Our Town Our Say: another excellent community event
The Batemans Bay Our Town Our Say meeting of May 29th at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club saw another excellent turnout of community members wanting to learn more of the proposals around the Mackay Park precinct, the impact of the coastal management plans on Surfside, Hanging Rock and Catalina and of the proposals in mind of Southern Health following their recent community consultations across the shire looking at the next 10 years of public health delivery
The meeting was ably M.C'd by John Mobbs and attended by 110 including Federal Labor candidate for Gilmore Fiona Phillips and State Labor candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson. Also in attendance was Eurobodalla Councillor Pat McGinlay Issue 1. The Mackay Park Aquatic Centre and the 50m pool. Both John Mobbs and Maureen Searson gave the audience an overview of where the Save the 50m Pool campaign was up to and the continued frustrations around their approaches to Council to consider the inclusion of a 50m pool in the proposed Mackay Park Aquatic Centre. In opening Mr Mobbs said "Those of you who attended the meeting here on 15th February endorsed a set of resolutions to be relayed to Council. Copies have been distributed across the tables tonight. One councillor from ESC was present for most of that meeting and it was reasonable, though perhaps naïve, to expect that councillor to have alerted fellow councillors to an emerging community issue. We certainly conveyed community disquiet and anger over the prospect of losing our 50-metre pool and we’ve been asking for answers from Council ever since." "After scrutinising reports and strategies produced for Council in 2017 by the Otium Planning Group, we wrote and posed 17 detailed questions relating to the Mackay Park redevelopment. In particular, we focused on the proposed demolition of the 50-metre pool. Included were copies of 15 communications from local organisations who never supported replacement of the 50-metre pool with a 25-metre pool. Council did not originally consult many of those organisations on that possibility." "Council has not identified which of its state-based grant applications brought about the recent $26m windfall. One application was for $28.3m from the Regional Sports and Infrastructure Fund. We have documents showing that applications from that fund have not been finalised – so that’s unlikely to be the source. The other application was for $8m from the Regional Cultural Fund, so it’s not that one either." It was revealed that a GIPA request to see Council’s sports grant application shows the Office of Sport is still assessing Council’s Sports grant application which raises more questions about funding for the aquatic/arts centre. In regards to the funding questions and what was coming from the State and the Federal governments Fiona Phillips, Labor candidate for Gilmore addressed the meeting advising that she had only just received an email from the Eurobodalla Mayor suggesting that Council was now pursuing $27m from the Federal Government Maureen Searson in her address stated "We made enquiries to aquatic construction companies for indicative comparative costings for a 10 lane 25m pool and an 8 lane 50m pool there was virtually no difference between the two. Just yesterday I was told by someone who recently spoke with the Mayor about aspects of the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Centre, that the ‘pool people’had had all of their questions answered but they simply don’t like what they’ve been told.’ "Mayor Innes, our questions are far from being answered.What we & 'the pool people' don’t like, is the contemptuous way you and Council have treated the community, your lack of transparency, due diligence and failure of democracy"
Above: John Mobbs and Maureen Searson
Above: Some of the resolutions offered to the meeting on the night - these were discussed and will be drafted to suit and returned to the community to vote on. Question from the floor: Ian Hardy of Maloneys Beach asked, in regards to Council's announcement of geo-technical surveys to establish the suitability of the site for the new Aquatic and Performance centre "Where is the documentation from the Office of Environment and Heritage regarding aboriginal artefacts. Council has advised the Maloney's Beach community it could take five years to gain the paperwork and inspections for a playground in Maloney's Beach"
Issue 2. Council’s Sea Level Rise Policy The second speaker, Milton Leslight, was introduced as being "known to many in this community for his somewhat controversial service as a councillor on Eurobodalla Shire Council in 2015 -16 and for his expertise in local real estate. He is also the South Coast. Coordinator for the NSW Coastal Alliance. Milton will provide his perspectives on how the Sea Level Rise Policy adopted by ESC affects us. Milton advised the meeting that under Council's Interim Sea Level Rise document 6000 properties were identified as vulnerable. He drew the meeting's attention to the trigger that would see low lying land owners in Surfside, Catalina and Hanging Rock walking away from their properties. "When the sea comes on to your land four times in one year you will be required to remove your house and return the land to how it was, at your cost. "While Surfside appears to have been singled out Hanging Rock suffers more from tidal innundation" "In the end you will be required to walk away from your property and you won't get a cent". "This is their agenda".
Milton spoke of the falling values in waterfront properties affected by Council's Sea Level Rise Policy showing the above graph that shows Eurbodalla median prices falling after the introduction of their policy whilst adjacent Council property values continue to climb. "No one is telling home owners what they need to know" "Many new buyers are now weighing up their risks based on what they are being told about climate change" "Banks won't support mortgages on identified properties and insurers are increasing premiums or saying they won't insure properties identified by Councils as "affected" "What we have is a real risk to our real estate market and to the values of our properties"
"Bad Policy, Bad Outcome" Milton Leslight informs the meeting
Above: With the use of props Milton shows the sea level in 1992 and points at where the level was predicted to be in 2015 with the 1.8m stick representing the year 2100. The science is flawed we have barely moved above the 1992 level,. The predicted 2015 and 2100 year levels are flawed science that this Council has adopted that is driving its policies that affects all of our properties".
Above: The 2012 prediction of sea level inundation that never happened.
VIDEO: Milton Leslight explains the fall in property prices
Below: the Motions to be Developed for presentation to Council
Issue 3. Our Future Health Services - with a focus on Batemans Bay Hospital Lisa Kennedy, the General Manager of Eurobodalla Health Service, (part of Southern NSW Local Health District) spoke of the Service's recent community consultations and survey around the future delivery of health services to the Eurobodalla region. Her presentation looked at the growing ageing population and the need to anticipate what care they would require and the facilities and resources to meet that need. Also speaking on the subject was Russell Schneider AM is a Board member for the Southern New South Wales Health District. Russell has extensive experience in health policy. His other Board appointments include Independent Non-Executive Director of Hospital Contributions Fund, Member of Audit and Risk Management Committee, Trustee of HCF Medical Research Fund and Independent Director of Manchester Unity.
Above: Lisa Kennedy, Russell Schneider and Batemans Bay MO James Langley (click for larger) Russell Schneider was formerly CEO of the Australian Health Insurance Association and in January 2008 Russell was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to health policy. Joining them was local Batemans Bay MO James Langley who recently expressed concerns about the lack of a public CAT scanner in Batemans Bay, and about having two, rather than one, hospital in Eurobodalla Shire. The issue of health in the Eurobodalla is a whole of region issue and the clarity of that was bought home by a comment from the floor that reminded people that the Eurobodalla is in need of a base hospital. They room was informed of what a base hospital could bring in the way of more specialists, an education annex, a reduction in the need to travel elsewhere for treatment, an Intensive Care unit, ancilliary services that come with a base hospital that are not found with district hospitals. The meeting was reminded that we have two district hospitals, often having to compete for the same resources. When the claim that the Batemans Bay maternity service was taken to Moruya the comment came back that while there was provision in Batemans Bay and Moruya it was the same resource being pulled apart between the locations. What was of major import was the reiteration that the region needed to support the Plan being developed by the Southern District Board that might well see a hospital located somewhere more central within the region and it was the very in-fighting twenty years ago that saw the new Bega Hospital that had been long discussed as being a facility for the Eurobodalla moved to Bega as there was no singular community support for a regional hospital. During the presentation it was reiterated several times that the community needs to show support for the Plan. The plan, in development was underpinned by population needs with a key focus on the 25% older than 65. Russel Schneider told the meeting "There is no money on the table and there are many hurdles in the way with over 50 other communities vying for the dollars" "A proper base hospital will cost $200 million and we have a window of opportunity now however we need the community support" There was discussion about the time it takes to travel for ambulances with the example of Maloneys Beach being 10 minutes each way however the discussion offered up that the ambulances and paramedics were first rate and were able to apply first rate care as soon as they arrived. People in the room said that it would take 25 minutes to get to Moruya Hospital which then saw discussion about the travel times and wait times in metropolitan Sydney and the fact that Canberra with a population of 400,000 has only two emergency departments. In regards to the Batemans Bay Hospital's request for a CT Scanner Dr James Langley advised that the Area health Service was looking at the request and that there has been progress in the region with the recent acquisition of a public CT Scanner now located in Moruya.
Above: Federal Labor candidate for Gilmore Fiona Phillips and State Labor candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson