Australia Day honours for local government

(Clockwise from top left) Terry Buss, Colette McCool, Edward Natara, Asley Wellinga

Local government identities around Australia have been honoured in this year’s Australia Day awards. Long serving Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to local government administration, to natural disaster recovery efforts, and to people with disabilities.

Mr Hallam has been CEO of LGAQ since 1992. In that role he assisted with the foundation of Queensland Local Government Infrastructure Services and the Roads Alliance.

As a member of the Queensland Disaster Management Committee he has worked as the liaison between local and state government representatives following natural disasters to ensure effective disaster relief efforts and recovery planning across Queensland. He is the recipient of many awards, including a Public Service Medal in 2001.

Receiving a PSM in this years awards were Terry Buss, Colette McCool, Edward Natara and Asley Wellinga. The public service medal supplements the Order of Australia, the specifically for outstanding service in all levels of government. Recipients are entitled to ’PSM’ after their name. Most recipients are in state and federal public services, but some work in local government.

Terry Buss is CEO for the City of West Torrens. Since 2008 he has led the Project Steering Group (PSG) in its development of a stormwater management plan for the Brown Hill Keswick Creek (BHKC). This has involved a collaborative approach working with CEOs from the Adelaide, Burnside, Mitcham, and Unley, with his own Council of West Torrens.

He led the PSG team to deliver this major project outcome for over 230,000 members of the wider Adelaide community who live in the BHKC catchment area.

“His dedication and hard work, and that of the PSG, came to fruition when the Stormwater Management Plan was officially gazetted on 7 March 2017,” says his citation. “This achievement has been sought by state and local governments for over 50 years, and it was his leadership and approach that helped the Management Plan eventuate.

“He has fostered deals that have not only helped the council but also the state of South Australia, including with Adelaide Airport Limited and the sale of the Brickworks Markets. Mr Buss has been an incredible mentor providing advice for all in council and his leadership has been integral in ensuring success of many projects for the community.

“Mr Buss has been an outstanding public servant having a long and distinguished career in the local government sector. He has provided strong leadership and direction in many executive roles across many local councils in the state.”

Colette McCool is Director Community Services for Gold Coast City Council. She has served as a senior executive in the public sector in Queensland and the Northern Territory for the past 27 years. She has in her current role since 1999, leading a large and complex community services portfolio. She is also on the board of the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service.

“During her time working for the Council, the city grew by almost 200,000 residents, placing significant pressure on social planning responses and service delivery,” says her citation.

“She not only met the challenges within her portfolio through collaboration and decisive leadership, she has left the city with an outstanding legacy. At the heart of her role was protecting and enhancing the liveability of the city, a role that she excelled in with the support of critical partners, and in consultation with a diverse range of stakeholders.

“As a leader, her passion, stamina and management style focused on inspiring and supporting her staff to do their very best. Ms McCool is a highly intelligent executive and with a focus on serving the community. She is held in high regard by her former staff, elected representatives, the City’s senior executive management team and the Gold Coast community.”

Edward Natera is CEO of Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council on the west coast of Cape York in Far North Queensland. His citation says he is at the forefront of enhancing and promoting economic development and opportunities for the indigenous people of Pormpuraaw.

“His prime focus is ensuring that the community has a happy, healthy and safe future and is able to experience their cultural and traditional ways. In negotiations with the community, he has maintained and upheld that cultural and traditional ways are acknowledged and that the environment is protected.

“He has consistently displayed his passion for the social and emotional wellbeing of the community and has been a strong advocate in the community to stop domestic violence and elder abuse. He is also committed to promoting the importance of education for young people and has focused efforts on re-engaging students and transitioning students successfully through the school system.

“Mr Natera leads by example and his collaborative leadership style engenders his colleagues to strive for excellence. He is committed to service excellence in his pursuit of building stronger indigenous communities.”

Ashley Weilinga is the former General Manager of Warren Shire Council in NSW. He started at Bourke Shire Council in 1984 and became Accountant and Treasurer at Warren Shire Council in 1990. He rose to become Deputy Shire Clerk and was General Manager from 1998 until he retired in 2017. From his citation:

“His personal qualities of integrity, competence, compassion and loyalty, along with his expertise in financial management, problem solving and project delivery, have made him an outstanding General Manager.

“Most notability he led the Warren Shire Council from a difficult financial position into a financially viable and sustainable council. In addition to his duties as General Manager he has played an integral role in the success of the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC).

“Through the OROC he has gone above and beyond to support and guide other Western Region General Managers through the efficient purchase of electricity supplies and other major infrastructure. Mr Wielinga was an exceptional General Manager, leader and educator who made a significant impact to those in the area.”


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