Local hero of the working class: Vale former Parramatta mayor Paul Barber

THE former Parramatta mayor Paul Barber, well-known for his staunch advocacy of workers, Indigenous peoples’ welfare and local heritage, died on Thursday at 70.

Growing up in East Parramatta and educated at Parramatta East Public School and Macquarie Boys High School, Mr Barber followed his father’s footsteps working at the Shell Oil Refinery when an interest to serve his community sparked his entry in local politics.

After a career as a shift controller at Shell, Mr Barber’s concern for Parramatta’s heritage and urban design standards prompted his interest in running for the Parramatta Council elections in the 1990s.

He went on to become a long-time member of the council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee and served on the upper Parramatta River Catchment Trust.

While as member councilor on the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, Mr Barber joined the lobby for both State and Federal Governments for a better deal for local governments.

Mr Barber served his community as an elected Parramatta City councillor, including as mayor in 2007 and 2008.

Parramatta City Council issued a statement recognising his contribution and legacy as a public servant.

Parramatta Lord Mayor Pierre Esber said: “Paul Barber was the epitome of hard work and dedication to the people of Parramatta.

“In his time involved with the City of Parramatta, he was involved in the creation of the Parramatta Artists Studio, the restoration of the old Parramatta War Memorial Pool, the introduction of the free shuttle bus in 2008, delivery of the first Sustainability Expo in 2007 and the successful delivery of Social Enterprise Grants for the unemployed, plus many more achievements.”

The former Labor premier Nathan Rees and fellow former mayor of Parramatta David Borger jointly issued a statement honouring the legacy of their colleague who they said was “instrumental in making Parramatta a better place for all its residents” today.

Mr Rees, who served as the state’s 41st premier in 2008 and 2009 and Mr Borger, a former MP and now Business Western Sydney’s executive officer, reminisced on Mr Barber’s achievements.

“Paul worked for many years at the Shell Oil Refinery, following in his father’s footsteps, and would often work shifts after attending lengthy Council meetings,” Mr  Broger said.

“He personified the working class of values of the NSW Labor Party of which he was a passionate supporter.

“Paul was much more than a public servant; he was a man of great character, known for his loyalty, good nature, and a profound love for his extended family.

“His presence enriched the lives of those around him, both in professional circles and personal life.

“At this sorrowful time, our thoughts are with his partner, Leanne, and their extended family. The loss of Paul is deeply felt by all who knew him, and we stand together in mourning the passing of a true gentleman and community leader.

“Vale Paul Barber. Your memory and contributions will forever be a part of Parramatta’s history.”

Image: The former Lord Mayor of Parramatta City, Paul Barber, in an official photo as mayor. Photo supplied by Parramatta City Council.

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