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City of Whittlesea appoints new administrator

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By Colin MacGillivray

New City of Whittlesea administrator Christian Zahra has pledged to work towards a vision already established by fellow administrators Lydia Wilson and Peita Duncan during the final 18 months of their four-year term.

Mr Zahra was appointed as an administrator in March, replacing former administrator Chris Eddy, who resigned in December last year.

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Ms Wilson and Ms Duncan have served as administrators of the municipality since the State Government disbanded the City of Whittlesea council in 2020, initially alongside Bruce Billson, who was an administrator from June 2020 to March 2021, and then Mr Eddy, who replaced Mr Billson in May 2021.

Mr Zahra was a federal Labor politician representing the former electorate of McMillan in south-east Victoria from 1998 to 2004.

He more recently served as an administrator for the South Gippsland Shire Council from 2019 to 2021.

He said his previous experience as a council administrator would serve him well in his new role with the City of Whittlesea.

“It’s quite a rare and unusual situation when you have administrators appointed. The work is similarly focused in each situation on preparing the organisation for the return of councillors,” he said.

“In our case at the City of Whittlesea that will be in about 18 months’ time, so we want to make sure the organisation is in good shape with good, strong governance practices to ensure it’s a success when it happens.”

Mr Zahra said his role would be to help support the vision Ms Wilson and Ms Duncan had already established.

“It’s about making sure we’ve got good systems and processes in place to have effective engagement with the community, making sure we’ve got a strong senior executive management team and clear ways in which we can make sure people are aligning their work to community priorities through council documents,” he said.

“I think that’s already largely established within the City of Whittlesea, so I see my job as coming in to support the completion of that work rather than coming in with new ideas out of left field.

“Lydia and Peita are both fantastic people and it’s obvious to me that they’re dedicated to their work at the City of Whittlesea,” he said.

“You can really feel it in the way in which they talk about the region and the way they apply themselves to the work and talk about things they’ve been involved in so far.

“It’s only been three or four weeks so far, but it’s been excellent getting to know them and the rest of the team.”

Mr Zahra called the Whittlesea region ‘a beautiful part of the world’.

“It’s got so many fantastic established communities with a lot going for them already,” he said.

“It’s a welcoming and inclusive place with so many people arriving – it’s one of the fastest-growing parts of the state.

“There’s also a fantastic rural part of the municipality, so it’s one of those beautiful parts of the country that has it all. That’s a really precious thing that not many other places can lay a claim to.”

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