12 June 2015

I was proud to join the ShineWalk180 team last week for my 16km leg from Cessncok TAFE to Oakvale Winery, Pokolbin with students from Cessnock High School joining me. The Shine Program helps young women in the Hunter Valley develop their own personal worth, strength and purpose through a group mentoring and personal development program run at both Cessnock High School and St Philip's Christian College. Big congratulations to Luke Campbell, who walked the entire 180 kilometres over nine days visiting Branxton, Maitland, Hexham, Belmont and Kurri Kurri. What an effort!

Congratulations to local hero Robert Thompson who was named a Member of the Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Robert is well-known in the local community and he has displayed such perseverance and commitment to the sport of horse racing. Robert rode his 4000th winner at Newcastle’s Broadmeadow Racecourse last year, boasting more winners than any other jockey in Australian racing history. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of fame last month, further highlighting his outstanding career and contribution. The Queen’s Birthday honour recognised Robert for his significant service to the thoroughbred racing industry as an ambassador, a champion rider and mentor to apprentice jockeys. A well-deserved addition from our City to the Order of Australia. Well done Robert.

Council received over 430 registrations for kerbside waste pickups for storm-affected waste after the recent natural disaster. Residents who are registered and still waiting on their pickup should remain patient and ensure they are prepared for the collection service. Crews have been working tirelessly to get around to you soon. Those still needing to drop off flood-damaged materials are encouraged to take advantage of reduced rates at Cessnock Waste Facility for flood-damaged material and green waste until 30 June 2015.      

My wife Kathy and I have been to two shows recently at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre—Australia Day and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. Both were equally entertaining and a great night out. It’s brilliant to see so many local people supporting these shows, and it is nice to not have to travel to Newcastle or Sydney for top-notch entertainment. There are some great shows coming up in the school holidays and during the winter months, be sure to check out www.cessnock.nsw.gov.au/cpac for details.

As part of Refugee Week I attended the Greta Migrant Camp celebrations last weekend. The camp operated from 1949 until 1960 and was the first Australian home for thousands of post-war immigrants. It became the second largest of its kind in Australia and it is astonishing to think the area once housed more than 100,000 people. I thank the organisers for a fabulous event which recognised the importance of the migrant camp in our history.