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"I still have to pay the bills": New Orange mayor Jason Hamling on working two jobs

By Peter Holmes

Mayor Jason Hamling at Banjo Paterson Park on Monday January 17, 2022. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

As a family man with hungry mouths to feed, Orange's new mayor Jason Hamling says he cannot afford to dedicate his full-time attention to the role.

"The mayor is not a full-time job," Hamling told The Orange News Examiner.

"The previous mayor [Reg Kidd] did a great job and he set the bar very high.

"I'm going to do what I can do; I've got three kids and a mortgage and I'll be devoting as much time as I can, [but] I still have to pay the bills.

"I have family, and family commitments, and business commitments, but I will do as much as I can."

The mayor of Orange is paid about $80,000 a year, and there are no official guidelines as to how many hours a week they should work.

"You've still got to pay tax on that - it's not that much money," Hamling said.

"I'm going to do the best I can. The people voted me in, they know who I am."

Hamling, who has been on council for 17 years and is a well-known face around town, said he had learnt a lot watching previous mayors Reg Kidd and John Davis operate.

He plans to take that experience, and his status as a lifelong resident of Orange with strong community ties, and "work smarter" to stay on top of all his duties.

A former cameraman with WIN TV, Hamling is one of the people behind Enjoy Orange, a company selling gourmet hampers of local produce, and transporting tourists to wineries around the district.

Former mayor Reg Kidd, who retired at the recent elections, told The Orange News Examiner that although he did maintain a small amount of private consultancy work during his tenure, the mayoral role had evolved into a full-time one.

Former Orange mayor Reg Kidd. Photo: Orange City Council.

Kidd was known for working long hours to spruik the city to locals and outsiders, and for sitting on multiple committees.

He once told me he estimated he worked about 70 hours a week as mayor, which included wading through acres of paperwork, attending endless events, and building relationships with senior figures at state and federal level.

"With population size growing, and you're trying to chase grants - that's why I did it full-time, it was a full-time job," he said on Monday.

"There are so many things happening - housing, environment, development, the way you have to attract business.

"People think business owners just decide 'Oh wow, Orange is a good place'; that might occur occasionally, but there is a lot of work getting manufacturing businesses [to relocate]."

He gave the example of one project that took multiple meetings with a state minister and others to bring to fruition.

"Council is not about those two meetings a month - that's where you're on show, but, jeez, there are 24 working committees."

Kidd said there needed to be more transparency about which councillors were on which committees, and what their attendance records were.


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