Orana Joint Organisation members willing to welcome Dubbo, one condition

Member councils of the Orana Joint Organisation meet in Narromine.
Member councils of the Orana Joint Organisation meet in Narromine.

Discussion about the prospect of Dubbo joining the Orana Joint Organisation (JO) was a main focus at the mayor's round table meeting when the NSW Premier visited Narromine.

In March last year, Dubbo decided not to join forces with Gilgandra, Narromine, Warren, Bogan, Warrumbungle and Mid Western Regional councils. At the time, Dubbo Regional Council was concerned about the cost of joining the organisation.

However last month, Dubbo mayor Ben Shields has pushed for Dubbo to reconsider.

Orana JO chair and Narromine Shire mayor Craig Davies has said they welcome Dubbo joining the organisation, and said there were a number of initiatives that would benefit significantly as JO proposals, including the pipeline from Burrendog Dam out west.

"We're not just interested in ourselves, we're interested in the region and if Dubbo wanted to be apart of that the door's open, all they've got to do is knock and they will be invited in," he said.

"We are very much looking to [the pipeline] proposal to be a mainstay of the JO going forward because it's not just Dubbo that's involved in that project, but goes through Narromine to Trangie, to Nyngan, Cobar and Bourke have also indicated at getting involved," he said.

"So it is a massive project, its just not about Dubbo, so I guess it is a perfect example of a proposal that should be a JO proposal."

Bogan Shire mayor Ray Donald said the Orana JO would also benefit from having the regional hub involved.

"We need Dubbo in the Orana JO, they're the big hub of the area and we won't be able to function efficiently until they are a member," he said.

Cr Donald however said re-joining the group of councils would require Dubbo to pick up the costs member councils have had to endure.

"Like any other council that has been a previous member of OROC if they want to join the Orana JO then they have to pick up the amount of money each council have had to pay in the interim to keep the JO going," he said.

"So provided they are prepared to make up the money that they need to pay when they haven't been a member of the JO, that the other councils have paid, I believe they will be readmitted."

The Orana JO chair Cr Davis also agreed with the Bogan Shire mayor.

"We're not asking for them to put any further money in, but just to contribute on a pro rata basis as all current members have," he said.

"It's the current members who have taken the JO forward and have organised it to the extent that we have a constitution, we have branding, we have recognition and we're operating.

"So for someone new to come in I don't think its at all onerous to ask for a pro rata contribution that will bring them in line with the councils who have contributed to date."

Cr Davis said however he has not received correspondence from Dubbo mayor Ben Shields, and said it's now up to the local government minister to push the merger.

"I've heard nothing back from the Mayor of Dubbo, that was on November 9, and I guess when the state government is pumping money into them at the rate that it is, there's probably no incentive for them to join," he said.

"Quite frankly I'm not going to do the government's job and make further contact with Dubbo.

"I've done what's required from the chair of the JO, I've had significant correspondence with the local government minister, I've outlined our position to her, now it's up to the minister to act in a manner that she sees fit, to ensure that Dubbo become a member.

"But we have certainly indicated our willingness to be apart of that."

Member for Local Government Shelley Hancock said she remains "optimistic" about Dubbo uniting with the Orana JO.

"I think first of all our Joint Organisations in NSW are working really well," she said.

"One of the requests I had early on when I took over this ministry, was for Dubbo to join the Orana JO.

"So discussions right at the start have been really fruitful, and what I think will happen is that they will join.

"There's been some frictions around that obviously but we want some harmonious discussions and collaboration around that JO.

"It will work well and I'm really optimistic."