Counting has concluded in the Goulburn Mulwaree Council election held on 4 December, 2021, with new faces arriving with vastly different backgrounds and experiences to the existing council.
Councillors Denzil Sturgiss, Alfie Walker and Sam Rowland did not contest the poll, while Mayor Bob Kirk had an overwhelming lead, an emphatic endorsement from the community.
Jason Shepherd is one candidate who has just been elected.
“What I’m seeing in the new council are a lot of good people,” he says. “Michael Prevedello and Andy Wood (have been) … elected. I know Andy personally, and Michael I’ve seen around and talked to.
“I know where their heart is; it is about looking after people and pushing to bring the city forward.”
Jason says new councillors already have connections with one another and a good grounding for their new roles.
“It’s not as if we’re coming into this council as individuals who don’t have a connection in the community,” he says.
“We’re less likely to be sat there and bombarded with paperwork and told what to do and be confused and befuddled.”
Jason’s experience running projects in Ireland, Asia, Africa and the Middle East across several engineering disciplines should come to the fore during the coming four-year term as Goulburn grows.
The 50-year-old mechanical engineer was engaged in sustainability engineering with multinational company Arup in the mid-1990s. He has also been involved in urban renewal projects, including redeveloping old buildings and heritage areas to meet modern standards in Ireland.
“They obviously have a longer history than Australia so there was a big push with the Celtic Tiger [Ireland’s boom years between 1995 and 2007], a big infusion of money through tax-free areas established when they joined the European Union.”
In Africa, Jason worked on developing entire villages, including sewerage and solar facilities.
He was brought in as site engineer for Singapore’s Green Mark standard National Library building.
“They then based all their green buildings on that, and they have obviously done heaps since then,” says Jason.
He became heavily involved in the security industry following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, leading to more specialist work in Canberra and the opportunity to work closer to home.
Jason was born in Crookwell, and the Shepherds’ history goes back to the convict era in Peelwood and Laggan.
“I worked my way into a role where I could work from home – not easy in mechanical engineering,” he says.
Once on Goulburn Mulwaree Council, Jason wants to pursue more sustainability initiatives such as LED lighting replacements, and expanding electric vehicle charging stations near the Big Merino, Marys Mount, Taralga Road and rural villages.
He wants to assess unused council land for establishing native understorey for biodiversity and holding more water in the soil to slow run-off.
“There is huge pressure on housing affordability, and we can look to the use of council land to ease that pressure,” says Jason. “In Europe and elsewhere, councils have been directly involved in providing sustainable, affordable housing.”
As Goulburn Labor Party branch president, Jason believes members have already achieved much for the city and surrounding shire. He says the NSW Government has realised it needs to pay attention to Goulburn.
“That has flowed on to the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre, Goulburn Base Hospital upgrade, and swimming pool and ambulance station [upgrades],” he says.
“One of the benefits of having a Labor councillor is contacts and the ability to work with an opposition or a sitting government.
“You can pick up the phone and talk directly to the shadow ministers, or if they are in government, to ministers.
“We share a common desire. For example, we were able to put pressure on [Member for Hume] Angus Taylor to get ABC and SBS switched back on for Eastgrove. Council was saying it wasn’t their problem, but we were able to pick up the phone, get [Labor Senator] Deborah O’Neill up here, and raise the issue in the media to put pressure on to switch connection back on for those residents.”
Jason wants to use Labor’s connection for better rail services and connectivity, rather than having to go to Moss Vale for a same-day train service.
The incoming Goulburn Mulwaree council is: Bob Kirk, Michael Prevedello, Daniel Strickland, Jason Shepherd, Carol James, Andy Wood, Peter Walker, Andrew Banfield, and Steven Ruddell.
Region Media also invited new councillors Michael Prevedello and Daniel Strickland to comment.