1 October, 2022
Council Connections - September
With mayor Doug Batten
During the week, for the seventh time in
three years, the Gilgandra Shire Council area
was declared as a ‘natural disaster zone’, in
response to what can only be regarded as one of
the wettest winters in recent memory.
The Natural Disaster Declaration does provide
access to a range of grants and subsidies
• Special Disaster Grant; up to $75, 000 for
eligible impacted primary producers,
• Rural Landholder Grant; up to $25, 000 for
eligible flood impacted landholders,
• Disaster Relief Loan; low interest loans up
to $130,000 for eligible primary producers,
• Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy; for eligible
farmers to help with the cost of transport
for fodder and stock,
• Critical Producer Grant; up to $100,000 for
eligible flood impacted primary producers.
Enquiries can be directed to Service NSW or
the Rural Assistance Authority.
The declaration does also allow council to
lodge an insurance claim through Transport for
NSW under the disaster recovery arrangement
in respect of damage to our transport network.
Unfortunately, this process has a number of
shortcomings in regard to the timeliness of the
claims and approval process and the fact that
repair work undertaken cannot provide for betterment;
we are restricted to restoring the asset
to its previous condition.
This means that in many instances causeways
are repaired to their previous condition
only to be impacted by a subsequent rain event.
To further complicate this, there are also previously
approved claims that remain incomplete.
In recent years council has been able to take
advantage of a number of state and federal government
grants to fix some of these black spots.
These include culvert on Dooroombah Road,
Gundy Creek Road seal extension, Paddy’s Creek
retaining wall and Milpulling Creek approach
slabs, while work on the Leeches Creek
Road reconstruction, Berida/Innisfail intersection
and Biddon Creek erosion is subject to both
the weather and resource availability.
I acknowledge that recent rain events have
resulted in significant changes to the overland
water flow impacting a number of segments of
the Arthursleigh Road, which will require significant
works, subject of course to dry conditions.
As I have stated previously council has a
total of four grader crews, one of which is
engaged on contracts works for Transport for
NSW and surrounding councils. This crew does
provide a commercial return for council, which
for all intents and purposes goes towards council’s
plant replacement program.
The remaining three gangs are engaged in
undertaking council’s operational road budget.
The 2022/23 budget is allocated as follows:
sealed roads $625,000; unsealed roads $1.8 million;
urban roads $270,000; regional roads
$400,000 and a bridge loan repayment allocation
of $270,000 (total of $3.365 million).
To put this into context, the average daily
cost to operate a grader crew is approximately
$3500 (subject to the availability of things like
gravel and water).
My beer coaster accounting indicates that
three crews by a nine day fortnight, for a total of
19 fortnights will consume $1.8 million allocated
for rural road maintenance. The remaining
work is carried out by contractors, both local
and national operators.
I believe that all would agree that from a
weather perspective we are experiencing very
unusual, trying conditions.
A number of landholders are concerned as to
the success of this year’s crop and the availability
of on-farm storage.
Sadly, in recent weeks a number of ratepayers
have considered it appropriate to abuse
council staff regarding the condition of the
As a community we are above such actions.
Staff continue to do their best under the trying
Given the probability of more rainfall, council
staff are taking advantage of the wet weather
to stockpile gravel and rock with the pre-harvest
strategy of being able to fill as many bog holes
as possible as the country dries out, together
with a light maintenance grade in an attempt to
support farmers prior to and throughout harvest.
Make no bones about it, it will be a long time
before conditions are such that detailed reconstruction
grades involving table drains and miter
drains are able to be undertaken.
While some community members are inconvenienced
by road closures, council endeavors
to take every step possible to avoid closing
roads and tries to strategically, where possible
close roads to minimise impacts.
As shown last week, sometimes this is unavoidable. Road closures in the current climate are necessary, with respect to road safety, given the amount of flood water impacting the road network.