THE new Central NSW Joint Organisation of councils will be a strong voice for the region like its predecesor Centroc, but will be better placed to get results, the chairman of the organisation has said.
Central NSW launched with its inaugural meeting at NSW Parliament House last week, with a number of government ministers addressing representatives of the group, including chairman John Medcalf.
Mr Medcalf, the Lachlan Shire mayor, is the chairman of Centroc and was seen as the logical choice to also steer the new body, while Blayney mayor Scott Ferguson was elected deputy chairman.
Mr Medcalf said the group would push state and federal governments on important issues such as improved road links to Sydney, better telecommunications, upgraded health facilities and continued regional development.
While Centroc was a volunteer body, Central NSW JO is official and recognised by government, which would give it more weight with government, he said.
“The interaction with government will also be better. We had eight ministers come through the room [at launch] and speak to us and we think that is a sign of the communication we can expect going forward,” Mr Medcalf said.
The Central West JO member councils include Bathurst, Blayney, Cabonne, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Oberon, Orange, Parkes and Weddin Shire Council.
Central Tablelands Water and the Department of Premier and Cabinet are also associate members.
There have been changes to the boundaries of the new body compared to Centroc.
The state government has made it mandatory for JOs to follow the boundaries of Planning Regions, with only councils in that region able to be a full member.
Hilltops Council falls outside the Central NSW planning region and will join the South NSW JO. However, Hilltops will remain an informal part of the Central NSW JO and will be involved in discussions where relevant, Mr Medcalf said.
And while Mid-Western Regional Council was part of the pilot organisation, it will join an Orana JO when it is formed in the future.
The other major change from Centroc members was Lithgow council’s decision not to be involved. Mr Medcalf said it would be a decision Lithgow could regret but said it wasn’t too late for them to sign up. “In my opinion it is a decision that will hurt them,” he said.
While in Sydney, mayor Kathy Sajowitz and general manager Gary Wallace met with state Nationals leader John Barilaro and Bathurst MP Paul Toole to discuss the unrateable land issue.
“The meeting was very positive with the deputy premier indicating that as a result of our discussions he now has a better understanding of some of the associated issues he was previously unaware of,” Cr Sajowitz said.