Nine Mayors on: Parramatta’s still growing after 160 years


NINE lord mayors, past and present, braved the cold of windswept Parramatta Square to commemorate the 160th anniversary of the proclamation of Parramatta as a municipality, alongside NSW Governor Margaret Beazley on Saturday November 27.

Sitting proudly among the invited throng was Alan Hyam, 88, who served as Parramatta’s first lord mayor in 1988, when Parramatta became only the third non-capital Australian city to have a lord mayor.

Mr Hyam was also mayor in 1974-78. The Queen declared Parramatta as a lord mayoral city in 1988 as a bicentennial gift.

Before that Newcastle and Wollongong were the only non-capital Australian cities with lord mayors.

Since then, there have been many lord mayors, both Labor, Liberal and Independents, with Paul Garrard – first Labor then Independent – serving the most terms.

On Saturday, sitting with Mr Hyam and Mr Garrard were previous lord mayors Tony Issa, Julia Finn, Paul Barber, John Chedid, Scott Lloyd and Bob Dwyer.

Present Lord Mayor Steven Issa, elected to serve less than three months before the December 4 local government elections, quipped that he would not go down in history as Parramatta shortest-serving mayor.

The honour belonged to Parramatta’s first mayor John Williams, who resigned as mayor on February 2 1862 only a month after being elected.

One thing has not changed since Parramatta was proclaimed a city in 1861, with its first mayor elected a year later – and that is the mayoral election.

Mayors and lord mayors have always been elected by councillors, currently for a two-year term.

About 35 other NSW councils have mayors elected by citizens.

Bob Dwyer, in his last days in the chair, had unsuccessfully tried to have a referendum on the issue at the upcoming election, but was defeated by other councillors, who instead opted for community consultation, to take place in the next term of council.

At Saturday’s event, Lord Mayor Issa said he was excited about the future of Parramatta.

“We have a once in a generation, or in my case once in two generations (referring to his former lord mayor father) opportunity to transform our city,” Cr Issa said.

Certainly, with shiny glass buildings soaring up to the clouds, today’s Parramatta would be unrecognisable to its forefathers.

But first mayor John Williams, proprietor of the iconic Woolpack Hotel, would be pleased that among the rising vertical modern Parramatta, his pub remains in its place, having retained its historical charm.

Governor Beazley noted that Parramatta, from its days as a meeting place for the Burramattagal people to today’s burgeoning city, remained a place connected to community.

“How brightly you shine,” she said.

Ms Beazley and Lord Mayor Issa unveiled the commemorative plaque that will be placed in the administrative and cultural building 5 Parramatta Square, to be known as Phive (Parramatta Hive) when it is completed mid-next year.

Image: NSW Governor Margaret Beazley and Lord Mayor Steven Issa unveil plaque commemorating 160 years of Parramatta local government area.

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