Councillor profiles - Mayor Cathy Redding Narrabri Shire Council
A rich agricultural area
Narrabri Shire is in North-Western New South Wales half way between Sydney and Brisbane and is well serviced by road, rail and air. The Shire has a population of some 14,000 residents and covers an area of around 13,000 square kilometres.
The Shire’s largest town of Narrabri is positioned on the crossroads of the Newell and Kamilaroi Highways. Other major towns are Wee Waa and Boggabri and there are other villages servicing more rural parts of our Shire.
Narrabri Shire is well known for producing some of Australia’s best agricultural produce. Wee Waa, the Shire’s second largest town is birthplace of Australia’s commercial cotton industry and continues to produce some of the highest quality cotton in the world.
In recent years, the resources industry has grown with coal mining, gas extraction and exploration taking place in the area. The advent of these new resource-based industries in conjunction with ancillary business is providing a breadth and depth of job opportunities for the Shire.
I have been a councillor of Narrabri Shire for 10 years with three of those years being Deputy Mayor and the last year as Mayor. My current role as Mayor keeps me in close contact with the community and at the forefront of local issues. My particular interests have always been education opportunities and retaining youth within the Shire and I am pleased to pursue these through Council.
I have always had a keen interest in the community, having been a local volunteer for the past 35 years. I continue to be involved in the Narrabri Jockey Club organising the annual Narrabri Races and am on the board for the Narrabri and District Community Aid Service, which helps me stay abreast of social issues.
Outside of Council I have been in business for 15 years, which is run by my daughter when I am busy with Council duties. In my spare time I love reading, gardening and relaxing with my family.
Becoming a smart community
The last 10 years have been an exciting time to be involved with Council with many major projects gaining momentum.
Looking to the future, we have recently engaged with our community to develop a new Community Strategic Plan based on where residents see Narrabri Shire in 10 years. This plan has provided our Council with a blueprint for the future.
We are building our community for the future with innovative strategies taking advantage of new technologies. Council is currently working on a Smart Community Framework that will form a strategic blueprint to inform planning of smart and connected community services. This will be compliemented with an iProximity tourism project to help residents and tourists access local attractions and services through their smart phone.
Council recently commenced implementing the CBD Masterplan in Narrabri with stage one nearing completion. We are transforming the Narrabri CBD into a social hub through the development of a welcoming and safe environment and installing WiFi accessibility in the core CBD area.
Across the Shire, Council has recently installed automatic water meter readers to save time and costs associated with manual meter checking allowing improved response times and better maintenance. The small village of Baan Baa has recently been connected to secure potable water. A great win for this community that will improve the liveability of the town removing the reliance on rainwater tanks.
Council is working towards a masterplan for a major transport and logistics hub that will take advantage of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project and the availability of natural gas should the Narrabri Gas project go ahead.
Challenges for our Council going forward are delivering on our Fit for the Future Improvement Plan. Following the Fit for the future reviews, Council was lucky to remain a stand-alone Council but had to prove its financial sustainability through a 10-year financial business and improvement Strategy. Council has been able to achieve its first two years of efficiency savings and is on track to maintain this momentum. The challenge is being able to grow on this efficiency whilst still catering for the needs of our community.
Being in this role has given me a deeper understanding of our community and the opportunities that abound for Narrabri Shire. Our council continues to build on the foundations laid by previous councils. We are going through a period of change and growth in Narrabri Shire, which is a very exciting prospect.