Life at council

Tony Smart closes a chapter at Circular Head Council after four decades of service to the community. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Reflection. As his career at the council comes to a close, Tony Smart has had a few forgotten memories resurface.

In 1975, the Circular Head Council employed a young Smithton man to help set up a new works depot. At the time not many of his workmates would have known they were rubbing shoulders with the future general manager, a man who has always had his community at heart. For in his mind, there is no other way to be.

“Local government, it’s in your blood, you’re actually here wanting to get the best for the community you’re working for.

“I’m fortunate I’m working for the council I live in.”

The workplace was never dull, either in the daily challenges or the office environment.

For instance when sewer pipes were installed in town, workers could start drilling without so much as a nod to the boss.

“Things were simple,” Tony says.

“Imagine us ripping up the middle of Emmett Street, we’d just do the work and people would walk around us.

“We could just go and knock on a door and say, we’re going to be laying sewerage, we’d get the machinery and [go for it].

“Now people say, why can’t you do it like you used to do it?”

Of course, things did go haywire but nothing an employee with good training couldn’t handle.

“If we were doing some blasting, and a piece of rock came up and happened to smash someone’s window . . .”

Or perhaps, like the time one tore through a bed sheet hanging on the line in a backyard.

“I went up (the main street) and bought new sheets.” Easy fix.

To the present day however, where litigation is as real as it is threatening.

“Everything is so complicated now. I guess we’ve got to have that complication.

“I’ve always said to people, if you get through the first five years in council, you’ll stay. Because of the challenges, the pressure, some people take a different career.

“It’s continuous, your own professional development, you need to be making sure you’re up to speed with that.

“It has been a lifelong learning experience in that way. There are changes being made today [even] by the state government.”

His most rewarding move has been to recommend the council commence the community consultation on the new pool.

“I’ve had a lot of satisfaction to see the good outcomes we’ve done for the community.

“It’s been rewarding in the fact I’ve had a lot of relationships not only with the community, but state government departments and other departments of organisations I’ve been involved with.”

Small steps, however.

“I can walk down the street and people talk to me, they don’t have a crack at me about the council in such a bad way.”

Elsewhere in the state, he will have contacts, people who can talk local government with. Those connections are what makes his job worthwhile.

He is proud that people have told him, both in person and through the community survey, he has helped build the council’s reputation.

“I want to pass on my appreciation to my staff and my team around me, also the volunteers of the council.

“And the community for their support and encouragement they have given to me especially in the role as general manager.”

Now that the new year will bring a new routine, Tony reckons he still has some work to do: “I will be Doreen’s project manager looking after some home projects with tradies,” he laughs, readying himself for supervising the home renovations.

He is looking forward to spending time with their “two gorgeous grandsons” and continuing his volunteer hours with the local ambulance. Though it seems like enough to keep him busy, retirement is not on the radar: “I’ll be seeking out any other opportunities that may come my way.”

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