'The Administrators were a disaster for the Shire': Wikinews interviews Lindsay Love, Tarwin Valley ward candidate in South Gippsland, Australia

Sunday, September 26, 2021

South Gippsland Shire Council wards.
Image: Victorian Electoral Commission.

Nominations were declared on Tuesday for South Gippsland Shire's upcoming council elections, to be held by post from October 5-22. A total of 24 people in the Australian council's three wards have put themselves forward to stand as candidates. The shire has been governed by administrators appointed by the Victorian state government since August 2019, when the council was sacked after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Lindsay Love, via email. Love is contesting the Tarwin Valley ward, which elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council, and includes the towns of Leongatha and Mirboo North. In addition to her answers to the questions from Wikinews, Love also provided the following statement in regards to the state of the council:

"I also note that the Council satisfaction rating has been dismal for over ten years. That is a period covering various Council terms and the Administrators. The only constant has been the Administration. That would suggest that to improve the culture the change needs to be in the Administration. That means the Council has to operate like a corporate Board and give the CEO the required directions to effect a change."


 ((WN )) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

 ((Lindsay Love )) I would like to see a change in the culture of the Administration so that it is open, transparent and has a much better community engagement profile. We need to allow people to have much greater input into the decisions that impact them.

 ((WN )) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

 ((Lindsay Love )) The Administrators were a disaster for the Shire. Perhaps this has been compounded by the arrival of COVID[-19] but we lost the "local" out of local government. However, the performance of the Administration has continued upon its poor path of over 10 years.

 ((WN )) Since 1993, South Gippsland has not had a passenger railway service, when the V/Line service to Leongatha was closed. Do you think that these services should be brought back, and why/why not?

Leongatha railway station in 2008.
Image: User:Wongm.

 ((Lindsay Love )) The Administrators had an opportunity to keep the railway and establish the rail trail but chose to ignore that option. Now that the line is removed it is most unlikely a train will return given the State are trying to build a line to the airport plus a suburban ring line. They will get much more bang for the buck on those projects.

 ((WN )) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

 ((Lindsay Love )) The Environment protection is largely a state area of responsibility. Local government involvement mostly leads to increased costs and administration issues which is counter to running a lean and efficient local government delivering the core remits.

 ((WN )) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

 ((Lindsay Love )) I have a long history of involvement in some of the issues impacting the Shire so a local history can be an assistance. I have a varied life history having been a farmer, business operator and volunteer in the community. I have professional training as a Civil Engineer, planner and building designer and I have also had ten years working in local government.

 ((WN )) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Image: User:Pimlico27.

 ((Lindsay Love )) The Shire has options to tackle a large number of projects. I have recently published a new vision for Coal Creek in the hope that it would lead to some new community engagement on that facility. I have also promoted the idea of a water supply to Yanakie and hence a bike trail from Foster to Yanakie using the water pipeline as a basis for the rail trail. I have promoted further work on the marina concept at Port Welshpool, improved facilities at Wilsons Prom for disabled people so that they can access other areas at the Prom than just Tidal River.

I have pushed the idea of a state Significant Mountain Bike Park for the Reserves around Waratah Bay. I also support building the Agnes Falls viewing platform and supporting the equestrian community to explore the Expo facility concept for Stony Creek. The Council are also supposed to start planning for a Integrated Children's centre at Nyora. I have also been trying to have an Underpass built for the rail trail at Leongatha to facilitate joining the new and old sections of the trail in order to have a safe trail.

 ((WN )) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

 ((Lindsay Love )) During COVID[-19] I have been involved in monitoring Council activities and writing various press releases to give the community a different viewpoint than the media releases from Council.

 ((WN )) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

 ((Lindsay Love )) I have not previously run for Council. I have been secretary for the South Gippsland Action Group Inc who have tried to work for the residents of the Shire. During 2018 and 2019 we assisted in building the case for reduced rates and a better hardship policy. However, that work was undermined by the appointment of Administrators. I am not supported by any group.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.