It's been three years since the Dubbo city and Wellington councils were amalgamated to form the Dubbo Regional Council and it is amazing to see how much progress has been made in that time.
It's well-known that the merger was unpopular, particularly because of the manner it was done by the state government. However, as I have said regularly, once the decision was done, it was important to accept it and move on.
I strongly believe that the merger has brought benefits for both former local government areas. To provide an incentive for the merger, the state government made a significant amount of money available.
Council has been able to identify a large number of projects that will have a long term benefit and start those much sooner than would have otherwise been possible.
A quick look around the region shows just how much work has been going on. Developments are being approved across the city because this council is open for business.
One particularly satisfying outcome was getting the development through at the former RAAF Stores Base, which has sat dormant for more than 18 years.
The work going on at the airport is amazing, with constant improvement to passenger services but also the establishment of an emergency services precinct including facilities for the police, rural fire service, VRA, SES and Royal Flying Doctor Service.
There is also the Adventure Playground at the Botanic Garden, upgrades to Victoria Park, new cycle club facility and the new splash pad at the Dubbo Aquatic Leisure Centre.
However, council has also worked hard on its own finances.
Bringing two organisations together allows for some streamlining and savings, but CEO Michael McMahon has looked hard for other opportunities and that resulted in a $10 million saving identified between September 2017 and August 2018.
That kind of fiscal responsibility will serve the council well in years to come. It's not a one-off either. Further investigations will be carried out to see if there are other savings opportunities.
Your council is also ambitious. We have set a strong social agenda and have pushed to have a drug court and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. The Federal Government has committed $3 million dollars and we are lobbying the state government to commit to the project.
We have also set the target of being one of Australia's most disability-friendly regional cities and have formed a disability technical panel, and made $2 million available over four years to address issues.
We are also committed to Wellington and the villages, and I think people can see they are receiving more funding and more focus than ever before.
There is still more to do but we will continue to make the right decisions to ensure Dubbo grows and maintains its place as the capital of western NSW.