Prime Minister Scott Morrison has paid a glowing tribute to Carmelo Pesce after this week's Sutherland Shire mayoral change, describing him as "the real deal".
Mr Morrison said the Liberal councillor, who was replaced by independent Steve Simpson, was "unvarnished, authentic, kind hearted and community minded", and predicted Cr Pesce would continue to serve the shire into the future.
"The residents of Sutherland Shire have been very fortunate to have had Carmelo Pesce as mayor over the past five years," Mr Morrison said in a statement.
"Carmelo finishes his time as mayor with a record of achievement: driving ahead the plans for the refurbishment of Sutherland Entertainment Centre and the revitalisation of Cronulla Plaza; the upgrades of playgrounds across the shire including the new Bonna Point playground; improving beach access for people with mobility issues; pioneering the use of recycled materials in local road construction and revitalising the Sutherland Memorial School of Arts.
"Carmelo subscribes to that great ideal that 'there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit'. That's why he builds easy partnerships."
Mr Morrison said Cr Pesce embodied the best qualities of mayors.
"To Carmelo, everyone is important," he said. "That's what makes him so special.
"He serves lunch to those in need every Christmas Day. His mobile number is available to almost everyone he meets, and he works tirelessly to help his community.
"Carmelo is known at every school, surf club, community group, and service group in the shire."
Mr Morrison said Cr Pesce had worked with federal and state governments and community groups to deliver upgrades and improvements to scores of sports facilities.
"These upgrades include the delivery of the Kareela synthetic playing fields, upgrades to Marang Parklands, Lilli Pilli Soccer Club, Como Clubhouse and projects such as the 3K Trees and the Walk the Walls event," he said.
"He has demonstrated his leadership during the testing moments: assisting South Coast communities during the Black Summer bushfires, the Kurnell super storm in 2015, donating semi-trailers of hay during the drought and assisting our community get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Carmelo is the real deal. Unvarnished, authentic, kind hearted and community minded. I am sure he will continue to serve our area in this or any other capacity, into the future.
"On behalf of our community, I express our gratitude for a job well done as mayor."
Mr Morrison wished newly elected Mayor Steve Simpson "every success as he takes on the role once again, and I look forward to working with him for our local shire community".