Bega District Letters to the Editor, May 29

Erin Moon, David Stocker and Mica Lynnah made for a colourful opening to Spiral Gallery's latest exhibition of textile art, Adornment.
Erin Moon, David Stocker and Mica Lynnah made for a colourful opening to Spiral Gallery's latest exhibition of textile art, Adornment.

Privilege and pleasure

Band Together was a wonderful event. Congratulations to Darren Jones and the Band Together crew for a great day. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be part of it.

Hugh Watson, Willie and the Correspondents

Action on bushfires

Years ago I wrote to the editor of the Bega District News about the lack of hazard reduction burning and the complex web of green-approvals necessary before anything is done. Now everyone and their dog has a plan but still hardly anything is done.

The plans I’ve looked at ignore that rainfall around the Bega Valley is unequivocally episodic: episodes of a few good years followed by decade or two of average to dry conditions and a generally dry winter. January rain can be heavy (and is a blessing) but it makes up for lack of rain in spring and is quickly evaporated.  

It takes about 100mm to fill the soil profile and as a rule-of-thumb if rainfall is less than (or around) 50% of the average for February and March (50% of 100mm/month at Bemboka, Candelo and Bega) winter will be tough. The next statistically likely month is June; however, from the end of March to September, days are too short and the sun too far north that except for fireweed nothing much grows. Excluding a chance storm or two the next likely and important month is February and so the cycle repeats.

After four or five good years understorey is thick but the bush is now drying out. July and August are windy, which reduces opportunities for pre-emptive fire management. While everybody has their plans, nothing gets done during the small windows of opportunity that may open and quickly close. The climate hasn’t changed there are just too many meddlers peddling too many beliefs and not enough doers.

History will likely repeat after evaporation soars in December and hot westerly and northerly winds arrive on time in January. It’s a fearsome prospect that there will likely be more fires than all the committees, peddlers and planners can poke a match at.

Dr Bill Johnston, ex-Bemboka

Democracy shame

Great shame the majority of our elected  Bega Valley Shire councillors have so little regard for liberal democracy and good governance that they:

- reappoint the general manager of an enterprise with a turnover of more than $100million, namely Bega Valley Shire Council, with an annual salary of $300,000 without inviting competitive applications from the open market for administrative talent; and

- elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor by their own factional votes, disenfranchising ratepayers.

We need a ratepayers’ advocate to give the community genuine voice.

Jon Gaul, Tura Beach

Policy ‘fizzer’

It’s a big letdown for regional Australia that the Turnbull government’s decentralisation policy has turned out to be a fizzer.

On budget night, the government announced just six agencies would move a handful of jobs.  What they didn’t say was that it was only 98 jobs which would, in fact, be “decentralised”; and that only 16 of those would actually go to a regional centre. In fact, 80 per cent of the jobs will move from one capital city to another.  This includes 25 jobs the government will move from Sydney’s CBD to Parramatta, only 25km away.

Over the last year, the government has raised considerable expectations in regional Australia about its policy only to disappoint.  Many councils have put time and energy into making the case for hosting agencies in their regional cities.

The Coalition’s decentralisation policy is nothing more than a complete fizzer. If the government was serious about supporting regional employment then it should stop the ongoing cuts to regional public service jobs.

Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government