FOCUS caught up with our effervescent local Mayor, Mrs Peta Pinson, as she approaches her first anniversary in the role. Peta shares with us her experiences of the last 12 months in the seat and what her future goals are for our greater community …
How has your first year as Mayor of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council been?
My first year of being Mayor of the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has been been really exciting, it’s been interesting, I’m learning lots, up-skilling; there’s been a lot of personal growth and getting to know the community on a different level.
What have you learnt about the Mayoral position, that you didn’t know before being elected?
There’s a lot of governance involved in being the Mayor of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, regulations involved in the Local Government act, and I’m getting to know those as the time goes on. I guess I didn’t realise how involved that was right at the start.
You’re the first female Mayor for our Council. Have you encountered any kind of stereotyping or issues in this field?
Being the first female Mayor of Port Macquarie, I have experienced some stereotyping – obviously when you’re the first to enter into a realm like this as a woman there are people who aren’t very comfortable with women leading in that kind of role, and I’ve come up against that on a couple of occasions.
How have you overcome those issues?
I guess just speaking to people in general and explaining to them what my position is, what my vision is and what I intend on doing in the leadership role.
Let’s talk relationships. One of your election comments was that you’d be strengthening the relationships between State and Federal Members; has this happened and how so?
I believe that building and then strengthening relationships in business is extremely important. In all levels of Government we are in the business of delivering for our community. To do this we must have respect for each other and work together to achieve outcomes. From day one, I have been focused on improving the relationships with our Federal and State Members, and the feedback from many in our community is that they are glad to see us all working together.
What’s one thing our Council does really well, in your opinion?
I’ve discovered that the community engagement is exceptional. There are many Council staff who are so highly community focused; I’ve been involved in popup shops, where they go out and engage with the community, they ask what the community are thinking, and I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with that side of Council operations.
How would you rate the support you get from your fellow Councillors?
I’m not going to lie; as soon as we came into being together as a Council unit, there were some difficult moments. We’ve been overcoming those as we’ve gotten to know each other; I am respectful of the views of others, as I hope they are respectful of mine.
What are your top three priorities as Mayor for the next three years?
Duplication of Ocean Drive between Matthew Flinders Drive and Green Meadows; we need to alleviate that congestion for motorists travelling from the south. It is in a high growth state down in the Camden Haven region, and we’re really experiencing the traffic chaos that comes through those roundabouts.
My second priority would be to see the designs and the detailed designs developed for the orbital road, which will again alleviate traffic concerns coming from the west, where we have congestion and blockage at the Wright’s Road Roundabout. As we grow, traffic is going to be an issue … Parking is also an issue, so that is one of the priorities I’d like to see addressed also – our parking situation.
Another priority of mine is more from a social aspect. The community has spoken loud and clear about its desire for an ocean pool, and I am working with the community on how we may realise that in the future. It’s not going to happen overnight, there are constraints around the environment, but through working with Crown Lands and the support of Council as the proponent for any future DA is what I’d like to see happen, with funding raised through the community or community groups.
You’re juggling life as a business woman, Mayor, attending to your civil duties; how do you keep a good balance of work/life and your community role?
Soon after I was elected, I made a decision to resign as Managing Director of my company and take on the role of Mayor as a full-time role, and I’ve done that since day one. I think the Mayor needs to be a full-time position to be available to the community and community events that are happening – and there are plenty of them. I have staff looking after the business; I do pop in from time to time to connect with my staff and touch base with what’s going on.
Being a people person, I really love to engage with different types people and listen to their stories, so the life balance is I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but I was a busy woman before!
I get out in the community, meet new people, my husband gets involved on occasion, my children are grown, I’m a grandmother to a two year old little boy, and sometimes he comes along to events. It’s a bit of a family atmosphere. My daughter accompanies me as well; the family are sharing my experience too.