Australia: Wikinews interviews Les Harmer, South Gippsland local election candidate

Sunday, October 3, 2021

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

Nominations were declared on September 21 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, Les Harmer, via email. Harmer 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.


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

 ((Les Harmer )) Improved communication between the community and council.

 ((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?

 ((Les Harmer )) No, things needed to settle down after the turmoil that occurred, I believe the Administrators have done just that, the path is now set for refreshed councillors to take the council into the future.

 ((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?

 ((Les Harmer )) Only if economically viable, the public purse is such a valuable commodity the days of accepting unprofitable ventures are gone.

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

 ((Les Harmer )) What we would like to see and what can be achieve as a councillor is a tough one, as a councillor we deal mainly with what effects the community on a daily basis, personally I would like to see more emphasis put on renewables in longer term planning.

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

 ((Les Harmer )) Great empathy with the local community and management qualifications.

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

 ((Les Harmer )) Becoming an official tourist friendly town, the benefits to local businesses are huge.

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

 ((Les Harmer )) Keeping the contact through email, newspaper articles, coffee meetings when allowed continuing connection with local groups of which I am connected.

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

 ((Les Harmer )) Yes, some years ago stood for local council in the Shire of Yarra Ranges, was unsuccessful.


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