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Ian Peters - 9 February 2016

Ian Peters made the following comments in the Public Access Session at the Ordinary Council Meeting 9 February 2016.

Sign the petition for Araluen and Neringla to become part of Eurobodalla Council

Our Village and Our Community

The small and thriving town of Araluen and its associated neighbours, including Neringla, sit in one of the few flat valleys of the immediate coastal ranges, equidistant between Moruya and Braidwood.

Enjoying a remarkable geographic amenity and micro-climate, Araluen is a growing and lively small township with much new housing and land development. Recent and current subdivisional activity has added around 35 new small rural allotments. These are quickly being developed adding many new permanent residents who now contribute to the community. In addition there has been an ongoing home building process taking place across established land titles that make up the mosaic of this historic township. This has seen the community increase remarkably over the last five years and more is in prospect.

There are approximately 300 full time residents in the area, with many are engaged in cattle, lucerne, sheep, and fruit and vegetable cropping. There are also a large number of retirees, smaller hobby farms and people working in local businesses in Braidwood and surrounding areas. Araluen and Neringla residents pride themselves on their self reliance, independence and community spirit, and have cooperatively worked together to overcome all manner of adversity and difficulty.

Palerang Council Revenues from Araluen and Neringla

Currently Palerang Council revenues from Araluen/Neringla are approximately $430,000 per annum (2015-16 data). This is made up of Ordinary Rates $200,069; waste management charges $129,382 and apportioned percentages from the Federal Assistance grant and a Roads to Recovery grant totalling $101,388.

Palerang Council assets in Araluen and Neringla include the local roads (of which 21 km are tarmac and 39 km gravel) as well as two new concrete bridges, two cemeteries and one campground.

Issue Number One: Don’t split Araluen

We wish to make it clear that the local government rationalisation proposals announced by the NSW Premier in mid December 2015 are not in contention. Our concern lies with the proposal to divide the broader Araluen community between two council authorities. The planned splitting of Palerang appears to be one of only a few rationalisation proposals that does not involve a whole-of-council merger, where the problem would not arise.

The NSW State Government’s Proposal

Figure 1 shows the Araluen, Neringla and Majors Creek areas, and has been sourced from the Boundary Changes website. The red line indicates the existing boundary between Palerang Shire and the Eurobodalla Shire areas. The yellow line indicates the new boundary proposed by NSW State Government that will separate the Queanbeyan and Goulburn LGA’s – effectively splitting the Araluen and Neringla communities in two.

Figure 1. Current NSW Government Proposal.

 Araluen boundaries

Under the proposal Araluen will be broadly split down the middle with the eastern areas amalgamated with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council and the western areas amalgamated with Queanbeyan City Council, itself a proud adjunct to Canberra, our largest inland city. Somehow, we sense, they will not have their heart in Araluen.

Splitting a small cohesive community according to the wandering line of the Araluen Creek makes no sense at all. A small town, divided like this, is from a local government perspective, in danger of becoming a “no-man’s” land. The proposal betrays a lack of consideration for the future sustainability of the village and its surrounds. Being divided, and especially with the respective councils being quite distant, it is all too easy for one of the councils to assume the other will assume responsibility for issues at hand. Araluen deserves better than this. There has to be a single local government authority.

Issue Number Two: Inclusion in Eurobodalla Shire Council

Those signing this petition strongly believe that Araluen and Neringla should be included into the Eurobodalla Shire Council area.

1. Eurobodalla Shire Council is our closest council

Araluen is very sensitive to its relative remoteness and ‘end-of- the-road’ positioning. The proposed council amalgamations profoundly compound this concern. Absorption into the Eurobodalla LGA corrects this with the council nearer than Queanbeyan and Goulburn. Both these are a good deal further than was the case with Palerang Council based in Bungendore.

The village of Araluen sits a mere 12 kilometres from the present Eurobodalla Shire boundary, and approximately 60 kilometres to the Eurobodalla Shire Council Chambers in Moruya. Eurobodalla Shire Council already assume responsibility for the Moruya – Araluen Road to within 12 kilometres of Araluen. We would like to become part of a Council that would prefer have us as part of their community and not be treated as an add-on and arbitrarily included as part of the Palerang Council area. This boundary change presents an opportunity for our growing community to fit in with a council who will support us.

2. Integrity of the water catchment

The ongoing saga of the downstream effects of the proposed Dargue’s gold mine, in which Eurobodalla residents are key stakeholders, has highlighted the importance of sustaining the integrity of the Deua River system. Araluen is a critical upstream component of that watershed which should be managed as a whole. Equal concerns arise in the areas of fire management and challenges with invasive weeds within this river system.

Araluen Landcare would be better serviced by Eurobodalla Council’s alignment with Local Land Services and Deua Landcare groups, who work together when seeking funding and rolling out valuable and effective natural heritage projects within the Deua River system.

3. Disenfranchisement

Araluen and Neringla have approximately 250 registered electors, a small voice in the current Palerang Area and one which will be made even smaller if it is split. The proposed boundary change will see some of our electors in the Queanbeyan LGA, and the remainder in Goulburn, effectively diminishing our representation.

4. An opportunity for a bit of vision in regional infrastructure

It has been commonly observed in recent years just how much more tourist traffic is venturing through to Araluen. Incorporation into the Eurobodalla Shire would mean that the Araluen Road could play a more useful role for this part of the South Coast region and could be better maintained to serve as an alternative route for tourist traffic, particularly through the summer months.

Araluen is increasingly economically connected to the South Coast region, with many cattle farmers engaged in direct supply contracts with Affleck’s Abattoirs in Moruya, and are reliant upon the Araluen to Moruya Road as the main transport route for their livestock which could be better maintained by the Eurobodalla Shire Council. Araluen fruit and vegetable growers earn much of their income making sales in the South Coast region, including the Moruya Farmers Market and various retail outlets. These producers are also reliant upon the Araluen to Moruya Road as their key transport route.

Changes Proposed in this Submission

The map at Figure 2 represents the Araluen and Neringla areas that could be amalgamated with the Eurobodalla Shire LGA.

The red line indicates the current boundary between Eurobodalla Shire (ESC) and the Palerang Shire. Following success of the NSW State Government’s merger proposal, the yellow line represents the proposed Palerang/Goulburn Mulwaree Council (GMC) areas in the north, and the proposed Palerang/Queanbeyan City Council (QCC) areas.

The white line indicates the proposed boundary and extent of change included in this proposal, and unites the Araluen and Neringla communities under one LGA, the Eurobodalla Shire Council. The total area for consideration is approximately 300 square kilometres. Approximately half of this area is State owned land as National Park or State Forest etc. The remaining freehold land consists of approximately 216 rates assessments.

Figure 2. The proposed new boundary alignment in white, which includes the Araluen and Neringla areas amalgamated into the Eurobodalla Shire LGA – a total area of approximately 300 square kilometres.

Figure 2. The proposed new boundary alignment in white, which includes the Araluen and Neringla areas amalgamated into the Eurobodalla Shire LGA

Palerang Council Revenues from Araluen and Neringla

Ordinary Rates – 216 Total Assessments

Description

Amount

Business Ordinary - (AV $0.18164)

$686.61

Business Ordinary Base - 4 @$390

$1,560.00

Farmland Ordinary - (AV $0.18225)

$40,188.87

Farmland Ordinary Base - 43 @$1080

$46,440.00

Residential Ordinary - (AV $0.18639)

$33,454.08

Residential Ordinary Base - 169 @$460

$77,740.00

Total General Rates Revenue 2015 - 2016

$200,069.56

Waste Management Charges

Description

Amount

Waste Programs Charge - Rural 43 @$362

$15,566.00

Waste Programs Charge – Village 169 @326

$55,094.00

Waste Services Charge 216 @$51.27

$11,074.32

Wheelie Bin Pick Up – Village 150 @$274 (Estimate)

$41,100.00

Wheelie Bin Pick Up – Bin Compound 30 @$206

$6,180.00

Wheelie Bin Fee – Not Occupied 16 @$23 (Estimate)

$368.00

Total Charges for Waste Management 2015 - 2016

$129,382.32

Funding Share from Other Sources

Description

Amount

Federal Assistance Grant $3M @2.8%

$84,000.00

Roads to Recovery - $621K @2.8%

$17,388.00

Total External Funding 2015 - 2016

$101,388.00

Council Assets in Araluen and Neringla

Tarmac Roads

Asset

Description

Qty

Condition

Village/Rural

Burns Lane

Tarmac

0.5Kms

Good

Village

Quong Tart Street

Tarmac

2Kms

Good

Village

Norton Road

Tarmac

0.5Kms

Good

Village

Araluen – B’wood Road

Tarmac

10Kms

Good

Rural

Neringla Road

Tarmac

3Kms

Good

Rural

Majors Creek Road

Tarmac

5Kms

Good

Rural

Tarmac Road – Village

3Kms

Tarmac Road – Rural

18Kms

Tarmac Road - Total

21Kms

Gravel Roads

Asset

Description

Qty

Condition

Village/Rural

Hospital Hill Road

Gravel

2Kms

Good

Village

Dirty Butter Road

Gravel

2Kms

Good

Village

Norton Lane

Gravel

0.5Kms

Good

Village

Du Pont Lane

Gravel

0.5Kms

Good

Village

Sun Cutting Road

Gravel

1Kms

Poor

Rural

Araluen –Moruya Road

Gravel

10Kms

Poor

Rural

Neringla Road

Gravel

11Kms

Good

Rural

Majors Creek Road

Gravel

7Kms

Poor

Rural

Ang. Cemetery Road

Gravel

2Kms

Poor

Rural

Victoria Street

Gravel

3Kms

Good

Rural

Gravel Road – Village

5Kms

Gravel Road - Rural

34Kms

Gravel Road - Total

39Kms

Asset

Description

Condition/Comments

Ang Cemetery

 

Crown reserve. Council assist locals in maintenance slashing, herbicide and weed control

Catholic Cemetery

 

Crown reserve. Council assist locals in maintenance slashing, herbicide and weed control

Camp Ground

Primitive campsite

Crown reserve. Council assist locals in maintenance slashing, herbicide and weed control

Neringla Road Bridge

Concrete Bridge

Concrete Bridge crossing the Araluen Creek. 5 years old. Good condition.

Majors Creek Road Bridge

Concrete Bridge

Concrete Bridge crossing the Araluen Creek. 10 years old. Good condition.

Council's Reply

As you would be aware, at its meeting on 23 February, Council resolved as follows:

THAT Council:

1. Note the NSW Government’s decision on 18 December 2015 that Eurobodalla Shire Council remains as a stand-alone Council and that it not merge with any neighbouring council or alter its boundaries.

2. Note and support Palerang Council’s position in regards to the Minister for Local Government’s merger proposals and Palerang Council’s subsequent motion of 14 January 2016 at its Extraordinary Meeting.

3. Write to the Delegates of Queanbeyan and Goulburn Mulwaree and the residents who have written to Council regarding the proposed boundary change to the Palerang Council that splits the townships of Araluen and Neringla, expressing its concern with this proposed boundary.

Council came to this decisions after full consideration of the issues raised and I thank you once again for making the effort to contribute to Council meetings on such an important issue.