Chats around the table

Circular Head councillors Nakore Townsend, Jan Bishop and Trevor Spinks reflect on their time around the table as their term comes to an end. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Finale. Circular Head councillors Nakore Townsend, Jan Bishop and Trevor Spinks will sit around the table to debate and deliberate with their peers for one last time tonight.

The monthly meeting, held on the third Thursday of every month, is a chance to catch our councillors at the crux of many local matters.

Here, they consider agenda items, act as a planning authority and hear from community members during question time.

Trevor, Nakore and Jan are not standing for re-election as residents return postal ballots this month to decide on a new council in the 2018 Local Government Election.

Trevor Spinks

Elected in 2007, Trevor recalls this as the year Ross Hine retired as mayor and Daryl Quilliam took on the job.

Serving as deputy mayor alongside him, Trevor says his time representing the community has been an enlightening experience.

“It’s far more than rates, roads and rubbish,” he says.

Rather, it’s attending meetings and workshops, serving on subcommittees, keeping up with state and federal politics, and being a willing listener.

For more than a decade, he has chaired the local boat ramps advisory group and taken an active approach to this role – going as far as to test a few out.

It is with pride that he has rallied for funding of the assets.

“We work closely with MAST – Marine and Safety Tasmania – and with council contribution and support we’ve been able to have major upgrades at Stanley, Smithton and this coming year at Montagu,” he says.

“There has probably been more than $1 million spent on upgrades to our three major ramps.”

Back at the office, differences in opinion are natural yet the council remains a united group.

“We all take our job very seriously, but we have a bit of fun as well,” says Trevor.

“It’s been a pleasure and I think the thing we will all miss most is the friendships made and the camaraderie around the table. It’s a very hard thing to walk away from.”

A laid-back lifestyle now awaits Trevor.

“I have a dinghy that need salt water on the haul frequently, I have a caravan that the wheels don’t turn enough on and we have lots of grandkids to occupy our time with,” he says, as well as continuing to serve the community as a volunteer with the local ambulance service.

Jan Bishop

Serving for the past seven years, Jan describes her time as deputy mayor as interesting and nothing short of challenging.

“To represent my community has been an absolute honour, to have that opportunity, and I was very humbled by the fact that I was elected in the first instance,” she says.

Elected during a particularly tumultuous time in the region, she considers how far the community has come in this time. From the closure of the vegetable processing facility at McCain Foods to Gunns Limited and more recently Murray Goulburn’s Edith Creek factory as well as the global financial crisis of 2008.

Through changes in industry, the local population has remained steady – a sign of resilience, she says.

This strength has been shown in many ways over the years.

“It was the day that Ta Ann had the protestors out there,” she says. “It was a very volatile situation, people had assembled and I said, well why don’t we protest against the protestors.”

And so, a group of business people and community groups gathered in Smith Street.

“We took the media from there that day and we got the exposure,” she says.

This community spirit fills Jan with pride as a representative of her community.

“It’s not about what I have achieved, it’s about what we have achieved. 

“We are nine people around the table that make it work . . . every councillor brings a different aspect to the table; we have all come from a different career path, experiences in life, and that reflects around the table. We are part of a team.”

Not yet ready to dismiss a future in local government, Jan is taking time away from the table to settle into semi-retirement while remaining involved with the Soroptimist International of Circular Head, Community Bank and Irishtown Community Centre.

Nakore Townsend

Starting out with the Circular Head Youth Leaders in 2008, Nakore stood for council in the 2014 election.

She was 22 years old at the time and had low polling expectations but vowed to give it a go.

“I feel really privileged and blessed to have served, for me I just wanted to provide a younger viewpoint,” she says.

“What I am most proud of from my time on council is building a name for our youth, for the CHYL group in particular.

“Building the community’s perception and the value of what is CHYL and what it can offer young people and then in turn what can those young people offer the community.”

Nakore says representing all aspects of the community has been a priority: “Being able to respect others’ viewpoints but also not being afraid to stand up and share your own.

“Because that’s why we’re all here; we all represent a different point of view, a different demographic as well. If I don’t stand up then that’s someone’s voice that I’m not speaking for.”

To be a voice for others, the role of councillor often extends to other committees.

“I have personally found that the most enlightening part of it,” says Nakore.  

“When you can get out to the different groups and organisations out there is when you hear about what is going on in the community.”

For now, Nakore will step aside citing timing.

While working full time at Circular Head Christian School, Nakore is also studying and looking to launch a business next year.

“Where it is different for me is that I don’t see it as retiring,” she says. “I definitely see opportunities in the future to go for it again . . . if I’m lucky enough to be elected again.”

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