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Deniliquin Ute Muster holding on to hallmark hope

Play on the Plains chair Harold Clapham says the resignation of NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher should not alter the chances of the Muster's bid for hallmark status.

ZOE MCMAUGH May 9, 2014 11:20am

The NSW cabinet shake-up has come at an inopportune time for the Deniliquin Ute Muster but should not have any bearing on its quest for hallmark status, according to Play on the Plains chair Harold Clapham.

Less than a fortnight after Mike Baird replaced Barry O’Farrell as NSW Premier, NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher announced his resignation from cabinet on Friday.

Like Mr O’Farrell, Mr Gallacher reportedly resigned after he was implicated in an Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing on ‘illegal donations’.

His portfolios have been taken on by Stuart Ayers.

During a visit to Deniliquin in 2006, Mr Gallacher promised the community free policing of the Ute Muster would be at the top of his priorities if the Coalition was elected.

While not tasked with deciding who gets hallmark status, and the state-paid police services that flow from it, Mr Clapham said Mr Gallacher supported the event’s attempts.

‘‘I don’t think (Michael Gallacher’s resignation) has any bearing as applications for hallmark status go to the Premier.

‘‘I would hope that the process is judged on merit rather than who is minister, and whether they have any ministerial experience.

‘‘My gut feeling is that the support of our local members, Federal and NSW, is more important than who is minister.’’

The Deniliquin Play on the Plains Festival Inc has submitted a 2014 application for hallmark status, with eligibility to be decided by the NSW Premier.

The last application for the event was submitted in 2012, and rejected.

The NSW Government currently pays for half of the event’s policing costs.

At the 2012 event, the Ute Muster’s share of the police bill was $90,000. Organisers will not reveal the increase since then for commercial reasons.

The Ute Muster attracts an average of 15,000 people to Deniliquin each NSW Labour Day long weekend.

Criteria for hallmark status includes enhancing awareness and appeal and profitability of a destination at a particular time and an event with an international and/or national audience and provides significant economic and social benefits.

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