It’s been the decisions made by a select few in power that have shaped the region’s history.
From roads, infrastructure, events and services, most have resulted from a legislation, budget and funding approval or popular vote.
Since the city’s first mayor in 1870, the people have put their trust into those they think will represent them the best on a state and federal level.
The city’s first ruler, George Forsyth, was a postmaster and stock and station agent, who was appointed as mayor in 1870.
One of his greatest achievements was the establishment of Westhoe House, which is today known as Edel Quinn Shelter.
It is from this moment that the city and wider Riverina’s law-makers became integral in making decisions that would shape the region.
The Riverina New State Movement, a push to get the Riverina recognised as its own state, started in about 1923.
A team of delegates formed and campaigned to get the motion approved.
Charles Hardy reinvigorated the movement when he was elected into the Senate in 1931 but failed to get it approved.
Pages could be dedicated to our former politicians and the legacies they have left behind.
Arguably two of the greatest, and highest, political appointments from the region would be Tim Fischer and Michael McCormack to the position of Deputy Prime Minister in 1996 and 2018, respectively.
Wal Fife was integral in the establishment of a Charles Sturt University campus in Wagga, even going so far as to crash a late-night session of parliament to ensure it was approved.
He worked with Joe Schipp and vice-chancellor Dr Cliff Blake, of the Riverina-Murray Institute of Higher Education, to build the campus in 1972.
The Wagga Base Hospital redevelopment was also another major funding and infrastructure change that occurred under Member for Wagga, Daryl Maguire.
Kay Hull carried on the development of Charles Sturt University facilities in her role as Member for Riverina by becoming integral in the establishment of the CSU Veterinary Clinic on Urana Street.
She is also a former deputy mayor and the first female to hold a state or federal seat for the region. Ms Hull is just one in a long list of remarkable women who have helped shaped this city.
Mabel Maud Chambers was an alderman on the first Wagga City Council when it was declared a city in 1946.
Mary Kidson was the longest-serving female councillor from 1977 to 1999 and became the first female deputy mayor in 1983.
Yvonne Gilchrist became the first Aboriginal woman on council, from 1999 to 2004, and Karen Vidler was the youngest, at only 21 years old when she was elected in 1999.
There are currently two women serving on Wagga City Council, Yvonne Braid and Vanessa Keenan.
It has not always been smooth sailing for the district, with our fair share of politicians becoming embroiled in scandal.
Alby Schultz made headlines in 2009 when he threw punches in parliament.
Albert Grassby, who was a Member for Riverina and the first federal Commissioner for Community Relations, resigned after it was found he tried to protect the identity of Don Mackay’s alleged murderers by emitting false claims about Mackay’s family.
The seat of Wagga has for decades been touted as a ‘safe seat’ as it has been held by a member of the Liberal party since Labor’s Eddie Graham vacated the seat in 1957 for Wal Fife.
Daryl Maguire, who has held the seat since 1999, recently resigned from parliament after an ICAC investigation found evidence he tried to profit off a business deal.
It is a pivotal time in the city’s political history, with Mr Maguire not up for re-election, a byelection looming and residents not happy with the ‘safe seat’ moniker.
The upcoming byelection is being seen as a chance to break the one-party stronghold that’s lasted 61 years.
A timeline of the region’s politics
- 1870 – George Forsyth is the city’s first mayor.
- 1894 – James Gormly is the first Member for Wagga.
- 1931 – Charles Hardy is elected to the Senate and leads the Riverina New State Movement from 1931 to 1932.
- 1941 – Eddie Graham was the last Labor Member for Wagga.
- 1949 – Sir David Fairbairn was elected Member for Farrer. He unsuccessfully challenged Prime Minister John Gorton after the 1969 election.
- 1957 – Wal Fife is elected Member for Wagga.
- 1969 – Al Grassby is elected Member for Riverina, securing the seat for Labor for the first time in 24 years. He was appointed as the first federal Commissioner for Community Relations, administering the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
- 1970 – Lin Gordon took over the seat of Murrumbidgee from Al Grassby.
- 1971 – Tim Fischer is elected Member for Sturt.
- 1975 – Wal Fife is elected Member for Farrer.
- 1980 – Tim Fischer is elected Member for Murray.
- 1981 – Amalgamation of City of Wagga with shires of Mitchell and Kyeamba.
- 1983 – Mary Kidson becomes first female deputy mayor.
- 1990 – Tim Fischer becomes leader of the National Party.
- 1991 – Kay Hull is a councillor from 1991-1998.
- 1996 – Tim Fischer becomes Deputy Prime Minster.
- 1998 – Kay Hull is the first female Member for Riverina.
- 1999 – Daryl Maguire is elected Member for Wagga.
- 1999 – Katrina Hodgkinson is the first female Member for Burrinjuck.
- 2001 – Sussan Ley is the first female Member for Farrer.
- 2010 – Michael McCormack is elected Member for Riverina.
- 2018 – Michael McCormack becomes Deputy Prime Minister.