Long-serving outspoken mayor dies

Long-serving Port Augusta mayor Joy Baluch has died after a fight with cancer.

She was 80.

Mrs Baluch ran the regional city’s oldest hotel for four decades and became mayor in 1981.

In 2007 she was awarded the Order of Australia for services to local government.

She had a reputation as a fierce defender of her community.

“I will not be pushed by minority groups or political forces and that’s what gives me the strength. I cannot be bought,” she said.

“The trials and tribulations that I went through I think it was all made to make me strong.

“I believe I was born to have given the community strength so that they could reach their full potential.”

Mrs Baluch said working for Port Augusta was her life’s vocation.

“We’ve all got a purpose in life. You have skills that I haven’t and we all fit into His master plan. We all have a job to do. I believe that I was born for this time. To each of us there is a season a time to be born and a time to die.”

Mrs Baluch recently campaigned in a bid to have solar-thermal technology replace the area’s local coal-fired power stations, which she believed were a health hazard for residents.

Port Augusta Deputy Mayor Phil Greagen said Mrs Baluch died on Tuesday evening.

‘Don’t take a back seat’

Labor MP Lyn Breuer said Mrs Baluch had a way of making her message clear and fought hard to get regional concerns on the state agenda.

“She actually stood up for the outback, she stood up for Port Augusta, she stood up for the community and she got that message through to our metropolitan counterparts that we don’t just take a back seat, that we count and she was very, very good at doing that,” she said.

Liberal Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he had worked closely with Mrs Baluch since he entered politics in 2010.

He said despite her tough exterior and hard stance on some issues, Mrs Baluch was a caring woman.

“While she has a reputation for being strong and difficult and courageous, and all of that is true, Joy was actually an exceptionally warm person, a very, very warm person,” he said.

Barossa Liberal MP Ivan Venning said Mrs Baluch loved her city and was tough, but fair.

“It’s hard not to get emotional about this. She was an absolute legend really,” he said.

“What she meant to all of us, she was very, very special.

“We’re all very saddened to hear this morning that she’s gone.” Read story

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