MAYOR ASKS: WHERE’S OUR MISSING MILLION?
DUBBO Regional Council mayor Ben Shields is currently in talks with Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton over what the mayor believes is a $1 million shortage in the distribution of the Government’s $1.8 billion drought package.
“The reality is if Dubbo didn’t merge with Wellington back in 2016, the people of Dubbo and Wellington would have got $2 million,” he said at the ordinary council meeting on Monday, November 26.
“Effectively Dubbo, we have a missing million as a result of the merger, which is quite disappointing,” he said.
“Our 52,000 people is missing a million dollars for no other reason; that we merged. That being the case, I certainly make a plea to the Minister in charge, and maybe to the state government who did this; please look at Dubbo’s situation. None of this Council put us in the situation of the merger, and I think we should get that extra payment.
“Another anomaly by simply giving $1 million to each and every council (is) you’ve got Dubbo with 52,000 people and next door you’ve got a town like Gilgandra with just on 4600 people. Good on them, they got a million dollars, but why would you give a million dollars to Gilgandra with 4600 people, or Narromine with 4000 people, and Dubbo with 52,000 just get $1 million as well?
“I’m not too sure they’ve got their methodology right when it comes to how they’ve given out these funds. I certainly don’t want to criticise the drought funding plan. Yes, money certainly needed to flow in an emergency fashion from Federal Government to councils, no doubt about that.
“If it wasn’t for people like Mark Coulton and especially Andrew Gee, who is a good bloke, and who people do like, we wouldn’t have got that money. We also need to look at the equality of councils that have mergers.
“Only a few councils in NSW have mergers and I don’t think we should be punished by having a missing million dollars out there. (We should) go on public record that it is not fair and I think we should have a change.
“I have spoken to our federal member Mark Coulton about it and he says he’ll be very happy and more than pleased to take it up and go into bat for us in Canberra, like he usually does. We have a very energetic federal member for the seat of Parkes, here. He says he will take the issue for us, but it should be out there in the public that we’re missing $1 million because of the amalgamation,” he said.
The drought package provides 81 councils up to $1 million each to support rural communities throughout the drought to fund local projects which will provide local employment, encourage spending and support drought-relief activities.
The projects that Dubbo Regional Council will seek funding to the total of $1 million for include $245,000 for an automated public toilet/accessible toilet for the Dubbo CBD, $560,000 for a water supply for Stuart Town, and $195,000 for shade sails at the Dubbo Regional Livestock markets.
“Dubbo Regional Council has been able to spend over half a million dollars now in bringing further water security to the village at Stuart Town, that has been crying out for a long time for water security particularly around Boehme’s Hall, their recreational park, and will also allow for non-potable water to be used for the village people as well, by drilling bores as well as the large rain water tanks in that area,” Cr Shields said.
New toilets would be installed at Church Street to improve convenience for shoppers in the CBD area.
“That has been complained about forever and day, ever since I have been on council since last century, that there are not adequate facilities on Macquarie Street. That will further enhance the destination and growth of Macquarie Street,” he said.
Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields