Peter Woods was born in New Zealand before travelling to Australia where he has lived for over 43years. He has dual citizenship. A teacher, academic, public administrator and industrial advocate with degrees in Sociology and Education, he was an elected Councilor and Mayor for over 26 years. He has also served as President of the Local Government Association of New South Wales for 12 years and President and Board Member for over 14 years of the Australian Local Government Association and Board Member of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum for 10 years. He sat on the peak body, the Council of Australian Governments, chaired by the Prime Minister and several Ministerial Councils. For Five years he was the President of the International Union of Local Authorities (Asia Pacific) and World Vice President of IULA. A member or Chair of numerous Government and Statutory Authorities he was appointed Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (ASPAC) following his political retirement in 2004. He retired as Secretary General-of UCLG ASPAC in 2010 and was appointed as Ambassador for UCLG ASPAC a position he still holds.
For his services he received the Order of Australia Medal, the Outstanding Service Medal and was conferred with title Emeritus Mayor for long and distinguished service. He also received the Medal of Friendship from the DPRK.
He is a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Letters, holds Teachers Certificates, a Certificate in Commercial Mediation and is a Justice of the Peace, a Life Member of the Australian College of Educators and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Peter Woods has a particular interest in promoting women's rights, environmental and heritage protection and sustainability and respect for multiculturalism and individual rights.
— Dear Mr. Peter Woods, after years of serving for the benefit of the cities, you retired on the Founding Convention of UCLG in Paris, 2004. However, you soon returned to the service, leading the secretariat of Asia-Pacific regional section of UCLG. What made you return, and what attracts you to this work?
— I retired in 2004 around the time of the first Congress of UCLG in Paris in 2004. This was the year I concluded 26 years of elected political life in Australian local Government as a Councillor and Mayor as well as President of the Asia Pacific Region of the International Union of Local Authorities. At my political retirement many of the Asian leaders of Local Government urged me to run for Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC and I carried out this role for 5 years. At the end of this I indicated that it was time for a new Secretary General but a number of the leading members wanted me to continue to assist and so they appointed me to the position of Ambassador for UCLG ASPAC to provide support to the Presidency as required and the Secretary General as requested.
— What events do you remember the most during your work?
— I remember the campaigns to truly recognise that an international organisation needs to truly reflect its international dimension and not just be driven by Europe. As such several of us mounted a campaign to have a Co-President elected from each of the Regions and ensure cultural diversity. We also mounted a campaign that saw Mr Topas from Istanbul elected as the second President instead of allowing for another President from Europe. A campaign was mounted and the sections in the developing world were successful and the collective Secretaries General worked well together.When Europe tried to extinguish the Euro Asian section we likewise rallied around and gave strong support to our Euro Asian section. This push by Europe to try and control Russia cannot be tolerated in our Local Government organisation or in a national government sense.
— Asia-Pacific region is famous for its diverse culture. Were there any difficulties in connection with it?
— I have loved working with our diverse Asia-Pacific Region with a broad range of political systems ranging from parliamentary democracies to Communist states to military dictatorships to democracies in transition, from monarchies to new and old republics. I have worked hard to understand the diverse cultural values and not to make negative value judgments.We are a greatly populated region. I worked for years to bring China into the fold and North and South Korea to sit together in our world organisation. If attacked from outside I rise to vigorously defend our members from wherever they come and whatever their viewpoint just as I defend Russia from the unjustifiable attack from outside.
— How do you imagine an “ideal”, sustainable city? How do you see the work of local government in it?
— An ideal sustainable city is where the people have a good quality of life and a happy life and where the administration see it as their duty to provide for the people. Opportunities must be made available to understand the people's needs and to reflect them in their actions.Local Government should be seen as the People's Government and the ties with the citizens must be seen as its strength.
As the People's Government Local Government needs to liaise closely with Central Government and ensure it has a good share of the resources and enters into compacts with Central government. Closeness with the people can assist this process and maximize the partnership of all parties to achieve the primary goal of putting the People First.