Making an informed choice for Snowy Monaro Regional Council this Saturday

Election Day is Sept 9. Source: AEC
Election Day for Snowy Monaro Regional Council is this Saturday – September 9.  Photo credit: AEC

A new era in Local Government is set to bloom with elections for Snowy Monaro Regional Council this Saturday (September 9) ending 16 months of administration by former Cooma Mayor, Dean Lynch.

Pre-Poll voting is already underway at Jindabyne, Berridale, Cooma, and Bombala with 27 candidates contesting 11 positions in the merged council chamber.

Familiar names on your ballot paper include Bob Stewart, Winston Phillips, Sue Haslingden, John Shumack, and Roger Norton.

But there is some new interest including solicitor and tourism operator Maria Linkenbagh, Nimmitabel grazier John Harrington, and 23-year-old apprentice carpenter James ‘Boo’ Ewart.

You can explore the full list of local candidates through the NSW Electoral Commission website.

Former Deputy Mayor of Cooma-Monaro Shire Council, and now Member of the NSW Upper House, Bronnie Taylor says a mix of old and new will be important for the new council.

“Yes we need experience but this is an opportunity to get some really great new people on council and I really encourage people to look at that,” Mrs Taylor says.

With just days to go until polling day the attention and interest of voters will start to sharpen.

Voting instructions on each ballot paper will guide locals, but generally speaking, each voter will be asked to select six candidates in order of preference, you can select more if you wish and perhaps push out to 11 to reflect the full council you want to be elected. But for your vote to count, you must at least number six boxes in order of preference.

The inaugural mayor will be elected by councilors at their first meeting after the election.

Mrs Taylor admits the process and choices can be overwhelming but she is calling on locals to take an interest and use the days ahead to find their new councilors.

“Vote for who you think is going to make a difference…vote for someone who has the same values and aspirations for your community,” she says.

Despite being part of the State Government that drove the merger of Bombala, Snowy River and Cooma-Monaro Councils, The Nationals MLC accepts that the process could have been better but has confidence in the future of the 11 member Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

Mrs Taylor is adamant small communities won’t be forgotten in the new larger entity.

“The councilors that get elected, they’re good people, they care about their communities [but they also] care about their region,” she says.

The former Deputy Mayor points to the $5.3 million State investment in the Lake Wallace Dam project at Nimmitabel as an example of that ‘bigger regional thinking’.

“I am someone who lives in the town of Nimmitabel which has a population of around 300 people,” Mrs Taylor says.

“We had a really shocking time during the drought.

The Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce will host a 'meet the candidates' forum on September 4.
The Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce will host a ‘meet the candidates’ forum on September 4.

“There was not one other councilor from Nimmitabel or from down this end of the shire [on that council except me but] every single one of those nine councilors on Cooma-Monaro Shire Council voted to invest that money.

“They knew it was really important for that community (Nimmitabel) and that that community was part of them,” Mrs Taylor says.

Given the size of the field to choose from and the need to at least number six boxes on the ballot paper, voters can be forgiven for feeling confused or unsure of who to vote for.

“I think people that get up there and promise 16 different things aren’t very realistic,” Mrs Taylor says.

“You have to have someone who is prepared to work with other people and prepared to see other points of view.

“At the end of the day…you have got to find compromises and ways through to get good results,” the former Deputy Mayor suggests.

Working out who those people are or finding the information you need to have an informed vote can be a challenge in amongst the posters, Facebook pages, and how to vote cards of an election campaign.

“I think candidate forums are really good,” Mrs Taylor says.

“And the great thing about local government is that you can pick up the phone and ring them (candidates) and ask them what they think about something and they should be able to give you some time to do that.”

Mrs Taylor also suggests talking to other people in the community as a way of making your vote count.

“Talk to the people that you trust, they know the pulse of the community, I think that’s really valuable,” she says.

Contact phone numbers and email addresses for many of the candidates can be found on the NSW Electoral Commission website.

Polling booths are open between 8am and 6pm this Saturday (September 9), voting is compulsory at one of 13 South East locations from Adaminaby to Delegate to Bredbo.

 

*For more coverage of the Snowy Monaro Regional Council election, including comment from former Snowy River Councilor Leanne Atkinson, click HERE.

*This story was made possible thanks to the contribution of About Regional members Julie Klugman, Nigel Catchlove, Jenny Anderson, and Ali Oakley. 

 

 

 

Landmark Monaro tree hollow gets a resident

This old girl has seen a few Monaro winters and it seems she now has something to cuddle up to.

Kids and convicts shape new Nimmitabel playground

Hanging around in Nimmitabel's new playground. Photo from NAG Facebook
Hanging around in Nimmitabel’s new playground. Photo from NAG Facebook

A new playground is turning heads at Nimmitabel on the eastern edge of the Monaro.

The bubblegum coloured update sits side by side with an existing ‘old school’ playground that has been there for at least 40 year according to Vickie Pollard, President of the Nimmitabel Advancement Group.

Using money from the Boco Rock Community Enhancement Fund, a climbing frame, rope net, and rock wall have been installed along with a spring loaded motorbike and seesaw and raised stepping stones.

“We haven’t had new equipment for such a long time, all the local children are very excited,” Vickie says.

The thumbs up for some of the kids who helped design the playground. Photo from NAG Facebook
The thumbs up for some of the kids who helped design the playground. Photo from NAG Facebook

“The playground also encourages visitors to stop, have a picnic lunch, get some nice food from up the street, it gets people to stop and enjoy Nimmitabel.”

The kids of this town of 224 people had input into the design and the equipment that was chosen, while inmates from Cooma Correctional Centre worked as part of the crew with Snowy Monaro Regional Council installing the new pieces.

Snow that could start falling any day now will add an extra dimension to this new attraction. It’s a space that has seen many happy times in winters past; on the handful of days snow does settle on the ground in Nimmitabel, this playground has offered a cheap and quick snow experience for kids from the coast.

And more so this winter!

Families with a connection to this spot at the northern end of town, just off the Monaro Highway will be pleased to know the old swings, steel slippery dip, and carousel remain.

Hang on, the new spring loaded seesaw. Photo from NAG Facebook
Hang on, the new spring loaded seesaw. Photo from NAG Facebook

At a time when many older parks are being pulled out, Nimmitabel has been able to hang on to its ‘old-school’ playground while getting an upgrade.

Vickie beams as she explains that all the older gear met current regulations, so was allowed to stay.

“And once the old gear gets a coat of paint, in the same purple and orange as the new gear, they’ll be brand new too,” Vickie says.

There’s more to come though.

Nimmitabel Lions Club has received funding to install tables, chairs, and shade, and there’s talk of a barbecue.

“And hopefully, a few years down the track we might be able to get funding for a flying-fox,” Vickie says.

 

About Regional – the podcast, episode two, October 18 2016

About Regional – the podcast, episode two, October 18 2016

About Regional strives to capture the colour, wisdom, and issues of South East NSW, in episode two of the podcast…

Bega Valley election material
Bega Valley election material

* Long time Eurobodalla Council watcher Keith Dance wants to change the way Local Government is elected in NSW.

Having served two terms on Council and contested every election between 2000 and 2010, Keith believes the system encourages too many candidates to stand, which makes it impossible for voters to make an informed choice.

Keith reckons part of the solution comes from Victoria.

John Alcock and Howard Charles
John Alcock and Howard Charles

* The small Monaro town of Nimmitabel, south-east of Cooma is heading into summer with more water security than every before. A new dam has just opened on the outskirts of town.

Howard Charles and John Alcock are two of the fathers of the Lake Wallace Dam, both were keen to jump the fence and show me around.

* The Archibald Prize has just wrapped up for another year at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

But these famous faces aren’t being put away, they are hitting the road for a tour of regional NSW and Victoria – including the Bega Valley Regional Gallery.

Gallery Director, Iain Dawson gives us a preview.

And a bush dance to finish with, the Kameruka Bush Orchestra in full flight.

Listening and streaming options:

Click here to listen via AudioBoom

Click here to listen via Stitcher

Coming soon to iTunes!

A summer of secure water for Nimmitabel – Lake Wallace Dam full and open

The first warm, fragrant licks of spring struggled to get up and over Brown Mountain on the day I visited Nimmitabel.

A cold, icy wind (not unfamiliar to Nimmitabel) laughed as I arrived with no jacket or jumper to inspect Lake Wallace Dam southeast of the township.

I was meeting two well-seasoned ‘gents’ of this community, one of which offered me his jacket as the breeze really started to bite.

John Alcock and Howard Charles
John Alcock and Howard Charles

Howard Charles and John Alcock first started pushing for this dam to be built over 11 years ago, and just a few days prior to our meeting it had been officially opened by the NSW Agriculture Minister.

Beaming with pride for what had been achieved, both men were keen to jump the two fences at the main entry to show me a vision they had been living with for a long time, one that was now a reality.

Named after the former owners of the landscape it sits in, Lake Wallace cost $5.3 million to complete and now holds 320 megalitres of water.

An East Coast Low just after the 13 metre high dam wall was completed ensured Nimmitabel, once described as the driest town in South East New South Wales, would have water security this summer for the first time in many summers.

The potential of this site to capture and store water was recognised during some of the region’s driest times.

“I had cattle on the block next door,” John remembers.

“And I was riding around there, in the midst of the 10-year drought, and there were all sorts of springs (water) still out through the bush.

“And then I noticed what a magnificent big catchment area it was,” John says.

Later hydrogeological studies would also find ‘excellent clay’ in the area, meaning a good seal on the dam floor.

The potential John saw was not obvious to everyone, the dam site had a dry creek bed running through it known as Pigring Creek, and only tended to flow into the nearby Maclaughlin River during and after big rain events – an action that would be used in the dam’s design.

From the About Regional Podcast, John Alcock and Howard Charles:

With the people of Nimmitabel only able to wash themselves out of a bucket at the depths of the drought, in the mid-2000’s the case for a dam was building, spurred on by lobbying lead by the Nimmitabel Advancement Group.

But for a dam to work and capture the imagination of government it needed to rain, and that seemed impossible at the time.

The 2007 Federal Election injected some momentum with the sitting Liberal member Gary Nairn committing $550,000 for geotechnical studies and construction of a smaller farm style dam.

Labor matched the commitment but suggested a bigger plan overseen by Cooma-Monaro Shire Council.

Feasibility studies followed and in 2014 the NSW Government through the Member for Monaro, John Barilaro stumped up $5.3 million to build the dam.

Maclaughlin River 2004
Maclaughlin River 2004

Nimmitabel takes it’s drinking water from the Maclaughlin River, which in 2004 all but dried up.

It was said at the time there was more beer in Nimmitabel than water, the local council had to resort to trucking water in from Cooma.

Howard Charles believes a turning point in the lobbying for the dam came with a photo he took of a dry, sad looking Maclaughlin River in 2004.

“We got huge support from the Catchment Management Authority,” Howard says.

“They could see that through this (the dam) not only were we going to solve Nimmitabel’s problem, but we were also going to solve the problem of river health.”

Howard describes the Maclaughlin as a blue ribbon trout stream and home to lots of platypus.

“Fly fisherman come from all over Australia to fish on it, that’s always been part of Nimmitabel’s history and industry,” he says.

Over the last couple of years, good rain has restored the health of the Maclaughlin and now Lake Wallace sits ready to serve it and the 300 people of Nimmitabel.

“It (the dam) doesn’t supply direct to Nimmitabel,” Howard explains.

Maclaughlin River 2016
Maclaughlin River 2016

“Nimmitabel still pumps from the river, but when the river is too low, then all we do is just let the water flow out of this dam and down into the river and supplement the flow in the river.

“And as it flows down the old natural water course, it gives it a natural cleansing, so it is beneficial to the river’s health in two ways.”

Both men see water security as critical to the future of this small farming community and township on the edge of the Great Dividing Range.

During the worst of the drought, families and businesses fled Nimmitabel, but already Howard and John believe that Lake Wallace is injecting confidence into people’s plans.

The next idea for this body of water adds a new dimension to the town’s future.

Howard and John want to see the Lake’s normally locked gates open for recreation.

“What a tremendous place for fishing, this lake would just be the most perfect trout lake you could wish to find,” John says.

Lake Wallace Dam Oct 2016
Lake Wallace Dam Oct 2016

“People are going to drop in here (the Lake) and of course go into Nimmitabel or Bemboka.

“It would be a tremendous boost.”

It sure would, but for the time being and for the first summer in many summers, Nimmitabel will survive the heat ahead, a testament to a community that invests in its own future.