Eye on Dubbo | Warm welcome for training academy

Wekcine: The delegation was welcomed by Mayor of Dubbo Region councillor Ben Shields and CEO of Dubbo Regional Council Michael McMahon.
Wekcine: The delegation was welcomed by Mayor of Dubbo Region councillor Ben Shields and CEO of Dubbo Regional Council Michael McMahon.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to formerly welcome a delegation from Qantas where the pitch for basing a Pilot Training Academy got down to brass tacks.

For those of you who may not be aware, Dubbo made the shortlist along with eight other regional cities as a possible location for the Academy.

The pitch was a collaborative approach between Council and industry and community stakeholders and we made it clear that all levels of Government were in support of the facility being based in Dubbo.

The delegation was welcomed by Mayor of Dubbo Region councillor Ben Shields and CEO of Dubbo Regional Council Michael McMahon who reiterated the broad support indicated by all levels of Government for the facility to be based in Dubbo.

The group were given an overview of the airport with airport operations staff, and were given a detailed review of how Dubbo can meet the technical criteria as set out by Qantas.

The delegation then toured proposed locations which included site visits, and met with key stakeholders over lunch to discuss lifestyle and investment appeal in an informal setting.

I am confident that by taking a holistic approach to the technical aspects of the pitch for Dubbo to be a base for the Qantas Pilot Training Academy, Dubbo has put its best foot forward in this highly competitive process. I look forward to updating you all as soon as I can.

Another popular topic of conversation of late is the topic of Joint Organisations, or simply JOs.

Joint Organisations are essentially a group of councils connected together by law so they can advocate together on behalf of an entire region.

I have made my position clear on this on several occasions but I think it is worthwhile reiterating my reasons for not wanting to join a Joint Organisation.

It’s the devil in the detail that has me worried as right now, Jos are in their infancy.

We don’t have a crystal ball to see what these newly created Organisations will morph into, and frankly, until there is some very real funding put on the table, it just doesn’t make sense for a council of Dubbo’s size to dive head first into a relatively unknown quantity.

Firstly, while cuddly words and phrases such as “collaboration”, “working together”, “attracting more grants”, “efficiencies” and “innovative” are thrown around by the state government the reality is setting up JOs are effectively another tier of government.

Once formed, JOs will be required to run under the Local Government Act.

This will mean that a multitude of new staff will be required to administer the new body.

The bureaucracy will be so intense that just like a council meeting, meetings of the JO must be a public meeting and even streamed on the internet. 

A JO is in effect, a mini-council that will cost a considerable sum of money to run.

Most people I know of say we need to reduce the amount of bureaucracy in Australia – not add a whole new level to it!

Hiring more staff, opening new offices and creating a whole heap more paperwork will not add to the efficiencies of government.

I have indicated to the state government that Dubbo may be willing to join the Orana JO if they gave us some sort of funding agreement so that it isn’t just Dubbo ratepayers paying the lion’s share the JO operating costs.

Dubbo Regional Council is very keen to work with our surrounding neighbours.

In fact, we have worked very well with our neighbours for many years.

However on this occasion, until a better value proposition for the ratepayers of the Dubbo Region can be agreed upon,

I will continue to say no to a JO. Maybe not forever, but definitely for right now.

This story Eye on Dubbo | Ben Shields first appeared on Daily Liberal.