Rebekah Lowe and Mayor Peter Gandolfi in 5THE FM’s Studios
by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Mayor Wattle Range Council Peter Gandolfi joined 5 THE FM’s Rebekah Lowe on Wednesday 22nd January for the first Council news segment 5THE FM for 2014. The Mayor said he spent a quiet Christmas with wife Kathy, enjoying his own region, generally loafing off in shorts at barbeques, trips through-out Canunda and the sand dunes around the magnificent local coastline on the regions front door step.
“Our tourist numbers were up too for the holiday period,” he said. “Tourists travelling with in their own state and interstate travellers increased in the region.” “We had warm weather; we have the best red wine around, best coastline and a lot in-between.”
Back to Council business and the Mayor said he proposed to Council, at the first meeting for the year on Tuesday 21st January, that Council establish an Economic Development Advisory Committee and it be an important focus for this year.
An Economic Development Advisory Committee’s sole focus would be the development of business and the creation of jobs in the area.
Mayor Gandolf said that he was aware that Council had established many advisory committees over the years it had been a long time since there had been such a committee focused totally on the development of business and job creation. The Advisory Committee would be formed from high calibre business people who have business experience who are in business now. They will advise council on ways to attract businesses to the region with the aim of increasing employment.
The Mayor addressed the internal changes in Council, saying the ‘new’ CEO Peter Harriott has now been in the role for 12 months, replacing former CEO Frank Brennan, and has brought many new ideas and strategies to Council. Deputy CEO Sid Jain is also a new face replacing Geoff Moffatt.
Director of Development Services Glen Brown has resigned and enjoy retirement.
“Councils are forever, but people change. Councils should also be under review all the time,” said Mayor Gandolfi “Councils now do more of what State Govt used to do.”
Penola Business Association ran a Santa Competition and resulted in many stuffed Santa’s featured though out the popular tourist town of Penola. Some Santa’s were seen reclining on a deck chair with an esky, many displayed a toilet humour theme and the winner was a Santa in a long-drop toilet complete with huge red-back. They created a great deal of interest and a chuckle. “The Millicent Street Party with Josh Burdon flying high above the buildings was a great success too.” Mr Gandolfi commended the Penola Business Association on their new website which promotes their own area and the region as a whole. www. penola .org
The Mayor said he attended the Public Works Committee hearing regarding the Penola By-Pass as a witness on behalf of the Wattle Range Council. Members of the Committee considered the matter and it recommended that the project proceed and on December 17th the Speaker of the House of Assembly signed off on the report. This represented the final process of funding the first stage of the project.
The Penola By-Pass first stage, from Riddock Rd to Robe Rd, will commence soon with the relocation of the services of power and water. “Not every-one will be happy and Council will receive flack no matter where it goes but Council has to make the decision in the greater interest of the community and the safety of the people of Penola is a major consideration in this process.” “Now we need to secure Federal Funding for the second stage.”
Mayor Gandolfi went on to say that this project began with discussions in the 1950’s and has been a long process. Mayor Gandolfi is the third Mayor to oversee the Penola By-Pass beginning with the late Mayor Don Fergusson, former Mayor Mark Braes and now Mayor Gandolfi. “I was reading an old article recently that expressed a community’s view on a proposed by-pass which sounded as if it were describing the issues that have surrounded the Penola By Pass, only to find that the same concerns surrounded the then proposed Jubilee Highway in Mt Gambier,” he said.
2014 will see Council consolidate legacy items, for example the Penola By Pass, the Beachport boatramp and move on to new projects. Job creation will continue to be a focus, Council will seek to attain Government services in the area. An ‘Ask the Govt’ doc covering a range of areas including drainages taxes and obstetric services has been prepared. The Council opposes any new tax for drainage and believes it should be paid from general revenue.
On the subject of the state of obstetric service at the Millicent Hospital, the Mayor said he does not believe the bureaucrats have the will, nor the intention to re-instate obstetric services. “Their (CHSA) lack of interest was obvious at the Public Meeting held in 2013,” he said. “It is evident that their no genuine intention to re-instate the service and we can only hope that with a change of government there will be a change of bureaucrats ,” he said. “The Millicent Hospital is only carrying out emergency births and despite offers being made to Country Health SA, they insist on outsourcing the entire service. The Medical Clinic Millicent has said they will do a certain amount and but CHSA insist on all or nothing and yet it is the responsibility of CHSA to provide the remainder, after all it is their hospital, not the Medical Clinic’s hospital, the responsibility lays with CHSA.
As Australia Day approaches Mayor Gandolfi said he is a proud Australian and as Mayor he rotates, between Beachport, Penola Millicent and Kalangadoo and this year he will be attending and presenting the Australia Day Awards at Penola. “In addition to the Council events, there are other privately arranged events and I encourage every- one to get involved. There are events at Southend, Mt Burr and Tantanoola.” “When I became Mayor I really got the full picture of just how much is done by volunteers in our community.” It is a good opportunity as Mayor to find out what people are contributing in volunteer hours, service clubs, sporting bodies, local radio station, aged care, hospital auxillary and so many more that I don’t want to miss anyone.” “These people make an amazing contribution to the community.” “ Mayor Gandolfi, what does being Australian mean to you,?” Rebekah asked. “I am a proud Australian, we live in the most marvellous country, we live in a democracy, we will always have disagreements but when you see what’s happening around the world……… we are so lucky and living here in Wattle Range……….why it’s the centre of the universe isn’t it.”