Diane Brennan

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Diane Brennan
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DIANE BRENNAN 1944-2019 Diane Brennan is the first and only woman to serve the community of Ballina Shire as mayor. She was born Diane Parkin in Penrith in 1944, and her family relocated to Ballina in 1953 when Diane's father, Harold, was employed as a greenkeeper at the Ballina Bowling Club. She attended Ballina Primary and Ballina High School before completing correspondence courses in writing, which led to her employment as a journalist with The Summerland News, The Ballina Advocate, The Northern Star and regional weekly papers. Diane married Graham Brennan in 1964, and their son Tony was born in 1967. The Brennan family moved from Ballina to Tintenbar in 1979, but returned to Ballina in 1985. Diane's interest in local government grew from her newspaper reports and time spent covering Ballina Council meetings. She was elected to council in 1980. During her years of service, she worked part time to fund the expenses incurred as a councillor. She was deputy mayor to Keith Johnson from 1988 before becoming mayor in 1994, a position she held until 1997. Her commitment was to roads, rates, garbage and to keep the community informed on the council's actions. To this end, she continued writing informative columns for The Advocate culminating in her regular reports, 'From the Mayor's Desk. She served on many council and regional committees and was a member of the Country Mayors' Association during her time as mayor. Diane considers her greatest accomplishment for the Ballina community was saving Fawcett Street Park as public open space. Council intended selling the park to Sydney developers, who wished to construct twenty and twenty- two story unit blocks on the site. Despite much opposition she called public meetings and rallied the Ballina people's support, and intense protests were held stopping the sale from proceeding. She also insisted that the new council chambers be constructed in Ballina's CBD and not on the Prospect Estate. The construction of the River Street Library and improvements to village libraries as well as the $600,000 renovation of the Wigmore Arcade with public seating area and toilets were other issues she pursued. She also saw the introduction of the wheelie bin and rural garbage services. She was very involved with council's development of Angels Beach residential estate. The profits from this venture paid for the $8.1 million Prospect Bridge, 4.7 km of roads, cycle ways and associated infrastructure. Ballina Shire Council's Concrete Batching Plant was developed when Diane convinced council that it would be financially beneficial to the community. She saw that the construction of roundabouts for the RTA would be profitable as would general concrete sales. She was disappointed after her retirement to learn that the plant was sold to private enterprise. She felt a plan to construct footpaths across Ballina at minimal cost to the home owners, as well as big sales to the RTA during construction of the Ballina Bypass were lost. Diane was instrumental in obtaining an ongoing grant to clean up and ensure regular maintenance of the then closed' Tintenbar General Cemetery. This cemetery contains many pioneer families, several of whom were involved with the early cedar industry. In 1983 as chairwoman of the council's Centenary Committee Diane worked closely with local historian, Glen Hall, during his writing of his book, Port of Richmond River. This book became a valuable history of Ballina. Sadly Glen suffered a severe stroke before the completion of his work. The book was finished at Glen's request by Diane. Diane has happy memories of growing up in the wonderful town of Ballina in a close-knit, safe and carefree community, and will always love Ballina and the years spent there. Diane and Graham retired to the Gold Coast in 1999. In return the people of Ballina are thankful of the contribution Diane made to the town over many years. [1]


  1. Kirkland, Ian. Recognising Ballina District citizens. Book 2. Alstonville Plateau Historical Society. Alstonville, NSW. ISBN 978-0-6482209-1-6. OCLC 1117766055.

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