Message from outgoing Mayor Cr Rod Ward

Published on 08 November 2023

Cr Rod Ward - Mayor 2022.jpg

As the outgoing Mayor, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Councillors and the community for their support during my 12 months in the role. It has been a very busy 12 months, and whilst it was a difficult decision not to recontest the Mayoral election, I will continue to enjoy flexible work arrangements when returning to fulltime employment that will allow me to continue to serve the community as a Councillor in 2024.

A Councilor’s role is exciting, diverse and rewarding. Councillors play a leadership role in working with the community to create and implement the community vision and strategic plan for Moorabool residents. Council does always aim to achieve the best outcomes for the local community while having regard for the long term and cumulative effects of those decisions we make.

A report on Council’s performance over the previous 12 months is included in the 2022/23 Annual Report, but I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the performances over the past 5 years.

The current population of Moorabool is approximately 36,000 and this is expected to reach 65,000 by 2041, whilst the current population of greater Bacchus Marsh of 26,790 is expected to exceed 46,000 by 2041. Our population is also increasingly diverse, with 20% of our population born overseas. Our growing population emphasises the need for support from the state and federal governments, Council and industry to relieve the pressures and to capitalise on the opportunities that comes from such growth.

While Councillors determine policy direction for the community, to optimise community outcomes, a Council needs a good working relationship between Councillors and management. Councillors rely on advice from officers, and I am pleased that a very healthy and respectful relationship exists between Councillors and the CEO, senior management and staff. These strong relationships are imperative for navigating the challenging decisions that face us within the modern local government context and our growing municipality.

Since the appointment of CEO Derek Madden in 2018, and with the support of the previous Council, the Moorabool Shire Council has undertaken an unprecedented capital improvement and capital works program.

Some points of note:

  • In 2018 Council had a capital works budget of $11.6 million amongst total revenue of $58.6 million. Council received $3.98 million in grants. Rates of $32.3 million provided 55% of Councils revenue.


  • In 2023 Council had a capital works budget of $51.3million (growth of 340%) amongst total revenue of $93.9 million (growth of 60%). Council received $28.6 million in Grants (growth of 618%). Rates of $36.9 million provided 39% of Council revenue.


  • Further, in 2023/24 Council will undertake a $60 million Capital Improvement Program which includes $43 million in new works, $13 million in asset renewal and approximately $4 million in asset upgrades. 70% of this spend will be funded by external grants and other sources.


This has occurred across a period of unprecedented inflationary growth of 6-7% pa, and in some cases where increases in construction costs have far exceeded the inflationary figure. With rate capping being set by the State Govt of 3.5% pa, this has challenged Council to ensure that we are maximising the benefits for our expenditure.  

Some of the highlights of the increased investment in capital improvements since 2018 include:

  • Moorabool’s new $17 million Bacchus Marsh Indoor Stadium (Stage 1 of MARC)
  • Bald Hill 1,000+ steps and adjoining Telford Park All-abilities trail complete. (Stage 3 – Lookout and summit All-abilities trail will commence in 2024.)
  • Completion of 3 stages of Aqualink Trail connecting Lerderderg River in Darley to Bacchus Marsh Train Station. Final stages and seating and exercise stations to be undertaken in 2024.
  • Completion of new $4.2 million Ballan Sports & Community Pavilion
  • Completion of new $5.5 million Darley Sports & Community Pavilion
  • Completion of Council’s new outdoor depot in Ballan
  • Completion of $9.4 million West Maddingley Early Years Hub
  • Completion of new netball courts at Bungaree.
  • New cricket nets and training facilities installed in Ballan
  • Progression of Bacchus Marsh Racecourse Recreation Reserve development:
    • Oval 1 complete
    • Pavilion for oval 1 complete
    • Ovals 2 & 3 nearing completion
    • Plans for new $6.5 million pavilion to ovals 2 & 3 signed off and construction to commence in 2024
  • Detailed design for new $12 million Bacchus Marsh Bowls Facility finalised and construction to commence in 2024
  • Detailed design for new $8 million Ballan Library & Community Centre (including new town plaza) finalised. Construction to commence in 2024.


Further construction works to commence in 2024 include the Dunnstown Pavilion refurbishment and the Navigators Hall upgrade.

All of this has been achieved whilst navigating through the Covid-19 crisis from 2020 to 2022, and supporting those sections of the community impacted by two extreme weather events in 2021 and 2022, and overseeing the community recovery.

From a financial perspective, it is pleasing to note that in achieving the above, Council remains in a healthy financial position, with Council’s debt significantly lower than in 2018, and cash reserves higher. From a staffing perspective, staff costs have reduced as a percentage of overall revenue from 2018 to 2023.

A shortlist of priorities for Council moving forward includes:

  • Continuing to support the community against the Western Transmission Lines
  • Advocating for the critically needed Eastern Link Rd in Bacchus Marsh
  • Federal funding for the Moorabool Aquatic Facility in Bacchus Marsh
  • Increased funding for road improvements
  • Implementation of Council’s new Visitor Economy Strategy and Economic Development Strategy to attract tourism and major events and investment into the shire
  • Continued development of Parwan Employment Precinct.


Thank you,

Cr Rod Ward, outgoing Mayor Moorabool Shire Council


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