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What The Hills?!

Transcript: What's on at Council in June

Jun 11, 2022

Kimberley: It's June, and I'm talking to Mayor Ann Ferguson from Mount Barker District Council with our June update. Hi, Ann.

Mayor Ann: Good afternoon, Kimberley. And good afternoon, listeners. And isn't this sunshine sneaking through the clouds just wonderful?

Kimberley: Just a little bit of Sunshine to remind us what we're missing out on.

Mayor Ann: I think that's right. It's winter.

Kimberley: But you haven't been having winter recently. You've been off in the Northern hemisphere enjoying a little bit of warmth.

Mayor Ann: I have.

Kimberley: How did all this go?

Mayor Ann: Well, Malmo, • the summit of climate change was a real education. I knew that I would learn a lot and I could exchange to the participants what we do here in Mount Barker. But we do so much in Mount Barker. And the staff did a Mount Barker Living In Nature, and that's what we want to promote, that we're living in nature and we have this wonderful green area that just indicates that it's a tree change and it's wonderful. So I was able to share that with people all around the world and let them know just what Mount Barker's doing. And in return, I learned what they were doing in Malmo with their refugees and their community consultation and how they go about that. And I could talk to you for an hour or so about that, but I won't, • because it's a subject that just needs its own time and space.

Kimberley: What was one of the big things that you've taken away from Malmo that you think we might be able to use here?

Mayor Ann: I think the way they do community consultation, they start it with the four year olds.

Kimberley: Four year olds?

Mayor Ann: Four year olds.

Kimberley: Well, they're the community of the future, aren't they?

Mayor Ann: They are. And it's about young people feeling comfortable putting their opinion forward and knowing that it's going to be recognized and discussed and result come back to each and every one of them on the decision that's made moving forward. And I thought that was amazing.

Kimberley: Terrific. Well, we look forward to seeing some of that happening in Mount Barker. Now we've got some other topics to talk about. So I need you to unpack your suitcase, put that away, and let's have a chat about this state summit that's coming up in Mount Barker.

Mayor Ann: The Summit of Minds is really something very exciting that's happening. It's about scientists and artists and the community and business leaders all coming to Mount Barker to discuss and address environmental and social challenges, which there are many. But this is an opportunity to everybody to communicate what they want. And this is going to be, I believe, really community consultation and good outcomes from that consultation, because sometimes we consult with the community and we think we report back to them, but often it's not what the community expects. And I think this is an opportunity for community to say, Well, I've contributed, but I want to know why and how those decisions came about.

** Please note, this is an invitation-only event**


Kimberley: And there'll be a lot of different types of people involved in this summit, scientists and artists, community leaders and business leaders as well, and just regular people.

Mayor Ann: From the community, just people like you and I, they've all got an opinion and it's valued and they put a different slant. And everybody has a unique gift to give when a question is asked, and it's about encouraging each and everyone to be comfortable enough to come forward and speak. And sometimes we have people that take over the talking part of consultation. Well, I would really like to see everybody have equal time and feel as though they're respected and able to be heard and listen to, because sometimes you can hear, but you don't listen.

Kimberley: That happens in a lot of situations now. It's not just meetings and people talking and discussing things. There's a couple of events involved as well. I've heard that there's a special film screening happening at Wallis and a big commissioned artwork.

Mayor Ann: Yes. How exciting is that?

Kimberley: What's the film?

Mayor Ann: It's going to be Regenerating Australia, that's the title of it. And it's going to be held at the Wallis Cinemas and the First Nations artwork is to be painted on site. So it's going to be a doing event, a listening event, and being part of it. So I would say, and I know it's going to be towards the end of July, and I don't know whether it's the 28th or 29 July, but watch this space and make sure you are there, because it's history in the making.

Kimberley: Yeah, it sounds really exciting and I think there'll be a lot of people who want to be involved with that.

Mayor Ann: Absolutely.

Kimberley: There's been some news recently from Callington about a heritage smelting site. Callington's got a huge mining history.

Mayor Ann: Callington is a little gem that has been tucked away and overlooked for many years, but with the enthusiastic archaeologists down there have been digging around and with their brushes and their little brooms and their dust pans and uncovering all kinds of magical things that tell so many stories about the history of Callington. And I know Councillor Harry Seager is really excited about this because this is one of his babies. He's been promoting this for such a long time. And these ruins represent the only surviving smelting works within South Australia known to demonstrate more than one stage of the Welsh process. So this is really important about South Australia's history and how it's been involved with them, copper mining and how it's made a difference. And I don't know whether you've had the opportunity of going down there, but if you go down there and you are given a tour, you can see where footprints have gone into the slag and they are there and have been there since the day dot and all this history. And they've uncovered little slivers of wood, which has obviously been from the shingles on the roof. So there's all these magical little pieces that they are putting together. And we just want this to be permanently put on the State Heritage Register so it can be preserved forever. So if that happens, we will need funding to roof it and make sure that it's there forever and it will be just part of South Australia's amazing history.

Kimberley: That sounds amazing. And we know that there's always been, over the last 100 years or so leftover bits of Callington's mining history, but now they are starting to come to the surface. Now we're getting State Heritage Register recognition for them. I think there's a big future ahead for the history in Callington, and tourism. Absolutely.

Mayor Ann: It's just something that I think for that part of the world. And, of course, Council has this land, so it's there, it's safe, and it'll be preserved potentially forever.

Kimberley: That's great. All right. Now, speaking of preserving things, there are a few things around the area that need a bit of repair. After our bushfires that we had a while ago, the Cuddlee Creek Bush fires really hit Echunga and Harrogate hard. And there's a lot of burnt areas in need of recovery, a lot of natural areas, natural bushland. So what's happening with that?

Mayor Ann: Well, there's 7700 hectares of burnt area in the district, and I was out there last week talking to some of the residents, and they were identifying the trees along the side of the road that have been burnt that will never regenerate. So they need to be cut down because these are a reminder of that devastating fire.

Kimberley: They've got enough reminders without those trees there.

Mayor Ann: Absolutely. And they are sheoaks. A lot of them are sheoaks, and they have been beautiful trees in their day, but now they're just like tombstones, reminding the residents that are living there that this is what happened and it doesn't allow them to move on. So I think with the funding that's come through, that we can plant new trees, regenerate and help those. And I must say, the community out there have been just amazing, how they have cleaned up and looked after the area. I just need to congratulate each and every one of them because they've been fabulous. But the federal funding of $325,000 that was secured for ecological and economic recovery in the District, I don't know whether that's enough, but at least it's a start. And it gives some hope because when the fire went through, federal government didn't understand there were two councils. They just thought it was Adelaide Hills.

Kimberley: Which is going to cause a few problems, because the fire affected both councils quite heavily.

Mayor Ann: 33% of the footprint was in Mount Barker Council. And so that's been a little bit of a challenge for us because they just didn't realize there were two councils. And yes, Adelaide Hills Council needed the funding. I agree with that. But also our residents felt as though they were neglected.

Kimberley: Yes.

Mayor Ann: And that is a bit sad because when you've lost everything, you've lost your cattle, you've lost your lifestyle, you've lost your water, you've lost everything. The last thing you want is not to be recognized as part of the area.

Kimberley: That's right. You don't want someone saying, well, they are in the same situation as you, but they can get help and you can't.  Sorry.

Mayor Ann: It's been a bit of an issue, but I think we're moving on and we just need to deliver local biodiversity and look after our wildlife and habitat. And if you go out there for a drive and you see as you drive past the Cemetery and then go up the back way, it's very rewarding seeing the regrowth of trees that have just sprung up because they needed the heat to regerminate. And so it's exciting, but we've just got to get out there and get all those sheoaks out and dead trees out so they don't fall on the fences that have already been replaced, or fall on the road and cause a real damage.

Kimberley: I was out there just the other day and the regrowth is amazing. But you're right, all of those reminders are still there. And you do think about the native vegetation and the native animals that are supposed to be there and they need that plants and the habitat to come back. So it's great to see Council and community groups really working hard on that.

Mayor Ann: It is. It's very rewarding. And once again, I would love to thank the community of Harrogate and Brukunga for all the hard work that they have done, because it's been amazing

Kimberley: Change of topic.  And something that is quite top of mind for a lot of people at the moment is the draft annual business plan for Council. Always gets a lot of discussion happening.

Mayor Ann: Well, the draft business plan is what we have put together and we've put out for the community to discuss. And it's always a real challenge to deliver a business plan because the needs of the community and when you have a growing community like Mount Barker District, the challenges are multiplied by many and we're so aware of challenges in society today, the cost of living, the cost of petrol, and the last thing we need is Council rates going up. But the thing is, the cost to Council has been so significant. With the diesel prices going up and all of these challenges that we've had, we just cannot deliver the services that are requested without upping our rates; and we've tried to keep them to CPI. And I think the staff have done a great job and the elected members have really put their mind to it and identified the real needs and where we can spend the money. But it's often very difficult as a ratepayer to understand why rates go up when they believe that often they don't use the facilities, but sometimes we don't understand that the footpaths, the roads, the lighting, all these things that just happen, we (council) pay for. It's a challenge and also an opportunity for us to educate our community. But there are so many organizations in Mount Barker that can help people who are struggling. And Council also helps people if they are having difficulty paying their Council rates. So you only have to contact Council and say, look, can I have some assistance? I don't understand how I can delay paying my council rates or whatever. So I implore you to ring Council or be part of coming into Council or putting a submission in about the annual business plan. It's a draft and it's your opportunity now to have your input. But we look at all the things that we have to do. I mean, we've got the money for, almost all the money for the aquatic centre. We need to build a new civic centre. There's so much going on that's required that we can't stop, because if we stop now, when we go to do it, in a year or two's time, it will be twice the cost So there's just, inflation is something that's really very frustrating. And it just seems as though it's just caught up this year. Everything has sort of come after Covid and the war in Europe. It just seems to tumble down and it's like this mountain landing on top of us and we don't know how to get out of underneath it. It's a real challenge.

Kimberley: We're all doing our best. And I think that Council is, just like the rest of us, having to pay higher costs for everything, having to provide the same services when prices are rising. It's a juggling job and it's trying to work out the best way to do what Council can for the community.

Mayor Ann: That's right. Young families and the older people just sometimes don't know how to get out of this. What I'll call it a mess.

Kimberley: We're all in a mess sometimes. Yeah.

Mayor Ann: But do look at the draft annual business plan and do put your submission in and let us know what you think. And you might have an idea if we can do something a little bit better or a little bit smarter that we haven't thought of. So please be part of the draft annual business plan and get your submission into Council.

Kimberley: When does it close?

Mayor Ann: By Thursday, the 23 June.

Kimberley: Okay.

Mayor Ann: So that's not far away.

Kimberley: No, it's not. So get your submissions into Council. If you need help with your rates, contact Council. Don't sit there worrying about it. And Council can also put you in touch with people who can help you work out your household budget or perhaps get a little bit of help along the way. So Council is there to help. Next topic, Country Cabinet. Now, the Country Cabinet has been revived by our new state government. And you've sent an invitation for them to come to Mount Barker?

Mayor Ann: Yes. After the election, I sat down and I wrote to absolutely every politician that got a portfolio.

Kimberley: Okay.

Mayor Ann: And invited them, each and every one of them, to visit Mt. Barker, to see the opportunities that are here for state government to partner with local government, to make this a better place to live, because it was the 1300 hectares that was rezoned by the Labor government in 2010 that gave us the challenge of managing the development.

Kimberley: I'd kind of like to see them come and take a bit of responsibility for that decision.

Mayor Ann: Peter Malinauskas, I asked Premier was up last week, and I must say, Kimberley, we've had five ministers up in Mount Barker in the last week.

Kimberley: Well, that's good to see some interest from state government.

Mayor Ann: We've had Chris Picton, he came up at the hospital. We had Stephen Mulligan, we had Peter Malinauskas, we had Nat Cook come up on Sunday. She was talking about homeless and domestic violence. And we also had Zoe Bettison up this last week about tourism and talking at Hahndorf. So we've had a good supply of ministers visit us. So they are very much aware that Mount Barker will be the largest city outside of Adelaide within the next ten years. And the Premier is very aware of the challenges that uh we have, which is really heartening because he promised us a new hospital and he's going to deliver a new hospital. And I think this is the first time that we've had a promise and a commitment after the promise. So I am really looking forward to the next few years where we have all these things delivered. And the biggest thing we need is the Heysen Boulevard to connect.

Kimberley: Don't we ever? Yes. We need roads that are going to take us where we need to go, to carry the traffic and to deal with all of this growth that we're experiencing.

Mayor Ann: And when we do have our Country Cabinet up here, it gives the community an opportunity to come and listen and put their point of view to the party and let them know exactly how they feel and how they want Mount Barker to move forward hand in hand with the state government and also having the federal government working with us, the three levels of government working together, you get absolutely a fantastic result. And we are so blessed to have Dan Cregan and Rebekah Sharkie working for us in this region and promoting the needs of our communities.

Kimberley: We certainly are. So how's the food mapping project going?

Mayor Ann: The food mapping is going really well. Mount Barker District Council is a member of the Food Systems Working Group, which includes eight other South Australian councils, Green Adelaide Wellbeing SA and the Heart Foundation. The term food system describes the various elements that go into growing production and marketing and distribution and consumption and disposal of food. Now this is such a topic that we need to understand, and we need to understand that we really need to eat seasonally.

Kimberley: We really do. And gee, it's cheaper when you do that, too.

Mayor Ann: And it's so much fresher and has all the vitamins and minerals that we need. Mt Barker was the second of the four councils to host our local food system workshop. So we're up there with the rest of them. And I'm really proud of the staff and there were 35 people that attended the workshop here in Mount Barker. So our next step is for Council to begin to raise awareness of these projects to further mapping and ongoing engagement. So we need you, our community, to get on board so you can be part of it. And then again, it comes back to education. It's about teaching our young people what's fresh, what is best food miles are really important. And what do they say; from paddock to the plate or paddock to freezer, to know where your food comes from and is it in season? And, you know, we don't have to eat watermelon in the winter. We've got lots of other beautiful fruits.

Kimberley: We do, yes.

Mayor Ann: So it's about thinking about what's local, what's fresh and supporting our local growers. And I think that's really important to buy locally as much as we can so we can support and keep our community viable and support our farmers and growers. And it's really important. And that includes the vineyards, and it's very important.

Kimberley: I support our local vineyards with great enthusiasm.

Mayor Ann: And also what is becoming really trendy is the gin and the whiskey, all the distilleries.

Kimberley: Oh, yeah.

Mayor Ann: And we're just getting a great name for being so diverse in what we can produce. And I just encourage people to support the wonderful projects that we have. I went to a function at Hahndorf with Udder Delights last week, and the cheese is there. My goodness me, we are so lucky to be living in the Adelaide Hills and to have such beautiful food right on our doorstep.

Kimberley: I can't think of a better place to live if you're going to be interested in food mapping and in where our food comes from and how it's processed and how it's consumed, and then how the waste is disposed of, because we do all of that right here.

Mayor Ann: And it was interesting. I was talking to one of the staff members during the week and we were talking about that circular economy and he was saying, But, Ann, we've been doing that for years. Remember when the chooks in the backyard, you give your scraps to the chooks, uh you get your eggs, you put the manure back on the garden. And so it goes around in that circle. So it's not something new, it's just something that we've got a little bit lazy about.

Kimberley: We need to get back into that and make sure that the food we're eating is amazing and what we are doing to care for it through its whole life and to manage all of that is just as amazing.

Mayor Ann: And I think one of the things I learnt when I was in Ireland a couple of weeks ago is about soil management and the microorganisms that you have in the soil indicate just exactly how nutritious the fodder and the silage will be because you've looked after the soil and the soil will then look after what grows in it.

Kimberley: Correct. Well, we started off talking about your trip. We've ended talking about your trip. It's obviously still top of your mind. Have you finished unpacking?

Mayor Ann: Yes.

Kimberley: Good.

Mayor Ann: I finished unpacking and I put all my summer clothes away Not away. Just on the bed up in front of the house.

Kimberley: Okay, so they're half done that's okay. Well, it's been fantastic talking to you to get the June update from Council and looking forward to doing the same again next month.

Mayor Ann: Absolutely, Kimberley. And thank you for taking the time and giving your time and I know you volunteer all of this and I just want to thank you on behalf of the community because it's an amazing gift that you have and you give to our community and it's about sharing and caring about your community and thank you so much.

Kimberley: I love doing it. But you've got to remember there are hundreds and thousands of us out there. All volunteers are precious, I reckon.