Mayoral Column - 26 June 2019
It was a chilly week in Canberra for the National General Assembly of Local Government last week, where I joined more than 800 delegates from local councils across Australia.
It’s always an interesting conference, not just because it’s the biggest local government event in Australia, but because it reinforces that all local councils are dealing with issues similar to our own.
A case in point is a motion by Forbes Shire Council, which I was very happy to second on behalf of the people of Singleton. The motion was that the National General Assembly calls for the traffic control and insurance costs currently paid by RSL clubs/sub branches to conduct Anzac Day events to be resourced by the Federal Government.
We are well aware that Anzac Day is one of the nation’s most significant commemorative days, with services dating back to the very first Anzac Day in 1916. In Branxton, hundreds of people turn out for the march from the Old Branxton Inn to the Rotunda in what is easily one of the biggest days of the year for our community.
It is a credit to the Branxton RSL Sub branch that the Anzac Day commemoration is the success that it is, year after year. Because in reality, the logistics of running these kinds of events fall to local sub branches across Australia with the support of local government. To have the weight of the National General Assembly calling for the Federal Government to pick up the tab for things such as road closures and insurance costs is a great benefit to those organisations, and I hope to see positive results in the very near future.
Fittingly, given the theme for the conference was Future Focused, the NSW Government also handed down its first Budget in this new term last week. I would hazard a guess that all eyes in our local government area were on money for the New England Highway bypass of Singleton, and for support for our drought-affected farmers.
There was $2.7 million for the bypass, to continue studies and investigation works required to make way for construction. But there was no promise near enough the amount required to make the project a reality. The Government is on notice that the people across the Singleton local government area will be looking for more money in coming budgets to see shovels on the ground.
A total of $170 million was also set aside in the budget papers for a Drought Stimulus Package, and Council has contacted the Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen MP to clarify whether people in the Singleton local government area can benefit from the package.
We also await news of the promised review of the Resources for Regions program.
With councils across Australia all looking to the future to best provide for their communities, both levels of government can expect to hear even more from the people of Singleton on a regular basis.
Mayor of Singleton