As he embarks on another chapter in his 42 year political career, Hornsby’s new Liberal Mayor speaks exclusively to the Monthly Chronicle on the issues concerning locals.
Who is he?
A former Federal Immigration Minister, Attorney-General, and second longest serving Parliamentarian in Australia’s history, 74 year-old Philip is a long-time Pennant Hills resident who lives with wife Heather, a business development officer for a publishing firm, in a heritage house built in 1924. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. His father Max was Hornsby Mayor from 1961 to 1962.
“I’m sick to death of people questioning whether or not at a particular age you can do something. Ageism is alive and well in some quarters. When Clover Moore is almost my age, Sally Betts is Mayor of Waverley and Hillary Clinton is almost my age…what do I say? People who raise those points are being highly discriminatory. You make a judgement on whether people have the skills, drive, energy and skills for the task. I was elected on that basis.”
Will local council politics be humdrum after the glamour of Canberra?
“I don’t see it that way. But party politics in local government is irrelevant. Decision-making at a local level cannot be party politics. If you’re going to make a decision about a footpath, where’s the politics in that?”
Hornsby out of pocket from losing Epping?
“I’m talking to officers about the issues of boundaries, rating, expenditure and budgetary issues. The state government has given us an assurance that on objective calculations still to be done, the outcome will be neutral for us financially. Gabrielle Upton the Local Government Minister has said that to me – we won’t be worse off and I will be holding her to that.”
Rates stoush with Parramatta Council
“It was easier for Hornsby Council to collect the rates as we had the data to do the collections. In the months to follow we’ll resolve how much to pay Parramatta for providing services to Epping.”
“There are developments in the shire which don’t reflect its special character – look at Beecroft’s high rise unit developments. It could be done better – look at Central Park in Broadway with its green walls. I have no problems with high rise in the right place such as central Hornsby. But in Beecroft and Epping’s 20 storey blocks next to each other with no space for planting – where’s the open space and where do the kids play? I have expectations about open space, tree planting and greening – all the councillors elected are as concerned as I am.”