Public safety insult
The Tathra Wharf to Waves Festival is a great concept, but finally building steps at the wharf for the festival competitors is an insult to those who have been lobbying for years to improve public safety at the wharf.
Having said that, I sincerely ask the organisers to erect a safety rail around the wharf for next year’s festival.
Proposal not endorsed
I refer to your report on the meeting convened by the Bega Valley Shire Council with members of the Bega Valley Shire Ratepayers Association, the media and other community members to discuss the possibility of the council deciding to pursue a special rate variation through IPART (BDN, 1/2).
It is important for residents and ratepayers to understand the Ratepayers Association has not endorsed any proposal for an increase in the general rate (beyond that recently sanctioned by IPART), nor any increases in other council fees and charges.
Indeed, at the request of association president Peter Rogers, I wrote to the council after the meeting confirming the association had not taken a position on these matters and confirming its concerns, as voiced at the meeting, namely that:
• the council needs to consider the impact of any proposed increase in rates and charges on the many thousands of residents and ratepayers who are dependent on fixed incomes or may be subject to economic hardship, such that any increases are only enacted as a last resort;
• while any special rate variation being considered may, of itself, not appear significant, it is important for residents and ratepayers that the implications of proposed increases in all rates, charges and fees be considered in an aggregate sense, not just any proposed increase in the general rate in isolation;
• while the council claims to have identified $4million in efficiency gains and cost savings over the life of its forward plan, the association is not convinced the council has adequately explored all options open to it to achieve its financial objectives, without resorting to an increase in the general rate - including pursuing further borrowings, identifying further efficiency gains and cost savings and cancelling or deferring non-essential programs or works; and
• the council needs to expand its efforts to effectively inform and communicate with ratepayers on vital issues such as the possibility of it applying for a special rate variation as, in the absence of a more effective strategy for engagement and education, the council will likely continue to struggle to gain community support for its plans.
The Ratepayers Association will be meeting to consider the above matters in the near future and will publicise its position at that time.
On behalf of the Bega Valley Shire Ratepayers Association
I would like to comment on Mr McPherson’s statement in the BDN (1/2).
I have a question for you.
With a population of 2500 there are 351 against to 31 for Woolworths to be built.
Why are you going by that percentage only and what about the rest of the residents?
Have you considered doing your own poll and door knocking everyone in Bermagui their thoughts?
Here is a simple way to get your for and against - why doesn’t the council set up a ballot box in Bermi?
At least then you be able to count all those who are for and against.
Secondly, how would Woolworths affect you directly?
I can’t see how it will affect business in Bermagui except for the local Spar?
If you don’t like Spar then how come you go out of town to shop?
If you don’t want Woolworths to come to Bermagui then shop at Spar and always be in your pocket because of their high prices.
So instead of thinking about yourself Mr McPherson start thinking about the majority and less of the minority.
Consultation too late
As reported in the BDN (29/1), members of the Far South Coast Branch of the National Parks Association recently met with Environment Minister Robyn Parker and Bega MP Andrew Constance to discuss hunting in national parks.
While it is pleasing to read Mr Constance’s comments on the need for feedback, consultation and local input it is clear that the government should have allowed those processes to take place before a decision was made behind closed doors.
As safety from firearms, on public lands, is involved it is outrageous that the public has not been given an opportunity to be formally involved in these matters.
At a time when the number of guns in Australia is on the increase, the government’s endorsement of hunting in national parks lends a further degree of “legitimacy” to a gun culture about which many of us hold deep reservations.
We request the O’Farrell government withdraw support for recreational hunting in NSW national parks and that a public inquiry be held on the issue.
Doug Reckord, FSC NPA president
Kim Taysom, FSC NPA vice-president
Perhaps what is more important than the National Parks Association’s concerns about proposed recreational shooting in National Parks (BDN, 29/1) is its support for management that has failed to abide with the National Forest Policy statement.
Since the state governments and Commonwealth agreed on this policy in 1992, NSW government agencies have gone out of their way to avoid it.
According to Mr Constance, there will be “local knowledge and local input” into the management of recreational shooters, although when it comes to the management of Biamanga and Gulaga NPs, there seems to no disagreement between elements of the conservation movement including the NPA, the Greens, Bega and Eurobodalla Shire Councils and the OE&H.
Examples of the NSW Government’s avoidance, that the aforementioned have no qualms about, can be found in the recently released draft Plan of Management (POM) for the Yuin Mountains National Parks.
In 1994, local community members expressed concerns about the spread of bell-miner associated dieback (BMAD), although it took until 2008 for the State Government to officially acknowledge the issue.
Since that time BMAD has been listed as a key threatening process in NSW, but there is no reference to BMAD in the draft POM.
Similarly there is no mention of the more extensive dieback, associated with dry weather and official drought, acknowledged by the NSW Scientific Committee in 2007.
In 1996, the NSW Environment Protection Authority made an agreement with Forests NSW that enabled the latter to determine soil limitations for logging operations.
In 1997 soil landscape mapping was released and while the evidence indicates that most koalas have been located in forests growing on the Murrah soil landscape, the draft POM refers to “efforts to improve knowledge about where koalas are and what country is important for them”.
On feral animal control the POM proposes to continue the random 1080 baiting program that has led to the local extinction of dingoes, the only natural predator of foxes and cats.
Adding random shooting into the mix won’t make current management any better, but it does provide a distraction and the important issues can minimised and ignored.
To the NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner.
I saw your TV segment earlier this week talking about stroke units and the value of early treatment (within four hours) in reducing disability and costs.
The TV item also noted that there would be 20 stroke units in regional NSW and mentioned a number of regional locations - but not Bega.
As I have been previously advised by the Southern NSW Local Health District that the new South East Regional Hospital near Bega, scheduled to open in 2016, will have a stroke unit, I would appreciate you confirming to me that Bega will have a stroke unit in the new hospital.
Alternatively, if not, please explain to me and the local community, why not.
Thank you for your attention to this request.