Hectic Start for New Council

Murray River Council
Murray River Council

The May 12th proclamation of the new Murray River Council has prompted a hectic start for the organisation.

Along with all interim general managers of the amalgamated councils, Murray River Council’s Interim General Manager, Ms Margot Stork, was summoned to Sydney on Friday for an intense two-day weekend workshop on planning and development of the new entity, from the first week to the first election of the new councils on 9 September 2017. Once back, she hit the ground running and has clocked up more than 700 kilometres visiting staff of both the former Murray and Wakool Shires, discussing transition issues and planning for the development of the new Murray River Council.

Ms Stork has been quick to assure all staff that their jobs are secure for three years, and that while things are currently stressful – and may be for a while – there is light at the end of the tunnel. The welfare of staff will be a priority of the new council, with the intention to issue a staff newsletter on a weekly basis to ensure they are kept in the loop. In addition, staff will be consulted on transition issues as project plans are developed.

The location of Murray River Council’s main administrative office has not been considered at this stage. The priority has been dealing with the myriad of issues associated with bringing the operations of two dissolved entities together. Customer Service Centres will continue in their current locations across the new council area. Murray River Council’s Administrator, Mr David Shaw, and Ms Stork will work out of all current office locations as required, and staff at all existing locations will be available to handle enquiries as usual.

It is proposed that meetings of the Murray River Council will be held on a monthly basis and that the venue will alternate between Barham, Mathoura, Moulamein and Moama. Consideration will also be given over time to holding council meetings at other towns within the Murray River Council area. The first, is an Extraordinary Meeting to be held on Monday 23 May 2016, commencing at 1:00pm at the Riverside Reception Centre, 15 Murray Street, Barham. A second Extraordinary Meeting is planned for Mathoura on Thursday 26 May 2016 at 1:00pm.

The Council wants to ensure its communities can readily identify their new council and have their say on issues which affect them. Consequently, a priority will be the establishment of both a Local Representation Committee (LRC) and an Implementation Advisory Group (IAG), as required under the terms of the amalgamation.

The role of a LRC, to be appointed by Mr Shaw, will be to provide input to the Council’s operational plans 2016/2017 and 2017/2018, advising on the communication and engagement plan for the community, providing input to the statement of vision and priorities and assisting to engage communities and partners in planning for the new Council. The LRC will comprise of councillors of the former Murray Shire and Wakool Shire Councils who have demonstrated a commitment to the success of the new Council. Mr Shaw may also appoint other community representatives, where appropriate. The LRC will meet at least monthly, with additional meetings as needed.

The IAG will provide advice to Mr Shaw on implementing the new Council by providing input into the preparation of the Implementation Plan and monitoring its delivery. Membership, to be determined by Mr Shaw, could comprise of up to two members of each Local Representation Group.

In the interim, Murray River Council plans to issue regular media releases to keep its communities up to date with progress on its establishment as it happens.