Wimmera councils voice the region's biggest issues to Federal Government

Hindmarsh chief executive Tony Doyle and Mayor Rob Gersch with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss at the National Assembly of Local Government in Canberra. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Hindmarsh chief executive Tony Doyle and Mayor Rob Gersch with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss at the National Assembly of Local Government in Canberra. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

WIMMERA councils have worked together to voice the region’s biggest issues to the Federal Government.

Horsham Rural City, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians and West Wimmera councils were in Canberra this week to meet ministers and attend the National General Assembly of Local Government. 

Hindmarsh Mayor Rob Gersch said the five councils met ministers and advisers at Parliament House.

“We worked together and went in partnership with submissions to the bureaucrats,” he said.

“We did it as a unit and it worked very well.”

“Being able to sit in a room with the bureaucrats and look at them across the table - there is no substitute for it.” - Hindmarsh Mayor Rob Gersch

Cr Gersch said issues raised included the Western Highway duplication, tourism and mobile phone and weather radar black spots.

“Horsham and Hindmarsh also had a joint application about new early childhood buildings,” he said.

“Hindmarsh was also looking for some assistance with funding for the Karen community, so we can take some of the workload away from the volunteers and get someone in to help council.”

Cr Gersch said the councils’ arguments were well received.

“Being able to sit in a room with the bureaucrats and look at them across the table - there is no substitute for it,” he said.

Yarriambiack Mayor Andrew McLean said he was not sure how successful the meetings with ministers would be.

“But we can only keep reminding the politicians of our problems,” he said.

Cr Gersch said it was important Wimmera councils worked together.

“Wimmera Regional Library Corporation and Wimmera Development Association are organisations that prove we work extremely well as a group,” he said.

Councils at the assembly voted unanimously for the Federal Government to reverse the freeze on financial assistance grants. 

“Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss spoke but he was non-committal about any changes,” Cr Gersch said.

Delegates also rejected a National Commission of Audit proposal recommending the end of tied grants to local government. Member for Mallee Andrew Broad attended all the meetings between Wimmera councils and ministers.

Cr Gersch said Mr Broad was extremely helpful and they appreciated his assistance. Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin said he also met ministers about a possible physics laboratory in Stawell and the Grampians Peaks Trail.

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