Proud of team and progress

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROBERT MUIR

After just on 12 months as Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Mayor, Cr Pat Bourke said he is ex­tremely proud to have been en­trusted with the re­spon­si­bil­ity as mayor.

“The staff, with the sup­port of all of us coun­cil­lors, are work­ing very hard along­side our con­trac­tors, vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity groups to de­liver an amaz­ing and di­verse range of projects on top of our reg­u­lar ser­vice de­liv­ery,” he told The Free Press.

“Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil has a mas­sive work­load, which is not ex­pected to di­min­ish any time soon with the gen­er­ous State Gov­ern­ment grants be­ing awarded, along with deal­ing with back­log projects and the day-to-day work of coun­cil. The amount of in­for­ma­tion and re­search, and con­sul­ta­tion and di­a­logue in­volved now that not only the Mayor, but all Coun­cil­lors are re­quired to be on top of, I think has in­creased at least two fold from my for­mer time on Urana Coun­cil. Other coun­cil­lors have said the same.

“We are cer­tainly up to the chal­lenge and the com­mu­nity will no­tice that, from our strong coun­cil­lor pres­ence at all of the com­mu­nity strate­gic plan­ning meet­ings, at­ten­dances on com­mit­tees, key events, and in the spread of projects across the com­mu­nity.

“Com­ments I have heard in­clud­ing from our Lo­cal Mem­ber for Al­bury Greg Aplin MP, were along the lines that Fed­er­a­tion has just got­ten on with the job. I must say we have had fan­tas­tic sup­port from Mr Aplin and the cur­rent State Gov­ern­ment also along the way since merger, both in fund­ing and in other lob­by­ing and ad­vo­cacy work on coun­cil’s be­half. They have hon­oured their com­mit­ment in that they would sup­port new coun­cils.

“We know it’s not all good news, and that de­vel­op­ing a new coun­cil by in­cor­po­rat­ing two for­mer coun­cils whilst also run­ning day

to day busi­ness, was al­ways go­ing to be a challenging task.

“The things as coun­cil­lors and I am sure more so the staff face often re­volve around dif­fer­ences in ser­vice types and lev­els, pric­ing and cost­ing ap­proaches such as rates; sup­port lev­els for groups, de­mo­graphic and eco­nomic dif­fer­ences; staffing es­tab­lish­ments and struc­tures; and cul­tural dif­fer­ences in both the or­gan­i­sa­tions them­selves and the com­mu­ni­ties they rep­re­sent are all chal­lenges to the tran­si­tion process. Look there is no doubt they can pro­vide chal­lenges to an ef­fec­tive and timely in­te­gra­tion.”

An­swers to other ques­tions put to Mayor Bourke fol­low.

Like any newly formed coun­cil, there can be dif­fer­ences of opin­ions among coun­cil­lors. Care to com­ment?

I think it is clear that our coun­cil is made up of very strong in­di­vid­u­als who bring to­gether the views of our over 12,300 res­i­dents in many var­ied com­mu­ni­ties – that is one of our top strengths as a col­lec­tive group.

Each coun­cil­lor comes from a dif­fer­ent back­ground, with ex­pe­ri­ence in ar­eas from the con­struc­tion and busi­ness in­dus­tries right through to com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, med­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity.

Our dif­fer­ences in opin­ion and life ex­pe­ri­ences is what makes us the mul­ti­di­men­sional team that we are and I think as a re­sult our out­comes are a proven tes­ta­ment of the suc­cess of that. Coun­cils that are sta­ble po­lit­i­cally and present a united front, whilst still re­spect­ing each other’s dif­fer­ences are the ones that take their com­mu­ni­ties for­ward.

What have been the high­lights for you and coun­cil since Septem­ber 2017?

What are the big­gest is­sues fac­ing coun­cil and what is the present stage of those is­sues? For ex­am­ple, a new Corowa Swim­ming Pool.

I think the high­lights for coun­cil in the last 12 months are plenty. I think of the courage to make hard de­ci­sions early such as not al­low­ing the com­post fa­cil­ity to be built on the edge of How­long; putting to rest the un­cer­tainty around the lo­ca­tion of the pro­posed Corowa Skate Park up­grades; get­ting an in-prin­ci­ple de­ci­sion on mov­ing for­ward on the new Corowa Pool; spread­ing the lat­est round of State Gov­ern­ment fund­ing on of­fer, right across the Coun­cil area; com­mit­ting to fi­nal­is­ing the Mul­wala In­dus­trial Sub­di­vi­sion, and the many projects al­ready de­liv­ered across the Coun­cil area in the last 12 months, such as boat ramps, How­long Skate Park, and play­grounds and boat ramps across the area, and de­vel­op­ing the first ever Fed­er­a­tion Com­mu­nity 10 year Strate­gic Plan.

How is Fed.Coun­cil trav­el­ling fi­nan­cially? Coun­cil has fi­nan­cial chal­lenges in man­ag­ing a large and grow­ing as­set base with an ex­tremely low rate in­come. The State Gov­ern­ment has not al­lowed coun­cils to pro­pose rate in­creases or look at any equal­i­sa­tion across the new ar­eas un­til 4 years from the merger. Coun­cil’s road net­work is and will re­main an ongoing chal­lenge for us. Coun­cil is work­ing hard in as­sess­ing these as­sets to pri­ori­tise fund­ing and of course we are al­ways seek­ing new grants for our road re­newals. Coun­cil is con­tin­u­ing to work on its long term fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity with a range of ac­tions un­der­way and pro­posed.

Is the state af­fected drought bit­ing deep in any Fed.Coun­cil ar­eas? If so, which ar­eas are hard­est hit and what can coun­cil do about it?

Yes the hard­est hit ar­eas are to the north and west of the coun­cil area gen­er­ally. Coun­cil of­fers sup­port where it can in­clud­ing lob­by­ing Gov­ern­ment and the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Author­ity for ex­am­ple in push­ing for wa­ter al­lo­ca­tions to grow fod­der in ir­ri­gated ar­eas, and in en­sur­ing drought sup­port pack­ages are de­liv­ered to the ar­eas in need.

Do you re­ceive good vibes about life in Fed.Coun­cil area?

Yes the com­mu­nity feed­back es­pe­cially in the Com­mu­nity Strate­gic Plan­ning work­shops told us so much about why peo­ple love their com­mu­ni­ties and the things they value about their spe­cific ar­eas es­pe­cially. It is a great time for liv­ing in this area, and coun­cil is also work­ing hard on re­tain­ing and at­tract­ing new res­i­dents in a range of ways.

What are your hob­bies?

I love to get away camp­ing with the fam­ily, having just re­turned from an amaz­ing trip to the Birdsville races. I also love get­ting out onto the big Lake Urana when I can, and en­joy­ing ten­nis and an oc­ca­sional ride on the mo­tor­bike when time per­mits. Having a large fam­ily, most of my down time is en­joy­ing life with them all.

What do the next 12 months hold? The com­ing 12 months in par­tic­u­lar will re­main an im­por­tant time for Fed­er­a­tion as Coun­cil con­tin­ues to de­liver many ma­jor projects that will de­fine the fu­ture growth of our re­gion. This work is led by coun­cil staff who are a credit to our or­gan­i­sa­tion and I would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to for­mally thank them for their com­mit­ment to the de­liv­ery of our un­prece­dented works pro­gram. Com­mu­nity feed­back and en­gage­ment re­mains to be a strong fo­cus of coun­cil and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work to­gether to achieve pos­i­tive out­comes for Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ties.

Cr Pat Bourke is proud to have been en­trusted with the re­spon­si­bil­ity as Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Ma­jor, elected 12 months ago.

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