Democracy’s last stand

August 23, 2017

GREATER Murray candidate Geoff Wise believes this is the last opportunity for Murray River Council to be governed by the people.

Mr Wise is one of several newcomers standing for next month’s election.

He believes there is a chance history could repeat itself, and the Office of Local Government could have to intervene once again and suspend the council.

‘‘I try and look out into the future and I feel this is our last chance, our last-ditch effort, to create something we can have community involvement in,’’ Mr Wise said.

‘‘If we don’t do this it will be government forever.’’

Mr Wise believes the same issues which plagued Murray Shire could plague the new council once it is elected on September 9.

‘‘Very much so,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t want the circus and I don’t want to be involved in the circus. I have already told a few people hassling me for preference votes.

‘‘I don’t want to be involved in the infighting or bickering. They can go on their own and do it if they like ... if we don’t do the right thing by the community it could be all over and we will be government run.

‘‘And we will lose our right to speak as a community.’’

Mr Wise admitted he did not know a lot of the issues within Murray River Council.

The 62-year-old lives about 20km from Moama on Thyra Rd.

‘‘But what I am hearing is that in the planning world they are a bit behind. But that might not be the case but I just believe the planning side of it is a bit slow,’’ Mr Wise said.

He said he did not have an agenda ‘‘whatsoever’’.

Mr Wise only wants to make a difference for the sake of the community.

‘‘I’ve been in farming (cropping, hay-making and fat lambs) for 25 years and I’ve had businesses,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve owned Mitre 10 for 10 years in Echuca and we built Pink and Blue Early Learning and have a staff of 55.

‘‘I’ve been a bit of an all-rounder.

‘‘I feel that I owe the community because it’s been very good to my family. We’ve lived here since 1987.

‘‘And it’s been good to us in the farming world and business so I am just trying to put something back in.’’

Mr Wise has never been involved in politics but he does not think that will hold him back.

‘‘I’ve never in my life perceived that I would be sitting here but I do try and take on every job with passion,’’ he said.

‘‘I am not a confrontationalist, I’m more of a negotiator.

‘‘I can also understand balance sheets and I take long-term goals, not short-term goals.

‘‘I’m sure there will be challenges. Everything I’ve done I’ve been in a naive place — sometimes it’s hard ground but you come out a lot wiser in the end.

‘‘I think I can sit up with the best of them.’’

Mr Wise was born in Wagga, but grew up near Shepparton. His hobbies include fishing, camping and travelling.

At this stage Mr Wise said he did not have any long-term goals for MRC.

‘‘Probably to keep councillors in council,’’ he said. ‘‘Not just government staff because I have been on the other side of the wall a lot. I feel that perhaps local government doesn’t hurry enough.’’

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