Wimmera Mail-Times Mayoral Matters, August 8

The Local Government Act states that one of the key objectives of a council is to promote the social, economic and environmental sustainability of its district in order to achieve the best outcomes for the community.

As councillors, one of our main roles is to advocate and promote proposals which are in the best interests of our residents.

In this month’s column, I wish to focus on how our endeavours have panned out in this regard.

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford returned to Rupanyup to announce the state government will inject $500,000 into the project to establish a retail precinct in the town. The Enterprise Rupanyup committee has been lobbying and fundraising since 2013 to bring this vision to fruition. This money – together with financial assistance from Yarriambiack Shire, Bendigo Bank and local residents – will lead to a new supermarket, pharmacy and possibly a café/bakery on site by the end of 2019.

Applications under the state government’s Living Heritage program has resulted in $130,000 being allotted to Warracknabeal Town Hall for restoration work and $70,000 to Murtoa’s Stick Shed committee to support their conservation efforts.

Also in July, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced a Friday evening coach from Ararat to Ouyen will be reinstated from September 30. This service is of particular importance to towns such as Beulah and Hopetoun.

Federal member Andrew Broad opened the new ambulance patient transfer facility at Warracknabeal aerodrome on July 23. A grand of $100,000 from the federal government was added to contributions from the shire, state government and community to enable this project to be delivered. The WATSUP committee has worked for three years to raise money for this facility. 

Despite continued lobbying, the Education Department has yet to commit funding to complete stage 2 of the Warracknabeal school precinct. To ask teachers and students to work in an incomplete facility is at odds with the equity and fairness measures the state government prides itself as representing.

On July 31, National Party MPs Emma Kealy and Peter Walsh launched a petition calling for the government to complete the project. Council urges residents to support the petition, which is available at many Warracknabeal businesses.

Graeme Massey, Yarriambiack Shire Council mayor