Long-time Cobar mayor recalled as a no-nonsense operator

Lilliane Brady, NSW’s longest-serving female mayor and a forceful and effective advocate for her hometown of Cobar, has died aged 90.

Cr Brady served on the shire council for 38 years, 20 of them as mayor, and told the ABC’s Back Roads program earlier this month that she planned to retire in September.

Cr Brady was known for her plain speaking and occasionally blunt manner.

When the then NSW roads and transport minister, Carl, Scully tried to ingratiate himself with Cr Brady on the sidelines of a Local Government Conference in the 1990s by complimenting her on what she was wearing, she responded: “I’m here for finance, not romance”.

She went on to lobby him, successfully, for much-needed roads funding.

On another occasion, Cr Brady smashed her mayoral gavel down on a council desk with such vehemence that the top came loose and was flung across the room.

Cr Brady moved to Cobar in the 1960s after her late husband Alan got a job in the town as a GP.

She ran for council in 1974 after an elderly man, transferred to Orange due to a lack of aged care facilities in Cobar, died alone.

One of her first and most significant legacies was the opening in 1982 of a 34-bed not-for-profit nursing home facility that included a hostel and health centre.

She campaigned for her community right up until her death, seeking a new hospital, better infrastructure, and a fairer return of the mining royalties that flow from the town to the NSW Office of State Revenue.

She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2012 and was presented with a Local Government NSW Lifetime Achievement award in 2018.

The following year, Cr Brady received the inaugural Local Government Minister’s Award for Women in recognition of her contribution to the community and NSW.

Cobar Shire Council General Manager Peter Vlatko paid tribute to Cr Brady, saying her passion was always for Cobar and its people.

“Her ability was to be passionate and purely for the community, the town and the region, nothing for her own benefit – she didn’t need any of that, she just wanted to achieve for the town she loved.

“I think her reputation and what she has achieved for the town speaks for itself,” Mr Vlatko said.

There will be a state funeral for Cr Brady in Cobar on 19 February.