‘We don’t want a repeat of the divisiveness of the last council’

September 08, 2017

MURRAY River Council Moama candidate Chris Bilkey is standing on unity and leadership ahead of tomorrow’s election.

‘‘Those are two items that don’t address specific issues in the community. They address the functioning of the council but I think we need to get those right in order for us to effectively address those other issues,’’ he said.

‘‘We don’t want a repeat of the divisiveness of the last council. I think we need to have councillors of good intent.

‘‘If we don’t agree we should respect other people’s opinions and their rights to hold them and if we don’t come out on a side of the argument we want, we need to acknowledge the decision we made was a democratic one. So when you walk out of that room it’s one you respect and support.’’

Mr Bilkey first stood for council during a by-election in 2013.

The 63-year-old, who was born in Echuca and now lives in Moama, will consider putting his hand up for the mayoral position if he is elected.

Mr Bilkey is the Echuca Regional Health board chair, bridge arts project chair and is a Committee for Echuca Moama committee member.

‘‘I take a lot of pleasure out of the achievements they can rack up. I am interested in community issues and how this community has enormous potential,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m standing because the challenge that the new council represents — the merged council — is a very substantial one and I believe the whole community deserves a productive and cohesive council to maximise the opportunities it presents.’’

Mr Bilkey said he would like to see the timber industry returned to Mathoura and Barmah.

‘‘They’re locked out of the forest at the moment and I think we have to work hard to restore some form of timber industry to those communities,’’ he said.

Mr Bilkey also believes the new council can do a better job at communicating.

‘‘With respect to the media, confidential council business is absolutely confidential and shouldn’t find its way onto the front page of the Riv,’’ he said.

‘‘We as a council need to do a better job at communicating to the media, both good and if necessary bad. We need to seek to engage the community more to understand what it is the community thinks about some of the issues.’’

Another big issue will be the huge rate differential between the old Murray Shire and the old Wakool Shire.

‘‘We might have the example when the new shire sends out its rate bill a farmer on one side of equal value to a farm on the other side being charged twice the amount of rates and only being separated by a road,’’ Mr Bilkey said.

‘‘Legislation says we can’t change that for three years. But I think the council should aim during this core period to have a plan as to how the council addresses that challenge in the future.’’

■Turn to page 17 for more on the MRC election.

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