Many people in the community have joined the O’Regan family in mourning the death of one of the district’s prominent citizens, Bevan O’Regan.

Mr O’Regan, 89, passed away on Friday, October 1 in Tamworth.

Mr O’Regan was a man of strongly- held beliefs and principles, a passionate advocate for the shire, regional Australia and the nation.

This commitment to his community saw Mr O’Regan serve as a shire councillor and mayor.

Mr O’Regan was a conservative, but progressive thinker, embracing ‘big picture’ ideas for development.

He was opposed to the loss of autonomy in local government, argued strongly against regionalism and was a passionate advocate of local council as the tier of government ‘closest to the people’ and the most effective and responsive machinery of democracy.

He never wavered from these principles.

Mr O’Regan retired from local government in September 2016 as the shire’s most senior elected representative.

A former mayor and deputy mayor, he served for 34 years as a Narrabri shire councillor following his appointment in a by-election in May, 1982.

Mr O’Regan was the last president of the Narrabri shire and subsequently the first mayor of the shire when the titles changed.

He was mayor for three years after 1991, with one year when he wasn’t in office during the four year period, and was deputy mayor to Cr Conrad Bolton.

Cr O’Regan left supporters and opponents under no illusion as to his political philosophy – basically, keep local government local at all costs.

He was passionately opposed to rationalisation of councils.

“It takes the local out of local government,” he argued.

His letters to the editor of The Courier over the years reflected his views.

Mr O’Regan was well-known for his passionate belief in the Magna Carta as the origin of our laws and freedoms and property rights which he feared were being fast eroded.

He was an avowed monarchist, a member of the Monarchist League, and carried a copy of the Australian Constitution in his briefcase.

“I’m probably the only person who does that,” he told The Courier when he retired.

The ‘missed opportunity’ to build a flood bypass around Narrabri was historically the shire council’s ‘biggest mistake’, Cr O’Regan believed.

“It was a missed opportunity for the town – the chance to take up late hydrologist Bob Christensen’s advice to build a major bypass of floodwater through Narrabri.

“Mr Christensen was going to create a diversion north of the town, between the racecourse and the railway line, which for $7-9 million could have reduced a 1971 size flood to a nuisance flood, a 40 percent less inundation.

“Narrabri will rue the day for ever that we didn’t act on Bob Christensen’s suggestions,” he said at the time.

Mr O’Regan played a major role in supporting the creation of Narrabri community radio and the Narrabri Small Areas Field Days.

When a proposed upgrade of Narrabri Airport was debated, he argued for a central airport at Bellata to service Narrabri and Moree and their districts and then have a ‘decent sized aircraft’ drawing passengers from both ends.

He proposed a large mural on the Narrabri West water tower depicting the West’s railway heritage years before those murals proliferated across country Australia on silos and sheds.

Mr O’Regan did not confine his community role to local government and was a candidate for state and federal elections over the years, always with the platform of advocacy for the ratepayers.

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