First column from new mayor

In my first Mayoral column, I would like take the opportunity to thank the residents of the new Dubbo Regional Local Government Area for having faith to elect me and to my fellow Councillors for then having the faith to elect me as their first Mayor.

I intend on doing this job full time and to make myself available to all residents of the region regardless of what political perspective they may have.

Council has a number of challenges ahead in the next few years. Obviously the task of finalising the details of the merger is important - but equally important is making sure our region is able to compete economically.

The Dubbo Showground is a fantastic asset for the community. The great success of events like the annual Show and the Caravan and Camping Show, the regular harness racing meets and the various agricultural sales bring significant economic returns to the City. But let's be honest, parts of it need attention.

I could go in and write a big list of everything that's deteriorated on the ground but I'm sure the readers largely agree with me on this anyway.

This is a facility that with additional funding and the right business plan can reap great economic benefits and be one the community and users feel is up to scratch.

Council has applied for $490,000 in grant funding through the Stronger Country Communities Fund for new amenities and an upgrade to the existing Expo Centre. This would go some way to replacing the old, out-dated infrastructure that does not meet today’s standards. This would be welcome money.

However, if successful in winning this grant it will still be important that the future of the Showground is based on a well-defined, objective business plan and market research is done to ensure there is a clear plan and direction for its future use and development.

Part of the consideration is to identify exactly what kind of Showground and outdoor events centre that our region needs. Do we go head-to-head with Tamworth and focus on equestrian events or do we aim to be a broad exhibition centre that caters for things such as the already successful Caravan and Camping Show?

The best way to work out our market position is to gather detailed market research, review any existing plans and then start the process of setting a clear business plan.

I would love to see our Showground be versatile to have big events (like the Dubbo Show and Caravan and Camping show) right through to having small events that don't cost an arm and a leg for organisers. I fully understand the difficulty very small community groups have when asked to fork out just to use the facility for a brief period. We need to make sure hire costs don’t cause events to go elsewhere which can potentially hurt the whole city.

I would like to ask the whole region to join with me in thinking big when it comes to our Showground. Let’s all get excited about the endless possibilities that can come our way if we all work together.

Essentially we have a blank canvas where the community can help in the design and purpose of this facility. That's why I am urging the community to join me in making its redevelopment a civic priority.

I expect the new Council will continue to work with the many users at the Showground. There needs to be ongoing and genuine conversations with the community on the input the development of facilities like the Dubbo Showground and I am excited about the possibilities.

Last Edited: 12 Oct 2017

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