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Editorial August 17th 2018

Welcome to this week’s editorial, I came to Australia in the 1970’s with a dream to have a good life, in a good land in the company of people who respect and regard. That has stood up pretty well until recently. Now as I look at who we are there is little to be proud of. Our land and shorelines are covered in garbage, our facilities are over-stretched and our governments are in tatters. I grew up being told Australians were fair, pretty much morally incorruptible and that they respected all comers. I was told their police were good and to be trusted, their government principles were sound and that it was a land of opportunity for everyone willing to have a go. After a decade of elsewhere I moved to the Eurobodalla area at the age of 29. I moved here because it had a strong sense of all those key characteristics I sought in a new life. It had a simple yet rich community that I wanted to live in and learn about. I wanted to belong somewhere and do my bit for where I lived. Volunteerism was high, community cohesion was strong and there was a pride and a spirit of place. There were values. Good values. Back then there appeared to be a contentment. Everyone knew it was a quiet area for most of the year. New job prospects were few and everyone did a bit of everything to get by. But with expansion came new folks with new expectations. Bigger and better was the order of the day. Bigger houses, bigger dreams demanding better roads, better schools, better hospitals, kerbside garbage collection, green waste collection, better water supply, better community services…. And every time we heard of the delivery of a new or better service we soon learnt that that came with new administration to oversee it and with that came the wage creep as our local council grew and grew. Of the $100m in revenue Council now turns over nearly one third is paid in wages. And that increases every year at 2.5% CPI. Only recently even the councillors voted themselves a 2.5% increase. Nice if you can get it but few do. Many in the shire have just experienced Rate-Shock via their latest rates notice —another year of rates and , as usual, higher once again in this relentless climb to pay for all the services we are provided by Council with roads, parks, civic buildings, maintenance, renewals and… wages … all climbing every year. Yet when you have a close look at this shire you soon discover that our median age is the oldest in the State and that we have a VERY high dependence on social security … which is not keeping up with CPI. Many in the community can barely rub two sticks together. Ours is still a seasonal economy and the true unemployment in the region is far in excess of that being reported by the government as many of our under-employed simply don’t count as “unemployed” by Government statistics. So at some point it will all come to a head where the community can only say—sorry we can’t afford to live here any more. Before that happens though they will, as always, pull in their belts just a little tighter, miss out on this or that to get by and do what they can to preserve the life they hoped for. In the meantime one might expect the Council to also pull in its own belt, to reassess its own spending and provide some evidence that it too respects that much of “its” money actually comes from those who can least afford to pay it. Until next , Lei

#LeiParker #Editorial #Opinion #Weekly

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