Centennial celebrations – Mayoral Minute

Mayor Ron Mulock


MAYORAL MINUTE – 12 May 1971



At this historic Council meeting today, motions are to be passed of thanksgiving, loyalty and appreciation; thanksgiving, because we are all grateful for the prosperity and progress of our City and the blessings and privilege of living in a land such as ours; loyalty, because we are subjects of the Queen; appreciation, because we are indebted to the past.

These motions are particularly significant in the light of the past history of the city, present events and future plans for the area.

We can only understand the present when we are aware of the past. This City has a past full of interest, and many aspects of the past are coming to light during the Celebrations.

A well-known historian on local Government in this State emphasized the difficulties under which Councils all labored and he gives all the more credit that so much has been done … “In the main,” he states, “the New South Wales system of Local Government has striven diligently to achieve the purpose for which it was created.”

If we examine the names of all former Mayors and Presidents of Councils of this area, we find a formidable list of great interest to all present here today. Some of their descendants will be either at this meeting today or associated with the Centenary Celebrations in one way or another.

It was impossible to present to this meeting a list of the names of all Aldermen because of the number of different Councils prior to 1949. We are, however, compiling such a list which is now almost complete, except for some very early periods.

The names speak for themselves and we must pay tribute to them all. To look at the list is to see some of the history of the area.

We might wonder what was in the minds of the Aldermen who recorded their names in the Minute Book of the first council meeting. Did they envisage this meeting today? …. Did they realize they would become a part of the local history? … Whatever their thoughts were at the time, as we now look at the musty pages and hear the Minutes of that initial meeting read aloud today by the Town clerk, one would feel that they were aware of the significance of that meeting.

What problems confronted James John Riley and his eight fellow Aldermen during their terms of office? … Did the ideals and hopes of these nine men come to fruition? …. Small as the Municipality then was, inadequate as their resources may have been, the area still had to be governed responsibly, and, as the Minutes show, Committees still had to be elected, funds voted, decisions made and the responsibilities of civic office borne.

Whatever the circumstances in which these nine Aldermen first met together, we ourselves are now meeting and commemorating the event with solemnity.

There was a Council prior to 1871, but it was a District Council, and one might say that the real structure of local Government as we now know it did not really commence in this area until Penrith was incorporated as a Municipality in 1871.

In the Notice Paper for this meeting is a copy of the Proclamation of Incorporation. You will see that the Proclamation states that a petition seeking incorporation and signed by 176 persons liable to be rated upon incorporation was received by the Governor. The petition was submitted under the provisions of the Municipalities Act 1867. Similarly, in 1890, 130 persons successfully petitioned for the incorporation of the Municipality of St Marys on 3 March 1890.

Following further petitions, the Municipality of Mulgoa was proclaimed on 26 July 1893 and the Municipality of Castlereagh on 9 September 1895.

With the passing of the Local government Act 1906, the Nepean Shire was created. It absorbed Mulgoa Municipality in 1913.

On 1 January 1949, an amalgamation took place consisting of the former Municipalities of Penrith, St Marys and Castlereagh and a portion of Nepean Shire (“A” riding) to form a consolidated area of approximately 155 square miles.

The Municipality of Penrith was proclaimed a City on 14 November 1959. On 25 October 1963, Emu Plains was transferred from Blue Mountains City Council to Penrith City Council.

The consolidated area is now approximately 157 square miles and extends from Wallacia and Luddenham in the south to within two miles of Richmond on the north, from the mountains escarpment in the west to Ropes Creek in the east.

The system of permissive incorporation which gave birth to the first Council in 1871 must have been well received here. It is a credit to the people of this area at the time that they were foresighted enough to envisage the need for local authorities by taking the initiative in seeking incorporation by petition.

The general development of the area and its history are being publicized during the Celebrations and I will not dwell on it here, but there are some outstanding aspects of our development which, although fairly well-known, are of particular relevance when considered in the light of today’s meeting.

Firstly, as we know, there has been a spectacular rate of population growth during the last twenty years, rising from an estimated 14,770 persons in 1950 to 58,000 at present.

Secondly, industrial establishments are now estimated at approximately 200 in number, employing a work force of approximately 6,000.

Thirdly, the area has been foremost in making substantial progress in town planning. The City of Penrith was the first local authority in the County of Cumberland to have its own planning scheme proclaimed and this has provided an unprecedented opportunity to properly plan and control the exciting development which has taken place in recent years. A new plan for the Penrith and St Marys town centre’s is about to be released. It will compliment the Sydney Region Outline Plan for the area which provides for a population of some 200,000 persons by the year 2000 A.D.

Notwithstanding this, we know that the past has certainly not been without its problems nor will these problems be absent in the future. Whilst we pay tribute to the past and compliment ourselves on what is happening now and on what is planned for the future, we must plan in such a way as to ensure that whatever development takes place, it does not detract from the character and environment for which Penrith is known. We must at all times retain a sense of direction.

The Centenary should be an occasion for us to take stock of ourselves and our area and to search deeply for the guidance we need in the future. The progress we are making now will be of little avail in the future if it is not made with the wisdom of careful planning.

The City is decorated, celebrations and events are being enacted. Old associations are being renewed and new friendships are being made. The Centenary is well under way. We must now look to the future.

I submit this Minute with the request that the motions of appreciation, loyalty and thanksgiving be considered carefully and remembered for what they are – our highest token of sincerity in meeting here today, in what we are doing and in what we hope to do in the future.

I would particularly ask that all present – members, staff and visitors alike – have their names recorded at this meeting. I express the wish that this meeting, and the names so recorded, will be of as much interest to future generations as the first meeting of the Council in 1871 is of interest to us today.

R. J. Mulock – Mayor City of Penrith