Meet our new mayor

Councillor Ian Bye is the new mayor of Wellington Shire.

Josh Farrell

We cannot even make it to our table at Portside Food and Wine in Sale before people are stopping Wellington Shire’s new mayor Ian Bye to chat and congratulate him.
Born and raised in Sale, it is no surprise he is recognised — he has been a part of the community his whole life through sporting clubs and an accounting business in Foster St.
Councillor Bye, who was elected to the position of mayor last Wednesday, has served on council since 2016 representing the Central Ward.
He replaces Cr Garry Stephens as mayor, who served his tenure navigating COVID lockdowns, floods and the recent windstorm.
“It was always an aspiration to run for council,” Cr Bye said.
“Whilst I was still working as an accountant I was not able to be mayor.”
Wellington Shire’s nine councillors represent three wards — coastal, central and the northern.
“We are lucky in this council; the other eight councillors are amazing,” Cr Bye said.
“The new councillors that have come on have been great.
“No-one is aligned to any other party or any other aspiration.”
Cr Bye wants to continue the teamwork and harmony that council has had during its term so far.
“People ask me now ‘what is your direction as mayor?’ and I say I don’t have a direction,” he said.
“The mayor is elected by the other eight councillors to be the figurehead of the council.
“It is an important role because if something happens you make the decision, and they trust you to make the right decision.”
David Morcom recently had his tenure as chief executive of Wellington Shire Council extended for five years, and the new mayor had nothing but praise for him.
“With David Morcom’s help with such a good team he has … it makes our job so much easier,” Cr Bye said.
“When we start doing bigger projects, they are so easy to do because of his team.”
Council has been providing funding for numerous projects around Wellington Shire, Cr Bye said.
Sporting grounds such as Stephenson Park are getting upgraded facilities, which Cr Bye said would ensure grounds in the area were up to date.
Council is finalising plans to continue the development of the Port of Sale precinct to improve the facilities for numerous stakeholders in the area.
And Cr Bye said council’s focus was to bring Wellington Shire through the challenging times of the pandemic and natural disasters, and to help the region bounce back.
“We have basically had everything that could affect you in the last three years happen,” Cr Bye said.
“The farmers have started to bounce back, and we gave them a rates reduction to help them get through,” he said.
“I think as a community we are still struggling with disasters … and getting back on track with COVID.”
Cr Bye was grateful of the state government’s support for businesses, including support for outdoor areas for hospitality.
“We have been pretty lucky in most of our towns — most businesses survived,” he said.
“Our issue for council at the moment is land supply.”
Council is often criticised for its high rates, with ratepayers complaining they do not get good value for money.
“A lot of people compare to a Melbourne CBD suburb, and when you compare the density rates that are in Melbourne compared to out here, that’s probably the difference,” Cr Bye said.
“We have the third highest land area in Victoria that we have got to look after.
“To look after the couple thousand kilometres of roads we have got alone … they do really well to keep the rates low,” he said.
Cr Bye said his love of Gippsland was what drove him to become a part of council and take on the role of mayor.
“I love Gippsland and I love Wellington Shire — and that is one of the reasons we still live here,” he said.
“When you think of the Middle of Everywhere campaign, you realise they’re right.
“Within half an hour you have got snow, you have got water, you can go mountain climbing and mountain bike riding — it’s brilliant,” he said.
Cr Bye will be aided by Cr Marcus McKenzie, from Port Albert, who will be his deputy.
He was elected to council during the 2020 council elections.