Bega district letters to the editor, May 16

SIZZLE: Bill Handcock and Laurie McArthur cook up a story outside the Bega Salvation Army store on Saturday to help launch the Red Shield Appeal.

SIZZLE: Bill Handcock and Laurie McArthur cook up a story outside the Bega Salvation Army store on Saturday to help launch the Red Shield Appeal.

Hypocritical stance

The Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) notes the comments by state Opposition Health spokesman Walt Secord criticising community opposition to the proposed full fluoridation of the shire’s drinking water supplies.

Singling-out the Clean Water for Life group for particular criticism, Mr Secord accused the group of “misleading” the Bega Valley community about the fluoridation issue and criticised the group’s 2000-signature petition opposing the fluoridation of the shire’s drinking water supplies submitted to council last week.

While the BVSRRA notes Mr Secord’s claim that the group “does not have a right to impose its views on the community”, it also notes that he stands ready to hypocritically bestow that same right on himself, faceless bureaucrats from NSW Health and on unqualified Bega Valley Shire councillors, while expressly denying the same right to the community.

As the Opposition Health spokesperson, Mr Secord is entitled to express a view on the contentious issue of fluoridation, but the association does not believe his opinion should be afforded any greater weight than the opinion of members of the Bega Valley community.

Moreover, while Mr Secord has seen fit to publicly attack the community-based group opposing fluoridation of the shire’s water supplies, he ignores the failure of the state government, in particular NSW Heath, to mount a convincing public campaign in support of its proposal.

The BVSRRA questions Mr Secord’s assertion that “The community’s views are very clear on this issue. They want fluoride in their drinking water”, which is clearly contradicted by newspaper surveys, petitions & an abundance of submissions rejecting the proposal. Where is his substantiation for this ill-informed statement?

And while Mr Secord is happy to offer gratuitous remarks on the fluoridation issue, the BVSRRA notes that his behaviour is no better than that of his colleague, the Member for Bega, the Hon Andrew Constance, or Bega Valley Shire Council, who have refused to pursue a direct dialogue with the community & assess its opinion on the issue.

The BVSRRA has consistently argued that the onus should be squarely on NSW Health to convince the community on the merit of its proposals & if it is not able to do so, then it should abandon its plans.

The BVSRRA does not believe that it should be up to the community to prove that the proposal will be deleterious to its health.

At the same time, the BVSRRA is strongly of the view that the elected Councillors of the Bega Valley Shire should not be attempting to determine the matter through amateurish attempts to understand & assess the science attached to the issue, but rather to focus their efforts on understanding & responding to the views of the community.

Regrettably, the willingness of councillors to participate in a confidential meeting with representatives of NSW Health last week did nothing to reassure the community that it is genuinely interested in taking account of its views.

John Richardson, BVSRRA

Unusual call on NBN

It seems unusual for the Labor Party to call for an inquiry into the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service given it was Labor which ordered the two Sky Muster satellites.

The Coalition decided to use the second satellite – which Labor had intended to float around in space only as a back up – so we could double the data available to Sky Muster customers. 

Under the Coalition, Sky Muster’s outage record has improved by 91 per cent since last year, and changes to the installation process have increased customer satisfaction with that to 80 per cent. NBN Co is also working on ways to provide more data to that small percentage of customers who are using all the data available to them.

Fiona Nash, Minister for Regional Communications, Deputy Leader of the Nationals

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