John Larter’s primary occupation as Tumut’s leading paramedic comes through in his priorities for the new Snowy Valleys Council.
The majority of his biggest concerns are all about giving kids the best opportunities to be healthy and active.
“It was disappointing that in our last term we didn’t get a heated pool,” he said.
“It was something that we desperately needed and I think the opportunity was there – but that’s democracy. The other councillors didn’t see it that way.”
Unlike some former councillors, John isn’t referring to a term cut short by the amalgamation, but rather by a regular election. For him, this is another chance to push for the projects he believes in. Starting with a heated pool.
“We obviously need to do that somewhere, whether it’s in Tumut, Adelong, or somewhere else that’s yet to be seen,” he said.
“I also can’t see why people are paying to get into a swimming pool. To me that’s a no-brainer. You can walk into a library for free, so why can’t you go down to the pool. We want kids to be active and learning to swim and I just see [the cost] as an unnecessary burden on the ratepayer who’s already forking out a lot of money.
“Pools cost a fixed amount of money each year, so why have ten people in there a day when you could have a hundred?”
John was on council for four years; three serving as deputy mayor and one as mayor. He’s proud of his achievements during that time. He forged strong links with other levels of government and private industry, passed a policy that council was to use local businesses wherever possible, and established an emergency response and recovery management system that “is at the forefront on a state basis and also probably on a national basis.”
Now, if elected, he’ll be turning his attention to infrastructure development.
“We need to have some more good sporting facilities,” he said.
“I think what we’ve got is okay, but it’s all just your standard stuff that you have in every other town, and when you look at comparable towns around the place I don’t think on the infrastructure comparison we’re equal.
“Whether it be synthetic hockey grounds, resurfacing the netball facilities or upgrading them so that they’re world class and we could hold carnivals. Or soccer fields – they’re all good, but nothing that’s going to set the world on fire.”
He’s also interested in the internal goings-on of local government.
John sees the most important task for the new council as appointing the best possible General Manager, following the resignations of Bob Stewart and then Kay Whitehead in the past year. He sees council as a business, and intends to ensure it spends every dollar wisely.
“I don’t see the value in, for instance, these meet the candidate things,” he said.
“They expect you to drive to Khancoban, from Tumut, at six o’clock at night in the middle of winter, when there is snow forecast, to go and speak to five people. That’s not a safe or wise use of time or resources.
“I think there’s a lot to be done around tourism, I think there’s a lot of wasted money. A lot of it goes off into tangents and little projects and you don’t get enough bang for your buck. I think we need to engage the experts and get some direction as to where to go with it – and that’ll probably improve now that we’re merging with the other council.
“When I was in council we looked at having Visy promote Tumut on the side of the Visy trucks. There’s no point having all these Visy trucks running from Sydney to Melbourne with just ‘Visy’ on the side of them, they may as well have ‘VisitTumut.com.’ It’s just common sense, and they were very open to that – but when we were booted out, that was it.
“The role [of a councillor], from my point of view, is to create a link and liaison between governments, between industry, between a whole myriad of organisations whether they be tourism operators or whatever else. It’s about being able to negotiate, promote the region, and look for opportunities for businesses that may be able to relocate.”