It will be Groundhog Day for Gunnedah Shire Council at the 2023 National General Assembly (NGA) of Local Government after endorsing seven motions – several of which Gunnedah unsuccessfully lobbied for last year.
Gunnedah’s 2023 motions cover topics such as nuclear energy, additional funds for regional roads and airports as well as a mandate to action all successful motions arising from the event.
This year’s NGA will be held in Canberra in June, where council had already resolved to send mayor Jamie Chaffey and councillor Juliana McArthur to attend, along with the general manager.
Council advised the costs for this conference will be covered by the incumbent mayor and elected member expenses budget.
This year’s first motion submitted by Gunnedah requests that the Australian Local Government Association calls on the federal government to remove restrictions preventing the development of nuclear energy as a viable option in the production of base load electricity.
It follows a similar motion endorsed by Gunnedah council for submission at the 2022 assembly.
“Many other countries are embracing it, we would be silly if we did not at least open the discussion,” Cr Rob Hooke said during council’s March 2022 meeting.
Other motions to be raised at the assembly again include a request for an “urgent review” of the federal government’s Financial Assistance Grant scheme which awards local councils an annual sum based on the population of its shire.
Cr McArthur suggested amendments, which were later accepted, to stress the urgency of the matter and the significant amount of infrastructure under council’s responsibility.
Another motion to be raised again urged government to delay any cut or suspension of the current fuel excise tax arrangements until a genuine reform package can be legislated to replace the tax with a mechanism which distributes this vital road maintenance funding across all road users regardless of fuel type.
Gunnedah council is also again calling for the Commonwealth to provide regional councils with an additional one-off Roads to Recovery grant equal to 50 per cent of the annual funding for the maintenance, repair and renewal of roads.
This would be similar to modifications the then-Coalition federal government adopted during the drought to support rural and regional centres.
Additionally, Gunnedah is again highlighting deficiencies in mobile coverage.
Despite raising the issue at the 2022 assembly, council will this year request the government conduct an audit of regional Australia to determine which areas have mobile black spots and which areas don’t provide adequate data, so the problem can be identified and fixed.
A new motion put forward by Gunnedah this year is a general call for increased funding at regional airports.
The motion was raised as Gunnedah council undertakes an $8 million upgrade of its aerodrome infrastructure and surveys the community about interest for hosting a commercial airline at the airport.
After an apparent lack of action on last year’s motions, Gunnedah council is this year also calling for a constitutional amendment, and policy amendments that mandates that the board of the Australian Local Government Association action all motions that are successful at the annual NGA of local government.
The theme for the 2023 NGA will be ‘Our Communities, Our Future’ which the association said will target ideas for new federal programs and policies that would support councils to build stronger communities in the future.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey was contacted for comment but was on leave at the time of writing.