Julia Ham is a suitable candidate for the Snowy Valleys based on location alone: she lives smack-bang in the middle, thirty minutes from Tumbarumba and forty minutes from Tumut.
It’s there that she runs a farm specialising in merino sheep, and Julia wants to use her expertise to stand as a voice for the shire’s rural residents.
“I do have a passion for rural industry, as well as Landcare (Julia is the Chairperson of Tarcutta Valley Landcare),” she said.
“I’d like to be a voice for people working in rural industries, living on a property myself I know the challenges that can happen. Being involved with Landcare has been really interesting and with new biosecurity legislation coming through, I think Landcare is in a position to suddenly explode. These things have got to be council issues as well, because it’s not all about the towns.
“I am a businesswoman; I read budgets very closely and I really have a very strong view on budgets not blowing out and keeping a close eye on things. Council’s going to be a $58 million business, and I’ve worked for businesses over $20 million. So I know how to work a spreadsheet and run the financial side of things.”
However, her major reason for wanting to stand is her work in early childhood education.
Julia is an early childhood teacher and consultant. She is also on the Advisory Board for the Parish Preschool Committee in Wagga and the Creative Arts Advisory Board Committee for the Board of Studies NSW.
Working between Batlow and Tumbarumba, Julia has seen the difference in how the shires approach children’s services, and she wants to ensure that the new entity adopts the right blueprint.
“There’s a big difference in children’s services between what has happened in the Tumbarumba shire and the Tumut shire,” she said.
“I feel Tumbarumba services are well supported by the council and I’m not sure whether that’s the same in Tumut. Tumbarumba has Carcoola Children’s Centre, before and after school care, and a mobile long day care, that are all auspiced by council. Whereas – my understanding is – that Tumut doesn’t auspice any children’s services. I’d like to see that it’s the same across the whole shire.
“I’ve also been a mum and I think that’s really important in a council – to ask, how are people bringing up families in their communities? Council can really make or break that, and if we don’t have good children’s services and good facilities, we won’t attract good people to our council.”
As for the amalgamation, her attitude is, whatever will be will be.
“We just have to make a really good shot of it and make a great council up,” Julia said.
“I mean we live in the most beautiful shire in Australia. We’ve got so much potential here, but it has to be run well, and it has to be fair from down in Brungle to all the way out to Khancoban.
“My career is working with people and I enjoy working with people – I’m good at negotiating. I have a strong background in governance, and I know how things should be run properly.”