Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain calls on us to “Advance Australia”

Kristy McBain, pic from Bega Valley Shire Council
Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council

Through her Australia Day address, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain has tried to advance the conversation about our national day.

“With courage let us all combine in a celebration and conversation about our country,” the Mayor told the 200 people gathered in Littleton Gardens this morning for the Shire’s official Australia Day ceremony.

An hour after the Bega ceremony concluded a Survival Day event was held in Bermagui, reflecting the undeniable loss many Aboriginal people feel on January 26.

The Bega Valley was split in two, and those overwhelmed by the debate went to the beach.

Communities divided or not engaged on our national day – surely this is not healthy?

Rather than waiting for Federal leadership on the issue, perhaps the people of South East NSW could lead the way and create an event that truly unifies and inspires all Australians.

It’s a conversation the Bega Valley’s Mayor seems keen to have and lead…

To address you on a day such as this is a tremendous honour and something I have spent a lot of time thinking about.

Australia Day is an event that generates conversation and thought, and rightly so. Thank you for being here to consider my thoughts.

There is a sigh of relief that comes with being Australian, our country is truly blessed in natures gifts and the beauty of our people and way of life is rich and rare.

The people we honour today with an Australia Day Award remind us that being Australian is active citizenship.

People like Dane, Junee, Ron, Shaun, Geoffrey and Marshall are people within our community that point the way. They inspire us and remind us of the power we each have within our hands and heart to shape this land that is girt by sea.

I am so glad you are here today to share in their wisdom and experience, and perhaps ask yourself – What can I do to Advance Australia? How can I respect and support the people, environment, and way of life we celebrate today?

Today we also stand up and cheer as new Australian’s join our ranks and deepen our proud multicultural heritage.

Twelve people will today become Australian citizens, people from across the seas to share our boundless plains. The stories of these people and the talent they bring make us stronger.

Central to our time together today is a history that spans one of the oldest living cultures on the planet as well as European settlement and exploration.

Australia Day is a history lesson that presents a range of ideas and experiences to consider; stories that take in the full scope of our country’s history and human emotion.

How these shared and at times conflicting histories sit side by side and are remembered is an ongoing dialogue for our community and important work for us to do so that in history’s page, every stage, does Advance Australia.

As different and conflicting as those histories are at times, there are often shared values and ambitions that rise to the surface as those histories are shared.

At our core, we are a nation of people who value being Australian and what that means to us and says to the world.

It’s freedom that comes as easy as the next breath, a celebration and acceptance of different cultures, an emphasis on friendship, a spirit that has a go, a sense of fun, and an empathy that steps up when we see a need.

A successful nation has been built on these lands over many thousands of years, each chapter adds something new, each chapter has its own challenges, and each chapter calls on us to help shape the next.

So in 2018 I encourage you to mark Australia Day however feels right to you, remembering all that we have to be grateful for, all that we have in common, and the future we all create together.

With courage let us all combine in a celebration and conversation about our country.

Happy Australia Day!

Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain

The increasing hurt and frustration around Australia Day damages the potential and delays resolution, while ever it continues people will run from any organised event, the only people attending will be those at the extremes of the discussion, the rest will opt for a swim and a good book, and Australia Day will become just another public holiday when it could be so much more.

The leadership shown by Cr McBain this morning is perhaps the start of something better, let’s get the local discussion going now and not wait for next January to roll around.

Always interested in your thoughts.



*Author is part-time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council and acted as MC for Australia Day 2018 in Bega.


South East NSW makes its pitch for jobs from Canberra

Barnaby Joyce, pic from Sportsbet
Barnaby Joyce, pic from Sportsbet

South East NSW is pitching itself as a new home for a range of Federal Government departments.

Following the political and media stink around the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale, a Senate inquiry was established to investigate elements of the decision by Agriculture Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and local member for Armidale, the National’s Barnaby Joyce.

However, the work of the committee has been seen as bigger than just the issue of the APVMA as regional leaders look to fertilise a deeper discussion around moving public service jobs out of Canberra, all looking for a greater share of the $16.7 billion annual wages bill for their local economies.

Headed by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration held hearings in Townsville last week. Bega Valley Mayor Kristy McBain was one of five local government officials from around New South Wales invited to phone in and take part in the discussion.

The invitation to speak came after the committee had considered written submissions.

Apart from Bega Valley Shire Council, Snowy Monaro and Eurobodalla councils also provided written advice to the committee, along with the Canberra Region Joint Organisation.

All of the local submissions declared the region as an ideal location for Commonwealth investment and backed the idea of decentralisation.

Kristy McBain, pic from Bega Valley Shire Council
Kristy McBain, pic from Bega Valley Shire Council

In his submission, Snowy Monaro Administrator Dean Lynch spoke of the boost such a move would be for the local economy and pointed to an available workforce.

Andrew Greenway, from Eurobodalla Shire, highlighted lifestyle advantages and the benefits that had for staff retention.

Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain pointed to the region’s proximity to Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne and the private investment that would follow.

Senator McAllister says the terms of reference of her committee are narrow and focused on the APVMA decision, none the less local government and regional business organisations from around the country have seized on the opportunity to put a stake in the ground.

Among the 200 written submissions were councils from the Mallee, Longreach, Manning Valley, Colac, and the Spencer Gulf along with groups like Australian Wool Growers, NSW Business Chamber, the Winemakers Federation and the Country Women’s Association.

Listening to the live stream on Friday morning as Cr McBain spoke, Senator McAllister and fellow committee member Senator Bridget McKenzie seemed to encourage that wider discussion, moving beyond the APVMA.

All those on the call were asked if their region had been considered along with Armidale as a new base from the APVMA, all answered, “Not as far as I know” and the conversation quickly moved on.

Both senators went on to point to the separate but related process underway within the Turnbull Cabinet, where the Minster for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash is developing the Government’s broader decentralisation policy which will be released later this year.

Speaking at the National Press Club in April, Senator Nash said regional Australians deserved the jobs and opportunities that come with government agencies.

“When government invests in community it breeds confidence,” Senator Nash said.

Fiona Nash, pic from ABC
Fiona Nash, pic from ABC

She went on to explain the process all Federal ministers are currently involved in, which asks them to detail the departments, entities or functions that might be suitable for relocation to a regional area.

“We are not going to leave any stone unturned in looking for those agencies that could be relocated to the regions for the benefit of the regions,” Senator Nash told the Press Club.

Danielle Mulholland, President of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils and Mayor of Kyogle, told Senator McAllister that she is keen for the government to better definition ‘the regions’.

At the moment a regional community is seen as being one that lives at least 150km from a capital city.

“That’s a really loose definition,” Cr Mulholland said.

She fears authentic regional communities might miss out with a 150km starting line.

It’s a point echoed in the written submission from Snowy Monaro Regional Council and the Canberra Region Joint Organisation in regards to Cooma, which is just 116km from Canberra.

Dean Lynch from Snowy Monaro, in fact contends that regional areas around the ACT should be “initial priorities” and that Cooma’s proximity would “facilitate an easier transition from existing to new workplaces” for Commonwealth staff.

Cooma to Canberra, 116km.
Cooma to Canberra, 116km.

As the phone panel’s assessment of decentralisation evolved on Friday, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain said there also needed to be a synergy between the agency being relocated and the new host town for the process to be a win-win.

“From our point of view, it would have to be an agency or a department that had a natural fit with our area,” Cr McBain told the Senate committee.

From a Eurobodalla perspective, Business Development boss, Andrew Greenway believes that includes agencies responsible for regional communications, marine services, sciences and safety, regional development, regional transport, aged care, tourism, and education.

Both Snowy Monaro and Bega Valley also point to agriculture and environmental management services.

“We are going to have a big conversation around this over the next six months,” Senator McKenzie said.

All those on the call encouraged the two Senators in their suggestion that there should be a parliamentary committee formed with broader terms of reference than their own to fully develop a transparent and fair criteria and assessment process around decentralisation – the suggestion being, to avoid the allegation of political pork barrelling that has been leveled at Barnaby Joyce in the APVMA decision.

The findings of Senator McAllister’s committee will be delivered in June, it’s understood Turnbull Cabinet ministers have until August to complete their departmental reviews and report back to Senator Nash.

With 83% of Commonwealth employment located in Canberra or the five largest Australian cities, the potential of shifting some of that into regional areas is huge, hence the level of interest. In the Bega Valley’s submission, Cr McBain points to NSW Government data that estimates for each public sector job in a regional area, two jobs are created in the private sector.

However, “Government can’t fix everything,” warned Senator Nash at the Press Club, signaling that the Turnbull Government would be looking to partnerships with local government and the community more broadly as decentralisation rolls out.

It would appear that regional Australia is interested to know more and ready to play its part.

Disclaimer: Author is part time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council



















Local history unearthed as GG tours the Bega Valley

Lord Northcote. Picture from National Library of Australia
Lord Northcote. Picture from National Library of Australia

This week’s tour of the Bega Valley by Queen’s representative in Australia has stirred history that dates back 110 years.

Three thousand people greeted the then Governor-General, Lord Northcote in March 1907 at the Bega Showground.

Current Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife, Lady Lynne Cosgrove arrived on Monday (April 10) morning ahead of a civic reception that afternoon hosted by Bega Valley Shire Council.

My boy got a start representing his primary school, he tells me the caramel and chocolate tarts were delicious and that the GG is keen to see a ‘big cheese’ at the entrance to Bega.

Sir Peter and Lady Lynne will head back to Canberra on Tuesday afternoon having toured the region and meeting with a host of mainly volunteer organisations.

In her speech at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain highlighted some of the history of that 1907 visit by Lord Northcote, it was a time when Eden was being considered as part of the new Australian capital city at Dalgety.

I’ve managed to track down two newspaper reports from the time…

From the Sydeny Morning Herald, page 7, Thursday March 14 1907
From the Sydney Morning Herald, page 7, Thursday March 14 1907

From the Sydney Morning Herald, page 7, Thursday March 14 1907:


The Governor-General and party visited Bega District Hospital this morning. His Excellency inspected the various wards, and made kindly and sympathetic remarks to the patients, particularly to two juveniles, whom he presented with picture-books and dolls.

Expressions of satisfaction regarding the management were made by his Excellency to the president and committee of management, the medical officers, matron, and nursing staff.

The Vice-regal party, after a short stay, proceeded to Kameruka estate, on route for Cooma, via Candelo, Bemboka, and Nimitybelle, escorted by Sub-inspector Tippett and a posse of mounted troopers and a detachment of Australian Light Horse, in charge of Lieuts. Otton and Irwin.

CANDELO, Wednesday.

His Excellency the Governor-General and party arrived here at midday to-day, after calling at Kameruka Estate, three miles distant where the visitors were cordially received by Mr Wren, manager, and Mr Champneys, acting manager.

Candelo was decorated with flags, greenery and coloured streamers. An arch was erected at the main entrance to the park. His Excellency was presented with an address of welcome in the park by citizens and school children.

Cheers were given for Lord Northcote, and the National Anthem was sung by the school children.

His Excellency said he trusted the children would always show the loyalty they had so pleasingly shown that day. He declared Friday as a whole holiday for the children.

A luncheon was tendered Lord Northcote in the School of Arts. Mr W J Collins presided and Dr Sharp was vice-chairman.

The Governor General, in replying to the toast of his health, said that next year they would have a visit from the State Governor.

He was pleased to find the district in such a flourishing condition. It was a great dairying centre.

He had great pleasure in paying a flying visit to Kameruka where the cheese making industry was prospering, and they were doing wonders in preserving fruit under the supervision of Mr Moody.

He had no idea they could produce such beautiful fruit in the district. He hoped upon his return home to be of slight service to Australia. He was of opinion that the Governor and the Governor-General could do more service for the country after they left it.

People at home were not sufficiently acquainted with the doings of this country. One thing he could say was that one always received a cordial welcome from Australians. His Excellency returned hearty thanks for the cordial welcome and wished prosperity and success to Candelo.

Mr Coman proposed “The Commonwealth Parliament’ and Mr Austin Chapman replied.

The Vice-Regal party left for Bemboka about 3pm.

Source: Trove

From 'The Argus' in Melbourne, page 7 Thursday, March 14 1907
From ‘The Argus’ in Melbourne, page 7 Thursday, March 14 1907

From ‘The Argus’ in Melbourne, page 7 Thursday, March 14 1907:


His Excellency Lord Northcote, accompanied by Captain Stephens, A.D.C., arrived at Bega yesterday afternoon.

He was accompanied by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Austin Chapman) and Mr W. H. Wood, ML.A., and the cavalcade, which was greeted along the road by hundreds of people who lustily cheered and welcomed Lord Northcote most enthusiastically, proceeded to the Bega show-ground, where the whole of the children of the district public and private schools sang the National Anthem.

Altogether the assemblage mustered about three thousand people. Addresses of welcome were presented to His Excellency who said he was glad to see that in Bega one of the most beautiful spots in His Majesty’s dominions, the people were not less loyal than in other parts of Australia.

He noticed with pleasure the magnificent monument erected in the public park close by in honour of those who had so loyally lost their precious lives in South Africa.

A banquet was given to His Excellency last night. About 500 district and town residents sat down. The mayor (Alderman Pell) presided, and proposed the health of His Excellency.

Lord Northcote in responding stated that he was more than pleased at the fine reception given him. Bega and district was one of the most beautiful spots he had ever visited. He was very pleased with the beauties Twofold Bay and the surroundings of Eden.

Mr. J. Bunningham proposed “The Commonwealth Parliament” and Mr.Chapman responded. He said he felt certain that His Excellency had already recognised that the Government house site had during that trip been inspected.

His Excellency was then introduced to some 280 ladies who were present and afterwards to the district residents and then at his special desire to the individual members of the Australian Light Horse.

His party left to-day at 10 a m for Caneldo.

Source: Trove