safer Vibrant Darwin Plan
- Installing a new public toilet in Civic Park
- Multiple works on the Coastal Erosion Management Plan projects
- Solar panels at the Nightcliff and Casuarina Pools
- Free Wifi continuing to be rolled out around the CBD
On the national stage, I was honoured to be the Chairman for the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors, establishing agreed advocacy platforms and meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull to obtain a commitment that every Capital City will be offered a City Deal. This was great exposure for Darwin as Australia’s northern Capital City.
I also led the debate on Marriage Equality at the Australian Local Government Association’s National Congress. It was a long and often emotional debate that eventually led to the Association having a clear direction that we will support Marriage Equality.
All in all, it’s been a very busy year that included heated community debates on issues such as The Esplanade separated bike lane and traffic lights vs roundabouts. Suffice to say, the processes of Council chugged along until agreed solutions could be found.
Happy New Year!