Who will be our Muster Hallmark champion?

September 26, 2017

The time has come again for Deniliquin’s population to treble, with all roads leading to the world famous World Record Deniliquin Ute Muster.

A predicted 18,000 people, and possibly more, will revel in what is being dubbed the ‘party on the plains’ — a celebration of all things Australian.

Those of us who see the hard work being done year round for this event — by staff and volunteers — know this weekend is much more than a party. It’s a demonstration of community spirit at its finest, and testament to the resilience of country communities like ours who, instead of being beaten by drought and adversity, do things differently and succeed.

The economic activity this event generates for the entire region, not just Deniliquin, is immense. Plus there are the vast benefits to the community groups and charities whose volunteers work at the muster site.

This year we have a unique opportunity to share the Muster fanfare with NSW Deputy Premier and leader of The Nationals John Barilaro, who will attend the famed event’s opening this Friday.

It’s an opportunity to showcase our iconic Muster, and to put forward a case on how the NSW Government can assist in making it even better.

It’s been more than a year since the NSW Government vowed to investigate a regional variation of Hallmark Status for festivals such as the Deniliquin Ute Muster.

Events that are granted such status receive state government-paid policing, which is believed to cost the Ute Muster about $90,000 for its share each year.

The Ute Muster has made several applications for Hallmark Status across its 19-year history, however each time it has been denied for failing to reach the benchmarks — a ‘one size fits all’ set of criteria.

In May last year, former Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli gave an indication a variation would be investigated. We’ve heard no more of it since.

With our champion for this cause having recently retired from politics, there is an opportunity for all candidates for the NSW seat of Murray to make a review of the Hallmark Status criteria a commitment in the lead up to the October 14 by-election in the hope that a Hallmark category for iconic country events such as the Ute Muster is created.

Policing and emergency services are paramount to patron safety and the Ute Muster’s overall success each year, however there is a general view locally that these essential services should be paid for by the state government.

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