A very busy two weeks with a visit to state parliament to have discussions with a number of ministers on issues including health, infrastructure, the Crown Lands Agreement, sporting precinct and the conservatorium.
A very busy day-and-a-half organised for me by Sam Farraway at very short notice. I also had the opportunity to speak with the deputy premier and the premier's office. Very much appreciated with parliament sitting at present and very restrictive on visitors into parliament.
Orange has the honour of being the first state government/council crown land agreement. Council after a very engaging and consultative process with our local Aboriginal Land Council, State Land Council and others, have all parties agreeing on a very sensible position. This will see better outcomes on several hundred hectares of former-crown land in our local government area.
Other exciting news is the state government re-classifying the Northern Distributor Road to a state road, which I am sure all would agree makes economic sense. I will expand on what this means financially in the near future.
Last Thursday a brief ceremony was held at the Botanic Gardens to celebrate 175 years since Orange was proclaimed as the Village of Orange. I had the privilege of planting a tree in the gardens and chose to do it with the representative children from our schools. We then had the youngest children present help me cut the "175 Cake". This year has seen us celebrate our 75 years since being gazetted as a city and 175 years since changing from Blackmans Swamp to the village of Orange.
Orange has come a very long way economically, population-wise, environmentally, culturally and status-wise. We are a very vibrant, multi-cultural regional city with a critical mass of economic and employment opportunities that can weather the vulgarities of drought, economic downturns in a particular sector that occur from time to time.
There is a Bill before the state government pertaining to abandoned shopping trellises which I am very much in favour of. There will be substantial virtually-on-the-spot fines for the owners of the trollies, and easier passage to take companies to court (and substantial fines) for repeated offences or ignoring responsibilities. I am sure this will result in them having better management of customers leaving their premises with their trollies and leaving them all over Orange.
Christmas decorations are going up around the civic centre and the CBD and I must admit it has been a favourite cause of mine. . . it lifts the spirit.
This Friday we have a street party to celebrate Orange's 175 years, then moving onto a Future Tunes concert in Robertson Park. McNamara Lane (and its new look) will be front and centre.
Shop your way to $50,000 with Orange City Council. As part of the program, businesses who sign-up, will also have access to close to $400,000 worth of Shop Orange cards already circulating in the Orange region from earlier campaigns. We want to encourage locals to spend their money locally and people from other regions to visit Orange for their Christmas shopping. Thank you Central Western Daily, Austeros Hit FM and Triple M for being major supporters.
Council will soon be conducting another Community Engagement Program. This will guide the future of Orange through development of a Community Strategic Plan (CSP), which will be tabled for the new council in June 2022. This process is about exploring what sort of place our community wants to live, work and play in! What do you love about Orange? What can be done better? What would you change? What do you wish was here? We want to know.
This is just another example of community consultation and engagement that some folk would have you believe does not happen!
Australia Day and Orange's Australia Day Awards are just around the corner. These are presented to local citizens or groups in recognition of outstanding achievement or to acknowledge the significant contributions they make to the Orange community. I have been on the Australia Day committee as has Cr Russell Turner. I hope that a number of new councillors will get involved, or at least turn up at Australia Day activities. The six award categories are Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, Community Group of the Year, Community Event of the Year, Local Legend Award and Business Philanthropy. Go to council's website or drop a nomination in. See you there on January 26, 2022.
The Eight Day Games started yesterday, now in its 43rd year. The event is all organised and run by volunteers, many of them have been there since virtually the beginning. A great week of sporting activities that anyone can be involved in with participation being the main motive, not winning. Well done, and I am so pleased council supports this long-running event. I encourage councillors and prospective councillors to get out there and experience what this event has and continues to do for Orange.
I visited the Senior Citizen Centre this week for a new initiative called the "Village Hub". I will give more detail on this in the near future. I encourage all to support and take a greater involvement in making sure we as a community keep engaged with our seniors and support them in anyway possible.
A meeting was held with the Orange Men's Shed who are not far off moving back into their refurbished home at The School of Arts building in Lucknow.
Plans are also under way to look at extensions and I encourage the community and councillors (existing and prospective) to become familiar with the group and see the great job they do socially and in many other ways for their members and the community.
It was interesting to read Minister Matt Kean's drafted NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Cycling Strategy which sets out plans on formalising a network of trails suitable for biking adventures. The strategy says that the government would use the Australian Adaptive Mountain Biking Guidelines to support the planning,design and construction of facilities. All the necessary Environmental Impact Studies need to be undertaken and decisions on yes or no, where and where not will be based on best science.
I suppose Matt Kean, also an environmentalist and bike rider, will receive similar abuse from folk who do not agree in even looking into possibilities here in Orange has evoked.
The last actual council meeting was held Tuesday after a four-and-a-quarter year term of this council. I have looked through the report staff put together on councillors' attendance at the two meetings council has per month, then budget meetings and Extraordinary meetings (ie. to adopt the budget).
A very big commitment if one takes the position seriously. Then if you look at the over 20 advisory committees and their meetings, councillor representation and attendance, you will get a better understanding of requirement and commitment. A very interesting measure which I will certainly be following with the new council. I think this would be a good part of a council report card that is given half-yearly and yearly, as a measure of councillors living up to expectations of the public?
The Inaugural Orange Winter Jazz Festival will return next year June 10-12. I am so pleased to see this happening as we were successful in getting the State Jazz Forum Festival here in Orange some years back in mid-summer. The state festival is conducted in a new location each year and relies on submissions to hold it and lobbying. Tony Boland and I attended the conference in Lismore and won the rights for Orange!
This Friday, November 26, at the Orange Regional Conservatorium the event will be launched with music by The Orange Regional Conservatorium (ORC) Big Pratt Jazz Band. Details can be obtained at council or ORC. The partners in this new festival for Orange is council, JAM Orange, SIMA (Sydney Improvised Music Association) and The Orange Regional Conservatorium .