Peta Pinson reflects on her first three months as mayor

Peta Pinson says she feels it’s an incredible achievement to be the first female mayor of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and that her door is open.

Speaking recently at the Wauchope Chamber of Commerce AGM, Ms Pinson gave a public interview to Chamber president, Gary Rainbow.  She described how she left school at 17, worked as a medical receptionist and bought a house.

Her top tip as a successful businesswoman from her days in award-winning road company Stabilcorp is that when something is not right and it’s not flowing and going, you need to bail out early.

“You’re not in the right place at the right time,” she said.  Her other tips were:

  • get your message across
  • be clear and concise
  • put everything in writing

“It’s probably the best time to be the mayor of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.  I have landed in a sweet spot.  Opportunity abounds.  We are in a major growth time,” she said.

Mayor Peta Pinson with Wauchope Chamber of Commerce president, Gary Rainbow.

Mayor Peta Pinson with Wauchope Chamber of Commerce president, Gary Rainbow.

“It’s a pivotal moment.  The good times are here but we shouldn’t be resting on our laurels, as business people and community members.  We need to focus on what we are trying to achieve, and harness the growth.”

Ms Pinson was asked what she had learned in her first three months on the job.

“Don’t bury a whale on the beach,” was her reply, as she described being faced by a TV news crew and a very busy council meeting after arriving back from overseas.

She’d had a pre-planned trip to Europe for her husband’s 50th birthday, and arrived back jet-lagged, into the eye of the storm about the dead whale buried at Nobbys Beach.

She also said that public speaking gets easier the more you do it.

“I am terrified of it.  It’s one of the scariest things you will ever do.  I’m learning to embrace it.  We all do our best work when we are out of our comfort zones,” said the mayor.

Her most memorable moment so far was when she joined the wall of fame and had her official photo taken.

“My wonderful executive assistant, Linda helped me put the robe on.  It’s a very grand, Santa-like suit with fur and black cuffs. 

“As the weight of the robe landed on my shoulders, I realised that moment what an honour that has been bestowed on my shoulders by the community.  I turned to Linda and I said: ‘No woman has worn these robes before.’

“It’s such an incredible personal achievement for me,” she added.

The mayor says the council is a very structured organisation and she didn’t realise how slow it would be.

“A lot has to trickle through departments.  It’s not the mayor’s job to run the show.  For me, it is being collaborative with the general manager.  The bureaucracy doesn’t surprise me, but it’s a lot slower than I thought,” she said.

Lobby council on behalf of your business community. I have got a big office. Come and see me. From a business perspective, to disrupt, to agitate brings about change.

Mayor Peta Pinson

The mayor says people should be pro-active with the council.

“Lobby council on behalf of your business community.  I have got a big office.  Come and see me.  From a business perspective, to disrupt, to agitate brings about change, not aggressively but to be a loud voice,” she said.

During a recent meeting in Sydney with ministers at the State Parliament, Ms Pinson said they brought a broad range of council and community issues to the table.

“What I realised is how well-positioned the Port Macquarie-Hastings region is.  The eye of government is on us.  As a council, we need to have projects in the pipeline that are ready to be funded.  The general manager got that message loud and clear,” she said.


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