Ready, steady, go … here we come 2017 … “Our city, our future” [Front page headline, SMH, 21.11.16]
Exactly the sentiments applying here for the whole Armidale Regional Council area. And like Sydney, we should be “in a hurry”. As the Herald says, “Decisions being made now will shape life in our homes, workplaces, schools and universities in the next decade”. And far beyond. We have long needed informed, forward thinking, pragmatic decisions to be taken and implemented. I think our region seems to be having one of those rarities – a time when all our local leaders are optimistic and stepping up to the mark and delivering. I’m apolitical, but credit where credit’s due.
The three tiers of government seem to be doing their best to perform for us and have finished 2016 with some big ticket items, in which the NBN has an undoubted influence. Federally, Barnaby Joyce has persevered with bringing the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority here from Canberra. People who have a knee jerk problem with this haven’t read the knowledgeable professional arguments for this logical and sensible move to join the cluster of relevant facilities we have on tap here. This is forward looking for Australia’s booming agricultural sector, particularly while currently other sectors can be said to be struggling. [Incidentally, has anyone explained to those apparently horrified at the idea of such a move that Armidale is far from an urban backwater? Lucky to come, I’d say.]
State-wise, Adam Marshall has also been beavering away for his constituents, and TAFE’s recently announced new digital hub here is another winner. He has been using his incredible energy on such important fronts as the airport industrial development, hospital, old Court House and, importantly, renewable energy. The long overdue $60,000 facelift for the NE Regional Art Gallery through a State Government grant is another result for the district. Adam is a great believer in positioning for value-adding.
The new Armidale Regional Council, currently led by Administrator Dr. Ian Tiley, seems to be clearing the decks in many directions and setting in place plans to point us to tighter performance in the future. He has a lot of big announcements in the pipeline.
Someone asked me recently why I was so annoyingly positive and optimistic and didn’t talk about the bad things I saw locally. Well, this column is called the Icing on the Cake, and I’d certainly rather see the glass half full and still have room to plan on topping it up! [My friend Jenny suggested that I could perhaps flag bad things by calling the column “the Frosting on the Cake”. Not!]
Young people should think about the sort of region they want to live in in the future, speaking up and working towards the facilities they want to add to the local lifestyle. We’re all in this together and everyone has a contribution to make, as well as a responsibility for the future.
Cynthia Briggs, who’s finishing her PhD at Sydney University, is one wife and mother who is already stepping up to play her public part in the community: she’s now Creative Producer at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, is putting her hand up for the New Library Committee and among others things has had The Cynthia Briggs Empowerment through Education Award by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders named after her. Go girl!
It’s good to hear that Locals for Locals and both the Armidale and Guyra Business Chambers have come to a logical agreement to work together on projects – a sensible way to maximise their resources for impact.
And Steve McMillan, tireless Chair of the Armidale Sports Council, tells me he estimates the economic benefit to the region from sporting events in 2016 was approximately $16.4 million. What a present from something that brings so much happiness and health to so very many people!