Message from the Mayor: 5 July 2024

Published on 05 July 2024


Hello, I'm John Connors, Mayor of Dungog shire, bringing you this week's Mayoral message.

Since February 2023, the Council and in particular, the General Manager and I have been pestering the successive state governments for confirmation of the Betterment Funding that was announced at that time. The funding announcement was made by the former State Government for approximately $10 million, which would facilitate the replacement of the Suspension Bridge at Gresford, work on Hooke Street in Dungog, and work on 23 river crossings throughout the shire. Work that would be to the approaches to those crossings and minimise the cost to council each time after a rain event.

It appears that our advocacy has come to fruition! Yesterday, the General Manager and the Director of Assets and Infrastructure met with the Coordinator General of the National Emergency Management Authority here in Canberra, where I am at the moment, and subsequent to that I received a phone call from the NSW Minister for Regional Roads and Transport, Jenny Aitchison, confirming that the funding had been approved and that the funding deet was on its way to council for execution.

So that's great news after advocacy has continued almost nonstop since the original announcement in February 2023. So now we'll be able to get on with the construction of the bridge at Gresford, which is timely in the light of the damage that happened to the bridge only 10 days ago when it had to be closed when several bolts sheered on the bridge for reasons unknown but made the bridge unusable at the time. So hopefully that situation will be alleviated in the near future.

As I mentioned, I'm here in Canberra at the moment with the General Manager for the National General Assembly of the Australian Local Government Association, and also for the Australian Council of Local Government which meets on Friday.

The Hunter Joint Organisation, of which Dungog is a member and which comprises the 10 councils of the Hunter, had put forward several motions to the General Assembly and those motions were dealt with on Wednesday. On behalf of the Joint Organisation, I was asked to move those motions and address them if necessary. I’m pleased to say that all motions were passed unopposed by the Assembly. The motions dealt with funding for local government and a complete revision of how funding is done, a revamping of grant funding for roads and housing.

In addition to the National General Assembly, the visit to Canberra provides the opportunity for meetings with various Federal Ministers and each year arrangements are made to meet with appropriate Ministers. This year the Hunter Joint Organisation organised a number of meetings with various Ministers that fulfill the advocacy goals of the Hunter Joint Organisation. I took part in two of those ministerial meetings, meetings which in particular related to the development of the Newcastle Airport as not just an international passenger terminal, but also as an international freight terminal. I see great advantages for the Dungog shire should that development occur. It requires $27 million from the Federal Government to facilitate the construction of a trade terminal. However, all the experts have made it clear that an international airline will require freight as well as passengers for any route to be viable.

I think it's great opportunities for fresh meat, fresh vegetables, fresh produce at large to be exported out of the Hunter into Asia, which is the intended international route. So it was good to be part of those ministerial meetings with the Minister for Trade.

Friday, is the Australian Council of Local Government Meeting. The meeting starts at 8am and is to be addressed by the Prime Minister at 8.30am. There will be addresses during the day by various Ministers and then it concludes at 3pm. It gives an opportunity again to hear from Ministers who are relevant to us dealing with roads and infrastructure and to hear what the government's policies and attitudes are towards those matters.

On Monday night of this week I attended the Gresford Community Group meeting where there was further discussion about the installation of flushing traffic speed signs on the three approaches to Gresford and East Gresford. Previously, the Community Group had indicated that they were prepared to fund two of the signs and council agreed to fund the third sign and to install the signs. So that will occur once the Community Group obtains its signs.

The Community Group has also been advocating for the 80 km/hr speed signs to be moved further away from the town boundaries on the Vacy side of Gresford and near the Gresford school. TransportfNSW has now approved the relocation of the signs and council has agreed to carry out the relocation on behalf of TransportfNSW.

Roadworks continue throughout the shire with Allyn River Rd, Stroud Hill, and Durham Rd at East Gresford. All of those three roads are under traffic control. Everybody is asked to take care and approach them cautiously. In Abelard Street in Dungog there are still drainage works being undertaken there, and in Tucker Park in Paterson work is continuing on the road that runs through the park. This work, like all the roadworks, has been delayed due to the wet weather.

In Dungog Showground works continue on preparation for the construction of the new amenities block. Again, those works have been slowed down by the wet weather but hopefully, the rain will stop soon and things will dry out and that can get underway.

So I think that's it from me for this week. So until next week, good luck and goodbye.

Tagged as: