15 May 2023

Meet your councillors: Rod Kendall's priority for 2023 is to have 'robust' community discussions

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Rod Kendall

Wagga Wagga City Councillor Rod Kendall. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

We all have opinions on our local council and what it has or hasn’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 with Riverina councillors to find out what makes them tick.

Who is Rod Kendall? I’m a married, semi-retired structural engineer. I’m also an active foster parent and assist with various charities within Wagga and slightly further afield.

I got interested in serving the local community when I became semi-retired and I was elected to council in 2004.

How have the past 12 months been on the council? The last 12 months in the council have been very collegial, with all councillors treating each other with significant respect, listening to each other’s opinions and then making decisions based on the arguments that were put forward. The decision-making process has been robust, well debated and well respected.

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

What’s been your biggest achievement so far? The establishment of the intermodal hub at Boman and the surrounding Special Activation Precinct. That’s been a huge project over the last 18 years or so for the council getting it to the stage there now where it’s built. The activation precinct, in particular, is a total investment of over $150 million by the combination of State Government, Federal Government and council. It will result in the ability for significant job creation in this city over the next 50 years and will underpin Wagga’s economy going forward.

Another achievement is the establishment of great and ongoing working relationships with both federal and state governments. It’s a robust relationship where opinions can be expressed and respected both in agreement and in disagreement with each other. I think it’s a very important position for local government to be in.

What are your priorities for 2023? Specific priorities for the coming year are to have a good, hard look at our council and what the council needs to do going forward to provide the services and the level of service the community wants, and to have that frank discussion with the community. It’s not one particular thing, it will involve road maintenance, which has become a pretty significant topic, given the weather conditions we’ve had (last year). It has been an ongoing discussion on the council. What can the council afford? What can the community have? What does the community want? So having that robust discussion, working that out and providing what needs to be provided. It won’t be easy.

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Is there anything different you’d like to see on the council? Not really. The critical thing that we’ve seen happen is a really good working relationship between the elected council and the council employees and making sure the lines of communication are open and well respected. It wears from time to time and things don’t necessarily go according to plan. So we should look at those issues in an open manner and allow for the proper process to take place. We should also allow for learning to happen, rather than what I’ve seen in the past from some councillors, where they want to point fingers and not listen or have any learning experience. You can only learn when there is a good, open discussion. It’s not a regular occurrence.

What’s your vision for Wagga? My vision for Wagga is to be a growing city because a growing city has a stronger economy. If we can manage, control growth and, going forward, maintain the rural lifestyle we currently have while increasing the diversity of jobs, opportunities and offerings within the city. It’s a great spot to be and a place that people see as worthwhile investing in, as we’re seeing at present.

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