Efforts recognised

By Country News

Former cropping and livestock farmer John Bruce has been recognised with an Order of Australia Medal for service to the community of Barooga, and to local government.

Mr Bruce, who has been a Berrigan Shire councillor for 20 years, which included two stints as mayor between 1999 to 2001 and again from 2004 until 2012, said it was an honour to receive his OAM.

‘‘It’s quite unexpected because I have never gone looking for this sort of recognition, but it is nice to receive it,’’ he said.

‘‘Many of the things I have done, including sporting achievements, have been centred around Barooga.

‘‘I lived out of Barooga for a long time in the Boomanoomana farming community which is where I did a lot of Landcare and local government work.

‘‘And Barooga is a great little town and strong community,’’ he said.

During his time as mayor Cr Bruce was successful in lobbying heavily for a bridge between Cobram and Barooga, which he regards as his proudest moment in office.

Cr Bruce is also proud of Berrigan Shire’s leadership on state issues.

‘‘We have led the debate on a lot of issues with state government policy; we’ve stood our ground.

‘‘One example was when the state government planned to take over our water utilities.

‘‘We lobbied strongly — even against our neighbouring councils — and we still have control of our water utilities which are a big part of council business,’’ Cr Bruce said.

Before retiring to Barooga he was a cropping and livestock farmer in Boomanoomana with a main focus on sheep.

With his proud links to the farming community, he said it was the fifth community in the Berrigan Shire and often forgotten.

‘‘There are the four towns — but we really have five. We should be recognising the rural community a lot more because they are the economic backbone of the shire,’’ he said.

Although living in the Boomanoomana farming community, Barooga was always his first port of call when it came to his true passion, sport.

As a life member of Barooga Football Club and Barooga Cricket Club, Cr Bruce held many administration roles within the local sporting bodies.

He was also president of Murray Football League from 1993 until 1998.

The Australia Day honour was not his first community recognition. Cr Bruce was Berrigan Shire Citizen of the Year in 2016.