It was a summit with a difference at Harden on Friday when the MP for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke, brought together representatives from all nine councils and hooked them through by Zoom to discuss their issues with five NSW government ministers.
In the three previous years since she has been State member, council representatives from her electorate have met together as her guest at the Parliament House in Macquarie Street.
However this year because of Covid the summit meeting in Sydney was postponed, and instead was held on Friday in the shiny new South West Slopes Fire Control Centre in Harden.
Even in Sydney it has not been the practice to have meetings with ministers, but this year Ms Cooke pioneered a new approach whereby mayors and general managers were able to speak directly with government ministers.
The summit was attended by mayors and general managers from the Cootamundra-Gundagai, Bland, Coolamon, Cowra, Hilltops, Junee, Narrandera, Temora and Weddin councils along with Goldenfields Water and Central Tablelands Water.
Ms Cooke said the summit was vital in helping local governments have their voices heard.
"Today I facilitated discussions with the deputy premier John Barilaro as well as with minister Shelly Hancock (local government), minister Melinda Pavey (water, property and housing), minister Sarah Mitchell (Education and Early Childhood Learning), minister Brad Hazzard (health) and Minister Paul Toole (regional transport and roads), with a message from the premier," Ms Cooke said.
"While fighting for the interests of my local governments is something I do on a daily basis, it is so important for me to bring my parliamentary colleagues together with my councils so they can have constructive discussions and hear issues straight from the horse's mouth.
"With the State budget to be handed down on Tuesday this has been great timing to give councils an insight in to what to expect next week.
"We have been able to focus on some of the big issues shared by multiple council areas including the Regional Growth Fund, fixing local roads and bridges and health infrastructure. I thank everyone for taking part."
Mayor of Weddin Shire Mark Liebich said the summit had enabled cooperation between local government areas.
"It's just great to come together with mayors and general managers from all across the Cootamundra electorate to share our problems and work out how we can move forward with our issues," Cr Liebich said.
"And especially today it's been able to great to talk to the ministers and be able to highlight our issues with them and try and get our projects over the line
"We do all have issues in our own individual shires, and while a lot of them have been funded we do have a long road to bring things up to spec to take our communities forward and encourage people to stay in our communities."
"I really believe that these summits are important so we can move forward together."
Mayor of Temora Shire Rick Firman said the summit was a great opportunity to share ideas with other councils and speak to Ministers.
"It is fantastic that our state member Steph Cooke holds these events for us to network and for her to arrange for us to speak with Ministers," Cr Firman said.
"The ministerial visits were a highlight, from my perspective being able to speak with minister Hazzard and minister Toole was of particular interest. This is a brilliant initiative."