Going the distance: independent candidate Pete Harrison at Karabar High School

A full day of elector meet-and-greet at Karabar High School had been “tiring ... but the weather's made it a whole lot easier,” said Pete Harrison as the sun slowly dipped towards the poll’s 6pm deadline.

Going the distance: independent candidate Pete Harrison at Karabar High School. Video still.

Going the distance: independent candidate Pete Harrison at Karabar High School. Video still.

The independent candidate’s time at the city booth had been an eye-opener, he said, in driving home the demographic differences between urban and rural communities.

The former Palerang mayor had been a vocal opponent of the forced council merger with particular concerns around how it could be to the detriment of the small and outlying towns.

His concerns had not been allayed in the months since. “Representation was always going to be an issue,” Mr Harrison said, “and I don't think it's ever going to go away.

“It's a democratic reality that the population is centred in Queanbeyan, three-quarters of it, so that's where three-quarters of the representation is going to be.

“You’re going to be dependent on good people to think outside of the area they're generally responsible for to get consideration passed out to greater Palerang.”

Where Queanbeyan City councillors had formerly covered off 172 square kilometres, they would now need to take in about 5250 square kilometres, Mr Harrison said.

“Just the distance involved is going to make it really difficult for people,” he said.

“Once they start to see they have to drive an hour to get anywhere .... and meetings are going to take three hours instead of one hour ... it's going to be hard.”

As such, he said the new council’s priority should be being “willing to work together to bring issues to the table and decide those issues on their individual merits”.

“The relationships ... that enable the council to be constructive in the way it operates, I think it’s going to be the real challenge,” he said.

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