Message from the Mayor December 2020
1 December 2020
Message from the Mayor
It is all hands on deck as we move towards the close of 2020. Business “as usual” sees us busy but adapting to a different way of delivering what we need to.
Our harvest is in full swing and a hive of activity with machinery, trucks and people working long hours to get the crops off. From all reports it is producing some outstanding returns. Labour challenges have been an issue. A common problem across all areas of agricultural harvest - making sure we all stay safe and looking out for each other is a priority.
The end of school presentation nights and celebrations are being delivered in a different way this year. While it is pared back, the most important aspect is that parents and caregivers can be included and, at the end of the day, that is what really counts.
Our Year 12 students have completed their exams and now eagerly await their results. The completion of this truly testing year is commendable and I congratulate you all in getting to the finish line.
On the education front, I would also like to warmly congratulate Darlington Point resident Tamileigh Chirgwin who was named TAFE NSW Student of the Year and TAFE NSW Agribusiness Student of the Year. To be named the State’s top student is a tremendous achievement and I have no doubt that Tamileigh has been putting her learning to good use in her role at Waddi Housing.
Our three communities acknowledged Remembrance Day with due respect on 11 November. It was a privilege to be able to participate in this Service. Each community brings their unique approach to this day, and we acknowledge and thank the local RSL Sub Branches for facilitating and leading our services. The annual Sir John Monash Bursary was awarded to Simon Toscan from Darlington Point. We congratulate Simon and wish him well with his tertiary studies in 2021.
The proposed change to our electoral boundary has initiated lots of discussion. Yet again, scant regard has been given to the voice of the community that will be impacted. The proposed change - another imposed change to satisfy a number’s game - will have an insignificant impact in creating balance for the bureaucrats, but most certainly creates a further feeling of being insignificant in the political argy-bargy that surrounds us.
The re-opening of the Victorian border on 23 November was a monumental moment. However, the COVID-19 cluster in South Australia certainly reinforced the stark reality that continued vigilance is the only way to keep our communities safe. As the holiday season approaches and the traffic stream and people movement increases we must all play our part in adhering to the Public Health Order.
A collaborative tourism initiative involving Murrumbidgee Council and Lockhart, Narrandera and Leeton Shires was launched on 18 November. This publication, featuring local businesses and attractions in our region, identifies and promotes the many experiences we have on offer. I am sure it will be a valuable resource to the visitor economy. Our thanks go to Kellie Dissegna and her associates at our three neighbouring Councils for bringing this initiative to fruition.
We have also worked with fellow Councils to apply for funding to gain high speed internet and better mobile phone coverage by submitting a $1.25 million funding application through the Australian Government’s Regional Connectivity Program.
The application was made under the umbrella of the Riverina and Murray Joint Organisation (RAMJO), in partnership with the Field Services group, who will also contribute financially to the project. Murrumbidgee Council will provide $100,000 towards the project, with a further in-kind annual contribution of $60,000, which includes towers the Council already owns, the microwave network and buildings to house equipment. We are extremely hopeful that this application will be successful.
Raw water restrictions will be permanently implemented in Jerilderie. Minor changes to our water practices can result in a significant reduction in water use and I urge you all to help conserve our precious resource. You can see our website for water saving tips.
Our bulky waste and green waste collections have been held in Darlington Point. The Jerilderie township is being collected this week and Coleambally’s will be next week. Thank you all for your efforts in cleaning up and making sure our community is ‘fire ready’ for summer.
Visible evidence of our three town revitalisation projects is emerging. It is generating lots of comment and people are enjoying seeing the roll out - I am confident that this is the beginning of many good things to come.
Some of our major projects are completed or nearing completion - what great confirmation that our Council footprint has certainly been the beneficiary of some very welcome funding opportunities.
The $1.96 million Jerilderie Pool redevelopment is complete. The Pool complex opened to the community on Saturday 21 November 2020. This a truly amazing generational investment in the Jerilderie community’s health and recreational wellbeing.
The boat ramp and pontoon project in Darlington Point is nearing completion. This asset is sure to attract many visitors to this beautiful part of the Murrumbidgee River and enhance the development of the central hub and Caravan Park.
Finally, it is our hope that the Coleambally Sports Precinct will mobilise and power ahead now the border is open. This important redevelopment will have an enormous impact, not only for the local community, but for those visiting for sporting pursuits.
Congratulations to all of the 2020 Australia Day Citizenship and Community Awards.
Read all the messages from our Mayor here.
Winter is upon us and the year is passing way too quickly! Much anticipated follow up rainfall is trickling in, and we live in hope that it does in fact arrive.
Water and better management of the Murray Darling Basin has been on the agenda this week with the release of a key position paper on water. The paper recommends major changes to the way water is managed.
I would like to begin by thanking everyone who has provided feedback on the Town Revitalisation Project. Throughout the last two weeks we have received a tremendous amount of input and ideas about ways to revitalise our townships.
Another week at the coal face. While acknowledging the very real challenge and urgency of trying to contain this insidious virus, we must continue to do all in our power to support those trying to conduct business, those delivering our aged care and health services and those educating and caring for our children. Our community’s sustainability depends on it.
It’s Local Government Week 2020, and at Murrumbidgee Council we are using the event to highlight the broad range of services we offer to our community, including some surprising and little-known services.
We have certainly had an icy blast in the last week, which thankfully brought with it some good follow up rains. It is exciting to see the lights up and working at Jerilderie’s Monash Park. This project was funded by Council through a $158,000 grant from the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund. The junior teams and key personnel are using the lights, which is great.
We’re already in September and are certainly getting on with things. Needless to say, we’re still very much in a state of uncertainty. The everyday need to conduct business is challenging and frustrating. Our geographical location quite clearly demonstrates strong pathways and linkages both to the east and south. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, a considered rationale will enable our region to move again. At Council, we, like other businesses, are continuing to deliver our essential services. We’re also continuing to advocate for movement with every other aspect.
Spring is with us, and as we slowly emerge from our very unnatural year, our countryside certainly speaks to renewal, optimism and opportunity.
Spring has certainly brought some challenging conditions. We wait, with optimism, at what promises to be a great harvest – let’s hope the weather Gods play nicely and allow the area to fulfil its potential!
On behalf of Murrumbidgee Council, we offer our best wishes for a very merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year to all in our Council and greater region. It is hard to believe that we have reached the end of 2020. It’s been a roller coaster and the ride is one we don’t wish to revisit any time soon.
The start of 2021 has been busy and we are already into autumn! Our region has received significant rain, and the country and our waterways have been replenished. A bountiful harvest was a very welcome reward in a year that had been seriously challenging. Our small businesses continue to press on with resilience and optimism, and it is my hope that we are supporting them as best we can and that the new normal will provide us with a sustainable way forward.
The seasons are progressing quickly and 2021 is disappearing at a rate of knots. After a very warm Easter break - perfect for camping and family gatherings - we have moved onto shorter days and cooler evenings and mornings.
This month we have been blessed with some very welcome and timely rain - almost too good to be true. We are, however, mindful of the havoc that was caused by the torrential rains, particularly for our coastal counterparts. It is our hope that the damage and chaos can be managed as best it can.
May has been hectic, to say the least, with a lot of time spent on the road engaging with our representative bodies. This has included appearing before the Parliamentary Inquiry into Health Outcomes and Access to Health and Hospital Services in Rural, Regional and Remote New South Wales. In our brief appearance, and the follow up that we have witnessed, it is glaringly apparent that the way our health care is delivered, by whom it is delivered and our equity in this space, all require serious remodelling.
As I sit and ponder the state of the nation, our state and Murrumbidgee Council, it is difficult to fathom the challenges that keep presenting themselves. The latest COVID-19 outbreaks most certainly have created havoc with business, education, Local Government and, most significantly, our health related service delivery.
We certainly live in an unpredictable environment at the moment. The Public Health message tells us how highly transmissible the Delta strain of COVID-19 is. We have seen how it impacts regional areas, with Shepparton and Temora very close examples. We should all be aware of the considerable risk for our Council footprint given our geographical location and our exposure to three very busy major traffic corridors - the Kidman Way and the Sturt and Newell Highways. The message is clear - Stay home and stay safe!
Just when we thought all avenues of natural, or unnatural, misadventure had challenged us, we have an earth tremor/quake! I would calmly like to assure whomever is testing our resilience that “we get it”. “Enough is enough!”
As this is my first column since the Local Government elections, I would like to begin by congratulating all elected representatives. A very warm welcome to Crs Troy Mauger, Judy Saxvik and Tim Strachan. Welcome back to our returning Councillors – Crs Robert Black (Deputy Mayor), Faith Bryce, Christine Chirgwin, Robert Curphey and Gavin Gilbert.
Easter is almost here and it’s refreshing to have a major celebration ahead of us without also facing restrictions!
We’re now in the second month of winter, and the cooler, damper and foggier conditions are certainly a reminder of this time of year. Our roads are busy with the great exodus north to warmer places and, coupled with school holiday traffic, it is a timely reminder to be vigilant on our roads and stay safe.
As we move through the winter months, we once again find ourselves challenged by another COVID 19 variant. Coupled with a particularly virulent strain of the flu and an accompanying gastro bug, we are all are certainly feeling the strain. Public messaging for all these illnesses is consistent – if someone is unwell, they should stay at home - it really is the only way to get on top of the revolving spread.
It’s amazing to believe that we are already into October! The plentiful rains continue to fall and our agricultural season is so full of promise and, in turn, our region looks set to deliver in spades.
Our region is certainly experiencing its share of rain, with the Murrumbidgee River, creeks and waterways carrying large amounts of water. Our thoughts are with anyone who has been impacted by the water. At these times, the SES public messaging is so very important, and we encourage all of the community to listen carefully and follow the relevant advice. The safety of our communities is paramount. Never drive, ride or walk through flood water. If it’s flooded, forget it!
The past month was challenging, to say the least, with the weather continuing to test us unreasonably, with impacts on our whole Council area - from the Murrumbidgee River in the north to the Billabong and Wangamong Creeks in the south, and everywhere in between. The rivers and creeks are full and the vast agricultural landscape is sodden, with parts still immersed in water.
The Christmas break is now well and truly behind us, and with Easter on the horizon, many of us are looking forward to another well-earned break. What an unusual weather pattern we have been navigating! The colossal rains and resulting flooding in the last quarter of 2022 were challenging, to say the least.
And in the blink of an eye, we are into the third month of the year! Harvest is complete, finally, and the crop rotations are in full swing. Talk of watering and allocations is on the table and, after the wettest three months in a long time, who would have thought we would be seeing dust!
In the blink of an eye, Easter has been and gone and we’re now well into the school holidays. With balmy autumn days and the heat of summer behind us, it’s been the perfect time to enjoy a great range of events across the whole area. These include the Jerilderie Fun Fair and market day, Sir John Monash Oration and 100 Year Commemoration of the Jerilderie Cenotaph and the “Women in Business Networking” evening at Darlington Point, all of which were significantly boosted with funding from the NSW Government.
There was a tremendous turnout to Anzac Day commemorations and it was deeply gratifying to see our unified resolve to honour those who gave their lives for our country. With Anzac Day hot on the heels of Easter and the school holidays, there’s been no shortage of social activities throughout the area. Our free youth skate workshops were a great success, generously funded by the NSW Government. We have also been supporting the children’s Eco Waste workshops run by Kerri Weymouth and Julie Bellato.
And in the blink of an eye, we are into June and the winter cold has arrived. With most of the sowing completed, rice is being harvested and cotton picking is commencing. The diverse and robust nature of where we live and what we produce never ceases to amaze me. Our whole area is busy with a broad range of projects on the go. I recently attended Edify Energy’s celebration of the completion of the solar project at Darlington Point. The investment is huge, somewhere in the vicinity of $230 million.
July is here and the wintery conditions won’t be abating for some time. Throughout June, welcome rain was accompanied by cold weather, with this pattern continuing. I encourage you all to have your vaccinations to minimise the impacts of both the recurring COVID surge and the flu season.
Spring, and its ever-changing climatic challenges, is certainly making its mark felt. The fluctuations in temperature, the damaging winds, the rain event that saw between 50-70 mm of very welcome rain, and the significant hay fever and related allergy imposts, make for a very interesting part of the world to live in.
As we quickly move towards the end of the year, life seems to be busier than ever. Harvest is in full swing and it would appear that it is a good harvest. There is plenty of movement both on and off the road network. Please be careful as you travel our roads, as large machinery, escort vehicles and roadworks all make for a challenging space.
As the close of 2023 fast approaches, there is much that Council should acknowledge during what has been another very busy and challenging year. The introduction of our 3 stream waste strategy is a real feather in Council’s cap. The staff, Councillors and our communities should be truly satisfied with the introduction and the continuing vigilance in this space, aspiring to make it the best it can be.