Mayoral Matters January 2024
Published on 30 January 2024
This month our Mayoral Matters begins in mid-December with what was a lightning-fast couple of weeks leading up to the Christmas and New Year holiday period and ends with what seems like an even faster start to the new year as we close in on the end of January.
Since beginning in my role as Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council, I have made it a core priority to meet with as many people throughout the shire as time permits. This schedule has and will continue to include people from all walks of life, from community leaders and groups, volunteers and local business owners, employers, and residents to ensure that I possess a sound grasp of current issues and matters of importance to our community.
In mid-December, Northern Grampians Shire Council CEO, Brent McAlister and I met with Campbell Olsen, whose long career in private equity and operational management in the mining industry led to his current position as CEO of the Management Team of Stawell Gold Mines and South Stawell Gold. He is also a Non-Executive Director for ASX-listed North Stawell Minerals and a SUPL Board Member.
Later in the week we met with Krause Bricks CEO Rohan, who offered further insight into production, staffing and general business development needs. He talked about the cost of natural gas and the importance of gas for the firing of bricks.
In January, Brent and I also toured the main street in Stawell, meeting with Llewllyn at Clarks Furniture where both the history of Stawell and regional business discussions offered the invaluable opportunity to learn from a long-term small business owner. We also travelled out to Halls Gap to meet with Josephina McDonald, an established tourism operator in the area, with key Halls Gap accommodation businesses including Lakeside Caravan Park and Grampians Getaway. Josephina is currently the biggest tourist accommodation provider in our shire – with room for around 600 people all up and is looking to add further projects to her portfolio. With accommodation such an important matter at the moment, it was interesting to hear Josephina’s perspective on solutions.
The Northern Grampians Shire Council Transmission Forum is a critical regular council-facilitated community meeting and over the course of the month we have continued to work collectively to ensure that our local farmers, community members, and the council itself have a sound grasp of the ongoing discussions and proposed works.
Another important meeting was held with Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) in mid-December where issues involving the intersection of responsibilities between Traditional Owners and the council were tabled, including matters related to water and cultural heritage.
As part of my role, I have also had the opportunity to speak on matters of importance to our shire in the media, with interviews in Stawell Times News and ABC radio this past several weeks.
Our Christmas decorations made Channel Seven News, which was fantastic, and Stawell Times News did a wonderful job showing the decorations in the evening light.
We were proud of our Christmas effort and hope to continue ensuring that the towns across the shire are decorated in the spirit of the festive season at the request of our community.
I also had the opportunity to meet the Minister for Local Government, Melissa Horne, in an online forum where I was able to discuss matters of importance to Northern Grampians Shire Council and our shire and hope to have made some progress. The current state of roads in our shire was discussed and I later met with Michael Bailey, Executive Director Barwon South West and Grampians with the Department of Transport and Planning, to air local concerns.
And, as many of you may have seen in the media recently, the Northern Grampians Shire Council and Stawell Gift Event Management Board partnership agreement was signed at a ceremony in Stawell on January 17. This is a fantastic investment and all parties involved are looking forward to ensuring that the iconic Stawell Gift event continues to grow and benefit our local community.
Most recently, I attended our Australia Day celebrations in both St Arnaud and Stawell, it was an enormously successful day and we welcomed two new citizens in St Arnaud and seven in Stawell. The music, fun and excitement was all around us, a truly fabulous day choreographed by our talented and industrious Rhian Jones. Rhian did an amazing job putting it all together. She started before sunrise at St Arnaud, and she was still busy close to sunset in Stawell, truly a monumental task, well done Rhian.
On the way back from St Arnaud, Cr Gready, Brent and I stopped at Beazley's Bridge, once a thriving little settlement with a community hall and a school. The school, by the way, was sold and transported to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. The memorial gate to the public hall is an incredible monument to the First and Second World Wars, first built to commemorate the part taken in the Great War (First World War 1914 – 1918) by volunteers from Beazley’s Bridge and District that lists both the fallen and those from the district who fought in and returned from both the Great War and WWII. We have noted that the gates need restoration to ensure their survival and will begin to investigate available funding opportunities for heritage works and explore what may be able to be done.
At the moment, the current goals of the council include a focus on increasing accommodation access and attracting investment in the shire, as well as preparing for an expected upsurge in tourism in coming years; and as a council, we will continue to focus our efforts to ensure that the Northern Grampians Shire continues to be a great place to live and work well into the future.
Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council