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Monday, 23 November 1998
Page: 369

Mr FITZGIBBON —I apologise to my colleagues. I was not always happy about frontbenchers taking up the time of statements by members, but I will not sin again. On Saturday, 14 November I had the honour of attending and addressing a grand testimonial dinner held in honour of Singleton councillor Neil McNamara. Neil McNamara has led his local community for 27 years—first, as President of Patricks Plains Shire and thereafter, after a 1976 amalgamation, as Mayor of Singleton Shire. Indeed, until September this year Neil was the only person ever to be Mayor of the amalgamated Singleton Shire.

Neil McNamara's election to Patricks Plains Shire back in 1956 must have been a real novelty, given that he was a man in his early thirties. Members will know that in those days, particularly in rural areas, people just did not get themselves elected to local government bodies at such a young age. Through his contribution to the council amalgamation debate, Neil McNamara made his mark on local politics very early, but his greatest achievement was the way he put the Singleton Shire on a new course to economic diversity and affluence.

Neil's community involvement has not been confined simply to Singleton. He is a former Chairman of Energy Australia, the Chairman of the Hunter Region Association of Councils, a member of the Hunter Region Tourism Association and a member of both the Newcastle and Upper Hunter Beyond 2000 committees. In 1984 Neil's commitment to his local region was recognised with an Order of Australia award. Throughout all of this, Neil has been magnificently supported by his wife, Joan. I wish them well, and I thank them for their friendship. (Time expired)