I have always been aware of the magnificent community spirit here in Litchfield, and that has been reinforced many times in recent weeks as I move around the Municipality, meet new people and attend functions.
Every single Litchfielder plays a role in making our Municipality even more special, from our volunteers – ordinary people doing extraordinary work – to our seniors, students and family members.
The challenge is to continue to improve. 2014 will be a year of opportunity and I commit Council to working with you to seize these opportunities. It is pleasing to see our community growing; businesses opening in our community bring jobs and future strength for our youth. I am looking forward to next year with a great deal of optimism as the developments at Coolalinga, the new prison, a new hospital and the Abattoir at Livingstone are on our horizon. Our schools are creating some outstanding students so new openings bring new careers; locally.
I would like to thank every member of our community for your contribution in creating a lifestyle that is the envy of others. Litchfield Municipality really is the best place to live.
Some local events over the festive season to consider are a visit to the Christmas markets, this weekend starting with Coolalinga on Saturday and Berry Springs on Sunday for those last minutes gift ideas. Taminmin Community Library will be holding their Senior Morning Tea Christmas Celebration on Friday, December 13th. The Bush Church has a Community Christmas party on the 14th December and a Christmas Day Brunch on 25th.
Community news announce the Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service permits to burn are now open for the season, please contact your local fire station or volunteer fire station. Tow Community consultations open; Northern Territory Government Health Regulations and the Top End Draft Management Plan is open.
During November I spent five days in Alice Springs firstly for the Local Government Association's General Meeting. It was a good meeting and catching up with all the Mayors and Presidents from around the Territory and seeing how things were going in their backyards. One of the reasons that I was their fore was that the Local Government Association in their annual report regarding funding from the Northern Territory Government, asked for $2 million funding for amalgamation of councils and unincorporated land. I asked the Local Government Association members (which are all the Councillors, Mayors and Presidents) around the Territory if they would take this item off the Agenda, as Litchfield Council does not agree with any amalgamations being it unincorporated land or other. The reason behind this was that in 2008 the Litchfield community decided that's not what they wanted. Looking at the finances of Litchfield Council it cannot afford to take on any more land or roads at this point in time, maybe down the track when Council has 14,000 rateable blocks it could be feasible. Right now I think it would be financial suicide. Council would be asking the residents now to subsidise any new proposals. I put Litchfields case forward but it was lost in the vote.
I then attended two days of the Australian Road Conference. The Conference is held yearly at different venues around the Country. There was a little bit of information floating around but most of matter was about how Federal Government is not funding local governments the amount they need to bring the road infrastructure up to standard and up to a better standard. It's really sad to see that everyone pays taxes on fuel, registration and everything associated with the roads, with that tax being set up to fund new roads and repairs and maintenance and that the money is not going where it should. Can I do anything about it, the answer to that is no, but attending Conferences such as this one gives the Australian Road Conference the support it needs to write a letter to the Government and Ministers telling them that local government needs more money to fix the infrastructure that keeps the country moving forward, would I go to another one the answer to that one is no.
On 21 November I attended Taminmin College Graduation Ceremony where roughly about 120 children were graduating. It was a fantastic evening with children receiving presentations. On behalf of Council and Litchfield community I presented the $3,000 Scholarship cheque to Evelyn Caddy to help with further education.
I have been out and about to a lot in different venues. Sometimes it seems like you achieve nothing in this job, but you keep working on putting the pieces together, little bits in meetings where you help organizing things like Wadham Lagoon, Freds Pass Reserve, Berry Creek name change to fly Creek, waste issues, and many other matters.
Litchfield Council held an auction for the Southport blocks on the 4th December, 2013. All blocks at the auction were sold the total amount $1,004,000 and of that amount Council only receives the rates that is owed and that amount is $300,000 with the rest of the money going into the NT Government Trustee Fund. The Southport locals put a petition to Government asking that all the money that the blocks are sold for remain in their community to carry out infrastructure work. I really hope that Government was listening to what the people said about leaving the money in the community.
I also attended the AACO-Community Reference Group's first meeting as a local resident representative. We walked around the site and it was explained to us what was happening and when they would be starting operations. I will let Councillor Vic Statham explain the rest to you as he is the Council representative.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I will be away on leave from 16 December to 16 January. This is the first break I have had since starting as Mayor and I'm looking forward to the time off. It has been a pleasure working with everyone this past year and are looking forward to next year and all its challenges and new and exciting things in the Litchfield Council area.
Our community spirit is something I am proud of and you should be to. Please remember there are lots of community events in our region, some small and some big, all needing a little help from time to time and people to attend to bring their vision to life.
The greatest gift we could exchange this season is to serve one another. May I ask that you all remember your neighbours at this time of year, especially the elderly and those who live alone.
I hope you get the presents you asked for, the rain we deserve and most of all give the family a big hug, see you next year.