WHIPSTICK ward councillor-elect Malcolm Pethybridge wants to focus on bringing more industry to Bendigo, harking back to the city’s industrial heyday of the Ordnance Factory and Empire Rubber.
Mr Pethybridge won a self-described “shock” victory in the Whipstick ward countback on Tuesday, prompted by last month’s resignation of former councillor Julie Hoskin.
Ms Hoskin’s votes from the 2016 election were distributed from scratch, allowing Mr Pethybridge – who received the third fewest votes of the 10 original candidates – to win the seat as the most preferred option from Ms Hoskin’s voters.
Mr Pethybridge said he only came to the countback to “see how it worked”, but ultimately left as a councillor-elect.
“It made the old ticker start going, but we’ll get used to it, we’ll settle in,” he said.
“I just thought I’d come along and see what happens, and look what happened. Here I am.”
His campaign focused on bringing more industry to Bendigo to make use of vacant industrial land, particularly in East Bendigo, suggesting incentives could be offered to businesses to establish in Bendigo.
Having worked at the old Ordnance Factory and the former Empire Rubber in the past, he said it was disappointing to see industrial areas like East Bendigo struggling to attract companies.
See the result of the countback below:
Mr Pethybridge was also sceptical of the urgent need to find more industrial land near Bendigo.
“This is Australia, we’ve got heaps of land. Where we say we haven’t got land, we’ve got heaps of land,” he said.
“I live out at East Bendigo. East Bendigo’s not there, Empire Rubber is just a shed now, the old workshop is just a shed now.
“There’s a lot of areas where industry could go ahead in Bendigo.”
Describing himself as a “typical Bendigo person” who “can’t be bullied”, Mr Pethybridge said he originally nominated in 2016 after becoming disillusioned with the work of the last group of councillors.
“I threw my hat in the ring because I think some of the councillors were not doing their job properly, not leading the way for Bendigo and doing the right thing for Bendigo,” he said.
“I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m not working anymore. I’m happy with my life, I own what I own and life is going really good, and I decided to run for the council.”
Mr Pethybridge looked forward to the coming weeks where he would be briefed on council matters before taking his seat at next month’s ordinary meeting.
He will be sworn in as a councillor on Monday.
‘It’s a democratic process’: Mayor says diverse views welcome on council
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said the council was well placed to quickly brief Mr Pethybridge so he could start work as an active councillor as soon as possible.
The resignation of Julie Hoskin came five months after she was barred from directly communicating with council staff following allegations she was recording all conversations.
Mr Pethybridge was, effectively, the councillor with the closest views to Ms Hoskin.
Cr O’Rourke said there would not be any prejudices held against Mr Pethybridge.
“We worked through that with Julie over the period of time with her as a councillor. We tried to address those on many occasions,” she said.
“(Mr Pethybridge) will have his views which is welcomed. It’s a democratic process.
“There are protocols to operate within council. There’s a code of conduct, we operate always on that code of conduct.”
Tight countback comes down to handful of preferences
Malcolm Pethybridge’s alliance with fellow candidate Stuart Symes proved decisive during the countback, polling figures showed.
When Ms Hoskin’s second preference votes were distributed, 1160 went to Mr Pethybridge, 1137 went to Michelle Goldsmith and 1115 went to Thomas Prince.
After Peter Cox and Wayne Gregson were eliminated, and their next preference votes were allocated, Mr Pethybridge, Ms Goldsmith and Mr Prince were almost neck and neck.
But when Mr Symes was eliminated, 505 of his next preference votes went to Mr Pethybridge, putting him several hundred ahead.
Ms Goldsmith’s preferences slightly favoured Mr Pethybridge too.
Mr Pethybridge ended on 2777 – 163 ahead of Mr Prince, who narrowly missed out on a seat on council for a second time.