Deputy Mayor Len Roberts looks at 2016 MidCoast LGA (overall news) by NOTA - January 8, 2016 Deputy Mayor of Great Lakes Council Len Roberts talks about the new year. THE New Year is now upon us and I hope it will be a great year for all. Unfortunately not all of us will have a healthy and happy year. However, most of us have learned to bend with the breeze and cope with the storms. What are you hoping for in 2016? Will it be much different to 2015? We know that there will be a Federal election this year and that Local government elections have been postponed to 2017. This is also a census year. Mayor Jan McWilliams and Depurty Mayor Len Roberts In August 15 million of us will complete a census across Australia taking a snapshot in time of whom and what makes Australia. The demographics of the Myall Coast will make interesting reading. 2016 is shaping up as an interesting and perhaps intriguing year for Great Lakes Council. Despite being deemed fit for the future with the right to stand alone, strange machinations have come into play. Dungog and Gloucester have been asked to merge and so to, Newcastle with Port Stephens. Proposals will go to the Boundaries Commission who will have the final say. The proposals being put forth by the merge partners may impact upon us. It is understood that Dungog and Gloucester are not necessarily happy with the proposal and may seek to rekindle the possibility of mergers with Great Lakes and Maitland or even both with us. There is some talk of the Stroud area being placed in the Dungog/Gloucester entity. We definitely know that Port Stephens who was deemed fit for the future is not happy with the merge proposal with Newcastle. If such an entity occurs there may even be boundary adjustments with us. Given that the Boundary commission is independent of Government any reasonable scenario is possible. There are too many variables for our council to waste time considering speculative results. Most people generally do not mind what local government area they are in as long as the rates are reasonable, roads fixed and services maintained. We will go about as ‘business as usual’. Our first meeting since the Christmas break will be at the end of the month. The councillors and senior staff will meet, probably for a couple of days in a row, to set the strategy for the year as well as tour the Shire to see what has been done and what needs to be done. Australia Day is our next big happening. There are activities around the shire. The Australia Day ambassador to the Great Lakes will be Father Chris Riley AM, Founder and CEO of Youth off the Streets. Father Riley will attend Council’s official Australia Day ceremony at Club Forster, which is a free event open to everyone, on Tuesday 26 January commencing at 10.30am with a free morning tea. The Australia Day Activities at Hawks Nest, sponsored by the TGHN Lionesses, will be held at Moira Parade Reserve. The morning commences at 8.30am with the official opening at 9.30am with a flag raising ceremony and announcement of the local Citizens of the Year.