FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK, By CR JAMIE CHAFFEY:
At the National Local Roads and Transport Congress last week, NSW representatives all had one over-riding concern – the impact of flooding events on our local and regional road networks.
There have been more than 220 natural disaster areas declared across the state this year, including Gunnedah Shire. All but two of the state’s local government areas have had natural disasters.
In the past two months, the frequency of events has been so challenging we have had limited time to complete full assessments of damage shire-wide. Residents and business owners have faced one heart-breaking clean up after another, people have been isolated, primary producers are facing the prospect of yet another lost harvest, students have missed school and people have been unable to go to work.
One incident is crushing enough, let alone repeated natural disasters over the course of a few months.
While our community is resilient and Gunnedah Shire Council, like other councils across NSW and Victoria, are doing their best to assess and restore the road network and other infrastructure after disastrous damage, this is a task that is beyond the reasonable scope of any local government authority. We are facing an unprecedented disaster that requires an unprecedented response.
We need help. Our community needs help. Other regional and rural communities across the state and beyond need help.
On September 21, we called on the state government through our local member Kevin Anderson for funding for an urgently needed flood mitigation study for Gunnedah Shire.
Mr Anderson has also announced he is seeking an expansion of the Infrastructure Betterment Fund to include Gunnedah Shire.
This would commit funding to the repair and rebuilding of public assets.
Gunnedah Shire Council also whole-heartedly supports the Local Government Association of NSW and the Country Mayors Association of NSW in their declaration of a Statewide Roads Emergency.
We are resolute in support of the president of the LGNSW’s call on the NSW and federal governments to take action on the Statewide Roads Emergency and help our regional and rural communities bounce back from the devastation caused by this year’s floods.
It is absolutely critical that we get on top of the road damage situation. In the assessment of our roads, there are two very important factors to consider – is the road safe for motorists, and will use of the roads by 4WDs and heavy vehicles cause enough damage that this will become a generational financial burden. We can’t have that happening.
We are at a turning point for our primary producers, for many, winter crops are ready to be harvested and the window is closing quickly for
summer crop plantings, including cotton. Cotton is the single largest contributor to our agricultural outputs, and the window for planting is only a matter of weeks.
Farmers have livestock ready to go to market.
The local and regional road network is critically-enabling infrastructure.
It’s not only our primary producers that rely on the quality of our local and regional roads, but also our primary producers for generations to come.
The state and the nation are dependent on regional and rural NSW to ensure affordable food on the table.
We are calling on the state and federal governments for immediate assistance not only for Gunnedah Shire, but for the many other shires who are facing the same situation. The floods may not be over yet, and we need to support our community.To order photos from this page click here