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City to host the next councils' conference

Wednesday, 2nd March, 2011

Darriea Turley Darriea Turley

By Gina Wilson

Broken Hill will host next year's Western Division Councils Association conference.

Deputy mayor Darriea Turley said the announcement, made at this year's annual conference, would bring about 120 people to the city.

"That's great news for Broken Hill," Ms Turley said.

"We did some very good lobbying and we were successful."

Councillor Turley attended the conference in Brewarrina on Monday with fellow Broken Hill City Councillor Marion Browne and general manager Frank Zaknich.

They joined staff and councillors from 12 other councils that make up the Western Division of Councils of NSW, including Balranald, Wentworth, Hay, Bourke, Moree Plains and Walgett.

Ms Turley said those attending were given a glimpse of Broken Hill when Mr Zaknich gave a presentation on the proposed Film Studio.

"Frank did a great presentation on the film studio and invited everyone to come to Broken Hill for the St Pat's races and to tour our film studio."

Local water utilities, the Murray Darling Basin Plan, flood mitigation, emergency service levies and improving funding for vital infrastructure like roads and bridges were some of the major topics on the agenda.

Outgoing president Ray Longfellow, from the Central Darling Shire Council, said the National Broadband Network (NBN) and mobile phone coverage were also discussed.

"Mobile coverage or the lack of. Anywhere you go in the west it appears there's a huge black spot - everywhere," Clr Longfellow said.

"The telcos say it's because you don't have the population but why are we being treated as second class citizens for goodness sake?"

Clr Longfellow said the Association thought the $43 billion earmarked for the NBN could be better spent.

"There's a huge cost involved with that in relation to our health networks, infrastructure," Clr Longfellow said.

"How do we know it is still going to be relevant in five years' time?"

Meanwhile he said the Western Division was back on the political radar.

Work the group had done over the past two years had helped it get back in the minds of state and federal politicians, Clr Longfellow said.

"There was a sense when I first went in as president that we'd lost our way and there was a lack of recognition," he said.

"Before, whoever was the president, the general manager of that council was required to do all that type of work and with the workload that wasn't happening.

"No individual could be accounted to it but we were sort of losing our direction."

He said it had been tough going but between putting their faces out there and hiring an executive assistant to do much of the administration work, the effort had paid off.

"(We did it) by consulting, ringing, knocking on doors, getting to Macquarie Street (NSW State Parliament) - having a face to the Western Division," he said.

"With the appointment of the part time executive assistant, it's starting to bear fruit."

Ms Turley said the city's continued involvement in the Association was crucial.

"It's a very organised organisation," Ms Turley said.

"It's important for Broken Hill City Council we stay aligned with them - it's a good network."

Clr Longfellow now takes up the vice president's role while Carrathool Council mayor Peter Laird was elected president.

"I think its appropriate. After a couple of years in the jobs you need a change. Peter's a pretty good operator," he said.

"This will allow me to step back away from that top position and allow new eyes to look at the position. Peter (Laird) has new vision and new horizons he wants to explore."

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