MAYORAL COLUMN - 29 May 2019

With the Labor party poised to appoint new leaders at both the State and Federal levels at time of writing, it was pleasing to see regional Australia raised as a key consideration in the leadership conversation.

While Federal campaigning often shifts the focus away from local issues, any national debate around climate change and economic development must include the impacts on people literally at the coalface, and the infrastructure required to continue to drive the national economy – whatever it looks like.

It would be easy to sit back and wait to see what comes out of Canberra following the May election. But the people of our area don’t have time to waste.

We are calling for Federal leadership to address the major issues for our community now, particularly congestion on the New England Highway, and the future of the Singleton local government area in light of the emphasis on the role of the coal industry in climate action.

I have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison with a copy of our Federal Advocacy Agenda, as well as an invitation to visit our area so that he may experience these issues personally, as well as talk to our residents about the Government’s plans for regional Australia in this next term – particularly on the topic of infrastructure.

What we’re looking for is a commitment of Federal funding to the Singleton bypass, which combined with State funding already allocated would allow the project to be complete by 2024 – achieving a big ticket item on our agenda for our community.

Another of our key agenda items is a commitment to the agriculture industry and improved drought support not only to bolster our economy, but the people doing it tough in our area as we still wait for rain.

The issue of water has again been raised at Council, with further consideration for water restrictions to be discussed at our next meeting on 17 June. The Singleton supply area currently has voluntary restrictions in place, and with the prospect of a water shortage all too real across our region regardless of where your bill comes from, it’s opportune for all of us to consider what we can do to save this precious resource.

At a State level, policing is always an important issue for our community and I was happy to attend the police information session at Branxton Golf Club last night. Including local crime reports, crime prevention tips and updates on police activities in the Branxton Police Sector, it’s great to have a proactive relationship between the police and our community.