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Peta Pinson: Mayor, Business Owner and Candidate for State Government Election

✦ Peta Pinson believes that when we're faced with problems, they're actually opportunities in disguise.

Peta Pinson, like most women, is a very busy lady. She has many roles on any given day, from Port Macquarie Hastings Council’s Mayor to co-owner with her husband of a successful local business and a Mum to two grown children who are now having children of their own, plus she is running as a candidate in the upcoming State Government election.

Brilliant-Online welcomes her involvement in this very special edition celebrating the many wonderful business women in our midst and International Women’s Day on March 8. When we interviewed Peta it was her birthday, needless to say we were chuffed that she took the time out of her special day to spend with us.

Such a vivacious and friendly lady, she joined in our photo session with ease, laughing along with the other gorgeous women gracing our pages this month.

Advice to Women in Business

She told us that she admires women who take on a role in business or who open their own business.

“Male or female, being a small, medium or large business operator is a real commitment, all businesses have their own challenges. But when you add into the mix, as women, we bear the children and are the primary caregivers for the most part, it takes on another dimension,” she said.

She further acknowledged that running and growing a business whilst raising a family at the same time, is one of the largest challenges in her life.

“I certainly found that when my children were growing up. My husband and I were growing a business and I was also working full time for the radio station. It was a great time in my life, but also a high pressure time because I had young children to take to school, daycare or preschool,” Peta told us.

Peta acknowledged the hard economic times being experienced across the region are adding pressures to business and families.

“What we're seeing is money stripped out of our household budgets, mostly as a result of the interest rate rises," commented Peta. "A lot of people were not anticipating rate rises until 2024. The rises have taken away some of the dollars for essentials.”

She told us that she admires women who take on a role in business or who open their own business as featured in Brilliant-Online
Peta told us that she admires women who take on a role in business or who open their own business

There are now flow on effects.

“Our retail industry and hospitality industries are all affected," she explained. "There are people who aren't going to take holidays now that they have to find that extra cash for their mortgages. They're struggling to put food on the table and then keep the banks at bay.”

Depending on what the business is, not all businesses are going to necessarily go through the downturn.

“There are businesses that will thrive, because new markets are opening up and niche businesses are finding their mark as well. In any climate, whether it's an unstable economic climate or strong, it takes courage to start a business and it's not an overnight success. Our business has taken many, many years to produce the fruit it has today. So I would say to people, make sure you do your homework, make sure you do the figures. And, double check that again, and then be prepared for the roller coaster that is business.”

But Peta realises that some businesses are going to come to a point where they need to make a choice. If they're going to downsize because of a downturn, or whether they're going to push through. She advises businesses to reach out if things get tough. Use the specialty advice of bankers or your accountant, any advisors that you may have.

“I'm not going to sugarcoat it, we are going to see some difficult times moving ahead. Interest rates, cost of living and there's always a great deal of uncertainty in the lead up to an election, especially if it's a federal or state election, because these are our higher policymakers.”

Innovation and problem solving

Acknowledging that you don’t have to be in business to be innovative, Peta said that you need to look at the problem and work toward the solution.

"I always ask, what is the outcome I want to achieve and why do I want to achieve that outcome? Then I work back from there. We tend to look for problems in crises.”

Peta believes that when we're faced with problems, they're actually opportunities in disguise. Sometimes we're on the wrong path and maybe the problem has been put before us to send us on a different route. She always looks at problems as solvable. There's no problem that can't be overcome, it's just the way that you go about it.

Can businesses help make earth a better place?

Peta told us, “I would say we're a wasteful society, we send a lot to landfill, which fills our Earth up and pollutes under the ground. It takes many, many 1000’s and millions and trillions of years to break down.”

There needs to be more recycling, she said. “As a business or just as a human being, we all need to do our part to ensure that we’re not filling up our Earth with our rubbish.”

Admitting that she absolutely loves clothes, Peta told us that she tends not to purchase clothes that are trending and used for one season because she sees a very large amount of clothing going into landfill.

“I would say buy clothing of quality that you really, really love that you will wear for years to come. Buy clothes that are timeless, not wear something once and throw it away. “

All politics is local

Everything that happens, whether it be local, state or federal affects us at a local level. It affects how we live, how we do business, how we move about.

“There is not a thing that the government does that doesn't touch a part of our life, in every waking hour. We are going to see some difficult times and how the next government handles those difficult times will be the measure of our success,” Peta told us.

“ As the Mayor I'm so proud. Last year we made some radical changes and some radical decisions, I should say, about a rate freeze, about not raising rates by the rate cap, even though it was a very small percentage amount. We did that to signal to our community that we knew these hard times were coming.”

The majority of Port Macquarie Hastings Council (PMHC) Councillors recognised that it's very important as a council to play their part in stimulating the local economy. Peta told us that the Council is making those choices in the chamber on a monthly basis.

How? They have community grants open right at this moment. PMHC are reinvesting money back into our community organisations to improve our community's well being and appearance. They also have a buy local policy within the council for procurement, supporting local businesses by doing business with those businesses.

“We've also delivered one of the largest budgets last year that Council has ever seen," said Peta. "And it's certainly my intention going into the new budget for this year, that we keep our foot on the pedal, spinning the wheels of the economy and spending money and investing into our community.”

The next Council election will be in September 2024. As Mayor, Peta will be saying goodbye to the community. She told us, “I will not be re-standing regardless of what happens at the State election.”

Peta says that being the Mayor is a huge commitment, but one that has seen her grow as a person through the challenges.

She’s had just about everything thrown at her in her time as Mayor. From her community being devastated by floods, bushfires, pandemics, tornadoes, you name it, it's come her way during her leadership term.

For the Council at the moment she thinks the challenge is delivering the expected infrastructure to a growing community with the money that they don't have.

“As a Council we cannot just continue to rely on rates, we need the upper levels of government to really dig deep into their pockets and provide that infrastructure for growing communities like ours.”

There hasn’t been a special rate variation in the Port Macquarie Hastings LGA for many years, it’s not something that Peta would like to burden her community with, especially going into these times.

“But we need to provide, we're being pressured into providing greater security for our water. Storm water and sewer networks need upgrading, and we need to build new plants for the amazing developments that we're seeing pop up throughout the region. Road networks, obviously we're working hard on, remediating and upgrading those, but that takes millions of dollars to do these sorts of things.”

“We really need the State and Federal Governments to support Local Government," Peta stressed. "Port Macquarie Hastings Council are at the grassroots level, we're the face of the community.”

This has played a part in her decision to join the National Party and stand as a candidate in the State election. She knows where the gaps are, knows where the money's needed.

She gives us an example. “We have an ageing aquatic centre. We have just recently put through Council that we're going to move forward to stage a brand new Aquatic Center, and our region deserves that but it's $70 million. And that's just stage one. We need the State Government to partner with us now. We'll probably have to go into some borrowings for that and look very seriously towards grants. But these are the things our community is expecting Local Governments like ours to deliver. “

State Government Expectations

Peta’s hope, if elected, is to be one of the strongest advocates for the Port Macquarie electorate.

“That goes all the way down to Coopernook and Harrington. There is some significant infrastructure that's required there too. Harrington has been pleading for an ambulance station, we're seeing a population explosion in that area. We're talking about lives at risk. Having an ambulance in the town will save lives”

"Some of the electorate's largest pieces of infrastructure and assets are in need of serious attention, the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and the airport. I'm not satisfied with the safety initiatives that were undertaken at Houston Mitchell Drive. I want to see the plans and the designs fast tracked so we can approach the Federal Government to fund the delivery of it,” Peta told us. “It's a huge issue. There are over 15,000 traffic movements on that road, which means there's 15,000 times people are putting their life at risk to cross the highway.”

Vote for Peta Pinson as featured in Brilliant-Online
Vote for Peta

Back on Port Macquarie Peta has concerns about the southern breakwall debate. “We cannot allow that breakwall in its current form to be destroyed. I've been very loud and outspoken about that," she said.

"I'll give Brilliant a scoop that no other media outlet has at the moment, that I have in my possession the report undertaken by the independent engineer, Angus Gordon, who is a world renowned coastal breakwater specialist. I'm about to provide that to the Deputy Premier. And I can say this much, that report is one of the best investments of $8,000 this community could have made.”

$8,000 raised In six days! This is why Peta wants to be part of representing such a vibrant, connected, interested community. She says they deserve a fighter in Macquarie Street and she wants to be that fighter.

If you have a hospital and an airport, you really know the size of your town, add to that Port Macquarie is a University town as well. So we're on the map, as far as the Port Macquarie Hastings region is concerned.

“But we need the State and Federal Governments to do their part too. I hope to be part of the State Government that delivers on some of these really large assets that need upgrading and expanding,” said Peta.

Remaining Mayor, running for State Government

How will this work? Legislation works in Peta’s favour. She can be the Mayor and then a Member of Parliament for a period of two years, whichever comes first prior to an election. There's about 18 months between the State Government election and the Local Government election.

“So I can hold both seats under the legislation. I'm not trailblazing. It's been done before, by people with much more experience than me and they've done it well. I've got a great team behind me. I've got wonderful support. I don't have young children anymore and don't have those pressures of caring for younger children. I'm only 54 years of age, I've got endless energy at the moment and I offer myself to the community as a servant leader to them and to represent a vested interest in Parliament.”

The State Member works for the electorate of Port Macquarie and the Mayor works for the region of the Port Macquarie Hastings.

“What's interesting is there's a lot of crossover between Local and State governments. We do need to work closely together so I can promise you I will get along very well with myself with all issues to do with Local and State.”


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