Water crusader honoured

ACKNOWLEDGED: Former Goulburn Mulwaree mayor Paul Stephenson has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of his service to local government and the community.OAM for Paul Stephenson

THE man who made it his mission to secure Goulburn’s water supply has been recognised for his service to local government and community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Former Goulburn Mulwaree mayor Paul Stephenson, who now lives on the south coast, has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division.

He dedicated the honour to his wife Sue, his family and the many others who supported him during his 14-year career in local government, which included 10 years as mayor of Mulwaree Shire Council and another four as the inaugural mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree.

“I honestly could not have achieved what I achieved without the support of the many good people who helped me along the way, especially the staff,” Mr Stephenson said.

“I’ve been lucky to have family very close to my side and really good staff. You can’t do these things without having good people around you.”

In early 2007 – with Goulburn in the grips of a record drought – Mr Stephenson’s lobbying was the influential factor in securing funding for the Wingecarribee to Goulburn pipeline from the then State Labor and federal Coalition governments.

He was also instrumental in the setting up of the Veolia Mulwaree Trust, with the aim of dispersing funds generated from the storage of Sydney’s waste in Tarago to communities in surrounding local government areas.

Mr Stephenson’s Queen’s Birthday honour also recognises his work with the Trust, as founder in 2005 and now chairman.

“The most enjoyable part of my role now is helping the smaller communities, the CWAs, the church groups, with their projects,” he said.

“And often, the smaller they are, the bigger the thanks you get.

“That says something about the community spirit that exists in regional and rural communities in which the Trust works. “People in the bush, they never lose sense of who they are.”

He acknowledged the contribution and support of fellow Trust founder, and Veolia Environmental Services managing director, Doug Dean.

“You think about, think of all those quarrying companies in the Goulburn Mulwaree region now, and find out how much they put back into the community. You’ll find it’s not much,” Mr Stephenson said.

“I’m please Veolia has been mentioned in the Honours citation because they are leading the way in supporting the communities in which they operate.”

Mr Stephenson has served on the Local Emergency Management Committee, and on a variety of committees including the NSW Country Mayors Association, Local Government Reference Panel, Department of Corrective Services Southern Region Consultative Committee, and the ACT Regional Leaders Forum.

He was also Board Member on the Sydney Catchment Authority from 2008-2009. When asked of his main achievements while in politics, the answer was obvious: the pipeline.

He might have lost as an Independent candidate to Liberal Pru Goward at the 2007 state election but won $40 million for the city.

“I went to that state election to secure Goulburn’s water. It was also my goal as mayor,” he said.

“We secured 50/50 from Labor and Liberal … no mean feat. And the rest is history.”

And during tenure as Goulburn Mulwaree mayor, the council won numerous awards and plaudits, most notably, for its community water-saving initiatives.

Mr Stephenson spent the weekend with family in Taralga. He says he visits Goulburn and the district weekly in his role with the Veolia Mulwaree Trust. Meantime, the Governor-General, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce has congratulated award recipients in The Queen’s Birthday 2012 Honours List.

The diversity of service across all fields of endeavour was recognised today with a range of awards within the Australian Honours System. These awards include the contributions from the community as well as Defence, Police, Fire and Emergency Services personnel.

“These awards recognise shining examples of men and women who display the finest community values of respect and giving, dedication and commitment,” Ms Bryce said.

“I congratulate those recipients who today receive the highest level of recognition accorded by our nation. They, and all Australian Honours recipients before them, represent what is most important and unifying in Australian life.”

The recipients include 540 exceptional individuals who are receiving awards in the general division of the Order of Australia for their contributions to the community.

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