The council term has been a time of great progress for Narrabri Shire, with many different projects propelling our local government area into greater prosperity, technology and investment.
The Narrabri Shire is on the cusp of being a leading energy, transport, manufacturing and logistics hub and I am proud to have been part of this advancement.
As I reflect on this time, there has certainly been unprecedented events across the shire.
Our agriculture industry emerged from crippling drought, and floods and fire have also impacted our district. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the entire world to a standstill, affecting lives and livelihoods.
Not only has Narrabri Shire shown remarkable resilience, but also great strength, diversity and innovation.
During the council term, we have used the 2017/2027 Community Strategic Plan as our roadmap to deliver services, facilities and infrastructure while engaging with business leaders, industry bodies, government and the community to ensure the best possible outcomes.
One of the major achievements has been the Northern NSW Inland Port (N2IP) which is set to become the premier manufacturing and logistics site in Northern NSW.
In 2020, Narrabri Shire achieved funding of $16.8 million from the state government and $7.8 million from the federal government to establish the N2IP as a hub for freight and industry which also has the potential to create 2000 jobs and benefit the broader community.
Significant amendment of the Local Environment Plan (LEP) has been part of this process in preparation for rezoning to accommodate the project, with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) issuing a Gateway Determination which was followed by extensive community consultation.
Both federal and state governments flagged this project as a game-changer for the North West region, and a crucial element in the nation’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan. This is the result of three years of strategic planning by Narrabri Shire Council.
Establishment of the N2IP has opened the door to other opportunities, with Narrabri announced as one of six Special Activation Precincts (SAP) in NSW. By bringing together planning and investment support services, the SAPs can plan and deliver industrial and commercial infrastructure with minimal disruption.
The Narrabri SAP is expected to capitalise on Narrabri’s strategic location, its accessibility to the N2IP and proximity to the Inland Rail line. It will have the ability to access national and international markets port to port and will act as a commercial hub for energy-intensive manufacturing, agriculture and freight productivity. It will enable council to work with state government agencies to ensure key critical infrastructure to support growth in the economy and community.
Master planning for the SAP commenced in 2021 and will enable the shire to reap the rewards of this action in the years ahead.
Along with freight, energy and logistics capabilities, Narrabri Shire Council offers an inclusive and connected community that provides civic leadership and a progressive and diverse economy. There is rich culture, arts and heritage preservation and strong community focus. Health, safety and support are paramount and amenity and infrastructure upgrades have been a highlight of the past five years along with a focus on waste and weed management and environmental planning and development.
From July 2016 to June 2021, Narrabri Shire Council was successful in attaining $112 million in funding. During this time, $1.9 million was spent on stage one of the Narrabri CBD upgrade, $965,000 on the Narrabri Creek shared pathway construction, $4.5 million on the Baan Baa water supply implementation – providing potable water to 100 properties and fire-fighting capacity for the village, $2.2 million on the Bellata, Gwabegar and Pilliga bore replacement program and $860,000 on the Bellata reticulated mains replacement. Narrabri Airport was upgraded with $10.5 million, $1.1 million was used for updates at The Crossing Theatre and $1.5 million at Boggabri Caravan Park. Narrabri also hosted the LGNSW New England North West Regional Summit in 2018 and the NSW Ports and Australian National Maritime Museum Container exhibition in 2019.
Narrabri Shire Council has achieved recognition for its operational strengths along the way and in 2018, was awarded the AR Bluett Memorial Award (the Bluett Award).
This award honours the most progressive council in NSW and is described as the greatest accolade a council can achieve, and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of local government achievement. Narrabri Shire Council received the award in recognition of its decisive action in debt reduction and strong advocacy in negotiating voluntary planning agreements (VPA) with developers and other government agencies.
The award was an acknowledgement of council’s journey of transformational change in reducing debt by $8 million in five years, and its resurgence as a genuinely strategic organisation with sound financial position.
Council’s community interaction and cooperation to develop long-term vision and investment were additional contributing strengths demonstrated by the organisation.
Showing sustainability, creative innovation and unwavering commitment and tenacity have all helped to place Narrabri Shire Council as one of the state’s leading local government areas.
With the Narrabri SAP, N2IP, Narrabri gas project, Inland Rail, agriculture, mining and council infrastructure heavily contributing to the shire’s growth and value, this area is set for exciting times ahead as a cornerstone of rich diversity, growth and opportunity for existing and emerging industries across our region and becoming widely recognised as a leading energy, transport, manufacturing and logistics hub.
I am incredibly honoured to have been part of this foundational growth and would like to acknowledge my fellow councillors, council staff and the community for their role in stakeholder engagement, participation and organisation of local events, creation of partnerships and the ongoing support of residents in being an important aspect of Narrabri’s growth and assurance of its future potential and stability.
It’s been a time of incredible growth, organisational change, the strength of spirit and agility, courage and capability, enabling Narrabri Shire to become an economic stronghold and a regional powerhouse, putting it in good stead for the future.To order photos from this page click here