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Editorial Jan 11th 2019

Welcome to this week’s editorial . A bumper edition today for your weekend reading. There is so much going on that you might like to visit the Beagle website at some point to catch up with all the other news. 2019 is settling itself into full swing again and kicking off the year was a vital announcement that the Link Road Intersection with the Princes Highway was to be funded by the NSW Government to the tune of $30m. This injection of funding will not only make the highway safer but it will also relieve traffic flow through Batemans Bay and provide residents south of the Bay on the coast a more direct link while fixing some of the Mad Mile Of critical importance however is that the Link Road, once opened, will encourage development and employment in the order of $800m. The Premier and the Member for Bega made the announcement on Wednesday offering a very clear directive to the RMS to “get it started”. Also under way are the Nelligen and Batemans Bay bridges that will add a further spike into the local economy. Add to this the promise of $150m for a new Regional hospital and what we are on the cusp of is economic development. At a Federal level the Gilmore electorate enjoyed considerable Federal funding for its road network and upgrades adding to the recently announced $150m commitment from the State government for works between Nowra and Batemans Bay. What is more than evident from all of this is that State and Federal members who are in government, as has been the case with Federal Member Ann Sudmalis and Member for Bega Andrew Constance, have the capacity to get things done and actually stand up to the “Sir Humphrey Appleby” bureaucrats and tell them what they want done, finding and allocating the budget to accomplish the work. By total contrast is the way our own elected councillors are totally disempowered from deciding anything other than banning balloons on public reserves. The Councillors openly acknowledge that they are pretty much left in the dark of any decisions that the staff make and generally, when something comes before them “for their consideration” they are “briefed” and told in no uncertain terms that the staff, as professionals, know best and that to consider doing something contrary to the staff direction might be either “bold” or contrary to some Act or Policy. Councillors acknowledge that they rarely read the full reports or do their own research outside what is advised by staff. “Why bother” said one “it makes no difference”. Our Councillors, when elected, were given the power vested in them by the State Government, to conduct business. But what did they do? They delegated pretty much all their responsibilities over to the General Manager and her staff which left them pretty much as token “rubber stampers” for staff recommendations. We are now 18 months out from a Local Government election and the last two years have seen our councillors achieve bugger all other than what the staff allowed them to achieve by way of policy. But this is what we have. Once every four years we vote in a hope of having councillors come in like a new broom and bring change. But once they arrive they are brow beaten into submission by Acts, laws, by-laws, policies, guidelines and a general manager who rules her domain with an iron fist demanding that nothing is openly publicly discussed and that little, if anything, is revealed. Horrified ??? Welcome to local politics. What can be done? Nothing much. The staff are the Lords of the Shire and they manipulate the day to day running of The Business (being Council) so that, irrespective as to who is voted in , they are always in control. And as for the councillors ? Well, either they haven’t nutted this out yet, accept it as it is, or are beginning to realise that they only have 18 months to prove they aren’t puppets or they are out. Until next Lei

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