27 March 2023

Trailblazing Wagga councillor and new mum reflects on tough first year in the job

| Oliver Jacques
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Georgie Davies holding her baby Will

Wagga councillor Georgie Davies sometimes brings son Will to meetings. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

We all have opinions about 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 Wagga Wagga City Councillors to find out what makes them tick.

At 31, Georgie Davies became the youngest ever female to be elected on to Wagga City Council, in December 2021.

She broke the mould in several respects – of the more than 250 councillors who have served on the Wagga local government body since 1870, just 20 have been women, most of whom were aged over 50.

Ms Davies grew up in Wagga and has worked as a communication specialist for research and development corporation AgriFutures Australia. Over the past year on council she has pursued her goals of making the Riverina more “sustainable, functional and efficient” while raising two toddlers. Region caught up with her to reflect on her first year in the job.

What was it like being the youngest woman ever elected to Wagga City Council?

I’ve loved it. You don’t know what to expect until you rock up to your meeting. It’s a lot of work and it’s very rewarding.

From my experience, I’ve found it to be incredibly flexible, accommodating, and welcoming. I haven’t faced any issues being a female councillor.

I was pregnant this term, I had a baby [Will] and I already had a toddler [Lachie]. I’ve been bringing Will into meetings and it’s all been fine. Mind you, I’m lucky to also have the support of my family and husband.

READ ALSO Closed roads, pumps and potholes are keeping Wagga Council busy preparing for a big river

What’s been your biggest achievement so far?

I put forward a motion to get shade sails over our playgrounds. We got that through this year.

Since I’ve been living in town with kids, playgrounds are my daily ritual. I call them ‘sanity saviours’. It’s one of the only places you can sit back and let your kids go crazy and not have to worry about them.

On a hot summer day, they’re not functional at all. They’re bloody hot. In the summer, you’ve got to go either really early or late in the evening.

They’re now going to put up trees and shade sails on the playgrounds and they’ve started rolling it out already.

Kids in the park

Wagga’s playgrounds will soon all have shade. Photo: Chris Roe.

What are your priorities for 2023?

One of our visions is to have a conference centre in central Wagga to attract business tourism. The gun range has a centre attached to it – but it’s a fair way out from the centre. I’d like to see something state-of-the-art to attract those big events we might lose to Canberra and Sydney. Council have applied for a grant for a feasibility study to look into a conference centre.

Also, potholes of course. We’ve got a $91 million annual backlog in funding for road maintenance. We need to make it a focus to get the funding to fix our roads. It’s the number one thing people approach me about. They ask ‘When are you going to fix up the roads’? We need state and federal government to step in to get these roads up to scratch.

Everyone is fed up with the roads. That’s got to be a priority for the next year. Any spare money, any grants we get, they need to be diverted into our roads.

READ ALSO As festive cheer looms, council reminds residents about CBD booze rules

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

I think the more diversity you can have: diversity of thought, of age, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, the better.

We’re a really multicultural city – if we want to be the best council we can be we should have someone representing every voice in our community. But we don’t have that at the moment. We don’t have an Indigenous councillor, we don’t have someone with a disability that I know of, we don’t have someone really young or really old. The more diversity the better decisions you make.

What’s your vision for Wagga?

I want Wagga to be a place where people come to stay.

We get a lot of young skilled people straight out of uni that come here for jobs. They get trained and then they leave. That’s such a shame. How can we get those people to stay? How can we make them get that same connection that drew us here make them want to stay? That’s what I’d like to see.

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