THE Mathoura people have spoken — and they want to be heard because they are furious with the mess they say their town has been left in after several Murray River Council jobs were forcibly relocated.
About 45 people attended a public meeting organised by councillor Tom Weyrich at the Mathoura Bowling Club on Wednesday night, where the air of discontent could be cut with a knife.
Council has moved jobs from Mathoura to Moulamein and people are now concerned Mathoura could lose its last bank because MRC no longer banks with it.
The cost of amalgamation has had a huge impact on the small country town still grappling with the loss of its long-term timber industry.
But despite it all the little town is still showing an increase in population.
Cr Weyrich, who made it clear he was at the meeting as a ratepayer and not as a councillor, vowed to fight for Mathoura.
He believed council headquarters should be based in the town in which he lives — in Mathoura.
‘‘I would have thought given the infrastructure that’s already here the sensible thing would be to move everything here to Mathoura. And maybe have services and centres in Moama and perhaps Barham,’’ he said.
‘‘As far as I am aware there are five positions that have either been transferred or have disappeared from Mathoura for whatever reason.
‘‘We have corporate services in Moulamein, we have engineering in Moulamein, we have support services in Moulamein, we have banking in Moulamein.’’
Cr Weyrich said Moulamein’s population was in decline.
According to council’s community strategic plan, from 2011 to 2016 its population had declined by 11.6 per cent but Mathoura’s has grown by 9.2 per cent.
‘‘So why would you move two senior positions to a town that is in decline?’’ Cr Weyrich said.
‘‘The very first meeting was in Mathoura. We spent $646,000 in Moulamein in one day ... there is something funny going on with Moulamein. I don’t know what it is but we are suffering at the hands of the Moulamein.’’
While many believe the amalgamation train has long left the station, Cr Weyrich has put a notice of motion to the next council meeting requesting his council write to the NSW Premier and Local Government Minister asking why council should not investigate the costs associated with de-amalgamation.
‘‘I care about my people, I care about where I live and this is the only way I can think of that would at least apply a bit of subtle pressure,’’ he said.
‘‘We are the ones that are bearing the brunt of this amalgamation.’’
Mayor Chris Bilkey, who attended the meeting, said it was very early on in the term of the new council.
‘‘When you start with two major centres and create a council with four administrative centres there’s going to be some reshuffling at the decks. Has Mathoura lost out more so than the other four? Quite possibly,’’ he said.
Cr Bilkey said he hoped to drive a good culture within the councillors in this term of government.
‘‘To be more customer oriented, to be more respectful of their colleagues, to be more open, and to be more accountable,’’ he said.
‘‘Culture to me drives everything else.’’
Another meeting is expected to be held in late January/early February to see if council has made any progress.
‘‘Remember we aren’t dummies,’’ one woman in the crowd said.
‘‘I just hope councillors remember, we are all intelligent people and we do take notice.’’