Upper Lachlan Shire Council Election: "Meet the Candidates" evening in Gunning, 31 August 2016

With candidates for the Upper Lachlan Sire Council elections at the Old Hume Cafe in Gunning, 31 August 2016
On the evening of Wednesday 31 August 2016, candidates for the Upper Lachlan Shire Council elections spoke to members of the Gunning community at the Old Hume Cafe.

The council elections will be held on Saturday 10 September 2016. Twelve candidates are running for the nine council positions. 

About 50 people attended the event organised by the proprietor of the Old Hume Cafe, Peta Luck. To put this in perspective, that is about 10% of Gunning's population.

The key issues raised by the community related to roads, youth, tourism, wind farms, and what is becoming known as "Collexit".

Many community members are opposed to further wind farms in the Shire, with already some 12 wind farms in existence. The major issues with wind farms relate to perceived health impacts and the effect on property valuations in the vicinity.

Roads are a perennial issue for Gunning, The recent heavy rainfall has seen many in the community cut off through flooding on various roads in the Shire, including the Gunning-Collector Road and on Gundaroo Road last weekend at Sutton.

Regular commuters to Canberra will notice the veritable patchwork of hot mix that appears to wax and wane as the rain falls on Gundaroo Road. There is clearly a safety issue but of course local governments are often at the mercy of the NSW Government when it comes to major roads.

Facilities for youth and tourism got a guernsey, with many in the village asking what council intends to do to encourage young people to stay in the village, and also to attract more tourists, particularly from Canberra.

Issues from Collector were raised, with some residents of Collector lobbying for an independent body to manage funding from the wind farm companies. While some candidates were willing to discuss the issue, others were opposed on the basis of short-term planning that may actually lead to assets that the Council may become responsible for maintaining at a future date.

Candidates for the Upper Lachlan Shire Council elections
Many in the community felt that Council was not doing enough for the areas outside of Crookwell. For the residents of Collector, leaving the Upper Lachlan Shire and becoming part of the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council is regarded as a viable alternative known colloquially as "Collexit". 

It would appear that the candidates have a bit of work to do to earn the votes of the residents of Gunning. There is much to do in the local area, much of which relates to normal maintenance issues before anything new can be added.

But the turn-out for the event was encouraging, and candidates are making frequent appearances in the village of late.

Whether this will be enough to satisfy the residents of Gunning is another thing. But it is clear that the event sparked a good deal of interest in the community.

Don't forget to vote on Saturday 10 September. For further information, including postal voting and the location of polling places, visit http://www.votensw.info/.

Information on the individual candidates is available at http://candidates.elections.nsw.gov.au/ contest/councillor/LG1601-131-01-00. Further information about the candidates was published recently published in the Crookwell Gazette.

Thank you to Peta Luck for organising this event and for the opportunity for me to act as the master of ceremonies for the evening.