On Wednesday, September 21, Gunnedah Shire Council held its mayoral vote, and I was honoured to be returned as Gunnedah shire’s mayor until the NSW local government elections, which are expected to be held in September next year.

Congratulations to Cr Rob Hooke who has also been returned as the deputy mayor. I believe that together with all of our councillors, we make a strong team, and we are looking forward to continuing to progress the priorities the Gunnedah shire community has made clear to us.

We are in the midst of a significant time of growth for Gunnedah, and there are exciting projects underway, including the completion of the Gunnedah Saleyards redevelopment and the water treatment plant, work on the Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary, and an upgrade to the airport tarmac.

Since I was first elected to council in September 2016, I have witnessed change in Gunnedah shire. This growth has taken place in a way that has enhanced our quality of life. Our businesses and people have worked hard to maintain the true spirit of our shire.

The past seven years have brought huge challenges – heart-breaking drought, pandemic, lockdowns, flood after flood, labour shortages, and huge increases to the cost of living as well as to project and material costs. There have been tragedies and triumphs, and lessons of all kinds to learn.

There has never been a time to be prouder of our community.

Instead of buckling under, people have shown their strength. They have not only supported their businesses, organisations, families and friends through each challenge, but they have come up with new ideas, started new ventures, looked to a future where all of these struggles have only added to the strength of our shire and our community.

Gunnedah shire is growing and will continue to grow, with more and more people choosing to live in our progressive and beautiful home.

There will always be challenges. We are still in the grip of a labour shortage, and local governments throughout the state and the country are struggling to meet all of their many responsibilities and provide a plethora of services when costs are continuing to skyrocket. All councils are doing their best to meet the expectations of their community with limited resources.

Gunnedah Shire Council is committed to engaging and supporting our community. We have been holding other levels of government to account for the services Gunnedah shire desperately needs – more recently, the same level of health services as people in the city and better resources for policing.

Again, we have seen ups and downs in this space. We have gone from the relief of a fully funded hospital to the disappointment of one without many of the promised services, and we have seen crime increase dramatically, with no commitment to further resources for our already-stretched police officers.

We have worked closely with the Western Area Command and Gunnedah police to assist in any way we can, and it is encouraging to see results coming out of Operation Mongoose.

In the remainder of this council term, we will continue to fight for essential services for our community, as well as continuing to ensure council provides the local government services Gunnedah shire needs.

I am humbled to once again be in a position to help support our community in maintaining an enviable quality of life, both for this and the next generation.

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