Kogarah Council Chambers , Belgrave Street , Kogarah
I began my public life with a phone call in December 1985 from Joe Orr, Chair of St George Hospital Board. He informed me that I had been appointed ,as a Director, to the St George Hospital Board. I was one of two women appointed in almost 40 years. Mrs Nancye McAloon was the other female Board Member appointment.
Medical politics was interesting, and I guess for me, it was a forerunner of what was to come. We could say the same things today about medical politics. It is all about Hospital waiting lists, resource allocation – money.
The Board operated in an increasingly politicized environment. In March 1988 the Greiner Government was elected. I heard on the radio that my Board had been sacked. My sacking notice, signed by the Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales, was left at my front door. It is my termination notice, which the late Lindsay Ritchie, used in the History of St George Hospital .
I pay tribute to the late Joe Orr, Keith Bagley, and Leo Vineburgh who were my Chairs. Rosemary Snodgrass was the Director of Nursing, and Audrey Cush was the Deputy Director of Nursing.
In late 1988, I joined Rockdale Community Mobile Meeting Service .When I was elected to Rockdale Council in 1991, I remained a delegate to RCMN until approximately 1995.
I have been a member of some community groups for a long time .I joined Kogarah Historical Society in the early 1980’s and served on Kogarah Council’s Bicentennial Committee. As well, I was invited in 1985 to serve on Kogarah Council’s Youth Committee, at the invitation of then Alderman, Greg Bondar.
Council beckoned, and I ran for Third Ward on Rockdale Council. My candidature was kept a secret until it had to be announced. I ran with an ex -student of mine from my 1980 Year 12 General Studies class, and we were known as the “ladies team.”
I recall well my first Council meeting .Charlie Bellchambers, a serial candidate in all Federal, State and Local elections, accused Mayor Peter Bryant of being a dictator and was almost thrown out of the chambers. He called me that “lovely lady Alderman Field “- I wanted to duck for cover…….
In my first term at Rockdale Council, I served with the likes of Elizabeth and Charles Daly, George Moore, Steve Holroyd, Ron Rathbone, Noel Seiffert and Peter Bryant all long serving and devoted community representatives. We will never see the likes of such people again.
I chaired the Community and Environment Committee in my first term. During my second term, 1995-1999, I served on many Committees and had the opportunity to chair many. I served on many external Committees as well.
My Council interests have covered many diverse fields- heritage, urban design, child care, production of school kits, access and community services.
Circumstances changed on January 9 1999, an event happened, which forced me to change Councils. My father and I agreed that day, that if I wanted to maintain a Local Government career, that I would have to cross the Princes Highway. The decision was made that afternoon, whilst shopping with my father, in the Kogarah Super Centre.
At Rockdale City Council, I crossed the floor in the 1996 Mayoral election, survived good and bad press, been removed as the Chair of a number of Committees in September 1998; and suffered intimidation. The list goes on.
I represented the Kogarah Bay Progress Association from 1999. Kogarah Council was quite different to Rockdale City Council; my colourful political career has continued inside Kogarah Council. I reported to the grass roots, with my monthly attendance at the Progress Association meetings, until my recent resignation.
At Kogarah Council I was subjected to a pecuniary interest charge, removed from a major Committee in 2000; and existed in a minority political position as an Independent.
I continued to push for a School Kit; and produced my celebration of the recognition of Federation, on August 10 2001, in Kogarah School of Arts. ( I had received in October 2000,a Parliamentary Fellowship from the Parliamentary Education Office, Parliament House , Canberra to produce an event to recognize Federation. I chose to do the 1897 Constitutional Convention)
The leading ladies and men of Kogarah from the turn of the century lived again, all dressed to kill in Victorian costume. We had a ball ! I also participated in a project with a local artist, Thelma Pimm and a Council staff member, Victoria Kitanov in Peoplescape in 2001. Victoria was the principal artist and creator of the” Peg Boundy” figure for the Ferderation Celebration Project . We produced “Peg Boundy” for display on the lawn in front of Parliament House, Canberra.
My last term at Kogarah 2004-2008, saw the North Ward Councillors elected unopposed. I have continued to serve on many Council internal Committees and be a delegate to external Committees. I joined Kogarah Community Services in 1999 and have served as their Chair since 2001. I will relinguish this role soon.
I have witnessed much over the past 17 years- the emergence of political parties in Local Government; the increased demands on Local Government; the changing community. I have witnessed Councillors come and go. Few stay for the long haul.
I have never wavered in my approach to Council issues; in my attempt to achieve fairness and justice on the Council floor; to work to support the residents , and at all times, to be approachable and accessible.
I would like to thank my mentors – former Aldermen and Councillors from both Rockdale and Kogarah Councils; members of a professional womens group, BPW, (Business and Professional Womens Inc) who encouraged me to run for Council; and to those people who trained me in the skills of networking, keeping confidences and personal presentation. (This may be revealed in a future autobiography)
Thankyou to the journalists at the St George Leader.I have received enormous coverage in the Leader over the years. I sometimes see people I haven’t seen for a while – they tell me they know what I have been up to, as they had read about me in the Leader!.
I owe so much to my late father. He trained me from a young age to be aware of the world around me. He always stood up for fair play, and taught me to do the same. My late father loved being part of my 1988 State campaign, and the 1991 and 1995 Council campaigns. This was no mean feat for someone of his years,and I am ever thankful for his untiring efforts.
My late mother appreciated and understood my love of writing. It is to this career that I now move on to. I will miss the cut and thrust of politics – however, I will always remain an interested observer, if not a participant when the occasion warrants it.
A local resident said to me recently “ you may take the girl out of politics , but you will never take politics out of the girl “ Another local resident said to me in late January of this year “ the Don Chipp of Kogarah is leaving us “– I am honoured for the comparison.
My Local Government career may now be at an end. It is time to shut another door and move on to the challenges that lie ahead in the creative world. That may very well include, in the future, writing about my political experiences.I can think of some worthy titles; “Not Without Backbone “ is one title that comes to mind.
This lady from Newcastle has travelled far and has experienced much in life’s journey. I will always be thankful, honoured and proud for the opportunity in this journey, and to have served the community for 20 years..
I conclude by thanking the professional staff at this Council with whom I have worked over the past 9 years. I thank my North Ward Colleagues, Nick Katris and Nick Varvaris with whom I have maintained an excellent working relationship over the past 9 years – our teamwork will take some beating. I thank my Council colleagues for their support.I thank the residents of the Kogarah Municipality for their support and encouragement over the past 9 years.
Dedicated to the memory of my late father , Ron Field, who died in late January 2007