Media Release - Council News
Release: Thursday 3 October 2013
The General Manager and I will be attending the Local Government NSW Annual Conference in Sydney this week. This is the first conference held since the former Local Government Association and Shires Association merged earlier this year into one entity.
One of the main topics listed for discussion is the Review of Local Government and the issues raised in relation to the report handed down by the Independent Local Government Review Panel. Professor Samson will be addressing the conference ahead of handing down his final report to the Minister this month.
The issue of Local Government Financial Sustainability has been raised by many Councils and in particular lobbying for a fairer share of the national taxation revenue through the Federal Government Financial Assistance Grants (FAG’s). Local Government is concerned that their share of the tax revenue has been progressively declining and has not kept pace with increasing costs faced by all Local Governments. The issue of Rate Pegging may also be a hotly contested issue with many Council’s strongly opposed its continuation.
Discussion regarding rate exemptions and concessions will be of particular interest to Oberon Council as Local Government is calling for a review of rate exemptions with the objective of removing exemptions from State owned corporations, land used for commercial purposes in National Parks and land used for substantially business or private purposes by benevolent institutions and private schools. There are 67,000 ha of pine plantations in the Oberon Local Government Area which are currently not rateable and this is something that Council is very interested in pursuing.
Lake Oberon is now officially open to the public for kayaking, canoeing and the use of electric motor boats. The Community Opening will be held at the Reef Road Reserve on Saturday 5 October 2013, commencing at 11.00am and I hope to see a lot of locals in attendance.
This project has generated a lot of interest and there have been a number of volunteers who have contributed to getting the Lake ready for use. Members of the Oberon Fishing Club constructed the fencing at the Reef Reserve, Oberon Quarries donated the material for the construction of the entrance and carpark and Saul’s Grading Services provided the use of their plant for the construction. Councillor Kerry Gibbons has donated his time as a grader operator and also coordinated the many volunteers who have assisted with this project. Council has also donated the use of trucks and a roller to complete the works.
Lake Oberon is classified as “alpine waters” and all users of craft and vessels will be required to wear an approved floatation device or lifejacket. Swimming is not allowed in the Lake due to the low water temperatures. Craft and vessels will also be restricted to a top speed of 4 knots, about the speed of a brisk walk and only electric motors will be permitted. There is also an exclusion zone in place around the dam wall.
Last Friday 65 mature breeding rainbow trout were released into the Oberon Dam by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Member for Bathurst, Paul Toole MP attended representing the Minister. It would be great if fisherman return these breeding stock to the water if caught to assist with boosting the long term fishing in Lake Oberon.
I am pleased that there seems to be a new spirit of cooperation following a meeting held between the Mayors and General Managers of Lithgow, Bathurst and Oberon last week. This has come about with the election of the new Mayor of Bathurst, Gary Rush who was a former Oberon resident.
During the meeting I found Mayor Rush to be very open and approachable. I have reiterated Oberon Councils position as being opposed to forced amalgamations and the three Council’s have agreed to meet again next month following the release of the final report by the Independent Local Government Review Panel.
Last Friday I attended the NSW Police Chifley Local Area Command Police Remembrance Day Ceremony held at Saint Michael and Saint John’s Cathedral in Bathurst. The ceremony was well attended by members of the Police Force and the community. It was an extremely moving ceremony recognising the great sacrifice that Police have made in carrying out their duty.
Last Friday, the General Manager Alan Cairney and I also met with Member for Bathurst Paul Toole MP in relation to the works Council is currently undertaking on O’Connell Road on behalf of the Roads and Maritime Services.
Paul Toole has undertaken to arrange for the RMS to meet with Council on a regular basis to have input into planning future road programs in our Shire.
During the meeting, discussion was also held in relation to Water Security and Paul Toole will be seeking to ensure that better use is made of the water from the Duckmaloi Weir. There is some work required at the Duckmaloi Weir to clear willow trees and ensure the water quality in the future.