Bob Turner has served as mayor of Melton council for the past two years, after previously holding the role in 2013-14. He spoke to Ewen McRae ahead of this week’s mayoral election about his time at the helm and a big two years for Melton.
You have two consecutive terms as mayor coming to a close, how do you feel at the end of it all?
I’m feeling good, I’ve really enjoyed my two years as mayor. I’ve enjoyed the engagement with the community, I always do, and I’ve had a really good time. The community are really engaging and that’s the good thing about Melton.
Having done it previously, does it get easier?
To be honest it gets harder, because we’re getting busier. When I first did it in 2013-14 it wasn’t as busy as it is now, although we felt busy then. I’ve been really fortunate since I got on council 11 years ago, that we’ve got more busy, which is brilliant because there’s growth and that helps us advocate to government for services and improvements.
What are you most proud of?
There’s been so much development, and in a sense it’s getting faster. Last year I think we did $70 million of community infrastructure, so we’ve been able to deliver the stuff that the community needs. I’m proud of our council and our officers that we’ve been able to push and deliver so much, especially in the last 12 months.
What have been the biggest challenges of the past two years?
It’s the rate of growth I think. We have so many people moving into the area, and they maybe don’t know the area and they soon realise things like the Western Highway’s a bit of a challenge, we don’t have a hospital, public transport is not the best, so when they come here they start pressuring us to get these things done. So while we love the growth it does bring challenges to keep improving all parts of the council.
A state and federal election in this term as mayor, do you feel like governments are listening to Melton’s needs?
Those elections gave me a great chance to play a role in advocating for our community, giving us the opportunity to meet with all levels of government regularly.
I believe now we’re starting to be listened to on what we need. They come here and can see the growth for themselves, and the need to do more. We’ve seen some improvement on bus services and our train stations, and we were able to put pressure on at the state election for our hospital, and I’m really proud that we put on enough pressure with the community to get the government to deliver the business case for that. The next step is the promise to buy the land so we’re working on that, but the signs are positive.
The federal election saw a big campaign to improve the Western Highway, has there been progress there?
We’re pushing hard for a business case to improve that now. In Melton the Bulman’s Road interchange is a big issue, and every time we meet with different levels of government and ministers we bring that up, because it’s just not good enough in this day and age. We need that interchange to take the pressure off the centre of Melton. We need to open up the highway between Rockbank and Caroline Springs and increase the speed of travel along the whole highway, so we’re still pushing hard as a council for that.
What are you most looking forward to from the final year of this council, whether as a councillor or for Melton generally?
I’m hoping to see some of the projects that we’ve been pushing for to be finalised. Obviously we want to get another step forward with our hospital, we want something to happen with the highway, but in general I want to see projects that we do for the betterment of the community continuing.