29 January 2020

It’s been a difficult start to 2020 and one that reinforces, yet again, the power of human spirit in overcoming even the most devastating of circumstances. The fires that ravaged NSW, Victoria and South Australia directly impacted people in our community who experienced the threat either on their own doorsteps in our local government area, or who were visiting in other areas.

And of course I particularly acknowledge the commitment of volunteer firefighters who put their own festivities and commitments on hold for weeks and months to come to the aid of others.

The work begins now in the recovery phase, not only in terms of property damage, but the economic and social impacts. One such example is the serious consequences on visitation in Hunter Valley Wine Country, as well as primary production such as winemaking.

Through its membership of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Alliance, Council works very closely with tourism operators in our LGA and is keen to explore further avenues to provide assistance in addition to Federal and State government assistance for bushfire-affected businesses.

One option may be to utilise part of the $1 million grant for bushfire-affected councils from the Federal Government to support the tourism industry.

Council is currently undertaking an impact assessment of bushfire in the Singleton LGA, with a view to making the best use of the funding in response to the consequences of bushfires and for the benefit of our community.

Council has three months to determine how the funding will be used, and to notify the Federal Government accordingly.

Along with the Mayor of Cessnock, Bob Pynsent, I will also attend a special roundtable as part of the Community Rebuilding Initiative in Canberra on Wednesday 29 January, chaired by Sir Peter Cosgrove.

The focus of the Community Rebuilding Initiative is on economic recovery, to help local businesses, provide jobs, re-establish key industries such as tourism and agriculture, and rebuild community facilities.

I have no doubt this will be an ideal opportunity to hear about the experiences of other local government areas, raise issues affecting our own region, and pool ideas for how we can best support our communities in these unprecedented circumstances.

We will also be taking advantage of every opportunity, including at Wednesday’s roundtable, to put the case for support for Wine Country and our wider region.

With the Australia Day long weekend now past, I also congratulate the 2020 Singleton Citizen of the Year and Young Achiever of the Year and welcome the 38 new citizens who joined us as Australians on Sunday. We are very fortunate in Singleton to have so many residents who selflessly contribute their time and energy to making our community better for everyone, and any one of our nominees would have been worthy of this honour.

Cr Sue Moore
Mayor of Singleton