In response to my criticism of Bega Valley Shire Council’s decision to notify IPART of its intention to pursue a special rate variation to raise an additional $1.35million over the next three years, Mayor Bill Taylor advised me that, if such an increase is sought, it will “be tied to maintenance of roads, recreation asset renewal and upgrade and renewal of public infrastructure, all of which the community has clearly indicated it wants” and that it “has to be based on the long term strategic plan and financial plan” (BDN, 18/12).
The problem with such reassurances is that, to many, they amount to nothing more than “motherhood statements”, given the council’s proclivity to pay lip-service to strategic planning and its readiness to make it up as it goes along.
Many of us haven’t forgotten the council’s plan to spend $500,000 extending Merimbula airport to handle planes that will never come here.
And the residents of Bemboka are still waiting patiently for the sealed roads they were promised more than 20 years ago.
And while many people in the shire might be delighted that we have assets such as the Sapphire Aquatic Centre, there are many others who think the $800,000-plus of ratepayers’ funds poured into that private venture could well have been better spent elsewhere.
And if raising an extra $400,000 in rates each year for the next three years is essential to the council’s financial viability, how is it the council was contemplating a $5.5million project to demolish and rebuild the Bega Town Hall, without the benefit of a business case?
Of course our community wants the best of infrastructure and of course it understands that it needs to pay for it.
However, that’s surely not the issue.
The real issue is that ratepayers are highly sceptical of the council’s record on delivering quality outcomes against such assurances.
Regarding the story “Bank Hotel calls last drinks” (BDN, 14/12), I would like to point out various errors that have been made.
As research officer of the Bega Valley Genealogy Society I have been collecting information on this hotel over a long period and wish to advise the following, which is supported by entries in the NSW Government gazettes and various local newspapers.
The Bank Hotel in Church St, Bega, wasn’t built until 1877 and the first licence was issued in October of that year to the owner, William Ellis.
In 1872, William Ellis was previously shown as being a storekeeper in Auckland St, Bega.
However, on December 23, 1877, William suddenly died, only six weeks after the Bank Hotel was first opened.
An inquest found he had “died from natural causes which had been hastened on by drink”.
His wife Ann took over the running of the hotel and in June 1880 she advertised the property, furniture, goodwill and licence was to be sold as she wished to travel to Europe.
However, no interest was taken in the sale and a change in licensee didn’t happen until February 1882, when William Rowley, late proprietor of the Empire Hotel, Young, took over the lease from Ann.
In May 1884, William’s lease expired and Ann Ellis once again took possession of the Bank Hotel and carried on the business for another two years until EG Everingham became the new proprietor.
During his time as licensee, a commodious billiard room was erected at the rear of the property.
Many other licensees followed, some of these being George Bobbington, FA Hall and Ann Kelly in the 1890s, P Daly, Henry Underhill, JC Behl from Pambula, Harold Menser, LB Marrett, Charles Fox and then in 1920 JW Chapman took over.
Ann Ellis died on October 3, 1909, after having previously suffered a paralytic stroke and in December 1921 her son, Charles William Ellis, still owned the freehold of the Bank Hotel.
It will indeed be a sad day on December 31 when we see the closing of the historic Bank Hotel once again.
Research officer, Bega Valley Genealogy Society
In response to your article on the Bermagui post office (BDN, 14/12), the essential service of mail delivery has been sacrificed to privatisation (in this case franchise).
The fact the postmaster has a franchise on this government service is the reason given for Australia Post’s inability to control the quality of the service delivery and its lack of accountability.
The response from Australia Post during the whole tedious business has been unhelpful to say the least.
Seeking to resolve this I have spoken to about eight different people including quite high ranking CEOs.
This has taken literally dozens of hours.
I have been given conflicting information, for example “the matter is not our responsibility”; “the matter has been resolved”; “it is a police matter”; the police say “it is an Australia Post matter”; the postmaster is adamant that “this is my PO and I’ll do what I like”.
I have never been offered a “mediation process” as your paper reported last Friday.
It was suggested (by Australia Post) that Ms McGee and I should apologise to the postmaster.
Having only requested our mail to be delivered as it has been for the last 35 years (in my case) I failed to see any reason for this requested apology.
On the contrary, he should be apologising to us.
Bermagui is a small town, there have been many stories of failed deliveries including medical necessities, and responses to these legitimate complaints have been met with the same rejection and threats of “banning from the PO and charges of trespass”.
I have been told by the postmaster in a very loud voice “I am not responsible for delivering your mail”.
I sympathise with those who have rung Australia Post for a resolution.
The runaround is a huge waste of time and from my experience Australia Post has absolutely no intention of resolving the issue.
It has told me so. It has also told me that the issue IS resolved.
The statement from communications advisor Sarah Gordon “Australia Post is committed to resolving outstanding issues to ensure the efficient delivery of mail to Bermagui residents” is hollow and insulting.
Christmas can be a time for family and celebrations for some, but can also be a time of reflection and loneliness for others, and it’s important to remember that help is available.
Over the holiday period I encourage all members of the veteran community to take time to visit a friend or relative they haven’t seen for a while or drop around to see their next door neighbour and check how they are going.
For those members of the veteran community or their families who do need help, the VVCS – Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service - is just a phone call away offering 24-hour counselling and support.
I wish to advise the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) offices will be closed from December 25 to January 1 inclusive.
During this time, many important services will still be available, including:
• crisis counselling – VVCS offers 24-hour crisis counselling through Veterans’ Line. This service is available toll free on 1800 011 046 to veterans of all conflicts and their families, including members of peace operations;
• transport – if transport is not booked prior to the Christmas period, please pay up front and seek reimbursement from DVA later. Alternatively transport can be booked and reviewed, and travel expenses can be claimed through MyAccount, DVA’s online service module;
• hospital admissions – doctors can admit DVA patients into hospitals and request admissions approval, where required, when DVA re-opens; and
• Defence Service Homes Insurance – help with policy and claim inquiries is available 24-hours a day on 1300 552 662, and payments can be made on 1300 304 989 or via the DSH website www.dsh.gov.au.
Payment of pensions will not be affected by the reduced services period.
DVA offices will also be closed for the Australia Day public holiday on January 28.
I’d like to wish all servicemen and women, veterans, war widows, widowers and their families a safe and happy Christmas and new year.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs