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all hat, no paddock …

The Beagle Editor, Your southern readers might be interested in our media release entitled all hat, no paddock …

The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) often hears people comment on how everything seems so peaceful & less complicated during the holiday period between Christmas & the end of January, in particular given the way all the politicians & media “personalities“ go to ground … seems like most of the problems we worry about go with them (a bit like Spain in 2016 when it did very nicely without a government for nine months, with many suggesting that the situation should be made permanent)!!

We even had a two week period where Fairfax Media didn’t bother to print a newspaper & ABC Radio decamped to some remote point beyond Gulargambone, offering a brief respite from its children’s morning games show.

But soon enough, like the media, they’re back like horse flies to remind us of how we can’t do without them & how they are going to solve all our problems & make our lives better if we’ll just trust them to make our decisions for us.

Of course, one of the few pleasurable aspects of the politicians & their media camp-followers arriving back in town comes from the fact that they are still a little “rusty” after their long summer break & so don’t always have their smooth, seductive political voices fully tuned. So, we can always expect a few laughs while catching real glimpses of how phoney they really can be.

Take the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, caught-out fibbing over the naming of a Sydney ferry. Not only did he fib, he then cynically tried to make-out that his behaviour was all about trying to create some fun for kids over the holidays.

We all know that most politicians of every description can’t lie straight in bed, but the very least they could do when they are caught-out “flagrante delicto” is to have the courage & personal decency to own-up & just for once try not to treat the electorate as complete fools.

But of course, Andrew is not alone. Last week the boys & girls on the “Junior” team were back in the council playroom at Zingel Place, just in-time to receive a stern lecture from council’s former general manager, David Jesson, on the rights & wrongs of running council meetings & preparing minutes of those meetings. A particularly humiliating experience for our current lawyer-mayor & her accident-prone general manager.

Anyway, they tried to pick themselves up & make the best that they could of their first meeting for 2018 by trying to impress anyone listening with how little they knew about the business of tourism.

Cr Bain kicked-off proceedings by claiming that the “outsourcing of council’s tourism marketing & promotions activities” to a third party (Sapphire Coast Tourism) was the best thing council had done for the industry, even though there is not a skerrick of evidence to support that claim; indeed, all the available evidence suggests that the opposite is true.

Cr Tapscott once again impressed with a clear demonstration of her ignorance on the subject when she boldly & wrongly suggested that “when we invest in tourism, we invest in everybody; everybody gets a bit”, while Cr Dodds joined her by falsely extolling the economic benefits that have allegedly flowed to the shire’s economy over the past decade. The evidence lies in statistics published on BVSC’s own website.

At least Cr Nadin attempted to bring some meaning to the proceedings by publicly embarrassing the general manager for her inability to ensure that the agenda & business papers for the meeting were published on time, even though everyone has long ago given-up on expecting anything better.

And while our elected “representatives” pranced & preened – or squirmed in the case of some - around town we picked-up on the latest ruse used by bureaucrats to avoid accountability. In last week’s media there were a number of false claims attributed to an anonymous “council spokesman” relating to the Woolworths development in Merimbula and its carparking requirements. When the BVSRRA queried why claims by an “anonymous” representative of council were worthy of acknowledgement, it was told that it was the only way that comments on the issue would be forthcoming.

Like most organisations, BVSC has designated employees who are able to make public comments on behalf of council & what they say represents the “official” position of council. The BVSRRA believes that the reason they were made “anonymously” was that BVSC knew full-well that they were simply false, ultimately making it harder to hold anyone accountable. Still no sign of the promised car parking, due last Sunday according to the anonymous spokesperson …

Back on the merry-go-round, Cr McBain was also still running on half-empty when she was asked about the outcome of the recent NSW Health survey of the fluoridation issue. Taking a leaf out of Mr Constance’s playbook, the mayor demonstrated her absolute commitment to honesty & integrity in government by referring to the crooked survey as a “scientific reflection of the views of the people of the Bega Valley”. Wow!

When asked for her thoughts on the widespread suggestion that the main survey question was in fact biased in favour of the pro-fluoridation camp, the best that the mayor could come-up with was to suggest that “people will draw their own conclusions, but this was deemed to be the question & it’s been asked & answered. So, you know, this is what we’ve got to deal with now”.

So, make the most of it folks: this is as good as it gets with this quality of leadership.

It certainly promises to be a year full of excitement & entertainment.

John Richardson


Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association