ELECTION SEASON: Labor figures in town for talks on rateable land

MEETING: Senator Kristina Keneally, Beau Riley, mayor Kathy Sajowitz, Dr Jess Jennings and deputy mayor Kerry Gibbons.
MEETING: Senator Kristina Keneally, Beau Riley, mayor Kathy Sajowitz, Dr Jess Jennings and deputy mayor Kerry Gibbons.

UNRATEABLE land and water security were two of the topics on the agenda when Senator Kristina Keneally met with Oberon councillors, staff and community leaders last week during her two-day visit to the region.

Senator Keneally was accompanied by Bathurst councillor and federal candidate for Calare, Jess Jennings, and state Country Labor candidate for the seat of Bathurst, Beau Riley.

Cr Jennings said it was an opportunity for a “two-way conversation” on state and federal issues.

“The issues discussed were as varied as they were many - everything from roads, schools and cost shifting to cultural funds and grants was discussed,” he said.

“The senator was particularly interested in an idea raised by Cr Andrew McKibbin to improve the way weed funding was provided and spent.”

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Cr Jennings said an undertaking was given that Labor would release the IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) report into rateable land if it was elected at the state level in March.

“The current government have had the report for years, yet never released it,” Cr Jennings said. 

“Everyone at the meeting understood and were sympathetic to the plight of Oberon Council being unable to access rates from State Forests, a very large landholder in the local government area. 

“The senator told council she had written to state and federal ministers about the issue but was yet to have any meaningful reply, including from local MP, Paul Toole.

“Federal funding for local public schools was discussed, with Labor promising $24,520,000 for all public schools in Australia.

“Oberon High School will receive an extra $340,000 over the first three years of a Labor Government with Oberon Public School benefiting from an extra $290,000 for the same period.

“Naturally, the issue of better road access, either by highway or tunnel, was also addressed.

“Labor did undertake a feasibility study when last in government but this has not been moved along by the current governments.”

The NSW election will be held on March 23 and a date for the federal election has yet to be announced.