LORRAINE Wearne, Parramatta’s longest-serving councillor, celebrates 25 years fighting for the community. So, what drives this amazing woman?
AFTER a record-breaking 25 years as a Parramatta councillor, Lorraine Wearne shows no sign of slowing down. Not even cancer and removal of a lung can hold back this formidable woman.
Now cancer-free and feeling fit – she is proud that she does not take any medication – the 74-year-old is as feisty as ever.
Known for calling a spade a spade, Lorraine does not suffer fools gladly – and, as anyone who has followed Parramatta Council over the years knows, she has encountered a few in the chamber and in state politics.
At a recent council meeting, councillors supporting a Lord Mayoral Minute that lauded her service gave a nod to their own head-butting with the long-standing councillor that inevitably led to their unabiding respect for her commitment and knowledge.
The message was: Lorraine is strong-willed for the right reasons.
Representing her beloved Epping and neighbouring suburbs since 1995, Lorraine says she did not set out to be a ‘’politician’’.
‘’I had never seen myself as a politician but I decided to run to represent my area after the council had decided to put speed humps in my street with no real consultation,’’ Lorraine told The Times.
Fired up, Lorraine ran a low-cost campaign with her family’s help in letter-boxing the area with simple pamphlets. Running as an independent, Lorraine was swept into the office where she, as a reluctant politician, has remained.
Better off without party politics
Lorraine remains the only councillor not attached to a party and feels councils would be better off without main party politics.
She laments the preponderance of high-rise in the suburbs, blaming the state government, which she has said ‘’lied to the people’’ about restoring planning controls to local government.
While Lorraine had not attended a single council meeting or read an agenda before becoming a councillor she was a fast learner – becoming Sydney’s first female lord mayor in 2000-2001 and again in 2012.
But, then, Lorraine had already proved herself as a fast learner when she obtained her law degree in her 30s, having left school before she was 15.
Coming from a working-class background and bored with school, Lorraine worked in a legal office before realising she had what it took to be a lawyer.
Running her own small solicitor’s business from Epping, Lorraine still has had the energy to raise a daughter, help out with two grandchildren – oh and look after her marriage to the cheery Derek, who often accompanies her to official functions.
So how does this ‘’reluctant politician’’ relax?
‘’A good bottle of wine and movie helps,’’ Lorraine said. ‘’Derek and I like to go away when we can. And I like to spend time with my daughter and grandchildren.’’
But Lorraine is not done yet. She will be contesting the next council election next year. Still independent. Still fierce.
By DI BARTOK