befeker kebede

In the swim at Nambucca

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd first learnt to swim as an 11-year-old visiting Nambucca Shire on a family holiday.

This is what he told shire mayor Rhonda Hoban when they met in Canberra on Tuesday.

“Of course I gave him an open invitation to return anytime for another swim!” Cr Hoban said.

She also told him the current system of one-off grants for shire projects did not solve infrastructure problems because it did not allow councils to plan.

“He agreed with me,” Cr Hoban said.

“I said what we really wanted was a commitment of one per cent of Commonwealth tax revenue.

“At the moment local government only receives 0.67 per cent, which is bugger all when you consider we are the ones who provide all the basic services such as roads, bridges, halls, playgrounds. This small increase in our share of the overall tax revenue would give us the ability to maintain our assets.”

Cr Hoban said while the Federal funding allocations announced this week were welcome, they went nowhere near addressing the problems of infrastructure maintenance.

“We have years of non-maintenance of assets haunting us.

“Nambucca Shire has been allocated $423,000 of the $250 million set aside for local community infrastructure however the final guidelines have not yet been released.

“I, along with many other councils, would like to see the Federal Government simply allocate the funds and leave us free to apply them.”

She warned people not to get too excited about the forthcoming funds.

“The council will have to be very careful in the allocation of these funds - we should not be jumping in and putting money into an asset that is not sustainable.”

The general manager, Michael Coulter, said irrespective of the guidelines, there would be no problem finding a suitable project.

Other allocations: Coffs Harbour $1.68 million, Bellingen $408,000.

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