Wentworth Shire to get slice of $20m pie

WENTWORTH Shire Council will receive a slice of a $20 million package to establish a four-council collaboration on regional projects and invest in local tourism, culture and infrastructure. 

Deputy Premier John Barilaro made the announcement yesterday in parliament after presenting the funding package to representatives from eight Far West councils, including Wentworth Shire Mayor Melisa Hederics. 

The money will help establish a four-council model in south NSW, known as a Joint Organisation (JO), which comprises the Wentworth, Balranald, Broken Hill and Central Darling councils.

The proposed funding package also includes for each JO: $5 million to invest in tourism and culture infrastructure projects, $250,000 to update existing road plans, $250,000 towards planning support and $500,000 to employ staff.

Mr Barilaro said the funding was “critical” to helping councils in regional NSW deliver on services and projects.

“We’ve put millions on the table to help encourage councils in the Far West to voluntarily join a Joint Organisation,” he said.

Late last year, the NSW Government introduced legislation to allow local councils in regional NSW to join forces and voluntarily form JOs.

During a Wentworth Shire council meeting in February, councillors carried a motion for the shire to team up with Balranald, Broken Hill and Central Darling councils.

Member for Murray Austin Evans said the JO would allow participating councils to plan and prioritise important projects across traditional council boundaries, that councils on their own would otherwise struggle to get done.

“This bucket of money will give members of JOs in the Far West grounds to start collaborating and making decisions that make life better for families, local business owners and communities in the region,” he said.

The NSW Government wants to see another JO comprising of north Far West councils Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar and Walgett, which have not yet made a commitment.

Funding from the $20 million package will be made available in the new financial year. 

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