Different issues, different approach

Last year’s proposed NSW greyhound racing ban and local government amalgamations are incomparable.

I strongly denounced the ban on greyhound racing because it would have had a devastating and direct impact on the livelihoods of so many in our community. “The dogs” are part of Australian rural culture. As a child in Yass, it surrounded me. Every family seemed to either own a greyhound or be involved in some way with the dogs.

Fast forward to 2016 and my immediate impulse was to fight the ban. I knew that without being able to rely on income from racing under the ban, many of the animals would have had to be put down. The reasons behind the ban would have rendered farmers involved in dairy and sheep breeding in a very difficult position, needing to justify the way they do business.

Breeders, pet food manufacturers and distributors, trainers – so many small businesses would have gone out of business overnight. Thank goodness the ban was overturned and steps are being taken to clean up those crooked operators that reflected poorly on everyone.

Meanwhile, local government amalgamations are effectively boundary redistributions. There is nothing pleasant about boundary redistributions; I have been through three of them myself since entering politics. Regardless, I have supported the community by making many representations and personally arranging for former councillors, mayors and other citizens to meet with various ministers on request since the amalgamations were announced.

This culminated in a lengthy meeting with the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and a delegation from Gundagai at State Parliament. The Premier gave us a good hearing. She recently wrote to us, thanking us for putting forward our views, but stating the amalgamation is here to stay.

There will be local government elections in nine short weeks. Those nominating will need to represent all ratepayers across the new region and I congratulate those who have already nominated. I imagine it may become quite competitive as the 9 September election date looms.

I will be supporting the newly developed councils of Hilltops and Cootamundra-Gundagai to the best of my ability, fighting for more than our fair share, including urgent infrastructure projects such as the desperately needed sewage treatment plant for Gundagai.

There is a forward path here for new, inclusive and forward-thinking regional councils, cognisant of their place in the broader region and able to create a strong financial position for their ratepayers.

Katrina Hodgkinson
Member for Cootamundra

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