6 March 2023

Gobba Bridge at the top of Dr Joe's list as the state election campaign ramps up

| Chris Roe
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Dr Joe McGirr in front of bridge

Dr Joe McGirr says the Gobbagombalin bridge must be duplicated within the next decade. Photo: Chris Roe.

Dr Joe McGirr put the duplication of the Gobbagombalin bridge at the top of the list as he laid out his local priorities ahead of the 25 March NSW election.

The Independent Member for Wagga Wagga stood at the Travers Street roundabout to declare his “clear support for the duplication of the Gobba Bridge” as peak hour traffic streamed past.

“We’ve had surveys from the community, I’ve had personal feedback from the community over a number of years now, and the recent episodes with the floods certainly highlighted that this is going to be a choke point for us going forward into the future,” he said, explaining that he had advocated for a feasibility study.

“The government did not want to put it in the transport plan initially and I insisted that work on this had to be put in there.

“The feasibility of this can be done now and we need to push for that because, in the next 10 years, we’re going to need a solution.”

READ ALSO Survey says Wagga wants a new bridge ASAP

It will be Dr McGirr’s third time at the polls since ending the Liberal Party’s 60-year run in the seat in 2018.

He consolidated his position in 2019 defeating Nationals candidate McKenna Powell by a margin of more than 30 per cent on preferences.

“I think an independent can work with whichever party is in government,” Dr McGirr said.

“An independent has the capacity to raise issues directly with the government and I think that I’ve been able to demonstrate that in the last four years.”

Dr Joe McGirr

Dr Joe McGirr has laid out a list of local priorities. Photo: Chris Roe.

While early indications suggest that he maintains strong support in the electorate, Dr McGirr concedes that there’s plenty of competition.

“One of the advantages of having an independent in this seat is going to be the competition; the interest in the seat,” he said.

“That sort of interest in this seat is good for the community. That’s where my priority is; what is good for the community.”

As well as the feasibility of the Gobbagombalin Bridge, Dr McGirr said he was also determined to follow up on the $20 million promised for stage two of the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

READ ALSO Nationals’ Andrianna Benjamin launches Wagga campaign with the promise to “get things done”

Funding for the $20 million concert hall was a key promise of the Coalition’s 2018 Wagga by-election campaign but was soured by an ICAC investigation into the conduct of Premier Gladys Berejiklian while in a relationship with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire.

“They are now looking at alternatives to this but that must not go away,” said Dr McGirr.

“We need to make sure that we have an alternative that I think can encompass the broader entertainment community in Wagga and I would like to think that a facility like that could also help with being a convention centre.”

Also on the list of priorities were interest-free loans for low to medium income families and small business to invest in solar, support for Wagga’s newly established Violence Reduction Unit and a push to get the government to “ramp-up” regional housing development.

“It’s very clear that local government, local councils are struggling to get planners, are struggling to get the staff to approve large developments,” he said.

“We have a model where the Department of Planning has already become involved in development, and that was the Special Activation Precinct.

“I would like to suggest a similar process for large developments where the actual Department of Planning takes over and works with council to fast track those development approvals.

READ ALSO Wagga’s contenders to go head-to-head in NSW election debate

As the countdown continues to the election, Committee 4 Wagga, Region Riverina and the Streaming Guys will bring the candidates together for a public Q&A at the RSL this Friday, 10 March.

To hear more from the five contenders for the seat of Wagga Wagga, register to attend the forum at the RSL from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm on 10 March.

While it is not essential to RSVP, it is encouraged. Visit C4W or call 6921 2490.

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