✦ Peta shares with Brilliant-Online her successes in local government, goals for 2023 and aspirations for not only her future, but for all of her constituents and the Greater Port Macquarie/Hastings region as a whole.
The December election was a great achievement for Peta; coming in with a team to support her proved to be beneficial as she was elected as Mayor and all four Councillor candidates on her ticket were elected as well.
“It's really important that you have a team behind you to get things achieved," she told us. "Local government is still political, there's politics at play, and it's really important that you have people support you.”
A $288 million budget, for the benefit of the community
Another proud moment for Mayor Pinson was the delivery of a large budget. At the time we spoke, Council was six months into the budget, with six months to go.
“It was really important for me as Mayor, with a supportive team, to be able to send a message to the community to say, core business is our priority. This is what the Council needs to focus on. So our road network is a priority, we all know how bad our road network is.”
In the last six months Port Macquarie Hastings Council (PMHC) has put a lot of money into the road network, repairing the infrastructure, especially some of the area's major arterial roads.
“A classic example of that at the moment is Kennedy Drive. But not only that, our sewer network, we haven't made significant investments in those areas in a long period of time. It's time to get real and be honest, own up to that and be accountable. So, a lot of money has been put into our sewer network, and also our stormwater network,” said Peta.
We have all seen from the deluge of rain over the last couple of years, the impact of the unprecedented weather events on the Port Macquarie Industrial area and Wauchope CBD as a couple of examples.
“Bear in mind, a lot of this infrastructure when it was planned back in the day is 50 plus years old and isn't coping with, obviously, the growth, and we've seen a high growth rate, especially in the last five years. So we really need to invest in those areas. And we have been, and I'm really proud of that,” commented Peta.
Opportunity and Challenge
Peta explained that one of the most frustrating aspects of her role is dealing with bureaucracy, whether it be at a local government level within her own political backyard, or at a state level.
“So there's a lot of legislation that we're hamstrung by. That really frustrates me. But I'm certainly a person who makes it known exactly what I think and how I feel, and I go into bat for our community and have done since day one.”
Council meetings can be challenging, remember there are nine individual Councillors that have been elected, so nine opinions, nine votes.
“I went to the election with a team of five on the team Pinson ticket, I chose these individuals as I felt at the time they were like minded and most aligned to the community values and expectations.
"When we come into the chamber, we all come in as individuals, but in saying that it can be challenging in the chamber, because at times we have differences of opinion. And some people see things differently. And that's democracy. You certainly see it at play in some of the council meetings.”
Hopes for 2023
We are developing the Port Macquarie Hastings Blueprint, a helicopter view of our region looking at where the growth areas are, where the pinch points are going to be and where responsible development should occur and where it shouldn’t.
“Development is really important to our community at the moment. There's a lot of infill development, duplexes and the like happening and people are becoming quite upset about it,” she said. “State Government legislation allows some of these developments to happen. Infill development puts pressure on infrastructure, vehicle parking, garbage services, stormwater and sewer. As the area grows all of these services are needed by more people.”
Peta stressed that we need to keep in mind the reasons why we live in this beautiful region and why we don’t want it to be totally overpopulated and ruined.
“We have to be really considerate about the types of development we're allowing, we're going to be having those discussions this year," she said. "I'm looking forward to that. And that feeds back into the conversation of the blueprint, having that high level, looking down over our region, to be sympathetic to our environment, obviously, because we have a beautiful environment. And looking after that as well, because one of the top priorities for our community is that our environment is not damaged, through our growth and through development.”
Peta further explained she feels the big growth areas in our region are Camden Haven and Beechwood, west of Wauchope. Homes are popping up everywhere in these areas.
“Can you believe it? Even with all of these houses, we have a housing crisis in Port Macquarie-Hastings!”
Community input is always welcome
Via regular engagement sessions, community members get to have their say and report any concerns that they have. Also, community members can go online through the Council website and Apps, and report concerns in real time like a tree down, a pothole, or issues like graffiti.
“I want people to think about this, the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they go to bed at night, Council touches their lives in some way, shape, or form.”
Peta believes that the Council has a huge responsibility on behalf of their community to look after the health, wellbeing, and happiness of the people that live in the region.
It’s Peta’s sixth year in local government, her second term as Mayor.
”I've never in my life, and I'm almost 54, been aligned with any political party, but I'm a conservative/progressive voter," she told us. "That however changed in December 2022 when I joined the National Party to run as a candidate in the State election for the seat of Port Macquarie."
She’s running for State Politics - Why?
“Why not?” she replied. “I have been asked continually over the past year to run and I finally said yes.”
She has now joined the National Party because they asked her and because she aligns with their values.
Peta continues, “And the other thing is, the National Party represents the region's rural, regional Australia. And rural regional New South Wales is where the bulk of the people are moving to. Since COVID people have reshaped and reassessed their lives, moving to regions like ours for a better lifestyle.”
Putting her Mayoral hat on, she says it's her job as the leader of Council to ensure that a better lifestyle is provided. If she puts her Candidate hat on, it's her job she says to ensure she is elected so she can represent the concerns of the constituents at a State level as well.
Election day is March 25, but campaigning for Peta will start after Australia Day.
Peta will remain Mayor if Elected to State Government
One thing she has learned is that trust is hard to gain in her position as well as the confidence of the community. So she’s not standing down as Mayor, she will do both jobs, and we at Brilliant-Online believe she will do this brilliantly!
She knows how to delegate, hot to share the workload. She has Mayoral staff, a Deputy Mayor and the other seven Councillors.
“Adam Roberts, the Deputy Mayor, is a great support for me, as Councillor's Slade and Maltman. I consulted with my team beforehand and received their full support along with Council's CEO, Dr. Clare Allen. I've got a wonderful EA in Linda Kosis, I've joined an exceptional team in the National Party, who know I'm going to represent the State and the region of Port Macquarie, the best way I can as the candidate.”
What does Australia Day mean to you?
“It's a really special time for me as Mayor. We are the only people who are able to take people from their homeland country and welcome them as new Australian citizens. That's very powerful. It is very emotional. I'm getting goosebumps talking about it. Every time I do an Australian citizenship ceremony, it's different. This Australia Day, there are 32 people who will stand before me and together we will walk through the ceremony and at the end of it and they will become proud Australians. What a great part of the job. Australia Day for me is about that first and foremost.”
Australia is a melting pot of multiculturalism. And for that we're better, we're stronger. I think we're more accepting. I've seen the changes in the last 30 years in Port Macquarie. Changes in culture and diversity.
Once upon a time, the only people that were in the Port Macquarie region were white Anglo Saxons, and they were mostly retirees. You look at Port Macquarie Hastings region today and you see such diversity from every corner of the globe. We are seeing such a change in our demographic of age, we're not a retirement village anymore. And for those who do retire here, they are the most active seniors I've ever met. We have schools that are bursting at the seams. We have young families moving here, we have professionals that have so much to offer, the value of our region is so much greater for the diversity that we have.”
Business outlook for 2023
Peta believes that businesses should always look for opportunity, and try to bring something niche into their market.
”I can say that because my husband and I are business people," she says. "I look at life through a commercial lens and would advise businesses to invest some time in growing their own personal worth as well. Find mentors, read books, go on and look at blogs or podcasts, because it's really important that you surround yourself with energetic, motivated people. There's nothing worse than feeling unmotivated, disempowered, frustrated and sad about a business that you're creating. If you don't feel great about your business, what are your customers going to feel? I think 2023 is going to be a difficult time for some industries. But for others, they're going to flourish because opportunities are going to present themselves.
The past 3 years or so have been a challenge. It’s come from everywhere. If we haven't been in a pandemic, we've been in flood, bushfires and drought.
“From a business perspective, if there's any advice I can give business people is to surround yourself with good people that are there to support you. Because when you're in business, goodness knows you need support. Look for those opportunities in business. They're there if you look hard enough.”
Final words from Peta
"We sit in a very opportunistic time here in our region, we're a well known region. Certainly we were put on the map at Christmas time 2022, with our wonderful decorated Christmas tree. And, you know what I love about that story is that Australians are quirky, and it was a quirky tree, and a lot of people embraced that.
"But, there were so many people that in the beginning were so upset, and I don't want to see my community upset. I will do my utmost to make sure that their wants, wishes and needs are represented. So it was decided the best thing we could do was put up the traditional Christmas tree and take down the other.
The Christmas tree represented the resilience that we'd been through over the last few years. I think we all sort of aligned with that Christmas tree thinking, 'Yeah, we all feel a little bit that way'. You know, our lights are a bit dishevelled and our baubles are a little displaced. But, for me, I guess that was the moment where Port Macquarie was put on the map. So something really great came out of something that was challenging.
"We're going to have another crack at that Christmas tree, and we're actually going to come back bigger, better and stronger than ever in 2023."
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