Feature on Bertrand Cadart in Mérite National
Write-up that appeared in the recent publication Le Mérite
Bicheno, a village in Tasmania
This fishing village has a small community of French people. The Mayor of the district, Bertrand Cadart, himself French, has been living there for several years. The French community is quite active and regularly organises festivities that attract the rest of the population. They keep alive the memory of the French navigator, Nicholas Baudin, who discovered and mapped the east coast of Tasmania, and gave many places a French name. Even with the goodwill of some, we fear that this French heritage could be under pressure due to the overwhelming influence of the English culture.
Bertrand Cadart is the first and only Australian Mayor born in France. With his unique look and his taste for motorbikes, he can't go unnoticed in the Tasmanian political scene, since his election in 2005.
In 2007, at 60 years of age, he was elected mayor of Glamorgan-Spring Bay district on the East-Coast of Tasmania. This is a group of villages and hamlets boasting around 5000 permanent residents and many non permanent known as "shakies" , encompassing an area of 4000 square kilometres, being equivalent to the size of the Southern half of the island of Corsica. After spending 30 years on the mainland of Australia he eventually settled in the fishing village of Bicheno. One of his first decisions, once elected, was to swap the provided Mayor's car for a motorcycle. He recalls that the councillors thought that this would look inappropriate. "We found a compromise in the form of a 600 cc scooter" he said. Later, he still maintains that his work bike is not a caprice but a necessity. "I travel about 30 000 kilometers per year in this job", he says, "so I might as well enjoy the ride! It can only make me a better Mayor. On a scooter I am more inclined to move around which allows me to reach even the most remote and isolated parts of my electorate. " Three years later, everyone is quite used to see him riding around the Tasmanian roads in his yellow fluoro jacket. At the Bicheno RSL, everybody knows Bertrand as he had been their president for a year. All the members agree that The Frenchie's exuberance has served the community well.