21 March 2023

Meet your councillors: Jenny McKinnon to continue her hard work on Wagga innovation and sustainability

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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woman on park bench

Environmentally conscious, Cr Jenny McKinnon hopes to see plans progress for a koala sanctuary in the Wagga local government area. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

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 Wagga Wagga City Councillors to find out what makes them tick.

Who is Jenny McKinnon?

Born in Narrandera, I have lived in Wagga on and off since 1991 and am Deputy Mayor of Wagga Wagga City Council. My husband, George, and I have six children and 11 living grandchildren. I studied social work and began my professional life as a social worker. Eventually, I became an associate lecturer at Charles Sturt University and developed a career as an academic until I retired in 2015 from the position of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts. I was elected as a Greens councillor and have been a member of the Greens since 1995. I say this proudly because the four principles upon which all Greens policies are based [peace and non-violence, social and economic justice, environmental sustainability, and grassroots democracy] are in complete alignment with my personal and professional values.

How have the past 12 months been on the council?

My first year as a councillor has been a fantastic journey of discovery. Firstly, meeting and working with so many members of our diverse community, with whom I may not have otherwise come into contact, has been an honour as well as most enlightening. Ranging from multicultural communities to women’s groups, business interests, children’s services, sporting and cultural groups, aged care, and so many more. I feel I have come to know the breadth and depth of our community so much better, and I love working with people to achieve good outcomes. It has also been a pleasure to be part of a group of councillors that is functioning very well. I believe we can always do better by working together, and I do try to use my role as Deputy Mayor to encourage open communication and good relations.

READ ALSO Meet your councillors: Amelia Parkins shares her vision

What’s been your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far is a group of recommendations that have resulted in a more progressive position by council regarding improvements in our climate targets. Firstly, I moved last year to urge councillors to consider aligning our community net-zero targets with those of the NSW Government. I received unanimous support for this recommendation and am pleased to say that we now also have a new position of Net Zero Officer at council, and this person is working on our community roadmap for achieving those targets. In addition, I urged council to apply for grants for extra electric vehicle (EV)-charging points in Wagga. As a result, we will now have an extra five EV chargers, which I expect will draw EV tourism dollars to Wagga.

What are your priorities for 2023?

My priorities for 2023 are to work hard to help the community to achieve what the community wants. The issues I am contacted about most often are environmental issues [mainly flora and fauna preservation, and shade for streets and playgrounds], impacts of feral animals, lack of housing options for vulnerable people, renewable-energy options, and planning issues [especially in flood-prone areas].

I hope to see plans progress for a koala sanctuary in the Wagga local government area this year, but much will depend upon the availability of NSW Government funding.

READ ALSO With city’s growth in focus, Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout’s priority for 2023 is to stay on top of his game

Is there anything different you’d like to see on the council?

Council’s budget is a huge headache as it always falls short of the many good things the community would like us to do, so I’d love to see the Commonwealth Government reinstate Federal Assistance Grants for local government, which used to be set at 1 per cent of the budget. This gave councils a lot more certainty in terms of being able to plan long-term for the big-budget items like road and bridgeworks, as well as buildings and other infrastructure.

What’s your vision for Wagga?

My vision for Wagga is a thriving, diverse, innovative and creative hub of sustainable economic growth and community wellbeing.

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