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truly a sad joke …


The Beagle Editor, Your southern readers in the Bega Valley Shire might be interested in our latest media release we have titled :

truly a sad joke …

The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) believes that any dedicated local government thrill-seekers hunkered-down to listen to the live-streaming of last week’s ordinary meeting of Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC), in the hope of learning something useful about the fate of the shire’s 2018-2019 Budget, would have every reason to be disappointed.

While it was clear from the agenda that the council had already met separately & agreed to adopt changes to the draft, contrary to BVSC’s Code of Meeting Practice, it was also clear that residents & ratepayers weren’t considered important enough to be entrusted with knowledge of those deliberations while, at the same time, council didn’t bother to even acknowledge, let alone discuss, submissions made to the budget process by residents & ratepayers.

As to the meeting, quite apart from the difficulty of discerning exactly what was said by participants (due to the appalling broadcast quality, the incessant background noise from the constant shuffling of papers, electronic devices & whispered asides, let alone the mumbled offerings of some council officials & councillors), the BVSRRA believes that it is impossible for residents & ratepayers to make any sense from the incoherent & at times shrill chatter that passes for informed debate.

Add to the above shambles the constant but disjointed references to documents, points, reports, discussions that residents & ratepayers know nothing about, the pursuit of multiple threads of discussion at the same time as councillors interrupt or talk-over each other, along with angry exchanges about secret meetings & alleged changes to the Budget that “ratepayers know nothing about” & the clear inability of the Mayor to effectively manage the meetings & keep any semblance of order, the BVSRRA thinks it would be a miracle if any resident or ratepayer came-away better informed than they were before they started listening.

This pathetic caricature of “government” highlights the reason why the BVSRRA has doggedly pursued real data from council in respect of its financial plans: in the case of the 2017-2018 Budget, for almost a year the association has been battling the council through the Information & Privacy Commission (IPC) to obtain basic information & it is still not forthcoming.

Recently, a second battle between the BVSRRA & council was joined in respect of the 2018-2019 Budget after BVSC’s general manager claimed that the lack of adequate information in the draft documents placed on Public Exhibition was due to staff cutbacks occasioned by last year’s Budget!!

The BVSRRA believes that it is offensive that BVSC’s general manager can find the time to put-together a 23 page report attacking the association for seeking access to basic information, while her $100m “fit for the future” organisation can’t make the most basic information concerning the shire’s financial plans & activities available to residents & ratepayers.

Truly a sad joke.

John Richardson

Secretary/Treasurer

Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association

#Bega #Opinion

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