Small communities represented on new Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Lynley Miners. Photo: Keva Gocher ABC Rural
Lynley Miners. Photo: Keva Gocher ABC Rural

Small towns have made their presence felt after the first flush of counting in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council election.

Just over 10,200 of yesterday’s votes have been counted at this point, with 11 new councillor positions to be decided from a field of 27 candidates.

Former Bombala Mayor and grazier Bob Stewart has polled the most votes with 1,447, followed by Adaminaby livestock carrier, Lynley Miners (1,364), and 23-year-old apprentice carpenter James ‘Boo’ Ewart from Jerangle (948).

Former Cooma – Monaro Mayor, Dean Lynch who has over seen the operations of the merged council for the last 16 months as Administrator says he’s happy to see the election come and democracy restored to the region.

“My biggest concern was representation for the smaller areas, and you can see that’s not going to be an issue now,” Mr Lynch says.

“I am a little bit worried about the lack of female representation in the results at this stage,” he says.

Bombala’s Anne Maslin is the highest polling woman with 243 votes which puts her in thirteenth position over all – outside the 11 member council.

Postal votes and preferences will come before the poll is declared and the final results are known.

Under the counting system used for local government elections in New South Wales, each candidate must reach a quota of votes to be elected, preferences follow and are distributed according to the voter’s instructions on their ballot paper.

“You get the total number of voters and then dived it by 12, one more than the new Council needs, to work out the quota,” Mr Lynch explains.

“Going off previous elections I think the quota will be around 930 votes.”

Preferences help candidates who don’t reach the quota in the first round of counting get elected.

Bob Stewart. Photo: Town and Country Magazine
Bob Stewart. Photo: Town and Country Magazine

Bob Stewart believes it might not be until Tuesday or Wednesday before all 11 seats in the new chamber are decided, he is hopeful a flow of preferences from himself and running mate John Last will get Anne Maslin elected.

Mr Stewart, a passionate critic of the merger process says he is humbled by his result and is looking forward to getting back to work.

“I will be putting my hand up for the Mayoral position,” Mr Stewart says.

“We’ve gotta make sure there’s equity down our way, the merger process for council staff in Bombala has been very unfair.”

“We don’t need it [Council] to be centralised towards Cooma so that Bombala loses out on jobs, we must try and protect jobs for the social and economic benefit of our smaller communities,” the former Bombala Mayor says.

Mr Stewart says he is also keen to address recent extra charges on utility costs like water and waste, he says he’ll be asking for a report to Council early in the term.

Speaking to About Regional while loading livestock on to his truck, Lynley Miners has mixed feelings about being elected to Council.

“The truth is I didn’t want to stand now, I am too busy with my own business, but now is the logical time, it’s a fresh start being the first council,” Mr Miners says.

Being a truckie, Mr Miners says he’ll be taking a particular interest in the region’s roads and better infrastructure.

“A lot people think we are going to be able to fix theses things over night,” Mr Miners says.

“We’ve got a three-year term and the first 12 or 18 months will be taken up with learning and trying to get sorted with whats been done during the administration period and get the ship steering straight.”

Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council
Dean Lynch Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Despite his high personal vote Mr Miners says he won’t be standing as Mayor in the near future, preferring to leave the job to people with more time and experience for now.

When asked to reflect on the merger process between Bombala, Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River Shires, Mr Miners is hopeful people can move on

“It will hang there for a bit, but once people get to the table if they want to strive to make this better, it can’t be about us and them, it’s done, it’s happened, it’s time to move on,” Mr Miners says.

Dean Lynch will remain Administrator until the first council meeting on September 26 when the new Mayor is elected, says he has been working hard to tidy up loose ends and set the new council up for success.

The election marks an end to Mr Lynch’s nine-year career in local government, he says the last 16 months have been some of the most challenging times.

“I always knew pulling this together would be a poison chalice, but I love local government and I love this area,” he says.

“Some of the social media comments have been hard for my family but I’ll stand behind all the decisions I made, I feel like I’ve given the new council every chance possible to be good.”

Mr Lynch is delighted James ‘Boo’ Ewart appears to have been elected.

James Boo Ewart voting in Saturday's election. Photo: Facebook
James Boo Ewart voting in Saturday’s election. Photo: Facebook

“Boo has been around Council meetings with me for the last four years, he’s always wanted to be on Council, it’s great to see him get in without the need for any alliances, a fresh start is just what this council needs,” Mr Lynch says.

“The new council needs to get out and meet with communities right around the area

“My advice for the old and the new, they just need to get around and meet everybody before they rush in and make decisions,” Mr Lynch says.

When asked about his future, the former Cooma-Monaro Mayor says they’ll be a holiday with his wife first.

“The most exciting thing, I am the chair and a director of the Country Universities Centre and we are rolling those out right across the state at the moment, that’s my passion.

“I’ve had various offers, but I just need to take a step back for a while,” Mr Lynch says.

To keep track of the progressive election results head to the website of the NSW Electoral Commission.

 

*Thanks to About Regional members, Simon Marine, Kelly Murray, Gabrielle Powell, Nastasia Campanella and Thomas Oriti for supporting local story telling.

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Calling candidates for Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council
Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council. Source: SMRC

The wheels of democracy are starting to spin again across the High Country with nominations now open for candidates at the September 9 Local Council Election.

Eleven councilors will sit in the chamber of the merged Snowy Monaro Regional Council, which has been run for the past 15 months by former Cooma Mayor, Dean Lynch.

In his role as Administrator, Mr Lynch called on the advice and input of Local Representative Committees covering the former shires of Snowy River, Cooma-Monaro, and Bombala.

Ultimately though final decisions fell to Mr Lynch, an arrangement put in place by the NSW Government and one many have described as undemocratic.

Mr Lynch, who says he won’t be standing on September 9 says he understands the criticism but has enjoyed the opportunity despite feeling burnt out.

He says the whole merger process has got people thinking more about local government and perhaps has inspired some locals to stand for election.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of new faces,” Mr Lynch says.

Nominations opened on Monday and will close at Midday on Wednesday, August 9 through the Electoral Commission on NSW.

In the lead-up, Snowy Monaro Regional Council held candidate info sessions in Jindabyne, Berridale, Cooma, and Bombala.

Leanne Atkinson sat on Snowy River Shire Council between 1999 and 2003 and has stood as a Labor candidate for the NSW Parliament in the seat of Bega a number of times since, she says it can feel like a ‘leap of faith’ when you first put your name forward for election.

“You really aren’t sure what you are doing at the beginning,” Ms Atkinson told About Regional.

“You need to get the message out about yourself and what differentiates you from other people.”

Ms Atkinson says she went into her first campaign with issues she felt connected to and could speak on.

“I was a young mum, and was very aware of the constraints there were for families in the area and what services were available for them,” she says.

“That was how I went into that first campaign, looking at services for families, for young people, ” she says.

Ms Atkinson says she never considered standing for council until a couple of people suggested it to her.

“I said I can’t see myself doing this, there are all those people sitting around that table, all that procedure, I couldn’t do that.

“The funny thing is that once you are elected you realise that you absolutely can be at that table,” Ms Atkinson says.

And once you are elected what is the job of a new councilor on Snowy Monaro Regional Council?

Ms Atkinson believes the role goes beyond the popular catchphrase of ‘roads, rubbish, and rates’.

“There are a lot of demands on Council, and the role a Councilor is to have a strategic view, to set the tone, and to set the direction,” she says.

“It’s really important to engage effectively with the community.”

Election Day is Sept 9. Source: AEC
Election Day is Sept 9. Source: AEC

The merger process, taking three council areas into one has left smaller communities concerned that they will be over looked by the big new entity shaped by the Baird – Berejiklian Government.

Leanne Atkinson believes it’s incumbent on the eleven new councilors to think beyond their own home town.

“Don’t focus just on the big towns, there are little communities where those people matter and are just as important as the people in the bigger towns,” she says.

“You have to be aware that you are there for the whole community.”

But there is some strategic advice from this Labor stalwart for smaller centres keen to see one of their own elected.

“I have a view that the amalgamations shouldn’t have been forced, but the fact is it’s amalgamated,” Ms Atkinson says.

“The community needs people who are going to move the shire forward in it’s new form.

“Maybe some smaller communities should get together and ask, who is the one person who could represent us well?” she says.

Find a candidate and get the community behind them seems to be the advice.

“I lived in Berridale for a while, and if it was me in a community like that, I’d be pulling people together and saying, okay we want representation on this council, who can we advocate for and increase our chances of getting someone elected,” Ms Atkinson suggests.

Reflecting on her council time, Ms Atkinson says it was one of the best experiences of her life, she is keen to see a diverse range of candidates stand for election on September 9.

“There were lots of little things that I would look at and think, we can do better than that.”

“If you are willing to work you’d be surprised at how much you can achieve,” Ms Atkinson says.

Thanks to About Regional Members, Simon Marnie, Alison Oakley, Linda Albertson, and Kiah Wilderness Tours for supporting local story telling.

Head garbos point to new opportunities in the local ‘war on waste’

Recycling up close. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council
Recycling up close. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council

‘Head garbos’ across the region have welcomed the supermarket ban on light weight plastic bags but are looking to new opportunities and challenges in their ever present ‘war on waste’.

Woolworths and Coles were tripping over themselves in announcing the news last week, both committing to a phase out of single use bags over the next 12 months.

Shoppers will be asked to bring their own bags or be charged 15 cents for a heavier weight, reusable plastic bag.

“This will significantly change the number of bags going to any landfill or transfer station,” says Mandy Thurling, Rescouse and Waste Manager for Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

In the Eurobodalla, Amanda Jones, Council’s Manager of Waste Services says, “This is great news, keeping problem waste from entering the environment.”

While also welcoming the action, Toby Browne, Waste Services Manager for Bega Valley Shire Council has signaled a need for further change, “It’s a move in the right direction but definitely more needs to be done to reduce packaging and other soft plastic waste.”

Environmental groups have been campaigning for a plastic bag ban for decades, and while some states and towns have imposed restrictions, the ABC TV series “War on Waste” seemed to inject new momentum into the national discussion.

Clean Up Australia estimates six billion plastic bags are handed out every year, with just 4% recycled.

Let loose in the environment they choke, smother, and tangle wildlife.

The supermarket ban doesn’t go far enough according to Clean Up Australia, who continue to lobby the Premiers of New South Walse, Victoria, and Western Australia for an out right ban.

“Hopefully more commercial premises will come on board and ban the bag,” Ms Thurling from Snowy Monaro says.

Given their ‘last for forever nature’ all three South East councils will have to continue to manage plastic bags and soft plastics into the future.

A new landfill cell at the Brou waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council.
A new landfill cell at the Brou waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Apart from taking up tip space, the Eurobodalla’s Amanda Jones says, “Plastic bags at landfill sites get caught by the wind and need to be managed by catching them in litter fences and manual litter picking.”

Toby Brown is frustrated by plastic bag contamination of other waste streams at his Bega Valley facilities.

“When they contaminate recycling and organic waste streams, they must be manually removed,” he says.

With that Amanda Jones jumps in.

“Please don’t put your recycling in plastic bags!” she says.

“The bags don’t always fall open to allow recyclables to be sorted.”

The recent introduction of  REDcyle bins at Coles supermarkets in Bega, Eden, Batemans Bay, Ulladulla, and Cooma is part of the equation Mandy Thurling is hoping locals might take up.

REDcycle bins not only take plastic bags but the soft plastic wrapping and packaging many products come smothered in.

REDcycle askes you to do the scrunch test, “If it’s soft plastic and can be crunched into a ball, it can be placed into a REDcycle drop off bin,” their website says.

The material collected is transformed into a range of products including street furniture, decking, and bollards by Replas.

“Council is always looking at the next step in reducing waste to landfill, this could be by reducing all soft plastics and finding alternate recycling avenues for this material,” Ms Thurling from Snowy Monaro says.

In the Eurobodalla, where Council runs their own recycling facility the ‘war on waste’ is reaching new heights.

Crushed waste glass is starting to be used instead of quarried sand in road construction projects.

The sand substitute has just been tested in Murray Street, Moruya where 63 tonnes of the local product was used to install new drainage culverts and reconstruct the road.

“The crushed glass has proven to be a viable product to replace sand in concrete mixes,” Council’s Works Manager, Tony Swallow says.

“It does need to be treated differently to bedding sand but our crews are happy with the performance,” he says.

Around 30 tonnes of sand like substance is produced each week at the Materials Recycling Facility in Moruya; glass represents 40% of the 5,200 tonnes of recyclables collected in the Eurobodalla each year.

“The savings to our environment and Council’s materials budget are significant,” Mr Swallow says.

Polystyrene is the other win in the Eurobodalla’s waste war.

Known for making a mighty mess, up until now polystyrene had taken up valuable landfill space at Surf Beach and Brou.

The polystyrene thermal compaction machine at the Surf Beach waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council
The polystyrene thermal compaction machine at the Surf Beach waste facility. Source: Eurobodalla Shire Council

With a $30,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Authority, Council has installed a thermal compaction machine at its Surf Beach facility.

“The process reduces the volume and turns polystyrene into a hard white substance,” Mr Swallow explains.

“Our contractor is shipping it to China where the material is made into items like picture frames.

“What has made this such a success is that we have supplied local businesses that have a lot of polystyrene packaging with metal frames and wool bales to easily collect the material,” Mr Swallow says.

Council estimates the move will save them $100,000 worth of landfill space each year, with other savings spinning off to local electronic businesses and supermarkets in reduced waste disposal fees.

Bega Valley Shire is looking to do more with waste and is currently developing a waste strategy.

“Our key areas are likely to be addressing food waste recycling and improving local economic opportunity in recycling and resource recovery,” Mr Browne says.

“It’s great to see business making meaningful change in response to community concern. Change creates opportunities.”

At the start of July, Snowy Monaro Regional Council introduced a fully commingled recycling service for the Cooma kerbside collection area

“This allows locals to place recyclable items in the yellow lidded recycling bin,” Mandy Thurling says.

“There is no longer a need to separate paper and cardboard into the black crate.”

Council is now considering giving households a larger capacity recycling bin – more room to recycle.

The action, appetite, and ideas that swirl in this discussion points us in the right direction and into a better position to win the ‘war on waste’ locally.

*Thank you to About Regional member Tim Holt for his contribution to local story telling.

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

 

 

Big kids launch new Cooma playground

Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro got a chance to goof off today (May 26) with the official opening of Stage 1 of the Cooma Lions Park upgrade.

Mr Barilaro left talk of nuclear power, council amalgamations, and the sale of Snowy Hydro behind as he tested the park’s new flying fox with Snowy Monaro Administrator, Dean Lynch.

The redeveloped Cooma Lions Park at Yallakool Road was officially opened today. There's a leash free dog area, improved seating and an adventure playground fitted out with a flying fox! Here is our Administrator Dean Lynch and Deputy Premier John Barilaro trying the flying fox.

Posted by Snowy Monaro Regional Council on Thursday, 25 May 2017

 

The work is the first step of a big vision for the park on Yallakool Road, just north of the Cooma CBD.

Lions Club members and Snowy Monaro Regional Council have got the job done ready for winter; stage 1 includes landscaping, road and parking area improvements, fencing of a ‘leash free’ area for dogs, installation of a flying fox, and most importantly new playground equipment.

Cooma Lions say the upgrade is already popular with local families and no doubt will pull a crowd over the busy winter months.

An extraordinary 1,500 volunteer hours have gone into the project which has been looked after by Lions Club Project Manager Chris Reeks and Construction Manager John Britton.

Chris says, “Our ongoing aim is to bring the park into the 21st Century and provide an up-to-date fun and recreational facility.”

Cooma Lions Club members, right proud of what has been achieved atYallakool Road. Source: Cooma Lions
Cooma Lions Club members, rightly proud of what has been achieved at Yallakool Road. Source: Cooma Lions

The dream of the club is to develop the site into an adventure playground, future works are likely to include additional car parking, construction of the next section of the Cooma North to Murrumbidgee walking/cycle path, as well as refurbishment and upgrade of the existing BMX circuit.

The club is also open to community suggestions for further upgrades.

Cooma Lions has a long association with the park having originally owned the site and carrying out the initial development before handing it over to Council to manage and maintain in 1986.

These works have been made possible by a grant under the NSW Government’s ClubGRANTS scheme.

 

*Content contributions from Cooma Lions and Snowy Monaro Regional Council 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 seven, February 7 2017

About Regional – a new place for the stories of South East NSW, in episode 7…

Dean Lynch
Dean Lynch

* Local Government across NSW is in limbo again as Gladys Berejiklian takes over from Mike Baird as Premier.

A sense that they might be in trouble at the next election has the new look Government reviewing and reconsidering some its past decisions.

Council amalgamations are at the top of the list.

Here in South East NSW, the Snowy Monaro Regional Council has been operating since May 2016 – Bombala, Snowy River and Cooma-Monaro Shires weren’t forced to merge but not given much of choice either.

Until elections are held one man is in charge, former Cooma Mayor Dean Lynch. He says the recent talk from Macquarie Street has been destabilising and has complicated the process underway through the High Country.

Neville and Dianne Baker
Neville and Dianne Baker

*Catalina’s Neville Baker is a breast cancer survivor.

Recent numbers suggest there are about 120 men diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia every year.

Neville’s diagnosis came at Christmas time in 2003. It was a rocky road from there, aside from the treatment many in Neville’s circle simply didn’t know how to handle a man with breast cancer.

I meet Neville over a coffee and cake at his home in Catalina, just south of Batemans Bay.

Lindy Hume
Lindy Hume

*The rich artistic community of South East NSW has inspired a discussion paper that calls for greater recognition and funding for regional artists.

Lindy Hume is the current artistic director of Opera Queensland as well as being the former chief of the Sydney Festival and Chair of South East Arts, among many other things.

Lindy’s platform paper for Currency House describes regional arts as a ‘restless giant’.

The paper was launched in the middle of one this region’s most dynamic communities – Candelo.

Thanks for tuning in, feedback, story ideas and advertising enquiries to hello@aboutregional.com.au

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High speeds match hot temperatures at Monaro Billy Kart Derby

Go you good thing - 2017 Monaro Billy Kart Derby
Go you good thing – Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

With squeals of family fun still hanging in the air from this year’s event, organisers of the Monaro Billy Kart Derby have already locked in a date for next year’s race.

A hot, sunny day at Cooma Showground yesterday (January 22) attracted 34 entries for the second running of the Derby, ten more entries than last year.

The only match for the high temperature was the speed these homemade machines got to.

Cooma Police clocked Tom Brown at 42 km/hour in the Cooma Rural Fire Brigade kart which was the fastest speed for the day. Ben Morley covered the track in the best time – 17.53 seconds.

The event springs from a partnership between two generations forged as part of the Youth Frontiers Mentoring Program.

The program pairs high school students with local business people in a mentoring relationship that builds leadership, career and education skills for the future.

Born to be wild - Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017
Born to be wild – Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

In the case of the Billy Kart Derby, businessman Tony Nassar and student Kurt Wassink are the program’s winning partnership.

“He’s the brains and I am the height,” laughs Kurt.

For the last 11 years, Kurt has been a student at Snowy Mountains Christian School in Cooma but starts at St Mary MacKillop College in Canberra next week for years 11 and 12.

“Tony has taught me the importance and power of community involvement,” Kurt says.

In the week’s leading up to race day, local families were encouraged to build a billy kart for the day.

“There was a real sense of families coming together,” Kurt says.

“If one parent was at the top of the track then the other would be at the bottom.”

Posted by Cooma Car Club on Saturday, 21 January 2017

A colourful and creative cast took to the sloping 300-metre track into Cooma Showground, hay bales donated by local farmer Dave Barron acting as protection during some wobbly moments.

“The guys from Canberra were back again this year with their hot rod style karts, which really spurs the locals on,” Kurt says.

Kurt’s own creation was an army jeep inspired kart painted army green with a white star on the side.

“I went for a 4 wheeler this year, 3 wheels are trouble.”

Kurt is grateful to all those who come out to make such a great event, including Cooma Car Club, Cooma Rural Fire Brigade, High Country Automotive Group, and Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

The finish line in sight - Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017
The finish line in sight – Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

“It just goes to show what a small community can do when they come together,” Kurt says.

The hale bales that lined the course and cushioned the blow for some riders were sold at the end of the day, raising around $400 for the Cooma Community Chest.

The third Monaro Billy Kart Derby will be held on Sunday, January 21, 2018.

 

No threat to Anzac Day in South East NSW – marches will go on

WW2 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll
WW2 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll

Organisers of Anzac Day marches across South East NSW say they will take any new security arrangements “in their stride“.

Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council told About Regional that there was no way Anzac Day marches through the high country would be stopped.

Concern was sparked this week following the cancellation of marches in the Blue Mountains after the local council refused to cover costs associated with new anti-terrorist requirements.

David White, a spokesman for ex-services organisations at Katoomba, Springwood, Blackheath and Glenbrook told the ‘Blue Mountains Gazette‘ that he was devasted by the decision.

“It’s such a long, unbroken tradition and something which we believe is cherished by the local communities,” he told the paper.

“The terrorists are winning. I say that because the reaction to events overseas continues to provoke overreactions here, in our view, which require mitigation actions that are beyond our means.”

The new anti-terrorist measures are said to include the need for solid barriers across roadways to prevent a truck or other vehicles being driven through crowds, similar to what the world witnessed in the French city of Nice in July last year.

Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill told the ABC he was appalled that the State Government was forcing these changes on to communities and expecting local government to pick up the cost.

“What other government in a country around the world would say ‘you need these measures to keep you safe but we won’t fund them’? It’s completely outrageous,” Cr Greenhill told the ABC.

Australian soldiers with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment march on Anzac Day. From wikimedia commons
Australian soldiers with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment march on Anzac Day. From wikimedia commons

The State Liberal Member for Bega and NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance says the security requirements for commemorations in the South East will be guided by local police with measures put in place on a case by case basis.

“Unfortunately this is the way of the world,” he says.

“Governments everywhere need to take these steps, especially at high profile events, to protect people.”

While acknowledging the need for extra security, Mr Constance says it is important that people go about their business.

“We can’t live in fear, we need to stand together and be strong as a community and not let terrorists dictate our way of life,” he says.

Mr Constance suggests the cancelling of events in the Blue Mountains was politically motivated.

“The Labor Mayor for the Blue Mountains has behaved disgracefully,” Mr Constance says.

The Member for Bega says the NSW Government will ensure Anzac Day will continue around New South Walse as planned and any extra costs will be shared, which is now the case in the Blue Mountains.

Snowy Monaro Council chief Dean Lynch says an assessment will be made and if there are extra expenses locally, all involved will work together and find a way to cover them.

Eurobodalla Shire Council believes the terrorist risk is low and will liaise with NSW Police.

WW1 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll
WW1 diggers on the Bega Civic Centre honour roll

Director of Infrastructure Services, Warren Sharpe told About Regional he sees no reason why the marches wouldn’t proceed with the usual sensible traffic control measures in place.

“We absolutely support the wonderful traditions and symbolism of our local Anzac marches,” he says.

“They mean a great deal to all of us and Council will do everything possible to make them a success this year, just as we do every year.”

In the Bega Valley, Tathra ex-serviceman Allen Collins says the Bega RSL Sub-branch is conscious of the need for security but is confident it’s close relationship with Bega Valley Shire Council and local Police will ensure a positive outcome.

“Anzac Day does cost money, but Council and groups like Tathra Lions and the RSL Club have always looked after us,” he says.

“I don’t think there will be any problems,” he says.