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Thursday, 19 July 2012
News>Mayoral Column - 16 July 2012
|MAYORAL COLUMN |
16 July 2012
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Mingling in Moama: pictured at last week’s MRGC conference were, from left, Swan Hill Mayor John Katis, Loddon Mayor Geoff Curnow, TV journalist Kerry O'Brien, Moira Mayor Alex Monk, Mildura Mayor John Arnold, Gannawarra Deputy Mayor Glenn Hall and Campaspe Mayor Kevin Simpson.
Riverside talks get the ideas flowing
Last week’s conference in Moama of the Murray River Group of Councils ran on a hectic schedule, but I found the two days highly informative and brimming with positives.
With more than 130 community leaders present from three states, representing business, water authorities, regional organisations and all three levels of government, there were plenty of stimulating conversations to be had.
The line-up of 24 speakers was also impressive – those sharing the microphone included Senator Bridget McKenzie, Acting Premier of Victoria Peter Ryan, Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey, celebrity chef Stefano di Pieri, Murray Darling Basin Authority CEO Dr Rhondda Dickson and VicRoads regional director Mal Kersting.
ABC-TV journalist Kerry O’Brien also arrived to chair a panel discussion with guests including Anglican Bishop of Bendigo Andrew Curnow, Yorta Yorta leader Neville Atkinson and telecommunications consultant Margaret O’Rourke.
Under the theme “Bridging the Border”, the conference looked at future directions for realising opportunities for the Murray River region.
The “hot topics” included water, tourism, regional development, industry and infrastructure, marketing, renewable energy and strengthening relationships with Aboriginal communities.
With regard to water, the conference affirmed MRGC’s current position on the Murray Darling Basin Plan and welcomed the latest news of some positive progress being made by the Commonwealth and states on the future direction of water policy.
Still early days, but we’re talking.
I would encourage all Shire residents to stay in touch with what’s happening in this crucial debate: the Murray Darling Basin Plan has the potential to profoundly affect the livelihoods of not only the Shire’s irrigators and farmers, but also, in the end, the overall economic health of our scattered communities.
I came away feeling pleased to see that all six member municipalities were wrestling with some common issues and that, by “bridging the borders", we might be able to help each other move forward.
Loddon Shire is one of six members of the MRGC, alongside the Gannawarra, Moira and Campaspe Shires and Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils.
Anzac milestone looms
Council has taken the first step in exploring how we, as a Shire, can best commemorate what will be a pivotal event in our nation’s history – the centenary of Anzac Day in 2015.
I chaired a meeting in the Council offices at Wedderburn last Monday (16 July), assisted by Chief Executive Officer John McLinden and Executive Assistant Lynne Habner, to get the ball rolling.
Plans are already taking shape around the country, at all levels of government, in service and volunteer organisations and over families’ kitchen tables, to consider how to best recognise this unique event.
Representatives from a range of community organisations were invited to come along to hear news of events already planned for the centenary and to canvass the idea of forming a committee to develop a program for Loddon Shire.
The Shire’s five RSL sub-branches were included, as were six local historical societies and Bendigo Legacy.
Council has already been told of plans for a three-year touring exhibition to honour Australia’s Victoria Cross recipients and the federal government’s Saluting Their Service grants program, aimed at supporting projects and activities which directly commemorate Australians who have served in wars, conflicts and peace operations.
It’s well known locally that Loddon Shire already has a strong connection to the Victoria Cross, with two native sons – Albert Jacka of Wedderburn and Mysia’s Albert Borella – winning the coveted medal for their bravery during World War I.
Last Saturday (14 July) saw celebrations in Tarnagulla, as the town’s long-awaited new community centre and reinvigorated streetscape were officially recognised.
Council hosted a small ceremony to mark the occasion and I had the honour of speaking, assisted by Chief Executive Officer John McLinden in the role of MC.
State Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards was also present as our special guest.
This $720,000 project – backed by all three levels of government as well as the local community – has delivered a brand-new multi-purpose community centre and striking changes to the look of the town.
It’s worth a visit to see the heritage-style street lights, new walking tracks, plaques telling the stories of notable historic buildings, a new barbecue, heritage seating and landscaping in sympathy with the town’s bush surrounds
The new community centre includes a café area and kitchen, storage area for user groups, private consulting room for outreach services, a modern central room for community programs, computer access, display areas for artefacts, tourist information and training space.
Outside are freshly landscaped areas with new seating.
Congratulations to those in the local community who have worked hard for years to see their dreams realised and to all those involved in this transformation. Our thanks, too, go to the state and federal governments for their generous support.
Budget comment welcome
Next Tuesday (24 July) is the deadline for public comment on Loddon Shire’s draft budget for 2012-13 and we would be pleased to hear from you.
The budget will be formally adopted at a special meeting of Council on 27 July, but there is still time to express your views before that happens.
Copies of the proposed budget are available for inspection at the Shire offices in Wedderburn and Serpentine, as well as in post offices and resource centres around the municipality.
Written submissions can be sent to Council’s Chief Executive Officer, John McLinden.
Here’s a quick reminder about two important Council initiatives on offer to interested residents.
First, the Shire’s Tourism Department has organised aday-long Web Marketing Workshop on Tuesday 31 July run by SwitchedOnTourism, a Melbourne-based digital marketing services company.
Planned for Wedderburn Hub (beside Wedderburn College), the workshop is free, but registrations are needed by next Tuesday (24 July). To book your place, phone the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 5494 1257 or email email@example.com
Second,Loddon Shire’s new draft bushfire plan has been up for public discussion this month, but submissions must close by Friday 27 July.
The new plan aims to address the overall risk of bushfire in the long term and improve people’s safety, embracing fire prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Have your say by visiting Council’s website at www.loddon.vic.gov.au or getting in touch with the Shire offices at Wedderburn or Serpentine for feedback forms.