FORMER immigration minister Philip Ruddock was among the hundreds of delegates soaking up the spring sun as the Local Government NSW Conference officially began in Albury on Sunday.
The Liberal Party stalwart donned a powder blue jacket for the occasion which saw the Noreuil Park foreshore fenced off as it played host to councillors from all corners of the state.
Mr Ruddock was there in his role as mayor of Hornsby, a council with 150,000 residents on the northern fringe of Sydney.
Another high-profile visitor at the opening soiree was former Melbourne councillor and Crikey news website founder Stephen Mayne.
His interest stems from his role as spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
Mr Mayne wants councillors in NSW to address the impact of poker machines and Tweeted photos of some holding a sign stating “I’m a COUNCILLOR and I want gambling reform to protect my community”.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack officially welcomed delegates with a speech that referenced cross border anomalies and the Two Cities, One Community initiative with Wodonga Council.
His council’s general manager Frank Zaknich later contributed to the musical entertainment by wielding brush drumsticks for a jazz band.
Members of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus troupe also performed, with a giant acrobatic frame erected alongside the Murray River to allow them to demonstrate their daredevilry.
Conference delegates will begin their serious business on Monday with the Albury Entertainment Centre hosting sessions which will include motions and an address by NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton.
Members of Albury’s Lions Club will be collecting donations for drought-stricken farmers during Monday’s proceedings.