Make us ‘fit’

Berrigan Shire wants govt. to re­verse merger rul­ing

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

The NSW Mur­ray elec­torate’s by-elec­tion can­di­dates are all be­ing called upon to make an elec­tion prom­ise that will help se­cure the vi­able fu­ture of Berrigan Shire Coun­cil.

Mayor Matthew Hannan said the coun­cil’s lin­ger­ing ‘un­fit’ sta­tus handed down dur­ing the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s Fit for the Fu­ture lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form process is one of the coun­cil’s big­gest elec­tion is­sues.

Cr Hannan said at­tempts to have the sta­tus lifted to date have been ig­nored, and he’s call­ing on can­di­dates to vow to help over­turn it if elected.

Six can­di­dates were con­firmed at the close of nom­i­na­tions for the Mur­ray by­elec­tion last Thurs­day.

Who­ever is elected will re­place The Na­tion­als’ Adrian Pic­coli, who re­tired from pol­i­tics last month.

Neigh­bor­ing Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil­lor Austin Evans is the The Na­tion­als can­di­date, while La­bor has pre-se­lected Michael Kidd and the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party has pre-se­lected He­len Dal­ton.

The Greens have put up Ray Good­lass, and two in­de­pen­dents have also nom­i­nated — De­niliquin ac­coun­tant Peter Robin­son and Grif­fith’s Brian Mills.

Cr Hannan said while ‘‘con­tin­ued rep­re­sen­ta­tion through our area’’ is the most im­por­tant re­quire­ment of the suc­cess­ful can­di­date, the Fit for the Fu­ture rul­ing was the most vi­tal lo­calised is­sue.

‘‘To be deemed un­fit for the fu­ture we missed only one of six cri­te­ria — for scale and ca­pac­ity,’’ Cr Hannan said.

‘‘With Jer­ilderie Shire choos­ing to merge with Mur­rumbidgee Shire to form Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil, we were left with no merger part­ner and be­came the only lo­cal coun­cil not to merge.

‘‘And while the gov­ern­ment, in hand­ing down its merger procla­ma­tions, deemed us fit to stand alone we’re still tagged with that un­fit sta­tus.

‘‘It has the po­ten­tial to af­fect our fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity into the fu­ture, and re­vers­ing the un­fit rul­ing would give our coun­cil more con­fi­dence.’’

Coun­cil direc­tor cor­po­rate ser­vices Matt Hansen said coun­cil’s ‘un­fit’ rul­ing im­pacts on the coun­cil’s abil­ity to lever­age bor­rowed fund­ing in the fu­ture.

He said there are also wor­ry­ing con­cerns it would also neg­a­tively im­pact on grant ap­pli­ca­tions.

‘‘We were only deemed un­fit in the gov­ern­ment’s re­view be­cause it found out strate­gic ca­pac­ity would be less if we were not merged — it had noth­ing to do with our fi­nance or gov­er­nance,’’ Mr Hansen said.

‘‘With the un­fit rul­ing in place, we can­not bor­row from TCorp (the New South Wales Trea­sury Cor­po­ra­tion) and would have to go out into the open mar­ket if we did have to bor­row.

‘‘And while they’re not say­ing as much, if and when we ap­ply for grants they will see that we were de­clared un­fit and this has not changed.

‘‘Be­ing deemed un­fit is an un­war­ranted slur on the coun­cil, and we are get­ting no trac­tion to lift it.’’

Cr Hannan said wa­ter man­age­ment and se­cu­rity is also a key elec­tion is­sue.

Vot­ing will take place on Satur­day, October 14.

Vot­ing at the elec­tion is com­pul­sory for all Mur­ray elec­torate res­i­dents who are over 18 and an Aus­tralian cit­i­zen. For more in­for­ma­tion, head to http://www.elec­

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