December 13th, 2020Cr Juliet Simpson reviving a family tradition
THE new councillor for Holcombe Ward is Juliet Simpson, and her connections to the area go back to the late 19th century. Her great-great grandfather, William Stanbridge, settled in the district before the gold rush four generations ago and became a sheep farmer.
Cr Simpson talks to me about visiting the family farm in the district as she was growing up, with her great aunt, grandmother, father, and stepmother all living in the area, and about the connection she has felt for the land in Holcombe Ward where she has been farming cattle since 2002.
Cr Simpson worked previously as a director of a pastoral company, Nowranie, for 20 years in New South Wales and at the ANZ Bank in Berrigan in the Riverina. Her children went to school in a small country town called Oaklands, where she was on the school council for 10 years and coached junior netball for six years. Her CV also includes working as a Regency Club concierge at the former Hyatt on Collins in Melbourne, looking after VIPs such as Bob Hawke.
Cr Simpson tells me why she stood as councillor. “I feel honoured to have been entrusted with this challenging position. I felt the best way that I could be of service to this community was to seek election as the representative on the Holcombe Ward.
“I’m also reviving a family tradition, with my great-great-grandfather the mayor of the Borough of Daylesford in the late 19th century.
“In my fours years I want to do the best I can as a shire councillor, in consultation with the community, and in collaboration with my colleagues. I want to arrive at fair and reasonable decisions, after consideration of advice from council officers and without fear or favour.
“I want to ensure the highest standards of governance by our council and achieve the best possible performance with the human and financial resources available to us. It’s important for me to recognise my responsibility to the shire as a whole, but to also speak up for Holcombe Ward and ensure it receives its fair share of resources, works and services.”
When I ask Cr Simpson how she would like to see our Shire recover from the pandemic, she tells me: “The Hepburn Shire Council is proud of its response to the pandemic, there have only been two cases in the shire since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The shire will continue to follow instructions from the State Government as restrictions ease. The barriers in Vincent Street will come down sooner than expected. It would be great to see as many people as possible returning to work or finding a job.
“There’s a lot of social consequences as a result of the pandemic. One thing we desperately need is affordable housing for people such as women escaping domestic violence. As much as I’d like to see the shire address it, homelessness and housing is a State Government responsibility.”
When we discussed Community Voice, a lobby group in the shire which has come together due to dissatisfaction with aspects of the previous council, and whose charter has been signed by four of the new councillors, Cr Simpson says she is not a member.
“I did not seek their endorsement. I want to make it clear I am truly independent – not beholden to any political party or external pressure group. Yes, I also believe in community consultation, but will make my own mind up on the merits of every issue that comes before council.”
With six of the seven councillors recently elected to the Hepburn Shire being new to the game, a sense of optimism and hope exists for more positive interactions between community and council. This weekly series by Sandy Scheltema explores the councillors’ hopes and wishes for the shire.