THEY came to open the revamped Rocky Hill war memorial but controversy tagged Premier Mike Baird and his Minister Pru Goward all day.
If it wasn’t a wind farm protest greeting the duo at a Liberal Party fundraiser, it was the fallout of ICAC proceedings.
The corruption scandal hung heavily in the air at the Southern Star Inn. Some 80 people were there to support Ms Goward’s Goulburn campaign for 2015.
Ms Goward later told the Post that every person had to sign a document stating they weren’t a prohibited donor.
“Everybody was independently checked by the State Liberal Party and I know that because I spoke to the state director yesterday to confirm that they weren’t developers, pub owners or any other prohibited donor. It was all properly done,” she said.
Ms Goward was confident that she had never received an illegal donation. She said she did not handle any fundraising proceedings; it went directly to the State Electoral Council and was checked.
Mr Baird spoke about the ICAC inquiry at Friday’s lunch. He told the audience he and the party were “gutted” by the fallout and about his planned reforms, Ms Goward said.
PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL: NSW Premier Mike Baird (second right) officially opened Goulburn’s upgraded Rocky Hill War Memorial on Friday. Local photographer Matt Maas presented his stunning photo of Rocky Hill at night to Mr Baird as the council’s gift from the city. Also on hand were Mayor Geoff Kettle, Goulburn RSL Sub Branch president Gordon Wade, Goulburn MP Pru Goward and Hume MP Angus Taylor.
The MP could not say how the recent findings would affect her own campaign. She said she would understand and accept that people would be disgusted by the ICAC revelations but Mr Baird was intent on changing things.
“I have to fight the next election very hard,” she said.
“I think it has been a good government, we’re building things and we have the finances back under control and Goulburn is very comfortable.
“There are challenges though. I hope the review of (Goulburn Base) hospital’s upgrade is finished by the end of year I think we can get some money from the poles and wires sale to fund it.”
Ms Goward said the government had “done well” for Goulburn and she hoped for even more in the second term.
She was not concerned who the Labor candidate for Goulburn would be.
Meantime, Mayor Geoff Kettle said he would not be Ms Goward’s campaign manager at the 2015 election. Cr Kettle is also president of the Liberal State Electoral Council.
“The normal practice is that the president is also the campaign manager but I will be discussing my role with Ms Goward,” he said.
Cr Kettle told the Post he wanted to be impartial as mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree and maintain his focus on the area’s advancement. As such, he is also considering his future as SEC president.
But for at least 30 minutes, politics was swept aside “up on the hill.”
Mr Baird and a host of other dignitaries witnessed another milestone in Rocky Hill’s long history, the opening of a $400,000 upgrade. It includes a lowered forecourt, new steps and a ramp to the city’s iconic memorial.
School students, citizens, volunteers, defence force brass, police and councillors lauded the improvements on a rainthreatening though sunny afternoon.
Goulburn High School captain Hannah Cotton hosted proceedings and Cr Alfie Walker provided a welcome to country for a place holding rich cultural significance for everyone.
Goulburn East Public School students sung the national anthem and later their rendition, ‘We will Remember’ rang out over the city’s heights.
“I am looking out over our city, with this fantastic forecourt full of guests from across the generations and our iconic Rocky Hill is in the background,” Cr Kettle told the crowd.
“It doesn’t get much better, does it? I would suggest that this War Memorial would be one of the best in Australia, and arguably, second only to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra when it comes to experiencing the solemnity and atmosphere of a Dawn Service.”
The council contributed $320,000 to the work and the state government – $76,000.
Mr Baird paid tribute to the sacrifices in World War One, Goulburn’s 1500 men who enlisted and the community’s contribution to the memorial over many years.
He spoke of William Chisholm, reportedly the first Australian killed in World War One, who was born in Sydney but had strong Goulburn links. His name is still revered in the French village, Lignyen- Cambresis where a street is named after him.
Mr Baird said Goulburn should be justly proud of its memorial to the fallen.
The city gave Mr Baird a framed photograph of Rocky Hill set to a full moon, taken by local photographer Matt Maas who was on hand for the presentation.
Goulburn RSL Sub Branch president Gordon Wade also hosted the opening.
Guests included Federal Hume MP Angus Taylor, State Roads Minister Duncan Gay, who played a role in the project, mayors from surrounding areas, local councillors, RSL national president Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Moody, military adviser to the New Zealand High Commission, Hume Local Area police commander Zoran Dzevlan, the Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn, the Right Reverend Stuart Robinson and Dean of St Saviour’s, the Very Reverend Phillip Saunders and local principals and school leaders.
• Photo gallery to come
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