24 March 2023

Coolamon mayor dedicates over 40 years of service to the RAAF, NSW Police and local government

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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 David McCann

Coolamon Mayor David McCann. Photo: Supplied.

We all have opinions on our local council and what they have or haven’t got right, but how well do you know the men and women elected to represent their community in local government? In this series, Region Riverina speaks to Riverina mayors to find out what makes them tick.

Born in Armidale, Coolamon mayor David McCann was enlisted in the Royal Australia Air Force in 1979, where he had a distinguished career of 17 years. His service included flying UH-1H ‘Huey’ helicopters and AS350B Squirrel helicopters with No 5 Squadron. He trained to fly the Blackhawk helicopter before being commissioned as an officer in 1989. David was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the military division for his work developing tactics for helicopters to operate in the counter terrorist role.

He left RAAF in 1994 and joined the NSW Police Force, and began his career in Sydney. In 1996 he was transferred to Wagga, undertaking general duties policing and in 1999, he was transferred to Coolamon as the lock-up keeper. In 2003 he was seconded to the Australian Federal Police for service with the Australian contingent to the United Nations Police serving in East Timor. Upon returning, he resumed his duties at Coolamon before being promoted to sergeant and appointed officer in charge of the Junee Police Station. In 2008 he was seconded to the Griffith Local Area Police Command as a duty officer with the rank of acting inspector and retired from the force in 2010 on medical grounds following injuries sustained while serving in East Timor.

David met his wife Angela in the RAAF and they have two children and two grandchildren.

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How have the past 12 months been on council?

Although somewhat a blur, the past 12 months have been very productive. My election as mayor of Coolamon Shire was a huge honour and responsibility, which I don’t take lightly. Council has emerged from the COVID-19 restrictions strongly and during the previous 12 months, a number of major community projects have either been completed or progressed towards completion. These projects include developing a light industrial precinct in Coolamon which will create significant employment opportunities for young people in the shire.

Funding a new community hall at Matong will provide one of our smaller communities with the facilities to become a valuable community hub. The last year has been very satisfying as we have a very strong council with a focus on improving life for all of the communities in the Coolamon Shire. Council works very well together, and this is due to the personal qualities that each councillor brings to the table. Coolamon Shire is also fortunate to have a hardworking, highly skilled staff who are dedicated to the delivery of quality service to our communities. Towards the latter part of 2022, heavy rain and flooding, which caused the Newell Highway to be closed, brought additional traffic into the Coolamon Shire, which contributed to significant damage to roads across the shire. As mayor, I welcome the additional funding that the NSW State Government has provided to councils to repair damaged rural and regional roads.

What’s been your biggest achievement so far?

No one issue can be claimed by me as a personal achievement, as the successes of 2022 have all come from decisions made by previous councils or by the current council. From a personal point of view, I have to say that being part of a great team of councillors who are all working well together to solve issues that come before council in a collegiate manner, where vigorous debate is encouraged, and decisions reached, are respected by all. It has been my pleasure to lead such a progressive council.

What are your priorities for 2023?

Council, in conjunction with the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, have been working towards redeveloping the aging Coolamon-Ganmain Hospital. In 2022 the MLHD released the Health Services Plan for the hospital which recommends major upgrades to the current facility. Council will now be vigorously advocating for funding to see this project delivered. Council is also working on a major redevelopment of the Coolamon Showground and is working closely with NSW Harness Racing, the MTC and CSU to develop an equine training facility. Funding has been received to allow council to develop a business case for the facility and if successful, the facility will provide further employment opportunities in the Coolamon Shire.

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Another major objective for 2023 is to ensure that our aged care facility, Allawah Lodge, remains a viable, quality facility for our aged citizens. As one of nine councils who own and operate aged care facilities in NSW, as a not-for-profit player in the aged care sector, council will be strongly advocating both State and Federal Governments to recognise the significant role played by local government in NSW in this sector and we aim to secure appropriate funding, staffing to ensure our facility is able to continue to operate and ensure that our senior citizens can remain in their local community, rather than being relocated to privately owned facilities elsewhere.

Is there anything different you’d like to see on council?

Coolamon Shire has a reputation for being levelheaded, community focused and as such, I don’t see too much of a need for change.

What’s your vision for Coolamon?

I believe the Coolamon Shire will continue to grow and be home to thriving rural communities with access to services and facilities that support community life. We will learn, live, work and play in a vibrant, safe, and inclusive community, proud of our history and confidently responding to growth and change. Coolamon Shire is a fantastic place to live. Each community has its own unique personality but are all welcoming to newcomers. We are proud of our history and excited about the future. The challenge for the council is to properly plan for future growth while continuing to maintain the friendly rural lifestyle so many new residents in the shire are looking for.

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