Nats promise resource funds

NSW Nationals have announced they will change the controversial Resources for Regions criteria to allow all mining-impacted local government areas to access funding.
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The Nationals have promised Resources for Regions funding for Gunnedah.

Despite several attempts by Gunnedah Shire Council to have Gunnedah included on the list, the shire has twice missed out on funding.

While some estimates have stated 50 per cent of Gunnedah’s population are employed at mines or in mining-related industries, Gunnedah has never been included on the list of towns that can apply for funding.

But at the Sunday launch of the Nationals NSW election campaign, Deputy Premier Troy Grant said a re-elected government would expand the program.

No details have yet been released of how much money would be available, or what criteria would be used to judge whether towns are “mining affected”.

Mr Grant also promised $25 million for reducing mobile phone black spots, and $15 million for Landcare groups.

Member for Tamworth and Nationals candidate for the seat Kevin Anderson said the Resources for Regions change would mean Gunnedah would qualify.

“Resources for Regions will now be open to projects in Tamworth and Gunnedah, which is a fantastic win for our community,” Mr Anderson said.

Gunnedah Shire Council mayor Owen Hasler was more cautious in his enthusiasm over the news.

“It is very positive,” Cr Hasler said.

“We – the Association of Mining-Related Councils and Gunnedah Shire Council – have been arguing that should happen in Gunnedah.

“Of course the real issue will be how much money they tip into the program. How many councils are now going to be eligible?

“There are plenty of programs that need to be funded, particularly if mining approvals are given by the federal government to Shenhua Watermark and the Vickery project.”

Projects funded through the Resources for Regions program in the past have included $20 million for the Musswellbrook Hospital, $9.9 million for a levee project in Maitland, $10.1 million for a new wastewater treatment plant in Lithgow, and $12.3 million to the Narrabri Water Supply Augmentation Project.

More than $75 million was spent through the program in the 2013-14 round of the program.

The Association of Mining Related Councils (AMRC) has also called on both the Coalition and Labor to make a pre-election commitment on mining impact analysis.

The association has called for an “urgent inquiry” into mining impacts.

AMRC chief executive officer Don Tydd said with the money collected by the NSW government in mining exploration licenses and royalties, it should be giving more back to councils.

The association said the inquiry should identify the “full range of mining and gas extraction socio-economic impacts on local government in NSW”.

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Cabonne Council ‘Fit for the Future’

Cabonne Council has been busy participating in a “Fit for the Future Boot Camp” in Dubbo this week.Cabonne Council has been busy participating in a “Fit for the Future Boot Camp” in Dubbo this week.
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Councils from regional and rural NSW have come together with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) in a bid to achieve the best outcome for residents and ratepayers under the State Government’s Fit for the Future reform package.

Key council officers attended the two day LGNSW “Boot Camp”, designed to help them prepare submissions to the Government on whether they merge with neighbouring Councils or continue as a stand-alone entity.

The Fit for the Future package requires all NSW Councils to lodge their submissions by June 30, nominating their preferred position: merge, stand alone or be classified as a “rural council” – one with a very small population and budget that could implement a longer term improvement plan.

LGNSW President Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM said Local Government is the glue that holds the community together, especially in regional and rural NSW and said it is critical to get the reform process right.

“Amalgamation is not an easy decision to make, especially in the regions,” Cr Rhoades said.

“Councils have to weigh the potential for increased efficiencies against possible additional costs.

“LGNSW supports reform as long as the outcomes benefit residents and ratepayers, and as long as the decision to seek amalgamation or stand alone is the communites.”

Some LGNSW member Councils had so far indicated they were keen to merge, while others believed they could better serve their communities by standing alone.

“If councils and communities want to voluntarily merge that’s a great thing and it deserves 100 per cent support,” Cr Rhoades said.

“But LGNSW members strongly believe there must be no forced amalgamations- if communities do not want their council to merge, then that decision should not be forced on them.

“As a result we’ve called on the State Government to make its position on amalgamation crystal clear well before voters go to the polls on March 28.”

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Cowra to host district Rotary conference

Rotary Youth Ambassadors Anna McNamara and Riley Barron.Later this month the Rotary Annual District 9700 Conference will be held in Cowra from Friday March 20th to Sunday March 22nd, 2015. The theme for the Conference will be fully in line with this year’s Rotary International theme of “Light Up Rotary”.
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This theme is about Rotary sharing their service, strengthening their clubs, and letting their light shine in their communities.

The conference will attract Rotarians from around this large and diverse district of 1,200 member from 42 clubs.

The Conference will be held in the Cowra Civic Centre with Friday Night College of Governor’s Dinner at the Quarry Restaurant, Saturday night dinner at the Cowra Services Club and Sunday Lunch at the Cowra Japanese Gardens.

There will be numerous world class speakers who will talk on a diverse range of topics. Past district governor, Jose Francisco Cifra, from the Philippine District 3780 with his wife Helen has been nominated by Rotary International President Gary Huang to be his representative at the Conference.

Anyone who would like further information about the conference can contact the conference chairman, Harry Howard on 0413 331 287.

Rotary still needs more batteries for its fund raising battery drive so is asking for everyone who has old car, truck and machinery batteries to contact either Rotary on 6342 6562 or you can drop any batteries off at Lachlan Fertilisers or All Service Motors and they will be collected by the Rotarians from these businesses.

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Pre-poll voting opens

GLOUCESTER residents looking to cast their vote early ahead of the March 28 poll can now do so. Pre-poll and iVoting for the State election opened on Monday.
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Electronically assisted voting by internet or telephone is available to eligible people with iVote registrations closing at 1pm on March 28.

Once registered, people can vote up until 6pm on election day.

Pre-poll voting for Gloucester residents will be available at St Paul’s Anglican Church from Wednesday, March 25.

Voters unable to cast their ballot on election day can vote early at the pre-poll booth.

Pre-poll voting at St Paul’s will be available from 9am to 5pm from March 25 to March 27.

Applications for postal votes are available online at www.votensw.info or by calling 1300 135 736.

Postal vote applications must be received by 6pm on Wednesday, March 25.

Gloucester residents casting their vote on March 28 can do so at the Senior Citizens Centre or Gloucester High School.

There will also be polling booths at Barrington, Stratford, Stroud Road, Stroud and Booral public schools.

Polling booths will be open from 8am to 6pm on election day.

For more information on the election and where to vote visit www.votensw.info or call 1300 135 736.

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Lithgow’s discoloured water alert

Lithgow’s discoloured water still meets Australian standards Since last week the Lithgow township has experienced widespreaddirty water issues.
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Whilecouncil investigated the problem anextensive mains flushing program was conducted in an effort toremove the dirty water from the system. In addition to this, councilalso increased its water testing program.

During this period water quality testing around the distribution network foundthat the water has remained within health requirements of the AustralianDrinking Water Guidelines, however elevated iron levels resulted in poor colourand taste.

Upon investigation, it was found that the iron levels entering the Oakey ParkWater Treatment Plant were higher than usual.

It is believed that through anatural occurrence deep stagnant waters in the water supply dam have risen tothe upper layers of the dam, causing a spike in dissolved iron.

Dissolved irondoes not have any visual impact on water, and is able to pass through the waterplant’s filtration system.

Once the water with the dissolved iron is treated areaction occurs resulting in discoloured water.

It is believed that this was furtherexacerbated in those areas with older iron pipes.

In response to this Council, with advice from the NSW Office of Water,yesterday made a temporary modification to the water treatment process.

Sincecommencing this process, the iron levels in the treated water have droppedsignificantly.

The water mains and reservoirs throughout the supply network arebeing flushed and scoured to draw the clean water through.

The water supply dam, Farmers Creek No. 2 Dam, has had a very extendedperiod of natural inflow keeping the Dam at capacity.

Council is investigatingthe water profile at the Dam and will be closely monitoring the network over thenext few weeks.

Council with continue to flush the water mains in an attempt to remove anyremaining discoloured water from the system.

Residents are, however, asked tocontinue to check their water supply over the next few days prior to doing anywashing as some iron may remain in the system or in household pipes.

Council apologises for any inconvenience that residents may have experiencedfrom the discoloured water.

Thanks is extended to the NSW Office of Water for the assistance during thisperiod.

If you experience dirty water at your residence please contact Council’sCustomer Service Team on (02) 6354 9999.

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Multi-car crash on Bass Hwy near Wynyard

UPDATE 5.30pm:Police have confirmed that two vehicle collided on the Bass Highway, near Wynyard this afternoon.
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About2pm,emergency services attended the incident between a whiteHolden utility and a White Mitsubishi Canter van.

The cars collided when the utility crossed from the Westbound lane across the overtaking lane into the path of the Eastbound van.

The driver of the utility was trapped in the vehicle for approximately one hour and was taken to the North West Regional Hospitalin a serious condition.

The passenger of the utility and driver of the van were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police closed the road and vehicles were detoured around the site for about two-and-a-halfhours.

Investigations will continue but alcohol or speed are not thought to be contributing factors. The road at the time was wet due to recent rain.

Police wish to remind motorists to take extra care on the roads after recent periods of rain.

UPDATE 4.15pm: The scene has not yet been cleared.

Police believe that three people are injured, with one sustaining serious injuries.

EARLIER:There is a multi-car crash on the Bass Highway near Wynyard.

The scene of the crash is believed to be just west of the Preolenna Road turn-off from the highway.

Traffic is being diverted, with west-bound traffic diverted onto Preolenna Road and east-bound onto Tollymore Road.

Police have not confirmed how many cars are involved, or if there are any injuries.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and re-route their trip accordingly.

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Arnie’s bike ride without helmet ‘terminated’

Arnold Schwarzenegger riding on Elizabeth Street on Monday. Picture: FACEBOOKMelbourne police officers succeeded where scores of action movie villains have failed when they stopped Hollywood tough guy Arnold Schwarzenegger in his tracks on Monday.
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The intervention began after photographs began circulating on social media of the American actor, bodybuilder and politician riding one of Melbourne’s blue share bikes.

In one picture, “The Governator” is shown giving the “hasta la vista” to motorists as he rode along Elizabeth Street towards Flinders Street Station.

TheTerminatorandPredatorstarwas wearing bike-matching blue shorts, but not a bicycle helmet.

It it compulsory to wear one in Victoria and failure to do so can result in a $146 fine.

And it wasn’t long until Victoria Police caught up with the 67-year-old, who Senior Constable Robert Gillson pulled over in Southbank about 2.30pm.

“I saw a group of cyclists riding ahead of me and we just went up to do a routine intercept,” Senior Constable Gillson told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“Then we noticed that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the crowd.

“We spoke to him briefly and had a little chat with him about the reason why I pulled him over.”

Senior Constable Gillson decided not to fine the action star, instead directing him to the nearest 7-Eleven to buy a helmet for $5.

“He was very likeable and very approachable,” Senior Constable Gillson said.

“He stated that his father was a policeman, so there was very much mutual respect there.”

The constable said he often chose to educate tourists from countries without helmet laws rather than fine them.

Schwarzenegger is a keen cyclist, and is often seen riding a bike in the cities he visits.

Here he is riding a share bike in London, where helmets are notcompulsory:

Schwarzenegger, in town for the Arnold Classic body building event and who made an appearance at the Formula 1 grand prix at the weekend, is not the first high-profile figure to jump on a Melbourne share bike without a helmet.

London’s mayor, vocal cycling advocate Boris Johnson, made the legal faux pas when he visited Melbourne in 2013.

Helmets are not compulsory for users of London’s bike share program, which Cr Johnson launched in 2010.

The legal requirement to wear a helmet has been cited as a reason for the Melbourne scheme’s low patronage, with critics arguing it puts off casual users.

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Letter: Surprises at Meet the Candidates events

George Avard, of Gunnedah, writes:
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Candidates face questions at the Gunnedah Meet the Candidates forum.

Having attended Meet the Candidate forums at Breeza and Gunnedah, could I first of all congratulate all contenders, but I was bewildered by a response by Mr Draper to a question asked by Mr John Alker regarding logging of the Pilliga.

Mr Draper’s reply that he totally supported sustainable logging of the Pilliga Forest was a blatant lie, for as one of the organisers of the rally which attracted over 2000 supporters, he openly stood before the people and stated that as the Member for Tamworth he supported what the Labor Party had done in pandering to the Greens, ultimately resulting in the demise of a sustainable family business and over 30 direct jobs to Gunnedah.

Similarly at Breeza, we have Mr Draper’s most ardent supporter Mr Tony Windsor strutting his stuff, supposedly the “farmer’s friend”, but he had sold his property for mining and then sided with Mr Ludwig to basically jeopardise the cattle industry and send many cattlemen broke.

I have a property in a mining exploration lease and have been farming all my life.

I have serious concerns about the water tables and contamination, but perhaps all parties need to step back and let true independent experts make sure that the final decision is good for all concerned, for it has divided the community and undoubtedly given Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains much publicity for all the wrong reasons.

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Gloucester Shire to share in resources funding

MAYOR John Rosenbaum has welcomed an announcement the Gloucester Shire will benefit from the lucrative Resources for Regions program under a re-elected Coalition government.
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Nationals candidate for the seat of Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen.

Nationals candidate for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said the massive windfall from Resources for Regions would be extended to all communities that support mining, jobs and investment in regional NSW.

Mr Johnsen joined Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant on Sunday to confirm that Resources for Regions would be extended to Gloucester, Dungog, Liverpool Plains and Upper Hunter shires.

“We’ve already delivered more than $217million for mining-affected communities,” Mr Johnsen said.

“More than $107 million of that has been invested right here in the Upper Hunter electorate on heavy transport roads, on hospitals and education facilities.

“We’ve also been working on ensuring that this program extends to all the communities that need it first, and all the related supporting industries and employment.”

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Swim teacher fears for future of heated pool

A GUNNEDAH swim teacher is worried changes to the Gunnedah Memorial Pool complex will mean an end to the 25m heated pool.
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A MUMS and bubs class at Gunnedah’s heated pool.

Swim teacher Barbara Williams is on the Pool Upgrade Working Group, but says she has been frustrated by a lack of answers about what will happen to the existing heated pool.

“None of this has been allowed to be explored in the meetings,” Ms Williams said.

She said all sorts of options had been discussed, including running the pool down to the “end of its natural life” and replacing it with a gym.

As part of the $7.8 million upgrade to the complex, council is considering a number of options.

Among them is extending the existing 50m pool to a 52m heated pool with the possibility of it being enclosed. Ms Williams said it was believed heating and enclosure of the pool could cost $30 million, putting it out of immediate reach.

She said she was concerned if the smaller pool was closed, there would be no separate appropriately heated facility for children to learn to swim and for exercise classes.

Her concern was echoed by Maxine Kiellor, a former member of the committee which has become a working group.

“The pool is a very good tool for encouraging children to swim,” Ms Williams said. “Everyone can’t use a 52m pool.”

A Gunnedah Shire Council spokesperson said this week council had launched its online survey to find out what features the community would like to see as part of the design concept. The survey does not include a separate part for the complex’s smaller pool.

More than 200 surveys were completed within the first 48 hours of the launch.

“At this stage, there are no plans to close the heated facility,” the spokesperson said.

“The survey does allow the community to consider if the heated pool capacity at the complex should be expanded, which will provide design insight for the working group and architects.

“Heating elements will be considered alongside other features that the community identify as important.”

Two public information sessions will be held on Thursday, March 26. The first will be at 11am to 1.30pm in Conadilly Street near the Gunnedah Newsagency, and the other will be held at the heated pool between 3pm and 6pm.

The survey is available on www.infogunnedah南京夜网.au and closes on Thursday, April 2.

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