Earl and McLeod sworn in

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Ian Earl.
Camera IconIan Earl. Credit: Supplied

Veteran councillor Ian Earl and first-termer Pauline McLeod were elected Shire president and deputy respectively at a special first meeting of the new Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council on Wednesday night.

It was the first meeting since last weekend’s election and new members Kylie Kennaugh, Paula Cristoffanini and Brian Daniel were sworn in.

The change follows the weekend’s election result, which saw former councillor Ms Kennaugh returned with nearly a quarter of all votes, and joined by Cr Cristoffanini with 18 per cent of votes and Brian Daniel, who narrowly pipped short-stay accommodation activist Rob McDonald.

Mr McDonald polled 1563 votes, just behind Cr Daniel, who scored 1593.

Cr Earl won a 4-3 vote for the presidency, besting Cr Cristoffanini.

There were four nominations for the deputy’s gig but all were for Cr McLeod, who was sworn into the position unopposed.

Cr Earl thanked candidates and outgoing councillors for their hard work and community service.

“It’s a difficult, demanding, and time-consuming role,” he said.

“We as a council must listen to the community ... and represent the whole community with their diverse differences.”

The election puts a more conservative majority in power, with outgoing Shire president Pam Townshend voicing caution about the need to continue protecting the region against cuts to its character and natural environment.

Local greens were unable to find candidates willing to challenge for the council roles during the latest election, and business and development figures were proactive in campaigning on behalf of Crs Daniel and Kennaugh amid concerns the former council was too focused on non-core local government business such as social justice and climate change.

Cr Cristoffanini was viewed as a pro-environment campaigner because of her work for the Augusta-Margaret River Clean Community Energy project, aiming to establish a hybrid renewable energy project in Scott River.

Cr Kennaugh told the Times the “community have sent a very clear message to all councillors”.

“They want them to curb spending, refocus and get back to the traditional roles of local government,” she said. “I will be taking this message forward with me to represent the community as best I can.”

Cr Daniel said he would immediately investigate Shire of Augusta-Margaret River planning approval processes after complaints they were taking too long.

“I am aware that there are timelines written up in the Shire’s policies … but if we can get these timelines reduced then it would be beneficial to the community,” he said.

Cr Cristoffanini said electors wanted prudent decision-making that balanced the needs of the local economy with environmental protection.

“My goal is to make decisions based on facts, and in a way that can be understood, hence increasing transparency and information flow,” she said.

“I feel that the new council reflects the variety of views of our community, and I look forward to working together with fellow councillors and the chief executive as part of a well-functioning team.”

Social media proponent Peter Griffyn came fifth in the poll with 1220 votes, defeating non-candidate Richard Moroney by just 22 votes despite the business operator pulling out of the race just after nominations closed last month.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails