As 2023 comes to an end, we all look forward to a break over the festive season and the chance to spend time with the people we love the most.

The break is well deserved for the whole of the Gunnedah shire community. It’s been a big year – a year of growth and community spirit.

There are things we can look forward to every year that strengthen our ties as residents, business people, neighbours and friends. One of these is the Australia Day Awards that, in 2023, celebrated our Citizen of the Year Mitchum Neave and Young Citizen of the Year Ellyn Blinman, along with a small group of very worthy citizens and organisations who were honoured in the awards.

I look forward to adding to the historic list of Citizens of the Year very soon on Australia Day 2024.

Other great community events have included the presentation of the Gunnedah Community Scholarship Fund that this year helped 16 young people on the next stage of their education journey, the Weeks of Speed, Gunnedah Youth Week, Harvest Gunnedah, a historic year for AgQuip and a visit from our friends and business associates from our Sister City of Kolomotu’a in the Kingdom of Tonga, including Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Tuku’aho.

Recently, we hosted people from around the country at the Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference held at Gunnedah Town Hall.

The events have added spice to a year that included getting back to business as usual following the floods of 2021 and 2022. The floods have left scars on our roads and infrastructure that will take a long time to heal, as well as an impact on our community.

Together with the work on our roads, we have also seen progress at the Gunnedah Saleyards Redevelopment, the Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary, the centralised water treatment plant and the airport tarmac. It has been a significant time of capital investment for our Shire.

As a community, we continue the fight for the full range of services promised as part of the new hospital, for policing resources that are equal per head of population to metropolitan areas, for housing, water, infrastructure and education equity. Our people deserve the same services as those who live in any other part of the state.

But in these campaigns, we see the partnership between all sectors of our community that adds so much to its strength.

There is much to look forward to in 2024.

I wish everyone in Gunnedah shire, along with your family and friends, a happy and safe Christmas and the very best in the New Year.

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