Dual roles ‘no conflict’
Thursday, 5th February, 2015
By Erica Visser
The new chair of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far West, Sharon Hutch, has rejected the notion that her managerial role with City Council presented a conflict of interest.
RDA is a federal initiative that aims to bring together different levels of government.
Ms Hutch was quick to point out that her appointment on the board was in her capacity as a community member.
“When I saw the opportunity advertised I felt I really had something to add, particularly in promoting sustainability in the Far West. I’ve been involved in the region for 20 years,” Ms Hutch said.
“I’m not on here as a council representative, but I think there are some realistic benefits.”
Gaps in communication sometimes meant that Council was not aware of the status of RDA projects and Ms Hutch said her role with the RDA could assist with filling the void.
“I’m really looking forward to avoid that wastage and duplication of government.
“I will be aware of matters linked with Council and if I think there is a conflict I will make any of these known.
“I don’t make strategic decisions for Council, that’s the councillors’ job.
“But if I feel it’s necessary in any matters that relate to Council I will withdraw my vote.”
Ms Hutch said that it was “very early days” for the new board, which would soon meet for the first time this year.
Robin Edgecumbe, the previous Chair, has been dropped from the board.
The deputy chair is Sue Andrews, who had formerly spent two years in the role of treasurer.
“I’m pretty passionate about the Far West and I want to see it going forward and not be undermined by people’s own interests,” Ms Andrews said.
Other members included Broken Hill locals Jason King and John Harris as well as Terry Smith, who lived in the unincorporated area.
RDA would also look to appoint three to four extra members in the coming months.
The board will conduct a review of all of the programs currently being run by RDA but it was too early to say whether any would be dropped.
The government has redirected RDA’s focus to economic development, with less emphasis now being put on social and community development.
RDA Far West CEO Michael Williams this week described Ms Hutch’s appointment as a “very interesting situation”.