Inland Rail Office to Open in Moree
Moree Plains Shire Council has welcomed today’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Minister for Finance the Hon. Mathias Cormann and our local Federal Member and Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, the Hon. Mark Coulton regarding the opening of a new regional office in Moree to support communities and local businesses from Narrabri to the New South Wales/Queensland border to identify and connect to the benefits of Inland Rail.
A strong advocate for the design and delivery of Inland Rail, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack said the presence of departmental staff along the Inland Rail corridor would allow local people to talk to the Australian Government face-to-face about the opportunities and potential benefits on hand.
“It’s vital that our public service understands and serves the public and what better way to do this than employ local people to work with and among local communities,” Mr McCormack said.
“Regional officers play a vital role in guiding and connecting local communities and industry to information, support networks, local procurement and employment opportunities.
“In addition to supporting local communities and businesses, the Moree office will play an integral part in supporting the Government’s $44 million 2019-20 Budget initiative to develop strategic business cases for the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program.
“This program will maximise connections to the national freight rail network – integrating regional lines and connecting local communities to the long-term benefits that flow from Inland Rail.”
The Moree office will complement the regional engagement activities of other offices already established by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development in Toowoomba, Dubbo and Wodonga. The new office will enable regular and direct engagement with communities and stakeholders through Inland Rail’s construction.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann welcomed the expansion of the regional network which demonstrates the Government’s commitment to building economic resilience in our regions.
“Large-scale infrastructure investment is a catalyst for economic growth through job creation, and industry and regional development,” Senator Cormann said.
“Connecting regional communities to domestic and international markets will ensure our producers and manufacturers remain globally competitive into the future.”
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government and Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said that the additional office in Moree reflected the Australian Government’s commitment to unlock the potential of our regions.
“The Liberal National Government remains committed to decentralisation, which creates strong regional communities and economies by creating local jobs and economic diversity.”
“This is a great example of how a department can bring those working on government initiatives into the communities they are working to benefit.
“Further, local governments in the area have indicated their support and desire to develop long-term benefits through this significant infrastructure project being delivered by the Coalition Government.”
Mr Coulton said Moree is uniquely positioned to drive better freight productivity through road and rail connections to Inland Rail.
Mayor Katrina Humphries was delighted by the announcement and looked forward to the office opening shortly.
“It is great to see that our Federal counterparts recognise that the Moree Plains can play a pivotal role in unleashing regional development opportunities off the back of this nation building project”, she said.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development plans to begin recruitment for the new position in August 2019.
2019 My Moree Photograph Competition Announced
The My Moree Photography Competition is returning to the Plains with bigger prizes in a suite of new categories and a whole of floor expansive exhibition at Bank Art Museum Moree (BAMM), with entries opening on the My Moree Facebook page from Monday 22 July 2019.
The inaugural 2017 competition saw more than 400 entries received from community members demonstrating what ‘My Moree’ means to them and thousands of visitors flocking to BAMM to see the My Moree Photography Competition exhibition on display.
The second event – which will once again be hosted on the My Moree Facebook page - will be open for entries for a three-week period from 22 July to midnight Sunday 11 August 2019, with the ensuing exhibition returning to BAMM for an eight-week period over September and October.
Council’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Manager Libby Carter said that this year’s competition comes at a time when some in the region may benefit from a little reminder of the reasons why we choose to live our lives on the Plains.
“Drought has been having an ongoing impact on our community and the competition is by no means about glossing over our times of hardship.
“But often, these times of hardship are also times that reinforce our incredibly strong sense of community, and that’s exactly what My Moree is all about.”
Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
- Grand Jury Prize - $1,000 voucher
- People’s Choice - $1,000 voucher
- Our Country - $500 voucher
- Our History - $500 voucher
- People of the Plains - $500 voucher
- Iconic Moree Plains - $500 voucher
- 2 x Up and Coming Talent Awards for entrants under the age of 18 - $250 voucher each.
(All prize vouchers are from Harvey Norman Moree for photography equipment.)
Council’s Acting Economic Development and Grants Manager Susannah Pearse said that while entrants aren’t required to nominate their photos in a particular category (except in the Up and Coming talent category), they are encouraged to use the categories as inspiration.
“We’d love to see some great photos that document what the shire is enduring right now, the daily grind of feeding stock, our starkly beautiful barren plains, our community and families pulling together.
“Iconic Moree Plains could reflect our stunning Art Deco architecture, Artesian Water or elements of our strong Kamilaroi culture.
Mrs Pearse explained that the Up and Coming Talent awards are new additions to the prize pool as organisers wanted a way of recognising the promising talent of local youth.
“We also cannot wait to see what historic photos come out of the woodwork and are particularly excited to be able to feature a local historic display in the stunning, heritage listed confines of the Bank Art Museum Moree.”
To enter the competition, entrants must post a photo taken within the Moree Plains Shire to the My Moree Facebook page during the competition period, with the wording “here’s my entry into the #mymoree photography competition”.
For entries in the Up and Coming Talent category, the photographer must be 18 years or younger and the photo must be posted to the My Moree Facebook page during the competition period, with the wording “here’s my entry into the Up and Coming Talent prize in the #mymoree photography competition”.
All entries must be the poster’s original work, or clearly identify the original artist. Entrants are encouraged to provide a brief explanation of their photo entry, however this is not mandatory.
Photo entries will be judged by an independent panel on their popularity (likes, reactions and shares) on the My Moree Facebook page and their creativity.
Full terms and conditions of entry will be available on Council’s website when the competition opens on Monday.
Moree CBD – Tree Replacement Program
In consultation with Moree Plains’ Urban Advisory Committee, Council has approved a tree replacement program for Balo Street commencing this financial year to replace the Ficus Hillii trees currently growing in the main street. (The membership of the Urban Advisory Committee includes Councillors, Council staff and members of the community and the Committee provides recommendations to Council in relation to, amongst other matters, the amenity of the Moree CBD.)
Over 20 years ago, the main street of Moree was significantly redeveloped. This was undertaken on the advice of specialists and included planting a number of Ficus Hillii on Balo Street. The trees recommended by the external advisers of the time, were chosen due to their quick growing nature, lush canopy (needed in our summers), limited foliage drop and general aesthetic appeal.
Whilst delivering on many of these fronts, these trees have, over time, created expensive maintenance responsibilities for Council as they have grown larger.
Major pavement works in recent years have identified that the root mass under the pavement and concrete has created damage to irrigation and stormwater lines, in addition to the popped tiles and broken concrete foundations. Over 300 tiles have been replaced in the main street as a direct result of the vigorous roots from these trees. Further, recent works at tenancies in the main street have revealed that the roots systems are encroaching under shop fronts.
With this species of tree, more than a third of a tree is usually hidden beneath the ground.
Although hidden, the roots are vitally important in a number of ways. Fine roots gather the water and nutrients the tree needs to grow and survive, and these are carried through coarse, woody roots to the stem. The coarse roots have the additional role of supporting the tree and resisting the overturning force of the wind on the crown. Lateral roots near the soil surface thicken over successive years, eventually becoming the large woody roots of the framework root system of a mature tree - there are usually between four and eleven such roots which may become 30cm or more in diameter close to the stem.
Mitigating actions such as tree guards have proven counter-productive elsewhere in the Shire. For large trees such as this species, the root system is engineered to support a massive structure above the ground so as the branches widen and gain weight, the roots below are growing and spreading to support the mass. Tree guards seek to encourage downward root growth, however, with the roots needing to support such branch weight, such guards are ineffective with the roots inevitably seeking outward growth to do their job.
Further, despite regular pruning to reduce the overall mass of these trees, each tree is genetically hardwired to continually thicken the branches closest to the trunk and to continually expand their root footprint to counter balance the expectant mass of branches above.
As such, the existing Ficus Hillii trees in the CBD area of Moree have resulted in increasing maintenance costs as their canopy and root system is ever enlarging.
Director of Engineering Services, Ian Dinham explained that Council has recognised the impost these trees are placing on Council’s main street maintenance budget.
“These trees, whilst serving many purposes, are stretching Council’s main street maintenance budget in an unsustainable manner. This burden is only going to increase over time.
“Recognising this, Council has taken advice and consulted with the Urban Advisory Committee and endorsed a tree replacement program will ensure that the dense cooling effect of the trees in the main street is retained whilst replacing this particular species of tree which has such an invasive root system and a tree canopy that becomes heavy and intrusive over time. While Council acknowledges the aesthetic appeal of these trees, it is very important for this to be balanced with practical considerations like the cost implications of such maintenance and the risks associated with retaining these trees.
This sentiment was echoed by Mayor Katrina Humphries, “In these times in particular, I am sure our ratepayers would expect Council to make prudent financial decisions to ensure that money expended by Council in the main street delivers real value. I am confident that our business houses and community members could dream up a heap of ways we could better spend that money rather than replacing tiles and undertaking other costly maintenance activities.”
The replacement of the Ficus Hillii trees is part of a tree replacement program endorsed by Council. Council has taken advice on the alternate options for shade in the main street (including planting other appropriate tree species) and will canvass these options with stakeholders. At the present time, the program has commenced with 4 trees to be replaced this financial year. Every 2-3 years thereafter, a further 4 trees will be similarly replaced until all trees have been so replaced. It is anticipated that the program will take approximately 16 years to carry out.
At its meeting of 27 June 2019, Council resolved to place the draft Procurement Policy on public exhibition for a period of 28 days.
A copy of this Policy can be found on Council’s website – About Us> Have your Say> Open for Public Comment.
Council's Procurement Policy is designed to ensure that all expenditure of public funds on the purchase of goods and services results in the best possible value for Moree Plains Shire Council and the community.
Council staff have carried out extensive reviews of the current Procurement and Local Supplier Preference policies following a request from Council. The policies have been extensively workshopped by Council where it was discussed at length regarding the options for the policies in the future. Recommendations from this workshop have been incorporated into the Draft Policy.
To enable a strong link between the Procurement guidelines and the Local Supplier Preference guidelines for Council staff, these two separate policies have been combined into one draft Procurement Policy.
A hard copy of the Policy is available from Council’s customer service centres in Moree and Mungindi and the Moree Community Library.
Further enquiries in relation to this Policy should be directed to Council’s Procurement Officer on (02) 6757 3222.