All must be served when it comes to Federation Council

It was the fear from the very start of the whole process.

When the NSW government first announced it was going to head down the path of council amalgamations, many rural shires were worried for the future.

The overriding feeling was that the local shire was best place to understand the needs of its community and that, despite ever dwindling funding from state and federal government, they knew how to make the dollars stretch.

They knew what were the priorities of their residents and ratepayers and so had an eye on how to run things to ensure strength and viability well into the future.

The bigger regional councils, such as Corowa and Greater Hume, probably were able to look ahead with greater confidence given they could in effect continue to go it alone. But for smaller bush councils, that was not the case. Many were identified as having shaky futures and in need of being merged with neighbouring councils in order to remain viable and in so doing, ensure the maintenance of a satisfactory level of service provision to residents.

The former Urana Shire certainly knew it would fall into this category and it was not unexpected that it would have to join-up with another council.

And of course that is what happened. Urana found itself in the same camp as Corowa as part of the new Federation Council.

Until now just what that truly meant has been theoretical, but with the weekend’s first election for Federation Council the reality of running the shire day-to-day for the benefit of all its residents will become apparent.

But the problem for many in the old Urana shire has been the question for being isolated.

That stems from whether enough voters could be garnered to ensure the area had true representation.

It’s just that which has prompted an immediate promise by newly elected Federation councillor Pat Bourke for the introduction of wards for the shire.

Some Victorian councils such as Wangaratta have used this system in the past, but it’s not part of the make-up for Federation.

Administrator Mike Eden has made clear that is because there needs to be one vote-one value for the shire, given the shire has three similarly sized large towns.

The proof of whether that actually delivers an equitable outcome for all residents of course now rests with those elected to serve.

Only time will tell.