The Doust Files – Albany Advertiser 10/5/2011

Not long ago local government was the domain of the tired and over the hill desperate for recognition before they packed their bags for the final journey, but not anymore. Have you seen the latest mob leading the way in local communities?

Take the current Lord Mayor of Perth, the 23 year old Lisa Scaffidi, who took over from the 107 year old bloke who was probably better known for keeping house for the deputy leader of the Federal Opposition, Julie Bishop.

All this came to a head last month when I met the 12 year old Brad Pettitt, mayor of Fremantle. He was elected in October 2009 and he replaced a bloke who retired to contest a seat in state parliament and I was reliably informed he had only recently finished primary school.

All right, I may have got the ages wrong but, as Mark Twain once said, I am not one of those people who, when expressing opinions, will confine themselves to facts and, besides, the occasional tweak helps you get my point.

And just in case you missed it, here it is again. It’s time for Gen Xers to take the reins of local government, wrest them from the clutches of the baby boomers and set about instituting policies that will save enough of everything and ensure they can put locally sourced milk, cheese, bread and fish on the tables of their grandchildren.

Mayor Pettitt is clearly a passionate man and when I asked him if the time was right for his generation he said: “I think we are seeing lots of bright and capable younger people ready to step up and I encourage that. When we get to work alongside those who are experienced that can be a great mix.”

Most Freo-folk I spoke to said they liked him. A couple said they were undecided, but everyone admitted it was great having a mayor who could surf, run 100 metres without calling for oxygen and someone who was not chained to an ancient code of local government dress or behaviour.

The night I shook his hand, for example, he spoke in front of 300 people wearing a shirt out of his pants, tieless and holding a bottle of tonic water.

And now I’m going to issue a challenge to all boys and girls, sorry, men and women, between 30 and 45 to step forward and offer themselves up to lead Great Southern communities. Pettitt reckons two terms is plenty: “One to learn the reins and one to put your ideas into practice.”

As for us, the baby boomers, most of us will welcome you gladly as we fade away disgracefully, amusing ourselves with coloured socks, silly hats and dancing wildly while screaming “Hallelujah Leonard Cohen”.

Right, race on, we’ve got about four months to find another Brad or Lisa. First prize is the city you want to live in in ten years time.

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