Talks on future of Far West Initiative

Ross Earl, General Manager of Bourke Shire Council, writes on Far West issues.

The future of the Far West Initiative (FWI) was discussed at a meeting I had in Sydney last week with Laura Clarke, the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Deputy Premier, Mr John Barilaro.

Our discussions focused around the future of the FWI and the next steps for those councils who had previously been earmarked for the FWI.

There are several issues still to be resolved for those councils as well as a number of other councils who had been deemed “Fit for the Future” as Rural Councils – a concept which would appear to no longer exist.

Ms Clarke indicated it was hoped that clarity of the “where to now” in respect of all proposed changes still to be finalised will be provided prior to the Local Government elections on September 9.

The elections are for those councils which had their elections deferred last year. It would appear the concept of the FWI as previously planned will no longer be pursued. Councils will be able to maintain their association with any existing Regional Organisation of Councils or other body that may be formed.

Police plans. The NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Regional Field Operations, Gary Worboys, and the Assistant Commissioner for Western Region, Geoff McKechnie, attended the quarterly meeting of the Orana Regional Organisational of Councils hosted by Mid-Western Regional Council in Mudgee on Friday.

Deputy Commissioner Worboys detailed his plans to try to make the operation of the various police Local Area Commands (LACs) a little more effective and indicated there would likely be consideration of boundary changes to existing LACs, particularly those with lower police numbers.

He indicated before any changes there would be a considerable amount of consultation with all stakeholders, including the impacted communities.

Louth races. The 59th annual Louth Races are on Saturday and should again attract a huge crowd. They are a result of the combined effort of all sections of the Louth community and are indicative of what can be achieved by communities who are all working together.