Murrumbidgee Councillor Austin Evans has officially resigned to concentrate on his new role as Member for Murray.
Mr Evans advised of his intention to formally resign from his position as Councillor at the December 2017 Council meeting, where Mayor, Cr McRae thanked Mr Evans for his commitment to Murrumbidgee Council.
Mr Evans was lauded for his contributions as Council’s Administrator and more recently as an elected Councillor.
“I would like to thank Cr Evans for his contribution to Murrumbidgee Council,” Cr McRae said.
“I wish him well in the next phase of his political career and I hope the experience will be challenging and productive.
“We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship that sees Murrumbidgee Council part of a positive regeneration regionally.”
Cr Evans was elected to the Murrumbidgee Shire Council in 2012 before becoming the Deputy Mayor of the Shire in 2013 and Mayor in 2014.
He was elected as the Member for Murray at a by-election last year after the retirement of long-serving member Adrian Piccoli.
Cr Evans’ departure means a by-election will be held to fill the vacancy in the Murrumbidgee East Ward, and further details will be provided in the coming weeks.
There was much anger in the Murray electorate at the time of Mr Evans victory at last year’s by-election, and it was tough being the establishment candidate at a time the National Party, and NSW Government, were very much on the nose.
He was nominated on the heels of two major protests over inadequate services at Griffith Base Hospital.
There was also displeasure over the merger of two Griffith high schools, and an NRMA report highlighting funding shortfalls for our roads.
Farmers were unhappy that a major inland rail project – aimed at getting produce to ports quicker – was set to miss the MIA.
And being lumped with a bill for a costly by-election seemed the final straw.
On top of that, Mr Evans faced a very strong opponent – well-respected and principled water advocate Helen Dalton.
But Mr Evans personal likability seemed to have negated the ill-feeling towards his party.
Speaking before his maiden Parliamentary speech and state government inauguration late in 2017, Mr Evans laid out his list of priorities.
“We’ve got to deliver the Basin Plan without it harming our area anymore.”
Other issues on his agenda are local health, reversing decisions around restrictions River Red Gum industry and exemptions on the bullbar ban for rural people.
The Nationals beat out Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate Helen Dalton with 39 per cent of first preference votes to the Shooters’ 31 per cent. On a two-party preferred basis, Nationals won out 53 per cent to 47 per cent.
Mr Evans said his work ethic will determine the way people will vote.
“I think it’s just a matter of doing my job and doing it well. If I do my job well, I’ll get support. If I don’t do it well, I wont.”