Lower Portland

Sealing Packer Road, Lower Portland

Council a step closer to honouring its pledge to seal Packer Road

Back in 2018, Council applied for (and got) a "Special Rate Variation" that put everyone's Rates up by a third.

I voted against that rate rise, as I have voted against every tax hike proposed by Council since I was elected in 2016. However, I did agree that a list of proposed capital works – improvements to local roads among them, was absolutely necessary so that the ratepayers could see where this extra money was going.

Among the proposed projects that would be funded was the sealing of Packer Road, a key east-west road linking the Putty Road travelling north from Wilberforce, and the river communities of Lower Portland, Cumberland Reach and Sackville.

Locals have long anticipated the sealing of this road, citing its heavy use, status as a flood evacuation route, and parlous condition, which has sadly included injuries and fatalities over the years.

Planning work commenced, including a budget variation of $100,000 in the December quarter of 2020 to scope and plan works. The road was listed in Council's capital works budget for 2020-2021 with a cost of $2,226,000.


COVID hit, along with fires and floods between 2020 and 2022, and Council's plans were greatly affected.

I took explicit support for the sealing of Packer Road to the December 2021 Local Government Elections:

Fast forward to early 2024, and users of Packer Road were entitled to know where this was up to. Finally, the matter came back to Council on February 13th and everyone was hugely concerned to find that Council staff were now recommending that the project be dropped, due to a significant increase in the cost of the project from $2.2M to over $4.7M (source: Item 4.5.3, Feb 2024 business paper)

This brought a spirited response from the local community, with many of them writing, calling and attending the Council meeting.

I am very pleased that Council on this occasion rejected the advice of staff and formalised our commitment to sealing Packer Road, despite the increased cost. I believe it is important for Council to honour its promises. Sadly, with limited resources, other worthy road projects will now be deferred, which I successfully amended be the subject of a workshop with Councillors and staff.

Here is a sampling of the debate before the Council chamber as we discussed this:

St Albans, Lower Portland, Lower Macdonald and Colo deserve better of Hawkesbury Council

Every part of the Hawkesbury is important and deserving of effective representation and services. But the Hawkesbury is a big place, and residents of more remote areas sometimes feel like they aren't being heard. I get to all parts ofour beautiful district as often as I can.

On the weekend I joined the Mayor and six other Councillors on a ~200k road trip to visit the communities of St Albans, Lower Macdonald, Lower Portland and Colo, to listen to locals and to hear their concerns. We learned a lot, took took many notes, and we will be returning to those communities regularly.

This video details our trip to those communities and what we learned.

The broadcast of the news program, A Current Affair is referenced in my video, who have drawn attention to the lack of telecommunication services in the Macdonald Valley despite a significant permanent population as well as many tourist accomodation facilities. The ACA story is below: