In this series, we will dive into some of the Lord Mayoral candidates’ policies, priorities and plans. Find out what they believe are the city’s greatest assets, what they think needs improving and why they want to be your Lord Mayor.

In this third instalment, we meet Liberal candidate Jenny Barrie.

Liberal Lord Mayoral candidate Jenny Barrie. Photo supplied.

Q. How long have you lived in Newcastle?

A. I have lived in Newcastle for 32 years, since 1989 when I moved here to start an exciting new business, the Johnny Young Talent School, which had 400 students enrolled.

Q. What can you tell NovoNews readers about your family/family life?

A.I have two adult children and five beautiful grandchildren, all born in Newcastle. I have two brothers (I am the middle sister), and we are a very close family with our mum, my role model, still in our lives.

Q. Your interests outside of work? Any hobbies? Do you manage to have any spare time? If so, what do you like to do in it?

A. I am the President of the Hunter Business Lions Club, Newcastle Music Festival Committee Member and Smokva (Figtree) Community Garden Treasurer at Wickham. We are very fortunate to have an amazing natural setting for our city, and I am a huge fan of walking and swimming at one of our many beautiful beaches, if I can find a car park.

I have always had a strong passion for advocating for the needs of my community, and from that came my interest in politics.

Q. What did you do early in your career?

A. I have had a really interesting journey, having worked in advertising, sales and marketing at a Central Coast newspaper. I then sought to run my own businesses, helping to launch the Johnny Young Talent School in 1989-1995, in Hunter Street, Newcastle, as one of its company directors. Then, after my children were born, I kick-started my own business, Jennifer Barrie Enterprises Pty Ltd.

I became a community economic development consultant, specialising in event management. I helped councils, chambers of commerce and not-for-profit groups to stage large-scale community festivals and events. For example, I worked closely with Darby Street Precinct Committee, staging many Darby Street Festivals and the inaugural Darby Street Coffee Festival. These were very successful, with thousands of people lining Darby Street to enjoy live music, delicious food and coffee in this popular eat street and market stalls. I also had a hand in helping to run the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks events at Warners Bay Foreshore. In 1998, I helped to start the Music in The Podium with the Chamber of Commerce on Warners Bay Foreshore, which I coordinated every Friday night for 11 years in daylight savings time.

I then worked for Hunter Life Education until 2016 and for St Vincent de Paul Society from 2017-2021, staging Vinnies CEO Sleepouts and Community Sleepouts in the historic Maitland Gaol and one in Tweed Heads to raise funds for disadvantaged people and homeless services. The past three events held were online fundraisers due to COVID-19.

Q.What is your current profession? How will this guide you in the role of mayor?

A. I am the site manager of Electrodry Storage Solutions at Bennetts Green, where I oversee the day-to-day operations of a 450-unit complex.

After running small businesses for more than two decades, I have developed many skills that will help me work with council staff, councillors, residents, businesses and community groups and help resolve difficult financial issues.

All of my previous roles have been about helping people. If I get a chance to be elected to Newcastle City Council, I will use my businesses acumen and experience to help our residents and business community to ensure council continues to develop the City of Newcastle to provide services to assist the ongoing development of Newcastle into the future.

If elected, I will passionately advocate for better services and infrastructure for our ratepayers and businesses. My experience in the NFP sector will guide how I work with our community groups to achieve cost savings on council to allow more funding for community-based projects and services for residents. I will also work with the Liberal State and Federal Governments to attract more support and investment into our city.

Q.What do you think of Newcastle and its people?

A. Newcastle is an amazing and breathtaking city, which I’m proud to call home, where we have some of the best surf beaches, lovely parks and heritage buildings. Newcastle Harbour is one of my favourite places to sit and relax or catch the ferry to the Stockton Foreshore to enjoy the picturesque Nobbys Headland and the continuous movement of ships. I love to take my family to watch the sailing and fishing boats going out and coming back.

Newcastle has rich architectural history, with majestic buildings like the recently renovated Newcastle Town Hall and our two wonderful cathedrals, just to name a few. In addition, we boast many great spots for families and tourists, from Civic Park and Blackbutt Reserve to King Edward Park.

After the two years of lockdowns, Newcastle is coming alive again, and we have an unmissable opportunity to make this place even better. For example, I would like to see better use of council-owned buildings to create an arts, music and cultural precinct.

Our population is growing very fast, and we need to make sure there are appropriate plans in place to accommodate this growth and preserve our city’s important heritage and character. With many high-rise unit developments planned and recently completed, increasing the density throughout the inner-city suburbs of Newcastle East, Newcastle West and Wickham, and more planned in Adamstown and New Lambton and other suburbs, we will ensure the city and suburbs investment is returned with benefits to the communities who enjoy the lifestyle on offer.

The price of real estate in the Lower Hunter has risen dramatically as people are relocating from Sydney in droves to enjoy our enviable lifestyle, but that has meant that affordable housing is in very short supply. Additionally, with many residents downsizing as they reach retirement age, we need to work with housing providers to ensure we have housing for young families who work in Newcastle and surrounding areas.

Q. If elected, what will be your number one priority? Outline a few plans you would like to see come to fruition and things you will focus on.

A. If elected, the Liberal team will bring a new vision for the City of Newcastle and will work hard to return the council’s decision making back to the voters, after years of poor transparency and poor decision making.

We will work hard to support small businesses to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and create jobs. In addition, I will make it my personal priority to work with tourism operators and travel industry stakeholders to help attract more visitors to this beautiful gateway to the Hunter Region.

I would like to review the Special Business Rate and ensure it is properly used to promote local businesses and invest back into the business areas where the funds are collected.

We will also look into better funding for Newcastle City surf clubs to help with the ongoing repairs. Surf club members and volunteers deserve better facilities than the ones our Council has them operating in. We will also look to find a new home for the displaced Maritime Museum, and I would also like to ensure that the Newcastle Showground is preserved for the future.

Q. What areas of the city do you think need significant improvement/attention?

A. The re-development of the Newcastle Mall area, Newcastle Art Gallery, Lambton Pool, and surf clubs all need attention and a refurbishment plan. We need to improve current planning for neglected suburbs. We will also need to review streetscape design to include more street furniture, footpaths, cycleways, urban pocket parks to provide more trees and shade, and more outdoor dining sites.

If we are elected, I will work with the NSW State Government on planning for better transport connections across the city, as traffic is very congested at times, and there’s increasing demand for public transport and parking options. In addition, I would like to see more walking paths with gym equipment for outdoor exercise.

The Liberal team will also invest more in children’s playgrounds, like the popular family destination alongside the Hunter River at Stockton. In addition, we will help to deal with some of the parking issues for residents in unit developments across the city as more young people move into units due to growing house prices.

Q. What is Newcastle’s greatest asset?

A. We are the best-kept tourism secret on the east coast of NSW, however, not for much longer if I am given a chance to work with our tourism industry, with our beautiful coastline, parks, our bustling Newcastle Harbour and Newcastle’s heritage. There are so many reasons for us to be optimistic about the future of our city to ensure there is an investment into projects that stimulate the local economy and drive change for the betterment of ratepayers, businesses and residents.

Q. What are your reasons behind running for Lord Mayor? Why should voters elect you?

A. I would like to see a change of direction and create an exciting new vision for the City of Newcastle to ensure there is a post-COVID plan. Newcastle deserves to attract more state and federal funding to help us create more jobs and opportunities for our young people. With my business experience, I will be able to lead our council to deliver better services without unreasonable rate hikes.

I am passionate about our community having someone in council who they can trust. With the community’s support, we will be able to turn around the problems of the previous few years.

I am interested in protecting our natural heritage and reducing waste – both council overspending and green waste recycling initiatives. So I am very keen to see us introduce the successful Lake Macquarie green waste initiative.

We don’t have much time, as we are already having to play catch-up after many questionable decisions by the council, with unit owners unhappy about paying for services that are not being delivered.

Q. How do you feel about losing Gladys Berejiklian as the first elected female Liberal premier of NSW?

A. I was very surprised and sad about her announcement. Gladys will be remembered as a tireless advocate for the people of NSW and how she and the Liberal Government supported communities across NSW throughout disastrous bushfires, a long drought, floods, major storms and COVID-19. I have the greatest respect for Gladys, and she has been one of my main role models for many years.

Q. How do you feel about the female representation in key roles in the Liberal Party?

A. The NSW Liberal Party has a very strong female representation both at the organisational and parliamentary levels. Three of the five of our party’s vice presidents are women, and our Young Liberals President is a female. At the state election, 50 per cent of our newly elected MPs were women, and 60 per cent of our newly elected federal MPs. The Newcastle Branch President is Suzie Evans, OAM and I am a Vice President, Development.

I strongly admire Mary-Lou Jarvis, President of the Liberal Women’s Council, who has greatly supported my political aspirations. In turn, I am hoping that I might inspire other women into local politics in the future with my campaign.

Challenging the Labor stranglehold on our council is one way to show that women are up to even the toughest political challenge.

Q. Can you elaborate on the Liberal Party philosophy at the local government level? How would this manifest at the City of Newcastle if elected?

A. Newcastle City Council has a large budget of approximately $300M. Therefore, all councillors must have good fiscal management experience. We need to ensure tighter control of finances and more transparency and accountability for the expenditure of ratepayers’ funds. If elected, the Liberal council team will be able to bring excellent budget management skills to bear on the city’s fiscal situation.

We will support our businesses with initiatives to reduce waste and red tape, to ensure that rate-paying residents and commercial ratepayers get better service delivery and the ongoing issues with roads, rates and rubbish are resolved.

Q. How do you see your fellow Lord Mayoral candidates? How do you think you differ from them?

A. I have the greatest respect for the other candidates and Newcastle councillors for their community-minded desire to serve.

As a new councillor, I will work diligently on a consensus approach to delivering services and infrastructure that our city needs.

I have worked with many Hunter CEOs, and I will use that experience to deal with the current business issues before the council. Our city is home to many successful organisations that employ staff and are the engine room of the city. I will work with them to help build more opportunities and create jobs.

I will be a strong advocate for Newcastle to the NSW Liberal Government. I will ensure that it is at the top of the list for all ministers to deliver support and funding for our community and create a better future for our children and grandchildren.

For more information on the policies, plans and priorities of the Liberal party visit their website at

Read our Q&A with Greens candidate for Lord Mayor and Ward 1 Councillor John Mackenzie here or our Q&A with Newcastle Independents candidate and Ward 1 Councillor John Church here.

Hayley McMahon