While some might think Cr Kristy McBain's suggestion that Bega Valley Shire Council change its name to Sapphire Coast Council would be a positive and constructive thing to do, others might hope her idea is not indicative of the quality of critical thinking that can be expected from our “new” council moving forward (Rebranding Bega Valley Shire, BDN, 22/1).
It's doubtless true the name “Sapphire” would have some appeal to those involved with the tourist industry, particularly in coastal areas.
However, while that is obviously important, in my humble opinion the fact is the Bega Valley represents a much broader range of interests and activities than that single connotation suggests.
In proposing the name change, Cr McBain suggests it could be a way of overcoming what she perceives as parochial thinking within various sections of our community.
But surely this is just a red herring, diverting attention away from the real issues and challenges faced by the community through the council's consistent failure to deliver to community expectations and its weak and defensive management culture?
To better make my point, former mayor Cr Tony Allen was reported as stating that: "I can assure you in my experience in those 11 years, the people who work for this council are the most professional people available to Local Government and they work with the highest degree of integrity."
Well, while Cr Allen is obviously entitled to his opinion, many residents will recall occasions when senior managers from the council have behaved in a completely unprofessional fashion by publicly criticising residents and ratepayers for having the temerity to question the council's failure to perform.
So, rather than pursuing a largely superficial and ineffective panacea for the council's inadequacies via a name change, Cr McBain and her colleagues would better serve the interests of our community by addressing the root causes of the performance issues highlighted in the recent IRIS Community Survey.
Finally, what some may see as parochialism, perhaps others might see simply as nothing more than good old-fashioned community pride?
Bed tax worth considering
Earlier this month Don Page, the Local Government Minister, was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as suggesting, prompted by the sight of vast amounts of rubbish left by revellers at Byron Bay, that “a bed tax would help tourism centres to pay for infrastructure and services to better cope with the influx of holiday visitors”.
This is an excellent idea and one which our council should strongly support.
Our shire is reported to have had exceptional numbers of visitors this summer - good for the tourism industry, but imposing substantial costs for repairs to infrastructure such as roads and bridges and the rehabilitation of degraded beaches and other over-used sites.
Presently this cost is borne by ratepayers while our visitors make no direct contribution.
It amounts to a significant subsidy by the rest of the ratepayers to the local tourist industry.
A bed tax, which need not be more per night than the cost of a cup of coffee, would allow visitors to make some contribution to the stewardship of the environment that draws them here and to the infrastructure that makes their visits possible.
In response to Minister Page’s comment, the chief executive of the Accommodation Association of Australia, Richard Munro, which represents businesses from bed and breakfasts to hotel chains, reportedly said a bed tax would lead to job losses and have a significant impact on domestic tourism.
“Domestic tourism just couldn't afford to have this sort of tax at the moment.”
No doubt some local interests will echo this view.
It is absurd.
Would $5 per night bed tax be sufficient deterrent that all our motels and camp grounds were left empty over summer?
Is it likely that any coastal Local Government would refrain from imposing such a tax so as to secure a competitive advantage over us?
Are our visitors the sort of people who are unprepared to make any contribution to the infrastructure and amenities they enjoy here?
I’d prefer any who fall into this category not to visit here; they are likely the very people who litter our beaches and roadsides and speed recklessly along narrow winding country roads and over frail wooden bridges.
A bed tax would impose an administrative burden on accommodation providers.
However, this could be offset by reimbursing a percentage of the tax that they collect.
When we Far South Coast residents visit major cities we are not exempt from tolls and other charges that help support urban infrastructure.
Is it not perfectly equitable that our visitors should make a direct contribution to the costs incurred by our community in catering for them here?
Stuart B Cameron
Hendra virus antibodies have been found in a dog and evidence has been found that cats can transmit Hendra virus directly to horses.
After 17 years of intensive research, no evidence of any kind has been found of flying foxes transmitting Hendra virus directly to horses.
We at Potoroo Palace are shocked that the LHPA should spread false information in their article “Fruit Bat Concerns” (BDN, 25/1).
It is very, very sad.
As we speak, thousands of flying foxes/fruit bats are dying from high temperatures because their rainforest roosting places which kept them cool have nearly all been cleared.
When they took refuge in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, 400 were killed by Chris Tidderman and tested for Lyssa virus.
Not one case of Lyssa virus was found.
Then intolerable noise and smoke were used to evict them.
They moved to Yarra Bend.
It was not vegetated enough to keep them cool and 6000 died.
Flying foxes are the pollinators of eucalypts.
Without flying foxes we will have no koalas.
The flying fox numbers have crashed in the last few years.
They are coming together and are seeking refuge in the last places suitable, often in cities.
Let's protest the Bega ones and make a flying fox/waterbird sanctuary in Bega.
Volunteers, staff and directors at Potoroo Palace
This year we’ll have a Federal election giving us all the chance to pass judgement on the Gillard government.
When contemplating their vote, most people, like me, will try to match Labor’s promises against what it’s actually done.
There is no doubt its record over the last five years clearly shows it can’t be trusted.
Most of all Labor has not managed our economy as it promised it would.
Far from being “fiscally conservative” and with all “reckless spending” stopped as Kevin Rudd promised, Labor blew $42billion on a stimulus package that saw huge waste – pink batts put in, pink batts taken out; school halls and COLAs that were hundreds and thousands of dollars overpriced or built in schools that have since been closed.
Without pausing for breath it committed another $36billion to a national broadband scheme without even checking whether the costs outweighed the dubious benefits. And with wireless access for all our devices who needs it?
Worse still, its major “rock solid”, “gold plated” promise was to maintain a budget surplus over the economic cycle.
But what did we actually get?
Deficits were recorded in every year since it was elected. Labor’s record is that it has never delivered a budget surplus since Paul Keating’s in 1989.
The scorecard is dismal - five years of broken promises with Labor presiding over massive increases in our living costs, including electricity price increases of 89 per cent.
The voting public is not stupid.
We remember the promises for Fuel Watch and Grocery Watch to keep prices low.
And we see that nothing came of it - except more public servants wasting more taxpayer dollars and prices continue to rise.
Since its election, the Labor government has completely run down the country’s financial position by turning John Howard’s surplus of $20billion into a net debt of $150billion, in the process running up the four biggest deficits in Australia’s history.
We taxpayers are now paying $20million a day in interest.
That’s what we get for giving Labor our trust.
The Gillard government has broken our trust and deserves to be booted out of office.