Landscape - Jackie Kruger_Leeton Shire Council smaller file copy
The Murrumbidgee

The Murrumbidgee

Fast Five with Jackie Kruger, Leeton Shire Council’s General Manager

Jackie Kruger was appointed Leeton Shire Council’s General Manager in 2015. She and her husband, Graeme, have been proud Leeton residents since August of that year.  Previously she worked with Tamworth Regional Council and Southland District Council and Invercargill City Council in New Zealand. Jackie shares with us her passion for working with the community, which began in her native South Africa. There she worked with impoverished communities outside national parks. This awakened an appreciation of public policy’s role in people’s lives and how clarity of vision, solidarity, advocacy, creative thinking and innovation can help communities to thrive.

Where do you work and your title? 

I work at Leeton Shire Council and I’m the General Manager.

What made you decide to work in the field?

I love working in local government because it’s an area of work where you’re constantly making a difference to people’s well-being and lifestyles. Whether it’s on the health, economic, or community development front, what Council does day in, and day out makes a difference.

While some projects are longer-term, most are things that people use every day, like travelling on their roads and switching on their taps for water. I think the work we do on the look and feel of the town and how it presents gives people a sense of pride and well-being. It’s a pleasure to work in such a positive job.

 What do you love most about what you do?

I love looking at all the strategic directions that we need to take and delivering for our community. To be a successful community it’s a mix of economic and community development and infrastructure that we need to plan for. It’s looking at all those big-picture things and how they integrate.

I love advocacy too and working for things that our community aspires to, like decent health services and a fully functioning hospital. This is so important to the community that it feels like a privilege to have a part in trying to get an outcome that will meet its needs. You’re serving your local community on behalf of the elected councillors who’ve got an ear to listen to what the community needs and wants.

What is something surprising about your role / business?

With a general manager role, you get to appreciate how local government has so many tentacles into every aspect of life and living. One minute you’re talking about sport and sporting facilities then doctors and hospitals, bridges and engineering, and then planning a new wing on a school. It’s so diverse and while we don’t deliver all those services, we touch them.

This role gives you a good sense that local government is the tier of government closest to the people.

What do you love about the Murrumbidgee?

I love that it’s easy to feel proud of the Murrumbidgee area. People once thought it was an unliveable, uninhabitable place. The foresight of people like Sir Samuel McCaughey and his ability to persuade the government to put in this magnificent Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme has turned this area into the food bowl of Australia, never mind NSW.

What’s fascinating to me is how irrigation farming improves every year – people are constantly innovating to farm in the most environmentally friendly way with the least water possible.

We’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit in the MIA and that flows through to every aspect of the region – right from the farmers and growers to manufacturing firms that produce value-added goods. Just to see that flow to the plate or to the clothing that people wear is a remarkable story for this region.

I take my hat off to everyone who just rolls up sleeves and makes it happen. It seems like in the Murrumbidgee, people don’t just talk about stuff, they make it happen and make it happen quickly.

Personally, I love going to the Murrumbidgee River for rest and relaxation. There’s nothing nicer than seeing flowing water and hearing the birds. It’s not only a wonderful source of this very important water, it’s a place to restore yourself and where you can enjoy the environment.


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