Farmer/businessman stands for Horizons Regional Council

By Laurel Stowell -
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Businessman and farmer Jeremy Austin is standing for Whanganui on Horizons Regional Council.
Businessman and farmer Jeremy Austin is standing for Whanganui on Horizons Regional Council.

After farming sheep, cattle and goats and filling many roles on national bodies rural Whanganui man Jeremy Austin is looking to become a Horizons Region councillor.

He'll be standing against sitting councillor David Cotton and Nicola Patrick - and any others nominated before midday on Friday. Whanganui's other sitting Horizons councillor Rod Pearce has decided not to stand again.

The council has a $40 million-plus annual turnover and assets of $350 million. It's a serious business that needs seriously experienced people to run it, Mr Austin said.

He's been a stock agent, owned businesses and farmed 485ha in the Whangaehu Valley for 38 years. He's now sold the farm and has time for new ventures.

While farming he served on many boards for meat marketing and animal breeding, bodies that handle a lot of money. He's currently the chairman of the Whangaehu-Mangawhero River Liaison Committee, which works with Horizons.

"I'm a fan of Horizons. I'm not standing because I want to change it. The initiatives I have been involved in (with Horizons) have been very collaborative."

He said he would call himself an environmentalist, and shares the aspiration of the farmers he associates with to leave their land in a better condition. He doesn't think he fits into the older, male, Pakeha, conservative mould either.

Farmers distrusted Horizons' One Plan at first, but he said that was mellowing. He doesn't think council officers have gone soft on the way the plan is implemented.

"The One Plan was the first. It will evolve and improve. I'm not aware of anyone that has gone soft."

Since selling his farm Mr Austin has helped out other farmers and helped with Coastguard fundraising. He still lives at Okirae in the Whangaehu Valley but plans to move to Whanganui and has time to put into a new role.

He and incumbent David Cotton are both standing on a rates restraint ticket. He said Whanganui's Horizons councillors needed to present a united front, to ensure the district got its share of council resources.

He wouldn't promise to hold rates at exactly the same level - but said any increase would have to be backed with good science and logical decisionmaking.

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