Meet Stephen Ritchie and Claudia Gall – Group B in the upcoming MPSC local election


Stephen Ritchie

Stephen Ritchie is 65 years of age and married to Roslyn. They have three adult children, Josh, Jeremy and Amy as well as six grandchildren.

Stephen, better known as ‘Stitchie’, is Moree born-and-bred and has lived in town all his life.

He has been a hammers-and-nails man since leaving school and did his building apprenticeship in Moree with John and Sam Brookes.

He continued working for John and Sam well after he completed his apprenticeship before branching out on his own as a building contractor.

Stephen worked for himself for 35 years and has only just recently retired which, he says, will give him the time needed to devote to council matters if elected.

Stephen is passionate about Moree’s history and been the longstanding president of the Moree Historical Society.

“The history of Moree means a lot to me, and I’m proud to be able to say that I’ve played a part in its preservation,” he said.

Have you had any previous roles, either as an employee or volunteer in local, state or federal government?

No, but I’ve been a member of the Urban Advisory Committee for the past 12 years. Also, I’m president of the Moree Historical Society and have been for the past 15 years.

What are the main reasons that made you want to stand for council?

I think there are quite a few issues that that need to be sorted out, and now that I’m retired I believe I have the time and energy, and something to offer the people of Moree.

Also, I think Moree is ready for change. There are some councillors that have been there for more than 20 years and I believe that some new blood with a fresh approach and new ideas are needed.

Is this the first time you have stood for council?


Are you standing alone or with a running mate(s)?


Stephen Ritchie

Claudia Gall is my running mate.

What do you love most about Moree Plains Shire?

It’s my hometown and I love it – it’s as simple as that. I’ve been able to bring up three kids here in a country environment that offers plenty of opportunities. Moree has always been a great town, even in tough times, and it is especially good for work and employment opportunities.

What do you think the main issues are in Moree that need addressing?

I think we need more industry in Moree. This will create employment and promote population growth. Law and order is also a main issue, and civic leaders should be taking a more proactive role in establishing ways and means to curb crime. Council should be pushing for more police to be based here.

The three ‘Rs’ are also an issue: roads, rubbish and rates, especially rates because Moree residents are paying much more than residents in other towns and cities. Roads are always an issue, and an even bigger one for Moree because of the sheer size of the shire.

Do you think the current council is aiming in the right direction on various projects and/or issues?

I think the current council is spending too much of the ratepayers’ money on the wrong projects, especially the new Gateway at Moree Airport.

How can the current council improve on what it is doing at the moment? Is money being spent on the right projects?

There should be more responsible spending of Moree’s finances and much better use of resources. Council should be transparent on actual spending as well as control the spending and maintaining a budget.

Has the current council let down the people of Moree? If so, how?

I think the Gateway Project has been a big letdown for the people of Moree, especially the cost of constructing it as well the ongoing cost of maintaining it. A council in any town should be just that – a council – and not property developers.

A cinema is another case in point. Isn’t this the domain of private enterprise, not a council elected by the people?

What are you pastimes, hobbies or passions?

I love the history of Moree and am passionate about antiques and collectibles. I played a lot of sport during my life, and still like watching everything from rugby league to soccer and all sports in between.

Is there anything else you would like to add that hasn’t been covered in this questionnaire?

I’m all for the safekeeping of Moree and district’s history and heritage, and making sure that it’s preserved for future generations. Moree council also needs to strive to become debt-free – it’s frightening to think just how much the Gateway Project has cost so far and how much the ongoing costs are going to be.

Claudia Gall

Claudia Gall is 65 years of age and married to Peter. They have two married children, Sam Sarah, and three grandchildren, all of whom live, work or play in Moree Plains Shire. Claudia and Peter, a fifth-generation Moree grazier and practicing solicitor, live in town.

When she was 13 years of age, Claudia moved from Parramatta to Moree when her parents purchased the Max Hotel.

Ironically, Claudia is still firmly attached to the Max building – it is now the home of Moree Plains Shire Council, of which she has been a sitting member of for more than 12 years.

Claudia is a passionate councillor, a position she regards as her full-time employment even though now retire – as well as being a full-time grandmother to Albert, Sylvia and Darcy.

How long have you sat as a councillor on MPSC, and what was your initial reason for standing as a candidate?

I have been a Councillor for 12-and-a-half years. When I first became a candidate for the local government elections in 2004 I considered myself to have the time to give to the job, an understanding of local issues with an ability to also make decisions at a strategic level. My reasons for standing again have not changed, with the added bonus of ‘corporate knowledge’ and a sense that I can contribute even more.

Are you standing alone or with a running mate(s)?


Claudia Gall (Image supplied)

I am standing with another candidate to form a small group.

What do you love most about Moree Plains Shire?

Our black soil, our big sky, our wonderful people and sense of community and our artesian water.

What do you think the main issues are in Moree at the moment that need addressing?

We are a massive shire and I must consider the shire as a whole. Our road network is central to our economic and social health. We have 2000 kilometres of gravel road, plus a huge agricultural production. How do we maintain and rebuild our road assets without federal and State grants. We must lobby for more money.

Do you think the current council is aiming in the right direction on various projects and/or issues?

Being only one of nine votes on council sometimes means not always being in agreement with some projects or issues, but always supporting the majority vote once taken. This is democracy. Many hard decisions have to be made on worthwhile projects which offer very long-term benefits. This is what has been achieved.

How can the current council improve on what it is doing at the moment? Is money being spent on the right projects and in the right areas?

There is always room for improvement. Our community is the voice we listen to and there are many opportunities for us to hear them, at meetings, at consultations, within the reporting systems and on the street.

How do you think MPSC performed in the last term? What projects have been delivered and is it meeting targets?

Moree Plains Shire Council is one of a small number of councils state-wide that was deemed “Fit for the Future” by the State Government. This is an impressive achievement.

The stand-out achievement of the last term was obtaining flood repair grants for shire roads and the extensive utilisation of those grants to benefit the maximum length of shire roads. Many other smaller projects have been achieved in the last four years and this has meant that council is substantially meeting its targets.

What do you think have been MPSC’s biggest achievements in the past five years?

Avoiding amalgamation, Moree Water Park, Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre and judicious spending of flood grant money on our local road system were all highlights.

Have there been any disappointments?

That we haven’t found a way to seal all our gravel roads and/or develop a way of stopping them blowing or washing away is disappointing.

What will be your main goals and targets with council if re-elected this year?

To keep an open mind on all issues and look to making decisions that will benefit the whole of the shire.

What are your pastimes, hobbies or passions?

I love swimming, reading, junior rugby, cricket, netball, soccer and tennis.

Is there anything else you like to add that hasn’t been covered in this questionnaire?

The new council, once elected, must lobby for more State and federal funding to repair and maintain our roads and infrastructure.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions published herein are those of the individual Moree Plains Shire Council election candidates.

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