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Change works: Dillon

BUNBURY has come a long way in the past fifty years, says Deputy Mayor Tom Dillon.

He said the same could be said for the council.

When first elected in 1978, at the time the youngest ever councillor, Mr Dillon said there was very much an “us versus them” attitude in regard to the council’s relations with its staff.

After taking a short break from council he was elected again in 1997.

“I got a hell of a culture shock when I stood for council in 1997,” he said.

The role of the council had been transformed beyond his wildest dreams.

He said it had become a lot easier to get information from staff and the allowances given to councillors, which had previously been virtually non-existent, had increased to reasonable levels.

Many of the changes stemmed from WA Government moves that put procedures in place which required compliance.

“As a councillor you have to be everything. You have to be a bush lawyer, a visionary and be able to cope with people’s emotions.

“I liken it to a football umpire.

“You can’t always be the popular person and I didn’t go into council to be popular.”

Mr Dillon said a place such as Bunbury also came with its own unique problems.

“You still see the small town syndrome. It still has the pro-localism,” he said.

“There is a nucleus of local people who are not receptive to change.

“They have to be nurtured and educated to the benefits of change.”

Mr Dillon said he felt there were some issues which had arisen in recent months which needed addressing.

These included planning concerns which came to a head when a special electors’ meeting was called after more than 120 local people signed a petition calling for council to improve its processing performance.

Mr Dillon firmly believes the matter is now in hand and spoke in praise of Bunbury CEO Michael Whitaker who he was partly responsible for recruiting.

“Michael has brought a whole new style to council. It’s more a corporate style,” Mr Dillon said.

“He adamantly applies transparency, accountability and processes at all times.

“Michael hit the ground running. He was at the coal face from day one. The only change he made was to escalate his momentum.

“Michael Whitaker is a doer – he’s a problem solver not a problem maker.

“I know the level of activity and productivity he demands from all staff. He has very high expectations.

Mr Dillon said he was excited by the future. He believes Bunbury has a great potential and momentum that will make it unstoppable.

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