Message from the Mayor - May 2021
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.
The agricultural activity is hectic - harvesting and sowing - and balancing these timeframes with the expectation that rain will arrive. High water allocations in the north of the Council area give certainty to the intense programming. The mouse plague brings challenges all of its own! Seriously, we must have just about exhausted the unexpected, out-of-left-field challenges!
It was great to see a number of events occurring over Easter. One of these was the Good Friday Royal Children’s Hospital Golf Day, capably led by the Jerilderie Sports Club. This amazing day never fails to deliver. In excess of $20,000 was raised, which is a remarkable effort. It is generously supported by a network that has a large geographical reach and we thank you for your continued generosity.
Socially, our communities have been the beneficiaries of some fantastic activities run as part of Youth Week. The MC Colour Run, held in both Darlington Point and Jerilderie, attracted over 300 participants. This unique activity that encourages social and physical engagement is so much fun to watch and be involved in. Our Council staff and community groups are to be congratulated on making this fun activity happen, particularly Eden Hercus from Council for pulling it all together.
Autumn Festival Live Music events were also held as part of Youth Week. Thanks to everyone who came along to the events in Darlington Point and Jerilderie and we hope to see lots of people at the Coleambally event on Mother’s Day Sunday 9 May. Thank you to Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network for funding these events and once again many thanks to Eden Hercus for organising them.
The official opening of the Coleambally Junior Change Rooms, located at Number 2 oval within the Coleambally Sporting Precinct, took place on Saturday 24 April. This important piece of infrastructure has been long awaited and is very welcome. This is the first step in the whole of Precinct redevelopment.
ANZAC Day Sunday 25 April saw us once again able to commemorate this very special day in the public way we have become accustomed to. Thank you to the local Sub-Branches that lead these very important occasions. Thank you also to our communities for their commitment to ensuring that the valour and sacrifice so willingly given by our own is not forgotten.
Our Town Revitalisation Projects, which are funded under the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Programme, are seeing very real visual impact in all three communities. They are drawing much comment and praise from near and far. While it has been a challenging space for our organisational staff to navigate and co-ordinate, the benefits are so uplifting for all of us, particularly the public art.
The mural on the wall at the Jerilderie Swimming Pool is a truly unique piece of art that elevates our streetscape to a whole other level. Additionally, the laser cut story line of the development of Jerilderie is again a really different depiction of how this community has evolved. Other aspects include the animal sculptures and the colourful street signage at Coleambally, and also the solar lighting, laser cut signage and landscaping in Darlington Point.
The funding allocation of $1.2m through the Australian Government Regional Connectivity Programme will be a huge game changer for our Council area. It is envisaged that about 80% of the Murrumbidgee Local Government Area will achieve better coverage through the project, which is a collaboration with Field Services Group, Nokia (technology partner), Altina Wildlife Park, Cavaso Farming, Cotton Australia and Coleambally Irrigation.
Recently, the General Manager and I were part of a Forum and Farm Tour with the Interim Inspector General of Water Compliance Troy Grant and his two advisors. Charged with bringing transparency, governance and rationale to the water business is a huge challenge and we look forward to significant progress in this area.
The SDLAM Projects Working Groups continue their exploration of the proposed initiatives, awaiting current and relevant data for consideration and inclusion.
Local Government elections are coming up on Saturday 4 September and in the lead up to it, the NSW Electoral Commission is running information sessions for prospective candidates. These will also be broadcast at our Council chambers. Anyone considering running for Council should visit the NSW Electoral Commission website.
This week I will attend the Rural Fire Service Graduation for the cadets from Tirkandi Inaburra. Congratulations to the boys for this tremendous achievement.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Autumn has been spectacular in our area, with welcome timely rain followed by perfect fine days. April was busy. Harvests are all but finished and the ground is being worked up and prepped for the next rotation.
As we say goodbye to perfect autumn weather, winter is certainly making its presence felt. Thankfully, the countryside looks amazing and the crops have had an ideal opportunity to be out of the ground. Not only are we experiencing a resurgence of COVID across the community, but the flu season is well and truly here. I urge you all to be mindful of the public health messaging that applies to both COVID and the flu.
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.
Our Council area, like most others, is receiving varying amounts of rain. Some parts are very wet, resulting in delays in planting and moving produce. Others are getting just enough to keep their hopes alive for another bumper season. The wet weather is taking a toll on our road network and I urge you all to be mindful on the roads, especially around school buses. Our roads are our biggest asset and the damage caused when wet weather is upon us is difficult and very costly to remediate.
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.