Message from the Mayor July 2022
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.
Last week I had the honour of joining Member for Albury Justin Clancy and Jerilderie Early Learning Centre (ELC) President Stephanie Girdwood to officially open the new $1.63 million ELC building. It was a wonderful morning with many members of the community joining us to mark the occasion and have a look through the new facility. My thanks go out to all who have been involved in this project, particularly the ELC Committee, comprising Stephanie Girdwood, Carina Rorato, Heidi Bryce and Bek Salter.
I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Mid Murray Zone RFS National Emergency Medal Recognition Ceremony in Jerilderie recently. Council thanks the following volunteers for their service and selfless contributions in willingly stepping up to keep not only our community safe, but those across our country that have experienced devastating bushfires in recent times: Argoon Brigade - Andrew Browning, Benjamin Browning, Shane Foster, David Leeds and Andrew Sleigh; Emery Brigade - Graeme O’Connell; Booroobanilly Brigade - David Bryce; Jerilderie Town Brigade - Jack Anthony, Chris Barron, Bill Hanna, Roger Harris, Joe Mula and Terrence White.
Congratulations, as well, to John Smith from Coleambally for his recognition on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. John received the Australian Fire Service Medal for Distinguished Service.
Our Council footprint continues to be a desirable location for renewable energy development, both solar and wind turbine. During June, we held discussions and meetings with interested developers. It is a highly competitive market and interested parties are looking to mobilise quickly.
Also on the sustainable living front is the news that we will be moving to a three bin system for waste collection from 1 July 2023. This will comprise a bin for general waste (to go to landfill), one for recycling, and a third for Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO). This is an exciting time for our area as we become more adept at managing our waste to enable us all to live more sustainably. We will be promoting the three bin system widely over the next 12 months.
Health continues to be an area in which we find ourselves actively engaged. The positive news is that the Coleambally community once again has access to a fortnightly Child and Maternal Health Service. This is a start point and one we hope to build on in the community services area. Terrific news, too, that the Jerilderie Emergency Department has returned to full-time services.
The RAMJO Health Sub Committee met in Jerilderie and prioritised its focus for advocacy for the coming months, including ambulance accessibility, and recruitment and retention of staff, including overseas trained medical staff across all fields.
Local events are re-emerging with resin classes, Christmas in July for businesses, ferret races, Roslyn Lockhart’s art exhibition, the Annual League of Silent Flight Tournament, Can Assist Morning Teas, football and netball, social functions and many school excursions and sporting pursuits. We also have a visit to Altina Wildlife Park in the school holidays, hosted by Council, and funded by the NSW Government.
With the re-emergence of these vital social activities, comes a need to remain vigilant against COVID and the flu. Vaccinations for booster COVID shots and flu vaccinations are readily available and free until 17 July.
I had the pleasure of conducting a Citizenship Ceremony in Jerilderie on 16 June. Our Council and our nation warmly welcomed Charmé and Johan Van der Walt, Michaela Walsh and Jane McMillan. This important step for them personally adds to the character and diversity of our great country and we congratulate them for taking this step.
The General Manager and I attended the National General Assembly in Canberra from the 19-22 June 2022. During the 3.5 days, we attended a regional forum, an address by the Governor General, keynote addresses by Stan Grant on global democracy, Alicia McKay on thinking differently about Local Government, Marcus Spiller on Local Government and productivity, panel discussion on population housing and workforce, an address by Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians (Closing the Gap) and a confronting, but heartfelt address, by the very new Ukraine Ambassador to Australia. Our thoughts are with all from Ukraine as they face this terrible tragedy.
Regards, Ruth McRae
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.
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!
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.