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Labor blames debt for rejecting events proposal

Thursday, 29th January, 2015

By Erica Visser

Belt-tightening remained more important than building Broken Hill’s next big event, was the message sent by Labor Councillors last night.

A bid to pay an out-of-town consultant to conjure a major tourism event to rival St Pat’s Race Meeting has been voted down once and for all.

The ALP members, alongside wildcard Cr Bob Algate, voted against a recommendation to put out a tender for the creation and ongoing management of the proposed project.

Last month councillors deferred the decision to set aside $30,000 from existing budgets until a committee made up of tourism operators was formalised. 

That committee was still up in the air but, as one Labor councillor defensively put to the BDT last night, “we’ve changed our mind. We’ve got no money.”

Another councillor, Darriea Turley, echoed the sentiment.

“We can’t rely on any of our funds. At the moment, we are still in a massive deficit. 

“...We have to make the big decisions. The big event is critical but the $6 million deficit budget foreshadows it.”

Wincen Cuy appeared surprised by the outcome with the mayor saying “You’re kidding me!” after the failed vote.

A strong advocate for the event, Mayor Cuy had previously suggested a consultant may take part at no cost in exchange for rights. 

“It is a disappointing result. I think when we went out in 2013 to talk to the community economic diversification was a priority,” Mayor Cuy told media following the meeting.

“The event could attract significant funding and might not cost Council anything. Whilst we are not financially in the black, we have the opportunity to go out to tender but we don’t have to accept anything.”

Mayor Cuy said timing would have been perfect with the city “top of mind” nationally following coverage generated by last week’s heritage listing announcement.

However, the bid for a second major local event could come up again further down the track.

Meanwhile, a plan was passed to develop a working group to build a calendar documenting Broken Hill’s “many significant achievements” starting in 2015 and going back over the past century. 

“We need to be celebrating these achievements going forward, of which there has already been some in 2015,” the mayor said.

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