Kempsey hosts successful Country Mayors Association meeting

Kempsey Shire Council

Kempsey had the honour of hosting the NSW Country Mayors Association (CMA) for their Roads and Transport Conference from June 12-14, 2024. The event provided a valuable platform for meeting with State Government partners and other stakeholders to discuss the challenges, successes, and opportunities related to regional and rural transport and roads.

Held at the iconic Slim Dusty Centre, this event showcased our shire’s commitment to excellence and hospitality, drawing visitors from all over the state.

The event kicked off on Wednesday evening with a warm welcome from Kempsey Shire Mayor, Leo Hauville, who introduced attendees to the rich heritage of Slim Dusty through a guided museum tour. Local food and beverages added a delightful touch to the evening, setting the tone for a memorable gathering.

Thursday morning began with an impactful address by the Hon. Jenny Aitchison, Minister for Regional Transport and Roads. Minister Aitchison’s familiarity with CMA’s concerns was evident as she discussed disaster relief, emphasising the importance of streamlined funding processes and collaborative efforts beyond politics. She almost made a pre-budget announcement of $120 million earmarked for transport corridors to highlight the government’s commitment to regional development. The Q&A that followed included robust discussions on funding for potholes and infrastructure, with the Minister reaffirming the need for Integrated Transport Plans involving community stakeholders.

The conference’s first day also featured a significant moment with Slim Dusty’s daughter, Anne Kirkpatrick, unveiling new museum displays and celebrating Slim’s 97th birthday. This heartfelt tribute to a local legend added a unique cultural dimension to the event.

The discussions continued with insights from Michael Kemp MP, Member for Oxley, who praised the CMA for its effective advocacy on regional issues ranging from roads to crime. His acknowledgment of the CMA’s role in initiating crucial funding inquiries underscored the association’s impact.

A notable panel discussion followed, featuring Acting CEO of the NSW Reconstruction Authority Mal Lanyon and Deputy Secretary Matt Fuller from Transport for NSW. The candid exchange addressed the need for improved coordination and faster processing times for disaster recovery funds. Kempsey’s successful bridge replacements served as a prime example of building back better, a sentiment echoed by both panelists and local officials.

The day concluded with a tour of some of Kempsey’s new bridges, including the official opening of Loftus Bridge by Minister Aitchison. This tour highlighted the tangible benefits of recent infrastructure investments, showcasing Kempsey Shire’s proactive approach to disaster resilience.

Friday’s sessions continued with diverse perspectives from industry leaders. NRMA Policy Advisor Jonathan Malota stressed the critical need for enhanced road funding and safety measures, while BusNSW’s Philip Whipp highlighted challenges and future plans for regional bus services. Road Freight NSW’s CEO Simon O’Hara addressed the importance of supporting the trucking industry amidst economic fluctuations, and Newpave Asphalt’s Peter Gellert showcased innovative road condition assessment tools.

The conference concluded with insights from UGL Regional Linx’s, Mitch Scealy, who discussed the maintenance and heritage challenges of regional rail infrastructure. His commitment to strengthening ties with the CMA underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in regional development.

The Roads and Transport Conference in Kempsey was a resounding success, marked by meaningful discussions, cultural celebrations, and practical insights.

Council takes immense pride in having hosted such a prestigious event, reinforcing its dedication to regional progress and community well-being. As the CMA Executive looks forward to their next meeting in August, the spirit of cooperation and shared vision from this event will undoubtedly continue to drive positive change across regional NSW.

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