Council News, Thursday 30 January 2014

Article for Council Page – Oberon Review
Council News - Thursday 30 January 2014

Last Sunday around 200 people from the local community came together to celebrate Australia Day at the Oberon Showground.  Despite the cool start to the morning the Oberon Rotary Club did a great job serving a traditional Australian morning tea which was enjoyed by all.

Our Australia Day Ambassador Andy Paschalidis gave a wonderful address and engaged all who were assembled with his good humour and warm friendly manner.  He spoke about his role as Fundraising and Partnership Manager with Special Olympics NSW as well some insights into his personal life and work in the area of sports media.

I would like to congratulate the winner of the Citizen of the Year award, Janifer Torner who has volunteered tirelessly for the Oberon community over the past 50 years.  Our Local Legend of the Year is also someone widely known across the whole community, Brian Dellow who has just celebrated 40 years as Oberon’s local vet.  I would like to express my congratulations to all of our worthy Australia Day Award winners.   

On Tuesday I attended a meeting held in Bathurst with Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss MP, Member for Calare John Cobb, State Members Andrew Gee and Paul Toole along with the Mayors from a number of Local Government Areas across the region.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss employment opportunities across the region and opportunities for the development of new employment industries across the Central West.  With the closure of Electrolux and other manufacturing industries as well as the downturn the coal industry there could be up to 1200 jobs lost across the Central West Region in the next couple of years.

The Deputy Prime Minister expressed his desire to do all that is humanly possible to minimise the job losses by supporting existing industries and the development of new employment opportunities.

I had an opportunity to address the meeting and spoke about the impact of the current drought conditions on the rural industry.  I put forward a proposal suggesting the NSW Rural Assistance Authority extend low interest loans to landholders.  Most landholders already have long term mortgage arrangements in place with their lending institutions, however these are often at high interest rates. I think it would provide great benefit in these current times to provide famers who are facing a loss of income due to drought the opportunity to refinance at low interest rates.

I also spoke about the opportunity to re-open the Oberon Tarana Railway Line and indicated that this would benefit industry as well as taking a large number of heavy vehicles off the road infrastructure.  There is also an opportunity for increased tourism and the attraction could be run in conjunction with the Zig Zag Railway in Lithgow.

One of the major topics discussed at the meeting was the proposal to build a dam at “The Needles” site on the Belubala River.  If constructed the dam would give people on the Lachlan a more secure reliable water supply into the future.  The proposal has the support of John Cobb MP and the Mayors in attendance at the meeting.  The meeting is seeking funding for the feasibility study to be undertaken for the project.

The 2014 Highland Steam and Vintage Fair will be held on 7, 8 and 9 February at the Oberon Rugby Leagues Grounds.  The Vintage Car run and popular Tractor Trek will be held on Friday 7 February. During the 8 and 9 February there will be a large number of displays including beautifully restored steam engines, trucks, vintage cars, machinery and tractors.  It promises to be a great weekend to visit Oberon.

The Rural Fire Service, Forestry Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Local Landholders have all worked together tirelessly over the past week to bring several bushfires burning across the region under control.

In particular the fire in the Dog Rocks/Mount David area has been one of the most intense blazes experienced in our area in years.  The fire which was started by a lightening strike has done considerable damage to forestry equipment and grazing land.

A large amount of water from farm dams has been depleted in the fire fighting efforts. It is hoped that farmers can have their water replaced where possible as many farmers are currently facing severe shortages as a result of the current drought conditions.


Councillor John McMahon