Malcolm Ogg contender for top job

DEPUTY Mayor Malcolm Ogg will challenge mayor Martin Rush for the top job on Muswellbrook Shire Council.

Councillors must decide who they want in the roles of mayor and deputy mayor at the annual Mayoral election on September 14.

CHALLENGER: Deputy Mayor Malcolm Ogg has thrown his hat in the ring for the position of Mayor of Muswellbrook Shire Council.

CHALLENGER: Deputy Mayor Malcolm Ogg has thrown his hat in the ring for the position of Mayor of Muswellbrook Shire Council.

Malcolm Ogg has served on Council for nearly 16 years, four of them as deputy mayor.

He issued a statement announcing his candidacy, saying he believes he has the “experience to support the future direction of our communities.”

“I’ve been encouraged by some councillors who are  discontented about an [alleged] lack of consultation and the provision of  adequate and timely information equally to all people.”

The deputy mayor said he believes he has the backing to challenge Martin Rush, who became Muswellbrook mayor in 2008.

“I believe I have the  support, but the ultimate decider is when it goes to a vote in the September council meeting,” Cr Ogg said.

“It’s very easy to talk to people about these issues, but sometimes it’s a different thing to commit on the day.”

The deputy mayor cited the pending re-structure at Muswellbrook Shire Council as a difficult process that will need to be handled with care following the recent loss of some senior staff.

“I’ve had many years of experience through the Teachers’ Federation at restructures and a clear understanding of the issues that need to be addressed, so that you’re not going to overly impact a person’s  retention or departure,” Cr Ogg added.

“I believe I have an open style and I’m used to  consultation and I work well with the general manager. 

“The strength of a council is the sum of the parts and I respect the expertise of all councillors,” he said.

Cr Ogg conceded Cr Martin Rush had made a contribution to Muswellbrook during his nearly eight years as mayor.

“He brought a dynamic to the organisation that was seen as being a way forward and there is no doubt his expertise in finance has been superior.

“All councillors make a contribution and I think Martin is no exception [but] I think there is a need for change within our Council,” Cr Ogg said.

Fairfax Media sought comment from Muswellbrook Mayor Martin Rush.

He supplied the Chronicle with the following response:

“Malcolm has long indicated to me and others that he would like to be mayor at some point [and] he also stood for the position against my predecessor, John Colvin.

“I will stand for the Mayor’s position if I have the support of a majority of my colleagues to lead a progressive Council.

“In 2008, Council did not have a single dollar of its own recurrent revenues available to fund the renewal of roads, footpaths and recreation infrastructures [and] today we have almost $9-million a year of our own funds to spend improving our facilities.

“It has been the biggest financial turnaround for any Council in rural NSW.

“Ultimately, the community will decide the make-up of their Council twelve months from now," incumbent Mayor Martin Rush said.

Challenger Malcolm Ogg concluded by saying ratepayers must also believe their council is their representative.

“Our community has ownership of the Council and they are, to all intents and purposes, shareholders [and] we have a responsibility to them to provide the services they require.”