Mayoral Column Media Release - 16 May 2019

It was sad to hear of the passing of Rosemary Harris. Although Rosemary moved away from Oberon a few years ago to be closer to family, she was heavily involved in the Oberon Community for many years through the Oberon Health Council and Hospital Auxiliary. A strong supporter of Legacy Australia and a highly regarded teacher in Early Childhood Development especially in the area of hearing impaired children. Rosemary was involved in the establishment and management of the Shepherd Centre in Bathurst; a quiet and modest achiever, an unassuming person who contributed much to Oberon. Vale Rosemary Harris. 

The Throsby Commemoration and Heritage Wall unveiling last weekend was a significant if chilly day for Oberon and was well supported. Congratulations to the many people that worked hard on this project. 

Through the determined efforts by Deputy Mayor Kerry Gibbons, council are pursuing a project to raise the level of the Duckmaloi Weir by ten metres. This would create a bigger storage capacity allowing a volume of this harvested water to be pumped back into the Oberon Dam. As council does not actually own its water supply but rather has a licence agreement with WaterNSW this needs to be pursued through that body. We have written to the new Minister for Water the Hon Melinda Pavey for support; Paul Toole has already indicated “in principal” support for the project. 

Councillors and staff will soon be hosting Community Meetings in Oberon and the villages to talk about the Operational and Delivery Plans following on from the CSP process. If you are interested in how and where your rates will be spent and future plans for the LGA, look out for the schedule of dates and come along. 

Councils across NSW are facing significant, unplanned budget adjustments after being hit with unexpected  increases from Revenue NSW this week to help fund the NSW Government’s new measures to provide better workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer and career firefighters who are diagnosed with one of twelve specific work-related cancers. These increases are effective from 1 July this year. Councils have already set their budgets for 2019/20 and may now have to look at service levels to accommodate the increases. While I am sure all councils strongly support the new workers’ compensation coverage for our firefighters, the fact that the NSW Government has chosen to cost shift these charges onto councils and therefore communities by increasing the emergency services levy, rather than identifying savings in the state government’s budget is disappointing. The NSW Government collects payments from councils and insurers to fund emergency services agencies in NSW annually, with councils paying 11.7 per cent of their local Emergency Services budget. As a result of these increases the NSW Government will now collect an additional $160 million from councils, communities and those paying insurance premiums. Oberon will pay a $65,495 increase from last year’s levy. Council, LGNSW and our JO are making urgent representation to the new Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock seeking a better way to manage this issue.

As part of the Federal Government Drought funding, construction of a new amenity block at the Oberon Show Ground commences this week.  The completion of the skate park project is progressing; the toddler’s bike path and laying of turf will be completed this week. Erection of the three shelter structures are planned to be undertaken very soon.

I attended a dinner hosted for OBTA members by Jenolan Caves management last week, not only was the showcase meal amazing, it was really exciting to hear about the plans for the upgrade to Caves House and the precinct as a whole. The Caves have been the recipient of substantial State Government funding recently. More jobs, more tourists can only be beneficial for Oberon. Have you visited the caves recently?

Thinking of opening a café, restaurant or small bar? It just became much easier with the launch of the “Easier to do Business” initiative. A fast track to opening your business. DA applications, down from around eighteen months to ninety days, one page application form and dedicated one on one customer support and much more. Have a look at this through Service NSW. Oberon is a participating council.