Bega district letters to the editor, February 14

End ‘entitlement’

There’s that word again: ‘entitled’.

And, perhaps predictably, it’s a couple of Aboriginal Australians who think they are ‘entitled’ to take massive hauls of shellfish and are ‘entitled’ to sell them illegally on the Sydney market. (BDN, 10/2)

Sorry John Brierley and Andrew Nye.  You may be permitted to take small quantities of shellfish for your own use and to feed your own families, in recognition of traditional fishing practice. But you are not ‘entitled’ to do so.

And you are certainly not ‘entitled’ to then sell them because “we’ve got to make money…to buy a car or a house.”

Selling over 3300 abalone on the commercial market in Berala, Sydney, is not and never has been a traditional Walbunja cultural activity!

Hopefully the Australian Social Security and Taxation authorities have now joined the DPI in taking an interest in this particular group’s clearly commercial, illegal activities.

The concept of historic ‘entitlement’ is now widely considered to be un-Australian - which is why we haven't embraced the British class system.  So the sooner the word ‘entitled’ (as in 'historically entitled') disappears from  contemporary Australian historical usage the better. 

And it must be accepted that a clear and continued demonstration of absolute respect for all Australian law is essential if the whole Australian population is to ever embrace commendable efforts to end all “insult” and “disrespect” to traditional Aboriginal culture.   

Name and address supplied

Specific criticism

So, in response to Rex Airlines’ clinical takedown of council’s plans for the expansion of Merimbula Airport, the best it can offer is a simpering list of platitudes from an anonymous “spokesperson”, coupled with a dismissive suggestion that Rex’s comments were simply “self-serving” (BDN, 10/2).

Well, surprise, surprise. Of course Rex is seeking to serve its own best interests. That is exactly what it is legally obliged to do. But that doesn’t render its criticisms any less valid and it is a mark of council’s arrogant contempt for Rex and our community that it does not feel obliged to respond to those specific criticisms, which have been supported by other independent industry experts such as Neil Hansford from Strategic Aviation Solutions.

And while council seems willing to dismiss the criticisms made by Rex, on the basis that they are self-serving, we would suggest that the local tourist sector is engaged in exactly the same self-serving behaviour by actively supporting council’s plans, while the interests of the broader community are being blatantly disregarded.

As for council’s lame attempt to claim broader community support for the state government’s intention to “deregulate” the Sydney/Merimbula air route, by citing a “blink and you’ll miss it” community survey conducted last year, the fact is the “survey” has no credibility given it failed to elicit the views of a representative sample of respondents while, at the same time, it pursued a pro-deregulation outcome by deliberately targeting the views of partisan “stakeholders”.

We also find it illuminating that it was left up to an “anonymous spokesperson” to respond to one of the most severe attacks on council's credibility in memory.

And no sign either of Liberal Party project sponsor and Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

Says it all really.

John Richardson, secretary/treasurer, Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association

  • Letters to the editor on any topic are welcome. Letters are to be a maximum 300 words with the author’s name and home town for publication. The editor reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity and legal issues. Email ben.smyth@fairfaxmedia.com.au
YOUNG WRITERS: Young authors from the Bega Valley are presented with their books at a special launch on Saturday. Read more online

YOUNG WRITERS: Young authors from the Bega Valley are presented with their books at a special launch on Saturday. Read more online