I believe this election is very important, not only for South Gippsland but for the whole Gippsland region for the next decade. Preferences are being directed via ‘How to Vote’ cards in the Tarwin Valley Ward by two distinct groupings. Heaven help us, this may bring back more polarised rather than collegiate thinking in the new council.

My short experience on council showed me the dangers of such polarisation, and I saw many examples of lack of concern for personal interactions and intransigent, self-interested behaviour driven by polar views from councillors on both sides of these groupings that have been around over the last three terms of council.

Thanks to my Master of Public Administration, in my short term in the last council, I recognised that poor governance ran deeply not only amongst councillors but also in the upper echelons of the administration which flowed into some of the shire’s day-to-day service delivery.

Despite facing misogynism and ingrained biases, I stuck with it. To give you an example: I asked the CEO for assistance from a council staff member to work with me briefing local traders on council’s new economic data.

The officer failed to attend the meeting as was agreed. I received no apology or explanation, and the traders didn’t receive the vital economic data. In my view, that was unacceptable corporate-level undermining of me as a councillor, and this occurred in the full view of the Local Government Monitor.

Readers might recall I’ve written recently about the continued dismissive, bordering on rude response from the administration to road safety concerns of Dumbalk residents that I first raised on behalf of residents in 2018 and remain today.

Drawn from my many conversations with people from the length and breadth of the Tarwin Valley Ward and across the shire, before and during this election campaign, I’ve set out five top priorities to restore the community confidence in South Gippsland Council:
1. Apply principles of transparency, proactiveness and responsiveness across the governance and business of council.
2. Dangerous intersections, road network and public transport improvements.
3. A Climate and Biodiversity Declaration.
4. Pandemic recovery action; and
5. Looking after the shire’s natural assets.

If people want to see detail for each of these priority actions, they can contact me. My intention is to work towards all five priorities if I’m elected, and to keep listening to and representing the communities in Tarwin Valley and South Gippsland.

I’m wedged in the middle of these two groupings and I’ll need a lot of first preference votes to form part of the new council team. I’m not issuing a how to vote card. My message to voters is simple: ignore the how-to-vote cards, look at each candidate carefully and use your vote wisely.

Rosemary Cousin, Allambee South, Tarwin Valley Ward candidate.