The Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce has congratulated the Walcha Council on its successful campaign to remain a stand-alone local government body as announced by the NSW Government today.
“This is a great victory for the Walcha community led by the Council’s very capable Mayor, Cr Janelle Archdale,” he said.
“Cr Archdale reached out to her community, and represented them so strongly in their fight to remain independent.
“I want to praise the Walcha community for their effort and turning up to campaign so strongly and I think the State government has recognised what a strong independent community Walcha is.
“I have never supported the merger and this is a just outcome,” he said.
Mr Joyce said the Walcha Council now has the opportunity to examine any issues the forced merger process raised and take steps to improve that performance.
“July 4 might be Independence Day in the United States but from now on, May 12 will be known as Independence Day in Walcha.
Mr Joyce said he was disappointed with the decision to force a merger between Guyra Shire Council and the Armidale Dumaresq Council however he applauded the Guyra community’s stand to avoid being forced into a super council merger plan as recommended by the Boundaries Commissioner.
Mr Joyce said the Local Government Minister, Paul Toole’s decision to oppose a recommendation to implement a four-way merger with Armidale Dumaresq, Walcha, Guyra and Uralla was welcomed.
“Armidale’s Labor Mayor Herman Beyersdorf has had his empire-building wings clipped. That plan just showed how out of touch Labor is on regional policy. Labor’s plan would have seen Guyra, Uralla and Walcha all lumped in with Armidale.
“That’s the same Labor party that will preference Tony Windsor and is the one that advocated stripping Guyra, Uralla and Walcha of their independence.
“I will be watching the process very closely to make sure that Guyra and district residents won’t have their services compromised and ratepayers are not disadvantaged by the process,” he said.
Mr Joyce said he was delighted Uralla’s record had been recognised and it would remain a stand-alone local government body.
“I also want to thank the State Members, Adam Marshall, Kevin Anderson and Kevin Humphries for their efforts,” in this campaign,” Mr Joyce said.
“Let’s now get on with keeping New England moving and work together on building roads and water infrastructure, putting up new and upgraded mobile phone towers, 44 fixed wireless broadband towers, increased funding for education, creating jobs and making our towns safer,” he said.
“The Coalition Government’s funding to schools is going to continue to increase from its current record levels, despite the scare campaign being peddled by Labor and the unions.
“We are spending a record $73.6 billion over the forward estimates. An additional $1.2 billion from 2018 to 2020 will be tied to a needs-based distribution of funding and reforms in our schools to help every parent have confidence that their child is receiving the teaching they require.
Mr Joyce said the Australian Government had establishing a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to support emerging technologies make the leap from demonstration to commercial deployment.
“We will see this in action on Saturday when I attend a soil-turning ceremony at the $400 million White Rock wind farm, west of Glen Innes,” he said.
“This wind farm will generate 200 jobs during construction, 10 full time jobs once the build is completed and power 75,000 homes.
“We are always looking to the future, because that’s where our children and grandchildren will live.”