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Important information about the upcoming Council elections

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Local Government elections are due to be held on the 4th of September.
But this is going to be a very dislocated and unusual election.

Normally candidates would be out and about now, talking to you at the shops, and at sports clubs, progress associations, RFS meetings and service organisations.

But under the lockdown, none of that is happening. One proposed rule may even prevent candidates from handing out 'how-to-vote' material on polling day.

So how will you know what the important issues are? What candidates stand for?
Who has worked hard during this term of Council?
Who will represent you best in ?

It has never been more important that you are engaged and informed.
Once every four (or five) years we ask people to be focused on the quality of their local government. That time is now.
Not to do so might allow people to be elected who don't share your values.

I was elected as a Liberal Party Councillor to Hawkesbury Council five years ago. It has been an incredible honour to represent you. I've worked hard to be worthy of your trust.

Many people have thanked me over the years for being a ‘straight shooter’. I speak my mind. I try to be led by both the evidence, and my conscience in the positions I take on Council.
I explain the issues and how I vote on my website (now completely updated!)
No other Councillor bothers to do this. You should be asking why.

However, even people who normally vote for political parties at State or Federal elections frequently tell me that Councils should be simply made up of dedicated citizens.
People who prioritise community over ambition. I agree.

So, I have decided to take that advice. I'll be standing at the upcoming elections as an independent candidate.

I am presently drawing together a team of running mates.
Here's the document describing what I stand for.
Get in touch if you’re interested - deadlines are coming.

I will have more to say in the coming days, but check out the video above.
And please, follow me on-line for updates.

Nathan Zamprogno Signature Transparent
Councillor Nathan Zamprogno


What you need to know about COVID

What you need to know about COVID
Just how bad is the Delta strain of COVID? (it's twice as catchy)

Are the available vaccines effective against it? (yes, but there are significant differences between Pfizer and Astra Zeneca)

Is Astra Zeneca safe, and should you get it? (In short, yes, and yes)

How do we compare to the rest of the world in terms of the vaccine rollout, or the economic hit we've taken? (let me show you surprising statistics for both)

And whatever happened to governments worrying about debt?

I have some answers. Some may surprise you.

Last week I went to a conference in Canberra on Local Government and got briefed by Professor Mary Louise McLaws, an epidemiologist from the University of NSW, and Danielle Wood, the CEO of the Grattan Institute - a heavyweight and independent economic think tank.

I felt it was important to share this with you. Watch my short video for the details.

Fighting for funding to maintain Hawkesbury-Nepean River Health

Recently, I joined the Federal MP for Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh as she hosted a visit to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River by the Federal Assistant Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Trevor Evans MP.

The purpose of the visit was to raise awareness of river health, a responsibility I share as the Chairman of the Hawkesbury River County Council, which covers four Council areas and much of the river from Warragamba to Wiseman’s Ferry.

We have specialised plant and equipment at HRCC which is essential to keep the river free of weeds, and were disappointed when the State Government pulled some key operational funding last year – just as we completed the salvage, refurbishment and recommissioning of our giant ‘Weedosaurus’ harvester with a $130,000 Federal grant.

My belief is that taxpayers, to say nothing of key river user groups like Rowing Australia, representing our Olympic team training on the river for the Tokyo games, expect the tiers of government to work together co-operatively to undertake this critical and ongoing work.

Minister Evans was a thoughtful listener and we gave him a detailed account of the effects of the floods earlier this year, the temporary reprieve it has given us as it flushed the river, and the short-sightedness of forcing us to sell our plant and equipment when weeds, like grass, will inevitably grow back. This is a warning I have delivered before.

The below story appears in this week’s Western Weekender, and follows earlier coverage back in February.
2004 Hawkesbury River weed infestation 01
2004 Hawkesbury River weed infestation 02
A Salvinia outbreak that choked the Hawkesbury River in 2004. We can’t go back this.

Is the Federal Government letting Councils down on funding?

Councillor Zamprogno video link
I went to Canberra for the 27th National General Assembly of Local Government, and it was a valuable experience.

My head is swimming with statistics - the presentations have been excellent, covering the effects of COVID (both economic and health), initiatives to make communities more resilient, new technologies that aid in planning, communication and environmental protection. Enough for several other posts, but here are some headlines:

In 1996, Financial Assistance Grants - the main way the Federal Government assisted Councils, was 1% of Federal taxation revenue. Now, it has declined to only 0.55%, half of what it used to be. Despite the annual feeding-the-chickens announcements we're used to (like the very welcome boost to the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program), support from the Federal government to Local governments has declined in real terms for decades.

Councils, through levying rates and charges, take in just 3.2% of ALL tax in Australia. Yet we're responsible for 32% of all public infrastructure, including 75% of roads.

COAG - the Council of Australian Governments, was founded in 1992 and was traditionally the table where all the tiers of government sat down. When that was replaced by the 'National Cabinet' last year, Local Governments were no longer at the table, and right at the time when our voice needed to be heard the most as COVID hit.

Saving Council money by trimming Councillor perks

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I am committed to ensuring our Council is a lean and responsive organisation.

At the moment, things could be better.

When I was elected to Council in September 2016, I was surprised to be given a laptop, iPhone with a SIM card, printer, wireless modem and so on.

I didn't need or want most of these resources. I handed the laptop and iPhone back, and have never used the wireless modem. Representing the community is a privilege. I was happy to use my own resources for Council business.

Frankly, the current policy is both wasteful and outdated. I felt that the least we should do is update this policy so that the new Council elected in a few months are asked first what resources they may need – hopefully in the expectation that this will save ratepayers some money.

At a recent meeting of Council I presented a Notice of Motion to review our 'Provision of Facilities to Councillors' policy. The text of my motion is at this link.

The motion was passed unanimously, which was very pleasing.

Proposed McGraths Hill motel development knockback prompts litigation

Those driving down Windsor Road from Windsor will be familiar with the former but beloved Millers Nursery (a.k.a Windsor Garden Centre) on the left hand side on the corner of McGrath Road at McGraths Hill.
Opened by Ross and Lynette Miller in 1969, and carried on by daughter Bec it was a stalwart local business for 47 years. I remember it as a cosy ramble – a place with nooks, and curios, and proper service. Sadly, the business closed and the property was sold in July 2016. The site has been empty and sad ever since.
Unfortunately planning laws imposed by the State Government have disconnected the community from knowing much about, or having much say in Development Applications.
In 2017, the NSW Government instituted Planning Panels to determine DA's, removing the decision-making powers of elected Councils across Sydney. Planning Panels consist of unelected appointees who may have subject expertise in planning, but who are not democratically accountable to you, the citizen and voter. I and many other Councillors were opposed to Planning Panels, and I've spoken at length about them before, including with 2GB's Ray Hadley.

A series of DA's have been lodged for the old nursery site to become a motel development. A pre-lodgement meeting held with Council in February 2018 indicated a desire to build a $10.8 Million, 130 bedroom motel.

I suspect not many people, even residents of McGraths Hill, knew much about any of these proposals.
Details of the massive motel development at McGraths Hill. More details at my website.
My point is that, when decisions that shape the character of our neighbourhoods are taken away entirely from your elected Councillors and given to planning panels, the community ends up poorly informed (did you know about this?), and decisions are taken that you can't require anyone to be accountable for, and that's not good enough.

Let's upgrade our parks and ovals

Oakville Oval is one of 215 parks and reserves around the Hawkesbury.

I've been a user of the oval all my life. I remember attending Oakville Public School sports carnivals there as a boy, kicking about kerosene-soaked fireballs when I was in Oakville Scouts (probably an OH&S nightmare now), and now witness my nephews play there as a soccer uncle.

Like many of our sport fields, Oakville Oval is looking a little tired and needs some care and investment.

Council will ultimately prepare a full masterplan for this and other reserves. I will be continuing to call for a long term plan, and sustained funding for improvements, on behalf of the residents and users who gain enjoyment and use of Oakville Oval.

I address many other matters on my website and Facebook page.

Be informed. Follow me for updates.

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