ROSEMARY Cousin, an organic farmer of Allambee South is the shock replacement for former Cr Maxine Kiel on the South Gippsland Shire Council. At the counting of Mrs Kiel’s votes by two officers from the Victorian Electoral Commission in Leongatha yesterday afternoon, Mrs Cousin was heard to exclaim “what, me” before breaking down in tears.
She quickly regained her composure and accepted hugs from Cr Don Hill, with whom she shared a ticket at the 2016 election, and Cr Andrew McEwen.
Mrs Cousin won with 982 votes, to Nigel Hutchison-Brooks 851 with Kim White being the final one of the other nine eligible candidates excluded in the computer countback. Mrs Cousin was gracious in her acceptance speech.
“I’m sorry Maxine resigned. I considered her to be an excellent councillor and someone I admire greatly. Two years is a long time since the election and since then I have joined the Australian Greens but that’s nothing to be scared about because I am an excellent listener and I want to talk to people and hear what people say and I will represent the Tarwin Valley Ward to the best of my ability,” Mrs Cousins said.
“I want ratepayers to seek me out and tell me their concerns. This community is in the doldrums. We need a council with leadership, that works together. I have enormous respect for the other councillors and I want what’s best for the shire. We just have to crack the nut and be able to have tough, fair discussions and listen to all points of view and then make decisions. That’s what’s been missing. I would like to see us break through any suggestion of bullying and intimidation and be a strong council and use every opportunity to have South Gippsland go ahead.”
Her husband, Richard Nankin, also attended, noting that the couple ran an organic farm at Allambee South and Rosemary is on the steering committee of the Mirboo North ‘Preserve Our Forest’ group.
The count was supervised by Katrina Collins, VEC Returning Officer, and Keegan Bartlett, the VEC Electoral Registrar, but problems getting online took more time than the actual count.
The Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt, CEO Tim Tamlin and former candidate Nigel Hutchison-Brooks also attended. Mr Hutchison-Brooks said the result was not unexpected and saved him having to make a difficult decision.