With small business experience as the owner of the Hill Street Store, Darren Walsh is committed to reducing Council’s debt levels and reining in expenditure accoss the board.
Tell us about yourself and why you are running for Council?
I moved to Port Macquarie in my teenage years from the small town of Narromine in the state’s west and went on to meet and marry my wife, Kylie, a Comboyne girl. I spent a number of years in Sydney involved in club, hotel and security management, as well as a few years training the registered courses of RSA and RCG. After starting a family, we decided to move back to the Hastings to raise our children.
For the past nine years, I have owned and operated my own business, employing several staff, which I believe has prepared me, on a smaller scale, for the responsibility of helping to steer our local Council towards a more prosperous future.
My main focus in running for Council is to concentrate on the basic services of roads, rates, rubbish, water, parks and development. I will endeavour to bring back community pride and confidence in living in the Hastings. Our community has suffered as a result of poor consultation and decisions, and we need to respond to this and get back to basics by budgeting carefully and attending to essential services first. We need to keep our state and federal pressures at a good arm’s length and instead, listen to our community.
What are some of your policies leading into the next election?
No policies. The elected Councillors will experience a steep learning curve, just like the first day in a business or a new job. There is no secret recipe … you learn off each other and then make informed decisions as a collective (community/Council staff/Councillors) to bring about the best result for the community. There is a wealth of knowledge amongst the people within our region who should be drawn upon, not consultants where possible, to achieve community outcomes.
If you could fix one pressing issue immediately for the Hastings, what would it be?
Substantially reducing or clearing Council’s debt level needs to be priority one. We also need to rein in expenditure across the board and utilise our assets – both resources and facilities – to their maximum potential
By doing these two very important things, we may well be able to stabilise our rates and be able to deliver the basic services ratepayer are entitled to and deserve.
What is your overall vision for this area leading towards 2020/2030?
My vision for the new Council is to create an organisation that ratepayers, residents and staff can be proud of. I’d like to be one of a team of dynamic Councillors who have learnt from the mistakes of the past and use their knowledge, experience and passion to build our future on a rock-solid financial footing.
Projecting 15 – 20 years in the future is difficult with the ever-changing governmental policies, funding opportunities and economic issues. However, I would like to see our debt level reduced to a manageable amount in the shortest possible time. Without this debt, we will be able to clean up, repair and renew our infrastructure and bring back some pride. The communities of Port Macquarie, Hastings and Camden Haven deserve nothing less.
What is something our readers don’t know about you?
For the entire year of 2011, we held a barbecue and fundraising program for the carers in our community. Our aim was to acknowledge people in thankless jobs by somehow making their work life a little better. At the end of the year, we donated two commercial grade coffee machines, one to the Community Health Campus (old Base Hospital) for travelling regional staff and the other machine to the ER Department at the Base Hospital.
How can readers get in touch with you?
You can catch up with me at my shop, the Hill St Store, or via the details below.