CCBR Business Review

13 CO U N C I L N E W S B U S I N E S S N E W S B O O K R E V I E W How a young boy fled Chairman Mao's China to a new life on the Central Coast Dr Andrew Kwong was born in Zhongshan in the Pearl River Delta, China, and educated in China, Hong Kong and Australia. He is one of the Central Coast’s most respected medicos. In 1979 he moved with his wife Sheree and three children and established the Renwick Street Medical Practice in Wyoming where he continues to practice. He has published many short stories and has been the recipient of numer- ous writing awards and fellowships. His upbringing during the Great Leap Forward was seminal. Those brutal times contrasted with the affection he received from his fam- ily and friends, which ultimately shaped his determined and hopeful spirit. Andrew Kwong was only seven when he witnessed his first execution. The grim scene left him sleepless, anxious and doubtful about his fervour as a revolution- ary in Mao’s New China. Yet he knew if he devoted himself to the Party and its Chairman he would be saved. That’s what his teacher told him. Months later, it was his own father on trial. This time the sentence was banish- ment to a re-education camp, not death. It left the family tainted, despised, and with few means of survival during the terrible years of persecution and famine known as the Great Leap Forward. Even after his father returned, things remained desper- ate. Escape seemed the only solution, and it would be twelve-year-old Andrew who undertook the perilous journey first. This is the poignant, resonant story of a young boy’s awakening - to survival, educa- tion, fulfilment, and eventually to a new life of freedom. Club Wyong RSL has confirmed that it is currently in discussions with Mounties Group regarding a potential amalgamation, following an expression of interest released in early 2020 to engage merger parties. As a smaller community club operating in a competitive market, Club Wyong RSL has been facing increased pressure to con- sistently grow and improve its services and facilities in order to attract members and retain support within the community. Chief Executive Officer of Club Wyong RSL, Angela Sanders said that eight confirmed expressions of interest were received, with the Board choosing to move forward in discussions with Mounties Group. “Like many other clubs across the state, we strive to keep pace with commu- nity expectations and with this comes an increase in costs and a push to become a more financially viable operation,” said Mrs Sanders. The Board of Club Wyong RSL and Mounties Group commenced amalgama- tion discussions in March 2020 and are working towards the development of a Memorandum of Understanding. Club Wyong RSL confirms amalgamation discussions proceeding with Mounties Group Sydney builder gets contract to build Warnervale School Sydney construction company Richard Crookes Construction has been awarded the contract to build a new primary school at Warnervale. Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch welcomed the contract award mile- stone. “This represents the latest step in this major project which will provide high- quality educational facilities for families at the northern end of the Central Coast,” Mr Crouch said. “The facilities will include 20 air-condi- tioned classroom spaces, a library, hall, can- teen, OSHC, toilets, a drop-off and pick-up zone, and staff and administration spaces. “The school will be built to accommo- date 460 students and can be expanded in the future to fit around 1,000.” Mr Crouch said main works construc- tion would generate hundreds of jobs and pump millions into the local economy. “This construction project is valued at approximately $31.9 million and will pro- vide jobs for 225 Sydney workers. Councils amalgamation cost ratepayers $38.7 million At Central Coast Council’s July 27 meeting Councillor learned that the amalgama- tion of Gosford and Wyong Councils cost a total of $48.7 million of which the State Government contributed $10 million. Council’s Operational Plan 2020-21 which Council adopted says, among other things, that it will take until June 2022 to complete the amalgamation process. A number of the remaining projects and actions that need to be addressed include the consolidated Local Environment Plan and Development Control Plan, rates har- monisation and the introduction of new IT systems, prior to being fully consolidated. Council has budgeted $564.3 million for the delivery of essential services and $225 million for capital works across the local government area. Mayor Lisa Matthews said the Operational Plan responded to these unprecedented times and ensured Council could deliver essential services within its financial means without letting go of long-term goals for the Central Coast community. “We have had to make income and expenditure adjustments which means that some capital works projects have been deferred and others have been prioritised for this financial year. “We also have $33million in additional capital works projects which are pending external grant funding, or are ‘gated’ pro- jects where the funding is released once the project meets set criteria to continue,” said Mayor Matthews. CEO Gary Murphy added that Council would continue to respond to the evolving economic and public health situation, and also actively seek additional revenue opportu- nities through grant funding and other means. “More than ever, our operating environment is dynamic and constantly changing as we respond like other businesses to the impacts of the Coronavirus on the local economy and household expenditure,”said Mr Murphy. "We are not standing still. We will be reviewing Council’s financial performance throughout the year and making sound financial decisions about where we should focus spending aside from our delivery of essential services. For instance, what more we can do to provide economic stimulus for our region, helping local businesses get back on their feet faster,” said Mr Murphy. The 2020/21 Operational Plan fore- casts Council’s operating income as $551 million, leaving an estimated budgeted operating deficit of $13.3 million excluding capital grants and contributions. This differs to the forecasted operating deficit of $32.5 million in the publicly exhibited plan due to income an expenditure adjustments as a result of Coronavirus impacts. HarperCollins – Available at all major bookstores and as audio and eBook CENTRAL COAST BUSINESS REVIEW AUGUST 2020