The year ended with a bang...literally...with a well-attended fireworks event hosted by the Dubbo Show Society, and thoughts now turn to 2024.
Apart from the normal challenge for councillors of, you know, running the city, there is an added challenge this year. There are only 255 days to go until the next election. That creates a potential distraction for councillors.
I've observed diverse responses from councillors across the state in the lead-up to previous elections. Some experience a 'Councillor Malaise' where engagement wanes as they near the end of their term.
Others, planning to stand again, may view every matter through a political lens, often resorting to grandstanding. However, I am confident in the ability of our current councillors to rise above these tendencies.
This council, driven by collaborative spirit and dedication, has already demonstrated its capacity to deliver successful outcomes for our community. I believe this commitment will only strengthen as we continue to deliver for the community in 2024.
We know that Dubbo is a popular destination for people from around the nation and around the world.
As more people want to move here, our challenge is to continue to use the levers at our disposal to increase housing choice and availability whilst keeping prices low.
We also need to ensure there is accommodation available for the thousands of short-term workers we will see in our region. I have held discussions with several major organisations over the Christmas break planning on using 3D printed housing to be a part of that solution going forward so expect to see more of this activity this year.
Both from an environmental and economic point of view, a huge challenge for us this year is to take full advantage of the Renewable Energy Zone on our doorstep.
The business case for the REACT Centre will push in the right direction but our practices, with electric vehicle use and our net zero framework, will continue to show leadership in the community.
Our emergency services precinct at the airport not only continues to help the Dubbo economy but, as we have more climate variability, helping strengthen partnerships with the emergency services will be crucial for the long-term viability of this region.
And on top of strategic outcomes, it is impossible to forget the excitement we will see with a range of individual projects delivered this year. Events such as the NSW Touch Junior State Cup and the Bowls NSW State Championships will add to an array of other regular events.
And on the infrastructure front, we will see the delivery of our Legacy Shared Pathway; Event Precinct; Old Dubbo Gaol Heritage Plaza and the turning of a sod on the Wiradjuri Cultural Tourism Centre - just to name a few.
I look forward to an exciting and prosperous 2024 for our residents.
Happy New Year!