The idea that party politics has no place in local government is a fallacy, Newcastle’s newly re-elected lord mayor says.
When looking back on the achievements of the previous term of council – and when gazing into the future to describe her vision for the city – Nuatali Nelmes frequently references the labour movement and the Labor Party, of which she is part.
In an age when leaders at state and federal level are often criticised for getting bogged down in politics, some have questioned the place of party politics in local government.
But Cr Nelmes sees things differently.
“Considering the success of this Labor council, I would say that the argument is a complete fallacy,” she told Fairfax Media .
“It actually doesn’t make any sense, because what we bring to the table is a collective with a collective vision.
“It has been an absolute team effort. Sometimes that has been with Greens councillors, sometimes that has been with independents, and sometimes that has been with Liberal councillors – and sometimes it has been everyone together on the same page.”
Cr Nelmes had served on Newcastle City Council for six years when she was first elected lord mayor in November, 2014, after the departure of Jeff McCloy triggered a by-election.
At 38, she became Newcastle’s youngest lord mayor – and the second woman to hold the city’s top job.
On Sunday, as Cr Nelmes reflected on being returned to office for a second term as Newcastle’s civic leader, she said council’s collaboration with key institutions, the community and all levels of government had been a key success since late 2014.
She cited the University of Newcastle’s city-centre masterpiece, NeW Space, as an example.
“This building was delivered through a partnership between three levels of government as well as the University of Newcastle,” she said.
In Cr Nelmes’ sights for the coming term are improvements to the city’s cultural infrastructure.