Cobar hosts workshop to discuss regional organisations

Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) members met in Cobar last Thursday to hear information about the formation of Joint Organisations (JOs). Speaking at the workshop was Tim Hurst (the acting executive officer from the Office of Local Government (OLG), pictured with OROC Chair Doug Batten, Cobar mayor Lilliane Brady and Melissa Gibbs (OLG’s
director of policy and sector development).

Mayors, councillors and general managers from the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) met in Cobar on Thursday to learn more about the NSW Government’s Joint Organisations (JOs) model.

The NSW Government last year introduced  legislation to allow councils to create a JO network to help drive better planning, economic development and service delivery.

JOs are aimed at strengthening regional co-ordination and improving the delivery of important infrastructure and services.

The JO model brings councils together with the State Government to focus on regional issues such as growing local economies, creating jobs, securing water supplies, and improving regional transport, community infrastructure and services.

Cobar Shire Council general manager Peter Vlatko called for the workshop in Cobar to help give councillors a better understanding of the issues involved with joining a JO.

Office of Local Government acting chief executive officer Tim Hurst was on hand to answer councillors queries.

“Tim was able to provide a non-political answer to where the JOs were up to,” Mr Vlatko said.

Mr Hurst described the opportunity for regional councils to access JOs as “a body for regional collaboration while preserving the autonomy of individual councils throughout the state”.

“We are making sure that everyone understands what the legislation that was passed last year enables but also answering questions about any specific issues particularly with councils in the far west wanting to work with councils in the Orana,” he said.

Mr Vlatko said Cobar Shire councillors have previously expressed a preference for staying with the OROC group (made up of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble, Dubbo Regional, Gilgandra, Mid-Western Regional, Narromine, Walgett, Warren, and Warrumbungle councils), which they felt best represents Cobar’s interests rather than joining a Far West JO.

“Our JO interest is to the east but we’re all very conscious of being part of the western division,” Mr Vlatko said.

“It was good there was a lot of questions being asked at the workshop with our councillors finding that other councils also had similar concerns to theirs.

“It’s not an easy decision,” Mr Vlatko said of the JO process.

Council does however need to make a decision by the end of the month and will hold another workshop this week to further discuss the matter.

“It’s a voluntary decision to join a JO,” Mr Vlatko explained.

He said councils can also choose to not join a JO at this time and they have the option to join a JO later on.

“But once in, you can’t get out,” he said.