Welcome to this week’s editorial, Another week in politics. Terrific to see the younger ones marching on Canberra and more locally marching on Littleton Square in Bega. Scott Morrison wasn’t so impressed suggesting that they should return to school and not be political when he said "We don't support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things that can be dealt with outside of school," he said.
"We don't support our schools being turned into parliaments. What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools." Many of those old enough to remember back to the sixties and seventies might remember attending protests. They might remember when people felt disempowered and decided to say something. Vietnam was a good example. They might have taken up banners, marched down a street, sung a few “what do we want. when do we want it?” anthems and even taken time out to write letters to the paper. But that was back then in a different Australia. Before we were dumbed down. The only time we see protest now is when it is driven by enough of a groundswell that, in frustration, takes to the streets. Gay rights was probably our last. In France at the moment there are rolling violent protests over fuel prices. In recent years we have seen strong protests all over Europe. It appears to be a European thing to do. But then the Europeans have learnt to say “NON” when they see something they don’t agree with. The new way of cyber-action protesting is much easier. Write an online petition and gain widespread support via social media. No marching required. Or do it the old fashioned way, the formal way, an photocopy off a petition to be distributed far and wide to then be presented to the government of the day who will either accept them or ignore it. In recent weeks we saw a well organised petition with over 3000 signatures presented to the Member for Bega requesting support for a new regional hospital. Next thing we know there is an announcement of $150m for the project. No placards, no marches, no chants. Very effective. However within that same petition was the call for more resources of hospital staff who are at a critical level on the edge, possibly compromising both the public and themselves. That has not been addressed and is heralded as becoming an election issue. Will we see nurses taking to the streets. Probably not. Why? Because there are now laws that prohibit them to do so. But kids, who is going to arrest kids protesting? That is climate change, big picture stuff. Great media coverage. Passion, tears, fears. At a local level we also have protest. Three years ago we had a petition with 11,000 signatures saying NO to a special rate variation. Was it acknowledged by Council? No. This Council receives petitions all the time and most are simply acknowledged. While the State Election is due in March 2019 and the Federal election forecast in May 2019 the next Local Government election isn’t until September 2020. But like the State and Federal candidates even our own councillors are beginning to assemble their Ticket Team in preparation for the election with some already lobbying to be the next Mayor. This Council has a long history of ignoring ratepayers yet claiming to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with them and “be listening”. Maybe the shire youth could march on Council Chambers and offer to educate the cloth eared dinosaurs of Local Government who, like Morrison, think they always know what is best and that politics and decision making should is best done behind closed doors believing the less accountable you are of the public purse and of your obligations the better it is for everyone. Until next Lei