Council News, Thursday 04 September 2014

Article for Council Page – Oberon Review 
Council News – Thursday 4 September 2014

The Centroc Board Meeting was held in Canberra last week and General Manager Alan Cairney and I attended the meeting.

One of the items on the agenda of particular concern to Oberon Council was a report outlining Essential Energy’s claim that it needs to raise its street lighting maintenance charges by an average of 63% across the Centroc region. The Oberon community is facing a proposed increase of 86% or an additional $21,318 per annum. Council’s are urgently requesting the Australian Energy Regulator to reject Essential Energy’s proposal.

A number of speakers addressed the meeting, which was officially opened by Member for Calare, John Cobb MP.  John spoke about additional Black Spot Funding of $100 million for areas with poor mobile coverage.  He also spoke about the disadvantages faced by small rural Council’s under the current Federal Assistance Grants program (FAG’s) and proposed changes that will benefit small rural Councils.

The Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane confirmed that CSIRO funding has not been reduced.  Members present questioned the Minister about addressing our poor rail infrastructure.  The current rail system can only carry a very low tonnage per axle when compared with rail infrastructure overseas and this has a negative impact on industries competing in a global market.

Barnaby Joyce, the Minister for Agriculture spoke about an additional $300 million which has been allocated for upgrades to the inland rail network and also commented on issues that need to be addressed in the Native Vegetation Act. A welcome increase has been proposed for the Roads to Recovery program.  Barnaby Joyce also spoke about the struggles facing the rural industry and his determination to see farmers get a fair return for their produce.  Cattle producers in Queensland are on their knees, partly due to a flow on from the previous Government action banning live export to Indonesia and partly due to continuing drought in the region.

Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary for Telecommunications provided an update regarding the roll out of the NBN Service with the project due to be completed in the next three years.  Approx. 300 base stations will be installed over the next 1 ½ years as part of the NBN roll out.

Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss spoke about the completion of a major infrastructure construction project in the gas fields in Queensland and the expected impact of the loss of up to 12,000 jobs over the next three years as a result of finishing the construction phase of the project.

The meeting was very well attended from member Council’s across the Centroc Region and provided a great opportunity to hear first hand from the Ministers about changes that will affect Local Government and our region.

Bravehearts is an organisation which aims to make Australian kids safer from sexual assault.  “White Balloon Day” is their signature event and this year will be held on Friday 12 September 2014, during Child Protection Week.  White Ribbon Day is a national day of support, awareness and fundraising to protect Australian children against child sexual assault.  I hope you will help support this worthwhile organisation by buying a White Ribbon and wearing it on 12 September.

Mayor John McMahon