Mike Baird - our local MP and the State Premier - resigned on January 19 in a move that surprised everybody.
The state's top job is now in the capable hands of Gladys Berejiklian, Australia's first female Liberal Premier.
And Manly will face a by-election to choose our new representative.
Good For Manly President and former Manly Councillor Candy Bingham said Mike's open, friendly approach would be greatly missed.
“Mike Baird was totally committed to our community, and worked tirelessly. In more recent times it was clear that his arduous duties as Premier made it more and more difficult for him to service his electorate”, Mrs Bingham said. "We have him to thank in particular for the long overdue Northern Beaches Hospital and the B-Link bus service which will go some way in helping to ease traffic congestion on the Northern Beaches", she said
History of State Seat In Manly
Manly is often considered a safe Liberal seat, but it was held by two independents - Peter Macdonald and David Barr - for sixteen years until Mr Baird won the seat in 2007.
It even changed hands completely between 1978 to 1984, when Labor's Alan Stewart was the Manly MP.
However at the last election, in 2015, Mr Baird won 75% of the vote after preferences, with Greens candidate Clara Williams Roldan a distant second with 25% of the vote.
At the time of writing potential candidates had not been announced, however there is a lot of speculation as to who will stand!
“I think what locals will be looking for is a representative who is connected to the community,” Mrs Bingham said. “What party they come from is less important than their ability to work hard for their electorate, listen to the community and understand local issues”, she added.
Based on community research, it would seem that council amalgamations is one issue that would not be a game changer here in Manly.
This is despite anti-council amalgamation activists threatening to “turn Manly into Orange” and rally against the Liberal Party unless the forced council mergers are unwound.
“I really think people have moved on from that,” Mrs Bingham said. “At the time of amalgamation there was some concern that Manly’s voice would be lost in one big Northern Beaches Council. However I believe that the lack of resistance to amalgamation in Manly was not due to apathy, but rather that people were wanting a change from the Wong/Hay stronghold on the Council". (Henry Wong was the General Manager and Jean Hay led the Liberal bloc which approved many unpopular projects - a number of which have subsequently been terminated by the new Council's Administrator).
The by-election will take place in the next few months.
What would you like to see in Manly's new Local Member?
Two major projects were announced by the Northern Beaches Council this week utilising $14m allocated for major projects that improve community infrastructure and services, provided by the State Government as a result of the amalgamation of the three former Councils.
Connecting the Northern Beaches
An iconic coastal walkway from Palm Beach to Manly will be created over the next two years connecting existing walkways with an additional 8km of new pathways and 14km of shared pathways. The 36km walkway will include an extensive council-wide cycle way and shared path network connecting with the B-Line (bus service). Total: $22.3m.
Connecting all through Play
This comprises firstly, the creation of a regional network of inclusive accessible playgrounds including two major new all abilities playgrounds at Manly Dam and Lionel Watts Reserve Frenchs Forest, and upgrades to play areas across the northern beaches to make them more inclusive. Total: 6.3m.
And secondly, further funding for the upgrade of sporting facilities and Surf Life Saving Clubs for priority upgrades to improve accessibility, inclusiveness and the critical role of surf lifesavers. Total: $4m.
The first round of Commuity Grants, totalling $537,690, were also announced with 25 community organisations receiving funds to support various projects ranging from bushcare to social impact programs. It was noted that about 1/3 of the grant funds were allocated to programs for those with disabiliies.
You can download more details on each of these projects from the documents below:
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.