ON TIM Tamlin’s security pass, dangling from his neck as he goes about his work as CEO of the South Gippsland Shire Council, there’s a picture of the Long Jetty at Port Welshpool.
He regards it as one of the shire’s greatest achievements during his 10-year tenure in the top job.
Of course, he rates the collaborative effort which secured the magnificent Karmai Community Children’s Centre for Korumburra as number one. But he’s not on his own there.
“I always remember Peter Ryan saying to me that there’s nothing like a naysayer to get you going,” said Mr Tamlin this week as he contemplates his final days in the council’s employ.
“People said we’d never do it that we were wasting our time.
“But the day we got the Long Jetty over the line (all $11 million of it) was a great day for South Gippsland,” he said.
And there it is, the majestic white curves of its kilometre-long shape framing the name on his blue office pass for all to see.
“We’ve already seen how strongly the jetty has been embraced by visitors and locals alike. Everyone loves it and it has the potential to change the course of the whole Corner Inlet area.
“We’re doing the Port Welshpool Master Plan as we speak with the potential for a marina and some other exciting developments in the future.”
But just talking about the Karmai children’s centre draws a broad smile.
“In my first week here I was approached by the committee. They said we need a new facility for child care in town and we’ve got $100,000 to go towards it.
“By the time we’d finished, we grew it into a $5.4 million build, establishing a 120-place state-of-the-art facility which among other things provides a teaching opportunity for early childhood education providers.
“It’s a model for other regional centres to follow and a fine example of what a true partnership between the community and government can achieve.”
Mr Tamlin paid tribute the tenacity of the local committee and the work of the shire’s former Director, Corporate and Community Services Jan Martin, working with that group to identify the need, including the disadvantage index in the area which was significant.
“We weren’t only up against other areas in the state for funding, we had to prove ourselves against the other projects Australia wide.
“Cr Jeanette Harding, Rebecca Marriott and I went up to Canberra where Russell Broadbent took us around and we made our case,” he said, also acknowledging the work of the planning, design and engineering teams at the shire and ultimately the grants team, regarded as one of the state’s best.
“It’s a tribute to the collaboration between the Council and the community and to think that it’s operating at capacity now.”
Together with the balance Burra Foods provides to the local economy, many regard the Karmai children’s centre as the best thing that’s ever happened to the town.
“The heavy vehicle bypass of Leongatha that was another hard one and the expansion of the Great Southern Rail Trail which has helped revitalise those towns. I never thought we’d get the funding to get through the Black Spur but there it is now, a real feature
of the trail.
“The next thing we’ve got to do is get it through from Leongatha to Korumburra and beyond. I’m a bit surprised we didn’t see an election promise about that.”
His controversial departure from the shire has been well documented.
“My contract runs out on June 24 but my last day will be this Friday, May 24, after which I’ll be on leave. I’ll be available to the Commission of Inquiry and also for any handover issues but with the appointment of one of our directors, Bryan Sword, the handover has been no problem.”
Mr Tamlin’s transition out of the shire, despite what was termed an “appalling” recruitment process by the Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek, has been smoothed by a former
business associate.
“I’m going back to work for an old boss of mine who is relaunching his civil contracting firm (Lincroads Pty Ltd in Pakenham). You never know, we might even tender for a few jobs in South Gippsland.”
A project manager with a science degree, management, banking and finance qualifications; his skills were in demand even before he was cast aside by the strife-torn local council.
Asked why he thought the council rejected his application to continue, even in the Acting CEO role, Mr Tamlin played a straight bat.
“Council was looking for a different skill set to help them with their new direction.”
But the shire council didn’t even interview Mr Tamlin for the job, despite having before them an impressive ‘Expression of Interest’.
“I introduced the Priority Project concept to Council and through my excellent relationships with key people, Council’s advocacy strategies have been very successful. A few examples are included below,” he told the council at the time, listing the $23 million sewerage connection to Meeniyan, Poowong, Nyora and Loch; the creation of a $7 million trade skills precinct in Leongatha; the South Gippsland Highway upgrade $5 million, the Northern Towns Water Supply project $30 million which secured the future of Burra Foods, $30 million for the Leongatha hospital, natural gas, aged care, ViPlus Dairy at Toora, the Foster streetscape and many more.
Of course, these weren’t all Mr Tamlin’s doing but setting up the Priority Projects advocacy system was a crucial component.
It’s worth noting that South Gippsland has the lowest unemployment rate in the region, to June 2018: South Gippsland 4.3%, Baw Baw 4.8%, Wellington 6.4%, Bass Coast 7%, East Gippsland 8.1% and Latrobe 9.5%.
Mr Tamlin believes the South Gippsland Shire has tremendous potential situated as it is on the edge of the Melbourne growth corridor.
He believes the moved to share services between local government in Gippsland will be a game-changer that is well on the way to fruition.
He believes the area’s greatest strengths include its commitment to volunteerism, the region’s blend of industry and agriculture, its clean and green image, and its natural beauty led by Wilsons Promontory.
He said the shire was set up to prosper and he was proud of the contribution he had been able to make over the past 10 years.