Chief wants to rebuild trust
The Shire of Exmouth’s new chief executive has arrived with plans to oversee a re-building of community trust in the Shire and develop Ningaloo as one of the WA tourist destinations of choice.
Appointed in April, Cameron Woods arrived in Exmouth last week to begin a five-year term in the role, moving from the City of Albany, where he was executive director of commercial services for more than five years.
He steps into the role in the aftermath of a 2016 Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry into claims of misconduct at the Shire, which has had wide-ranging consequences, including the dismissal of former Shire chief executive Bill Price in December.
Mr Woods said with his 22 years of experience in local government and passions for tourism, the environment, regional development and community engagement, the new role had struck him as a “perfect match”.
After being part of a turnaround in local governance at the City of Albany during a similarly troubled period, he said he would set high standards at the Shire and pursue close community engagement to re-build trust.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button and we want to be best practice now with everything we do going forward,” he said.
“So we’re going to draw a line in the sand, and from a governance point of view, we want to be the best we can be in local government.”
One of the key points for Mr Woods’ appointment was his work in tourism in Albany, including re-energising its award-winning National Anzac Centre and co-ordinating the Amazing Albany campaign. He said promoting “pristine” Ningaloo in the WA tourism market would be a focus.
“The Ningaloo experience is in my mind the jewel in the crown for WA,” he said.
“There’s lots of places that grow wine, and there’s lots of places that have surf but this World Heritage area, cape to range, and the flora and the fauna and the unique landscapes and the environment, I think has international appeal.
“So with these direct flights from London coming in with the additional cheaper fares to get to Learmonth and the interest we’re also getting from the State Government and Qantas to then add on potentially Frankfurt and Paris to that next year ... I think puts us in good stead.”
The Ningaloo Centre fits into that vision as an interpretive centre for the surrounding natural environment and a “one-stop shop” for community organisations and functions.
Mr Woods said he would also focus on diversifying the local economy, including development of the defence industry and offshore oil and gas opportunities.
He said it was a privilege to have been appointed to the role and he was enjoying his time in town so far despite a “whirlwind” few days.
It is still a troubled period for the Shire of Exmouth, with its council disbanded several weeks ago when four of five suspended councillors resigned after meeting with Local Government Minister David Templeman.
Interim commissioner Ian Fletcher will govern in their place until local government elections are held in October.
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