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My utmost apologies to all of you....

I have been saying to everyone for a while now that we are having problems with the amount of green waste at the transfer stations. Council came up with an idea to help solve it, but was not effective enough in telling you about it, (we did not advertise it enough). I thought that Council was going to do it and Council thought I had done it through my newsletter and the paper column. It has been a big mix up and I am sorry. Council was handing out pamphlets at the transfer station to everyone that came in for about two weeks before the fee started, but it seems that not everyone received it.

The biggest thing that I got back from every one when I wrote about green waste is...don't put the rates up to cover the green waste problem. It is not fair for us to subsidise the people that do not treat their own green waste. We are rural and everyone should be treating their green waste on their own property as we do, and some went on to say it should be user pays.

Ok, Council came back with - if we a) drop the price to $10.00 a cubic metre people might buy it (this has been the problem with not enough people buying it back), and b) put a $5.00 charge for the user pays then that would cover the cost of having to handle the green waste problem. We, your Council, are only trying to cover the cost of the problem so that the rates do not have to increase. If you can come up with a better solution then please let me know. I had one, and now this is only an idea... what if the green waste you brought into the transfer station was chipped for you while you waited and you then took it back home with you? That way we do not have to look after the green waste at all. Yes, you would still have to pay to get it chipped, remember user pays. Ideas, thoughtful options, opinions and alternative solutions all listened too!

The vacancy for the Central Ward Councillor is open for nominations until this Friday 19th July, 12 noon. Nominees must be enrolled electors living in the Litchfield Municipality and be nominated by at least three other persons who are eligible to vote at the election.

Public Meeting

There is a Special Meeting tomorrow, Thursday 18th July at 6.30pm in the Council Chambers to approve the Municipal Plan 2013 - 2014. The Agenda can be found on our Council Meetings and Minutes Page. Public are welcome to attend.

Australia Day Conference

Council's PR Officer and I attended the Australia Day Conference in Canberra on the 13th and 14th of June. The conference workshopped how to best organise Australia Day celebrations. The Barkly Shire representative from Tennant Creek spoke on what they did and how they got the people involved. It's the involvement by the community that makes the Australia Day event special. What I learnt is the amount of money that Councils put towards Australia Day event nationwide is relevant to their population, and the rest of the money is obtained by donations and volunteers who all put in a fair bit of work. It was important to see the events that other Councils organise and assess if we can do the same. Australia Day is about bringing the community together to care, to share and to enjoy the day.

National General Assembly of Local Government of Australia

While in Canberra I attended the National General Assembly of Local Government of Australia. Attendance included Mayors, Presidents and CEOs from 560 Councils throughout Australia. This year was the largest attendance as there was over a thousand of us turning up for the event. It was very informative with lots of networking for us all and discovering how other Councils provide local government services. The Honourable Anthony Albanese MP and Senator Barnaby Joyce were both guest speakers. Both spoke on why the community should say "YES" to the local government referendum that is coming up at the next election. They explained why Councils should engage with the community on this and let them know why it is needed. In the last four years Litchfield Council has received approximately $5 million of direct funding from the Federal Government to maintain our roads and upgrades of various facilities. It is this direct funding from the Federal Government that is jeopardised if there is a "no" vote at the referendum. I attended the official dinner function at Parliament House and was quite disappointed that we did not have a lot of politicians attend and actually sit at our tables and talk with us. The then Prime Minister Julia Gillard also spoke at the dinner and she asked us to think about the cars that Councils around Australia buy and to support Australian made cars instead of imported cars to help keep Australian jobs. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Snowy River Shire Council

After the conference I visited the nearby Snowy River Shire Council to see how they implemented their waste bin collection in the rural area. Their catchment area is of similar size and set up as to what we have here in Litchfield. The Snow River Shire has the same problem we do with two seasons, we have the wet season and they have the snow season. This means it is difficult for them to get around the Council area like it is for us in the wet season. One of the good ideas they had, that would work well here is a bin bank at the end of some of the worst roads so that the trucks do not have to go all the way down the difficult roads in those areas. Another innovative system we looked at was their computer program and how they managed the whole waste system. This will help if we go down that same path of a roadside pickup of our waste and recycling.

Waste Management

Currently the NT Government has provided funding to the six top end councils (TOPROC) to research and develop a governance system for the Councils to fund and manage waste. It is for this reason I stopped in Adelaide on the way back, to speak to the Executive Officer Marina Wagner of the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority on the outskirts of Adelaide. They are a regional group of four Councils, similar to our TOPROC group, who have come together to deal with their waste problems. The Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority provides a waste service to an area similar to the six Northern Territory Councils. Veolia, our current waste contractor very kindly invited us to look at their recycle centre and incinerator whilst in Adelaide. The shed we visited had a materials recovery plant in it and they explain how it worked. Thank you Veolia, it was a very informative visit and we enjoyed the day immensely.

All up, I gathered yet more information on what we could, should, shouldn't and can't be doing in waste management.

On other matters...

I recently held an Australian Citizenship Ceremony and welcomed two new Australians into our Municipality, who left the Council Chambers with big smiles on their faces.

A local resident and I sat on the side of Morgan Road for four hours on Saturday 6th July; we had over 30 people stop to talk to us. A signed petition on lifting the speed limits from 60 km/hour to 80 km/hour is currently in the hands of the Director of Planning at Litchfield Council for a decision.

Have a great week and look forward to seeing you at the next Council Meeting.

Allan McKay
Litchfield Mayor
0409 940 108