Mayor's Message for July

See Cr Douglas's comments below:

"Council this month approved the development application for the Barham Boardwalk Project which is to be developed as a tourism feature for the area. Council has contributed base dollars through its annual budget to commence the project and additional funding has now been sought through the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF). Maximising the advantage of the town’s riverside location, the Barham Boardwalk will incorporate reclaimed 80 year old Redgum timber from bridges replaced throughout the local community, 100 year-old Redgum timber reclaimed from the iconic Echuca Wharf, as well as other local Redgum timber.  Interpretive Information panels will provide facts about the red gum industry, our pioneers, our indigenes past and our community history and the sheer size and scale of the structure will deliver a perfect community event space. We look forward to this tourism project coming to life.

An agreement has recently been reached on the Nimmie-Caira landowners’ proposal where the Commonwealth will provide $180 million to the NSW government for it to acquire land, water entitlements and irrigation infrastructure from eleven landowners in the Nimmie-Caira area of the Low-Bidgee floodplain. One third of Nimmie-Caira is within Wakool Shire. Although there has been insufficient detail in the announcements thus far, the biggest immediate impact will undoubtedly be the loss of agricultural production and the people associated with it. From my perspective the Nimmie Caira farmers are some of the most adaptive operators in the state let alone the shire. Losing clever, resilient producers, their families & staff is a very significant impact for the region as a whole. In our submissions to the NSW Government on this proposal we have indicated Council’s concerns about the ultimate tenure of the Nimmie-Caira land. If it is owned by the NSW government, which is the proposal at least in the interim, it will lose its status as rateable land. We would be most concerned if it were to become a National Park. We have also re-iterated Council’s view that the Nimmie-Caria landholders have every right to sell their land, water and infrastructure assets. Although we are yet to see the details in the compensation package I have faith that our proposal was recognised and accepted by Minister Katrina Hodgkinson when negotiating the final agreement. We should be notified of the final outcomes soon.

Council also partnered with the Local Health Medical Trust this month to deliver the first round of the Wakool Shire Medical and Allied Health Scholarship. The inaugural recipients for 2013 are Shanna Morris & Michael McConnell. We are sure that both Shanna and Michael will be worthy ambassadors for the Shire and the future of the scholarship and we feel confident that the scholarship can positively promote health services in rural areas.

Finally, I’m pleased to say that council has negotiated a new 4 year contract with General Manager Bruce Graham which was resolved unanimously at this month’s meeting. Bruce has demonstrated great leadership thus far and we are pleased with the stable management environment currently at Wakool Shire."