The Crystal Ball reveals - Batemans Bay 2020

At the end of the day when all things are said and done, more things are said than done….

This year, 2020, has not been a good year for Batemans Bay.

The promised new bridge over the Clyde River has made little progress and the sole northern pylon serves no purpose other than to block the view of diners at the nearby restaurant. Work had earlier ground to a halt after the western edge of this first pylon had sunk several feet through a well-known ‘Jewie hole’ causing a 17degree list. Graffiti wits had quickly rowed out to spray “The Bill Shorten Bridge” on both sides, apparently a reference to our current Prime Minister’s inclination to lean either to the left or right depending on the prevailing point (or angle) of view.

The postponement of further construction, however, may allow for a timely pause on what has been an untidy and often hostile community debate on a suitable name for the new bridge. Council had allocated a small sum for a bridge naming competition, drawing a raft of suggestions ranging from the Mayor’s desire for what amounts to a perpetual self-praising vanity plate reward for services; to the predictable late entry from now retired Andrew Constance who suggested Bridget McBridgetFace Bridge.

Despite ongoing intense public outrage, there had still been no decisions reached regarding the future of Batemans Bay’s swimming pool, or of the much-altered designs for the aquatic centre and performing arts theatre. The ‘Bigger is Better’ community group in favour of a 50metre pool had made no progress against the head-wind of the cost conscious pencil-pushers in Moruya. One Councillor had stirred from his slumber during last month’s Council Meeting to unhelpfully suggest that this impasse be broken by progressing instead with a less costly 40metre pool.

“This compromise”, he said “should satisfy everybody, and there would be no need to alert anyone outside the Bay that the pool is not the full Olympic length. Think of the record swim times that would be set during our summer long-course carnivals. Think of the tourism potential. Elite athletes would flock to the Bay”.

But today’s public meeting called by the Council, on the decaying and still vacant old bowling club site, does not intend to address either the bridge or the aquatic centre. Nor will it address Council’s inaction on the missed opportunity to celebrate the following two major events.

21 April 2020 will mark the 250th anniversary of Batemans Bay’s naming by James Cook in 1770. Additionally, this year, 2020, is particularly significant by being the bicentenary of Batemans Bay’s and the Clyde River’s discovery and first official exploration by Lieutenant Robert Johnson in the government cutter ‘Snapper’. This 200th discovery anniversary and the 250th anniversary of Cook’s earlier naming of Batemans Bay are just two more events unsurprisingly ignored by a Council indifferent to local history.

Today’s meeting has in fact been called specifically to discuss the issue of sea level rise. Competing views on the science or otherwise of global warming and sea level rise continue to polarise Council debate and community opinion. But the Eurobodalla Mayor recently announced that Councillors had finally but unanimously decided on a way forward that will provide surety for both local developers and particularly also for those homeowners in the sensitive urban areas that may be impacted. The Mayor would today announce Council’s brave new blueprint for addressing this complex issue. A raised platform had been set up on the now almost grassless Ladmore’s No1 green and local interested residents were already gathered in good numbers, hopeful for a solution to the threat of imminent inundation.

The Mayor finally addressed a hushed crowd.

“It gives me great pleasure to address you on behalf of my fellow Councillors. At the end of the day your Council is always mindful of the plight of honest hard-working residents of this Shire. It is the ordinary Australian family that is the backbone of this great nation.

"I am authorised to advise you that Council has engaged in full and frank discussions with numerous governments and agencies on the matter at hand. And after meaningful and due consideration, we are of the firm and unshakable opinion that something needs to be done.

"We are moving forward, we have stood up, and we have turned the corner, but there is no silver bullet.

"However, it is on your behalf, the good hard-working families of Batemans Bay, that in recognising the urgency before us we have decided to immediately refer the sensitive issue of climate change to a Council sub-Committee where, in the fullness of time and after responsible and careful consideration, and with due regard to forward budget estimates, a draft report will eventually see the light of day to then be thoroughly debated during the life of the next Council.

"But having said that, it now needs to be said that the reality is that certain minor but very vocal un-Australian self interested groups and individuals are scaremongering as usual and spreading fake news, and furthermore…”

With the incoming tide now lapping around ankle height, the majority of the crowd turned and began wading their way back to the car park.

Kim Odgers


5 February 2018

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