Introducing the next Queanbeyan-Palerang councillors in order of votes gained with the group letter or party in brackets:
Tim Overall (group A); Brian Brown (group D Country Labor); Mark Schweikert (group C Liberal Party); Trudy Taylor (group A); Peter Bray (group A); Trevor Hicks (group B); Kenrick Winchester ( group F); Michele Biscotti (group A); Peter Marshall (group J The Greens); Pete Harrison (Group E); Radmila Noveska (Country Labor).
In an election characterised by a significant number of no-shows and informal voting as well as suspected donkey votes for teams that drew letters heading the ballot, a back-of-envelope analysis would conclude that ‘keep the status quo’ followed by ‘don’t care’ shaped a big part of the result. A lot of council experience has returned for the next round.
The liberal coalition
The group A ticket headed by Tim Overall, former Queanbeyan Mayor and NSW Coalition-appointed administrator, largely reflects the Overall team on the former Queanbeyan council.
The A group were known to vote as a predictable block, now with the addition of Queanbeyan business owner Michele Biscotti. Borrowing for downtown Queanbeyan developments and improvements, including for the controversial Ellerton Drive Extension roadway (EDE) across suburbs and bushland, have been top priorities and election promises for group A, now in a dominant position. They scored well in Bungendore, Burra and other parts of old Palerang as well.
They are joined by the official Liberal Party candidate Mark Schweikert, a former Palerang councillor from Bungendore, and Trevor Hicks, former Palerang Councillor from Captains Flat and also a Queanbeyan businessman.
For their part, Schweikert and Hicks formed a predictable voting block on the old Palerang Council, championing causes of the local chapters of the Liberal and National parties. Their votes show they also represent thinking from sections of the Bungendore and rural electorates more generally, as well as small business.
Broadly speaking, there are likely to be two camps starting out around the council table. However time, starting with a mayoral vote, will tell how well everyone can work together.
Progressive and independent voices
Across the table from Group A and the Coalition councillors will be Country Labor’s Brian Brown and newbie Radmila Noveska, joined by Kenrick Winchester, all from parts of greater Queanbeyan. They have associated views and commitments reflecting a wider public interest and draw on Labor Party policies which in NSW are now quite progressive: from schools to jobs to environment. Brown and Winchester are former Queanbeyan councillors and there is history of opposition to Overall’s plans, epitomised by the EDE argument.
Joining them are former Palerang councillor Peter Marshall from Captains Flat for The Greens – who also focuses on transparency in the public interest, and community and environmental issues including bringing local government up to speed on climate change action – and former Palerang Mayor Pete Harrison from Wamboin, who is ‘at large’ as an independent.
Both have rural, rural residential and village perspectives and expertise to bring to decision-making and to balance an over-extended Queanbeyan development focus.
With a modern-day ‘conservative’ majority facing an almost matching-in-numbers progressive line-up, the next steps to serve a huge amalgamated council area should be interesting.