In our final instalment, we look at some of the issues, events and activities which made news from October to December 2017.
There have been positive and negative milestones in our community, as well as a year full of celebrations and commemorations. Our community members have recorded significant achievements in academics, sports and community service.
●NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited the Murray Valley National Park with foundation members of The Nationals’ Riverina Red Gum branch, following an invitation from its chair Ben Danckert. While making no promises to support the branch’s motion to return commercial logging to the forest, the Premier said she ‘‘bases her decisions on fact’’.
●Construction started on the new nine-chair renal dialysis unit at Deniliquin Hospital.
●NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair launched an investigation into the disparity in general security irrigation allocations and NSW water storages after Murray Valley irrigators were only given a one per cent general security allocation increase — to 29 per cent.
●Deniliquin’s Jake Freshwater partnered with Fight Cancer Foundation as the face of its new fundraising campaign, ‘The Clock Cancer Challenge’. Mr Freshwater was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when he was 24 and received support from the Fight Cancer Foundation during treatment in Melbourne.
●The Deniliquin Pastoral Times produced a 76-page Deniliquin 175th Anniversary Commemorative Souvenir publication to mark the anniversary of Augustus Morris establishing the head station of the ‘Denelequin’ run on the present site of the Mundiwa homestead. It was known as the birth of Deniliquin.
●Four cars which make up the annual Camp Quality EsCarpade ‘Team Deni’ headed out on a 2,188km journey to Port Macquarie. The combined teams raised more than $30,000 for the cancer charity.
●Almost 70 firearms were surrendered in the Deniliquin Police Local Area Command during the National Firearms Amnesty.
●Murray Irrigation Limited issued a public statement advising of a vote of no confidence in two of its board members, James Sides and Chris Brooks, with the intention of removing of them from the board. This occurred during director elections in which Mr Sides was a candidate. The company later came under fire when incorrect election results were released. MIL’s issues exacerbated at the annual general meeting when the entire Board of Directors resigned and an Interim Board was subsequently appointed.
●Edward River Council offered Ausway Education Pty Ltd a 20 year lease to establish an education facility at the Murray Valley Industry Park. With an option to be doubled, the deal is expected to see up to 50 Chinese agriculture students and their tutors based in Deniliquin in the early stages.
●Riparian landholders in the Southern Basin called for an apology from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists when the group’s spokesman Jamie Pittock told Fairfax Media the Basin Plan was being ‘‘actively destroyed’’ by the NSW and Victorian governments, which refused to ensure water flows high enough to keep floodplains and forests alive. Local landholders labelled his views ‘‘inaccurate and misleading’’ on the real affects of the plan to private property owners.
●SunRice hosted a Riverina grown rice event at Parliament House in Canberra to celebrate the important and growing role of Australian rice in world markets.
●Fire caused by lightning burned more than 1100 hectares of grassland and timber in the Steam Plains area.
●Deniliquin’s Shirlee Burge claimed the recent and temporary reduction in maternity hours at Deniliquin Hospital was just the latest in a long list of concerns, and called on the NSW Government to invest more heavily in the local hospital.
●Speculation a pending NSW Police Force review would see senior managers removed from Deniliquin and the new $18 million station downgraded reached fever pitch. NSW Police Association Deniliquin branch administrator Roger Campton said it was still ‘‘too early to speculate’’.
●Former Deniliquin resident Anthony Wallgate and fellow Fire & Rescue NSW swiftwater rescue experts Shannon Crofton and James Boland received the Higgins and Langley Memorial Award for Program Development at the International Association of Water Rescue Professional Conference held in Indiana, USA. The award was for their work on the FRNSW flood rescue training program, which helps train fire and rescue staff.
●Deniliquin’s Di Hand was honoured on the 2017 Hidden Treasures Roll, which recognises the outstanding efforts of women volunteers in NSW, promoting the valuable role of volunteering in the community.
●Deniliquin couple Lee and Amy Holloway successfully completed the famous 42km New York City Marathon.
● A 24 year-old pilot escaped serious injury after the Cessna 172 he was navigating solo crashed in a paddock near Deniliquin.
●Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre chair Jeannette Crew was recognised as a part of the 2017 IMAGinE awards to honour a lifetime of contribution to benefiting the community.
●Channel4Change charity founder Brenda Norman officially made it half way to her fundraising goal by raising $20,000 to assist with youth mental health programs.
●An electrical storm sparked between 20 and 30 fires at the end of November across the Rural Fire Service Mid Murray Zone, with firefighters working diligently over an 11 hour period to extinguish them all.
●Deniliquin’s Gus McKinnon started a petition to save the Deniliquin Waring Gardens peacock encloser. It followed a recommendation from Edward River Council to seek community feedback on whether to remove the enclosure, after it was advised by the NSW Department of Primary Industries it did not comply with required standards.
●Deniliquin Central IGA became a collection point for the NSW Government’s long awaited ‘return and earn’ recycling scheme. The introduction was not without its controversies, with the machine not active leading up to its start date and IGA staff and the community being provided with little information on the program.
●After growing his hair to a length of 40cm, 12 year-old Sam Blenkiron had it all cut off to support the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation. As well as donating his hair for wigs, he raised money to create awareness and support research into a cure or acceptable treatment for the Alopecia Areata disease.
●Murray River Councillor Tom Weyrich’s motion to have his council investigate the cost of deamalgamating the former Murray and Wakool shires was defeated.
●Wakool’s Anglican Church was destroyed by fire. It was believed to have started in the electrical box which connects the church to the powerlines.
●A new report on the Murray Darling Basin Plan revealed the economic impact on the NSW Murray Region. The report from independent consultant RMCG put the economic cost at a massive $190 million a year, with $77 million lost each year to regional value-add, and with over 1000 jobs lost.
●Deniliquin Fire & Rescue NSW firefighter and dedicated community member Ken Rose died suddenly from a suspected heart attack when driving home from a brigade meeting. The longtime engine keeper was transported to his funeral by the brigade’s historic Bedford truck, and was farewelled with a formal guard of honour of his firefighting colleagues and other emergency services.
●The NSW Department of Planning and Environment came under fire for continuing to project significant population decline for Deniliquin and the Edward River region despite the 2016 Census showing a strong increase. According to the department, the Edward River Council area’s population would decrease by 16 per cent over the next 18 years. It made this assumption despite the 2016 Census finding Deniliquin’s population had increased by nearly five per cent.