Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh has been re-elected as Chair of regional lobby group Central Highlands Councils Victoria (CHCV).
The group is made up of the Mayors and CEOs of Ararat, Ballarat, Central Goldfields, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees Shires, and takes a collaborative approach to lobbying state and federal governments to support key projects to benefit the region.
Cr Kevin Erwin, Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council, was elected Deputy Chair of CHCV at a recent meeting.
Mayor McIntosh said she was honoured to be elected by her peers to serve another term as Chair.
“I’m very much looking forward to leading CHCV for another 12 months, and particularly as we head into the federal election,” Cr McIntosh said.
“It’s a fairly diverse group of councils, that have quite different features and different major projects but we really do work collaboratively when we are lobbying at state and federal government level.”
Basically the purpose of CHCV is to come together and share skills and deliver to the community in the most viable manner.
“Some of the things we can do is share and learn from each other – we don’t all have to repeat,” Cr McIntosh said.
“For example if we are looking at a rail package that connects all of our municipalities, why would each of us run off individually or independently and do a whole heap of research seeking further detailed information? It’s very expensive, time consuming and not the most efficient way to operate.”
By working collaboratively the group has been able to work with, for instance, the Rail Futures group to come up with a succinct package.
“At the recent State election we heard and saw a lot of commitment toward a rail package that would bring connection from central Melbourne, across to Tullamarine – the Sunshine link- and right through the regions,” Cr McIntosh added.
“That happens with one voice and that is what we are, one voice on behalf of our regional communities.”
On the agenda for next year will be talks around population growth and connectivity, amongst other issues.
“It’s not just about food and fibre and connectivity amongst the regions, it’s also about vibrant regions, creative regions, artistic regions – it’s about us all coming together and making sure that we are making the most of our earthly treasures,” Cr McIntosh said.
“The artisans, that beautiful skill that comes from the land, that we don’t necessarily see in metro centres, and our role as a Central Highlands Group is to make sure that there are jobs available to respond to population growth and that we have all of the appropriate infrastructure and services to be able to provide for that.
“We will continue to use this united voice to effect positive change for the region.”