Margie’s term makeshistory 

LOVE her or loathe her; Cr Margret O’Neill is an icon of local politics.
Nanjing Night Net

She’s a straight talker, isn’t afraid to stand by her convictions and always calls it like she sees it, even when it doesn’t sound too pretty.

Next week, she will celebrate her 72nd birthday, making her both the oldest and longest serving councillor in our city’s history.

For 30 years her door has been open to the community – she wishes she had a dollar for every cuppa she’s had with a ratepayer to discuss their concerns – and she’s been vocal in the establishment of some of our most important sporting infrastructure.

For some though, she’ll always be remembered as the lady who traded her mayoral robes for a pink tracksuit, a charge she denies to this day.

“It wasn’t a tracksuit, it was a Maggie T pantsuit and it cost me a fortune…” she laughed during an interview with the Post.

“I’m still known as the tracksuit mayor and for that colourflavoured voice of mine but you have to have a sense of humour in life.”

Cr O’Neill fondly remembers the old days when her colleagues were a close-knit team that worked together, took jest in good humour and abided by the unwritten rule that if you had a fight at the table, you had a drink together afterward.

She was elected to Goulburn City Council in September 1983.

The often outspoken public official served as deputy mayor from 1987 to 1993 and as mayor from 1993 to 1999. She later became one of the first people elected to Goulburn Mulwaree Council in 2004 and has served with her unique brand of distinction ever since.

At last Tuesday’s meeting she was presented with a gold watch and flowers and thanked her for her service to the community.

Cr O’Neill has seen a lot of changes in local government over the years and not for the better, she says.

“The councillors in those days were more involved in the community and in those days we weren’t paid,” she said.

“A lot of people argued that if we wanted to be more professional we’d have to start getting paid but at the end of the day your there to represent the community not to get paid… “We also used to go out and knock on doors and try to achieve things but that doesn’t happen anymore, now we have staff to do those things. But, you have to get into the nitty gritty and get your hands dirty and that’s what I’ve always done.”

Cr O’Neill has a great love for our city and her continued contribution is undeniable.

She is director of the board of the Challenge Foundation, which assists young people with disabilities.

She is also a director of the Goulburn Racing Club, and patron of Goulburn District Junior Rugby League, Goulburn Basketball and the Goulburn Harness Club. Cr O’Neill is also a life member of Goulburn District Rugby League.

At a council level, she has chaired a number of important committees over the years. She currently chairs eight council committees and sits on an additional two.

Cr O’Neill is proud of her role in establishing the Sporting Hall of Fame, the Ray Harvey Sports Foundation, the Sports Council, purchasing of Carr-Confoy Park and bringing big employers to town, like the Woolworths, Target and the abattoir.

However, she still has a number of items on her to do list before the sun sets on her civic service.

She has every intention of completing her term – unless god needs her sooner (her words) – and she wants to see the multifunction centre through as well as upgrades delivered for the cemeteries.

Her only regret was her strong avocation for amalgamations, it hasn’t worked and now she fears what might happen if the state government gets its way in the future.

Cr O’Neill is unashamedly working class and very down to earth.

She’s never backed down from a verbal stoush and one thing has always been true: you know exactly where she stands.

“When I think something isn’t right I’ll be the first one to tell you.

I never go behind people’s backs. I always have the discussion, whether it is with staff, councillors or the community,” she explained.

“I think, when you’re a councillor you’re not just a councillor, you’re also a friend and a social person and you’re there to help people out and I think I’ve achieved a lot by doing that.”

IN BLOOM: Cr Margret O’Neill will celebrate her 72nd birthday, making her both the oldest and longest serving councillor in our city’s history.

Follow @TomSebo1This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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