BARRY O’Farrell’s only visit to Albury as NSW Premier was a missed opportunity for the region to get some rare access to the state’s major decision-makers.
Mr O’Farrell and members of his cabinet came to town in 2012 for a community forum and meeting, but the eagerly anticipated gathering was cut short when mid-winter fog played havoc with plane flights from Sydney.
Mayors and industry leaders were the big losers when one-on-one meetings with the premier were abandoned.
He still had time to confirm funding for a replacement ambulance station that is now nearing completion in Wagga Road.
But Mr O’Farrell hasn’t been back and won’t be as Premier after his dramatic resignation yesterday.
Corowa mayor Fred Longmire is still disappointed Mr O’Farrell didn’t find time to visit victims of last year’s tornado that tore through Mulwala and other parts of the shire.
“I understand the reasons why he didn’t come down, but I am still disappointed,” he said.
“It was a major event with traumatic repercussions for people here.
“It wouldn’t have hurt for him to be here.
“It underlines the fact it is a non-contest down here, but you can only play as well as the opposition lets you.”
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said the timing of his unexpected exit could derail local government reforms he had instigated when his party was returned to office.
“It is unfortunate,” Cr Mack said.
“But it is a case of wait and see who the successor is.
“It could have significant impact on local government reforms under way and the white paper into planning.
“But what has happened to him is the reason why you need to be transparent.”
Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton was stunned by his departure.
“It is disgraceful a premier feels he has to resign over a $3000 bottle of wine,” she said.
“I think it is absolutely crazy and I wonder where this country is headed.”