I was in Sydney last week representing the Canberra and Region Joint Organisation in discussions with a number of NSW parliamentary ministers. Our joint organisation, which we call the JO, is made up of the nine councils that surround Canberra, plus the ACT Government. The NSW Government passed legislation late last year that allowed regional councils to voluntarily form new Joint Organisations to strengthen regional co-ordination and improve delivery of important infrastructure and services. We have joined more than half of regional and rural councils in NSW already taking advantage of the advocacy power a united approach can bring at state and federal level. Our JO has gained a reputation as a strong voice representing our vibrant region, driven from grassroots local government. We expect significant funding opportunities to become available in the next few years and having our JO in place means this region is ready and top of mind with the decision-makers.
As well as talking collectively about infrastructure priorities and other regional matters, I was able to speak with Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Niall Blair to express the concerns of our fishing community about the Southern Fish Trawl Fishery (SFTF). Under proposed new arrangements, NSW SFTF fishers would be managed by the Australian Government under its quota management system. This proposal has raised concerns with both the commercial and recreational fishing industries. Minister Blair gave me a commitment that he would keep the lines of communication open and there will be further consultation with the community, including our local commercial fishers.
May is a great month for events in Eurobodalla. First up we had the Narooma Oyster Festival, which showcased the town and its famed produce with stunning success and saw a big increase in visitors this year. The chef program and oyster shucking competition were highlights. The Batemans Bay Paddle Challenge was a triumph, also enjoying bigger numbers this year. River of Art starts this weekend with an exciting program of exhibitions, live performances, and open artists’ studios. Don’t miss it.
Clr Liz Innes Eurobodalla Mayor