We all have opinions on our local council and what they have or haven’t got right, but how well do you know the men and women elected to represent their community in local government? In this series, Region Riverina speaks to Riverina mayors to find out what makes them tick.
Who is Robert (Bob) Callow? I am a retired police officer, and I’ve been in Junee Shire Council for 20 years. I was born in Caringbah in Sydney and spent most of my life in Richmond.
I joined the police because I’ve always had the desire to help people. I was in the SES for many years and enjoyed helping people who couldn’t help themselves. Policing is a challenging career. It’s not easy and not for everybody, but I enjoyed it. We moved to Junee in 1995 as part of my promotion, and I spent several years in Junee. Then, I was the crime coordinator at the Wagga Local Area Command for several years. After 29 years in the force, I retired in 2009 after the old back injuries and so forth started. Since retirement, I’ve been working locally at the Junee Licorice Chocolate Factory office and doing bookkeeping. I’ve been a Goldenfields Water County Council board council representative for about eight years.
I joined the council for the same reason – helping people out. The town is such a great little place. I want to be involved in how it grows and develops and keep it as the great little place it is.
It feels wonderful to be voted in as the new mayor of Junee Shire Council. It’s a very nice show of support from my other councillors. Junee council is collegial and cohesive. We think the same way and are all on the same page. There’s no radical politics involved.
How have the past 12 months been on council? There have been some challenges – especially financial. We haven’t got a very big rate base here in Junee, so balancing the books is always difficult. We’re very fortunate to have fantastic staff … they’re the ones that give us the recommendations and the advice. We’ve also got new audit requirements coming up shortly. It will be quite invasive and costly, and it’s a matter of making sure you spend every dollar where it counts.
What’s been your biggest achievement so far? Aside from my children, my biggest achievement is getting elected to the council and representing the people. I have enjoyed my time in the council and hope it can continue for a bit longer. I’m proud of our swimming pool and our Rock Recreation Centre. It services the whole area, and we still have people coming from Wagga to use it. We’ve got our skate park next door and the magnificent Athenium Theatre. These things have grown, and the counillors have worked hard on those over the years.
What are your priorities as mayor? It’s going to be pretty much steady as it goes. I’m not here to be the new broom. We’ve got a fantastic team, everything is locked in, and we know where we are headed. It is a matter of keeping the wheel turning and our head above the water financially.
What’s your vision for Junee? I want to see it grow, but not too fast or too big. Once you get too big, you’ll start to lose the flavour and character of the place. Junee has a good character, and I would like to see more businesses, trades and light industries that provide jobs for our people.