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Moree Plains’ voters have decided: Out with old and in with the new

AFTER one week of anxiously waiting for preference votes to be counted by the NSW Electoral Commission, the new-look, nine-person Moree Plains Shire Council was announced today.

And it seems that Moree Plains’ voters have opted for the ‘out the old and in with the new’ approach, with only three sitting councillors being re-elected for another four years – mayor Katrina Humphries, deputy mayor Sue Price and local government veteran John Tramby.

New to MPSC’s Balo Street bunker are Gurley farmer Greg Smith, retired Moree builder Stephen Ritchie, former Moree mayor Mike Montgomery, local restaurateur George Chiu, Justice Health clinical nurse specialist Kerry Cassells and retired senior manager Jim Crawford.

Current councillors Mick Cikota, Claudia Gall, Brendan Munn and Rodney Brazel missed the cut, as did newcomers Jess Scully, Peter Strang, Lucas Swan, Glen Crump, Glen Ryan, Jenny Roberts and Rhonda Lang.thenewnine

Mayor Katrina Humphries, who will again put up her hand when the new council votes for a new leader and deputy leader on September 29, said she hopes all councillors will be “strong and decisive”.

“We need a council that can offer great debates and a balance of service, infrastructure advancement, and the necessary maintenance that keeps our mighty shire ticking over,” Cr Humphries said.

At-a-Glance

Potted comments made by winning candidates in the lead-up to the Moree Plains election:

 

Katrina Humphries

“I would like to follow through with the Gateway Project, see the Moree Water Park fully functioning, get the Washpool and Byra causeways upgraded, and get as much road funding as possible.

“I would like to see the continuing stability that Moree Plains Shire Council has become known for. We are a team, not just of councillors and staff members but the whole community as well. I would also consider keeping the flow of investment in our community from both public and private contributions as a major objective.

“Myself and council are approachable and that is one of the most important dynamics of a community – talking to each other with dignity.  And 13,500 sets of eyes and ears always make the running of council more transparent and effective.”

 

Sue Price

“I would like to see increased economic activity which will lead to more jobs and growth for the region.  I also want to ensure that the Moree Plains community has access to (and where relevant, maintain) all of the services and facilities the people of our shire need. 

“However, these services/facilities need to be provided within the current budget restrictions and by being financially responsible.  If re-elected I would work towards maintaining MPSC’s strong financial position, something which I hope will enable the shire to remain a stand-alone council. 

“I would also like to see continued support for the proposed Inland Rail Project as I believe that it has to potential to bring many opportunities to our region.  I would also like to see the Gateway Project continue to develop further.

“I am passionate about the Moree Plains and want to see the shire prosper.  In my view this means maintaining and continuing to grow our local economy which will benefit the shire and its people, and attract new people and businesses to the region.”

 

Stephen Ritchie

“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.

“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.”

 

John Tramby

“I want to see debt reduction and rural road upgrades. Moree also needs a cinema for the young and the not-so-young. Our youth, on P-plates, should not have to drive for an hour on a busy highway to enjoy a movie.

“Moree should also establish a military museum in the War Memorial Education Centre to record and preserve our military history.

“Social issues, youth unemployment and the unsealed rural roads network also need attention and burnt-out houses are an eyesore, and need cleaning up. 

“Council also needs to reduce cost overruns, and meet budgets.”

 

Mike Montgomery

“Council issues are the same today as ever. As we get improvements, we expect more. We’re all shareholders, and rightly demand value for our dollars. The shire has certainly improved in recent times. The roads are good, but could be better. Towns and villages are well maintained, watered and sewered. Libraries, cemeteries, parks and public facilities all serve us well.

“The Gateway is an ongoing concern, new job development is a priority, and a good flood would be a great help.

“To take the journey together, we all need to know where we are going, why we want to go there, and what we each need to do. As Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started”.

 

George Chiu

“I believe council needs to focus more on what Moree can offer to our major trading partners. Areas to focus on are Agriculture and Education.
We should utilise our resources to create secondary industries, which in turn will provide massive long-term employment opportunities for our younger generation.

“We should also utilise our resources to create secondary industries, which in turn will provide massive long-term employment opportunities for our younger generation.”

 

Greg Smith

“So much money has been wasted on consultants and projects without a plan in place, or not even asking the locals. A recent report commissioned by local irrigators and lent to council proved the aquifer under Moree is recovering and we could delay $5 million in borrowings set down to drill more water bores to the south of Moree.
“When the council went ahead with the last special rate rise I became interested in their finances because they decided to send rural ratepayers back to the
1950s by letting the unsealed roads go back to black soil in favour of sealed road rebuilding. Since then the roads and streets have only received $27 million of the $103million spent on infrastructure and capital acquisitions in the five years to June 2015.

“This on top of the $40 million every year it takes to run the day to day functions. Narrabri is receiving a similar level of grants to Moree based on population but our economic output, taxes and transport network is almost twice the size. We need to push this with government.”

Kerry Cassells

“We need inclusiveness and not exclusion for all residents of our town and villages. We have many different cultures in our area that don’t feel part of our wonderful shire.

“I love Moree.  It’s the best small town in Australia. If we all work together, try to understand each other’s differences and discover our similarities, it will be a better place for all of us. Smile at everyone.

“Talk to the people that you want to know more about. Be open with your feelings. Don’t be scared of the things you don’t understand. Ask questions.”

 

Jim Crawford

“Three areas of interest to me are roads, tourism and industry.

“Roads: because we are an agricultural shire we need a good, well maintained road network to get supplies to the rural producers and their product to markets.

“Tourism: the local tourist centre is doing an excellent job and I am all for encouraging them to maintain that. Tourism is dollars for the shire.

“Industry: it would be advantageous to diversify by attracting industry to the shire and having an abundant supply of good quality water under us should help with that.

“Although I have lived in towns all my life I am not town centric. The wealth of this shire comes from the rural community.”

Words Copyright Bill Poulos 2016