Millions still owed
Executive Manager for Infrastructure and Assets, Steve Hitchens, and I met with David Gillespie and his chief of staff, Robert Nardella. I updated them on the closure of the caravan park and we also discussed the money promised to Dungog Shire by the coalition in 2013, while in opposition.
You may recall that I have previously mentioned this funding in my update. $20 million was promised to match the $20 million given to Dungog Shire Council and Port Stephens Council to fund the upgrade of Main Road 101, of which Dungog received around $13 million.
We were also promised $5 million for Main Road 7778, Gresford Rd (Paterson/Vacy to Gresford). While a $1 million upgrade at Gresford was funded by the Federal Government, David told me that this was not part of the $5 million promised. So, by my calculations the Federal Government owe us $18 million. I will keep you updated.
Cessnock Mayor, Bob Pynsant, and I were due to meet with the deputy premier, John Barilaro on Friday on behalf of the Hunter Joint Organisation. Unfortunately, due to the leaders debate (discussed below) running overtime, our meeting was postponed.
We did, however get to meet with Scott MacDonald. I had an opportunity to discuss the closure of the caravan park and asked him to apprise the deputy premier of the situation, which he has done. The government can do nothing at present regarding this matter as it is in caretaker mode until after the March 23 election. However Scott has given me some advice of who to contact after the election.
Rural Doctors Network
At last week’s country mayors meeting, we were addressed by CEO of Rural Doctors Network, Richard Colbran. Richard described the difficulties that rural doctors are facing during this time of drought. They are seeing many more patients, as well as coping with their own issues.
The mayors of many remote shires spoke of how they can’t find doctors, one describing how her town of 4000 people have no medical staff at all, members of her community have to travel three hours to the nearest large centre for any medical help. We are so lucky to have such wonderful medical support in Dungog Shire. We have incredible medical staff and a hospital with highly trained staff, who can cope with emergencies and have a high level of expertise in triaging patients. Please take the time to thank these wonderful doctors, nurses and support staff for the amazing job that they do in and for our community.
Deputy premier, John Barilaro was joined by the leaders or deputy leaders of most of the parties represented in the State Government Election. As this event was arranged by Local Government NSW and Country Mayors the focus was on what policies the candidates and their parties had developed relating to local government.
Please bear in mind that local government is responsible for delivering key community infrastructure in NSW and many, if not most Local Government Areas (LGAs), particularly in regional and rural NSW are reliant on grant funding from the other two levels of government. So a healthy relationship between state and local government and an understanding of the issues facing local government is paramount for any member of Parliament.
In regard to this, it was disappointing to hear from some party leaders their lack of understanding of the critical issues facing regional local government. So please, when voting consider how your vote works to get better outcomes for local government, which in turn drives better outcomes for our community.
Dungog Shire Council General Manager (GM), Coralie Nichols, and I are meeting with the executive of the Clarence Town Progress Association to discuss finding a solution to the caravanning and camping accommodation issue in Clarence Town.