On Tuesday, Councillors will vote in a Mayor for the coming year. So, it is the right time for me to reflect on my 12 months as Mayor.
Firstly, I have had really positive feedback from community members about the growth and development happening in our region, and about the positive role that our Council staff and Councillors have played.
This growth has been through a supportive, can-do attitude in our community, and some positive teamwork at Council.
We should be proud of this and work to continue this trend.
While some developments were started before the current Council was in place, we have been able to bring many to fruition.
In the Swan Hill area, these have included the Swan Hill riverfront precinct; road improvements; scoping a new site for the gallery, info centre and cultural centre in Swan Hill; and supporting new business developments like the hay plant at Ultima and those in our industrial area.
In Robinvale, we are seeing a genuine desire from the community to bring about positive change.
The beautification of Bromley Road; new pre-school; upgrade of Perrin Street, plans for a new library; selling land on Bromley Road for a new development; and moves to provide a new home for medical services are being met with support from different sectors in the community.
Also over the past 12 months, Council has played a really strong role in advocacy – talking to government and private sector, helping to give locals a voice with government, and bringing the right people together to make decisions.
We have made moves with the Robinvale Housing Strategy and Population Determination Study, giving us evidence to lobby for further change and funding. Our recently adopted position paper on the Murray Darling Basin Plan is also being noticed in many circles. We have played an active role in advocating for a new Swan Hill hospital, for better policy around labour hire, and for road improvements for our farming industry.
While these issues are not a primary function for Council, they are serious issues that impact on the economy and wellbeing of our communities and we need to continue this advocacy work.
In closing I want to say that our region really is a great place to live, work and play. I think more and more people, both inside and outside the region, are starting to recognise and say that, and so we need to build on existing opportunities and any new ones that arise.