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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial July 14th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Over the last six and a half years many of you will have seen the articles in The Beagle that raised concerns as to what was being done by Council and councillors “in our name”. Generally the various forms of government, from Local to Federal, were performing well at a surface level however our systems were becoming progressively sub-standard. Health, educations, age care, infrastructure all appeared to be deteriorating for want of resources and funding. Yet every day we heard glowing reports as to how well we were doing. At this point one needs to realise that the spin was a report card that was a C– yet was being presented as an A+. By the Federal, State and Local Governments. The fact was that we were going backwards but were being told otherwise. And then the realisation began to kick in that things weren’t as rosy as being presented. We discovered that our health system, like the education system, was being held together by bits of string and those in the industry who had the passion to deliver the best they could under the circumstances. Education, aged care and health services require major funding and considerable foresight to ensure that reasonable expectations are delivered. Alas those decisions around funding and resourcing were being made by faceless people behind closed doors who would then advise politicians on what was politically favourable, or at best acceptable, if they wanted to win another election. And to defend their decisions when caught out they bought in spin, smoke and mirrors to protect their backsides and to control the narrative. The failure of delivery to meet expectation crossed over into public transport, roads, environment, infrastructure and social security. We live in an age where the shortfalls of government are becoming more widespread. We now come to expect it. The bar is low. Of late the news reveals the corrupted actions by politicians and bureaucrats as more and more is discovered. The shame of this is the loss of trust, and the a lost opportunity for the community to excel rather than be delivered the minimum, at best. Over the past decade we have learnt more about our system of politics. We have come to see first hand the tribalism of one faction over another, the pork barrelling, the gross underbelly that brings a sour note and adds to the distrust we have in the political system. We have learnt of the nepotism that drives their idealism, ego or greed and sadly we have learnt that these few, yet powerful politicians, are Teflon coated and conduct themselves as if there is little, if any consequence. But things are changing. There are new rules coming into play that aid in openness and transparency and bring to account self serving politicians, and bureaucrats, who have abused their station for their own outcomes. For many in our community it is too late. Most of the politicians at fault have left for greener pastures, either smirking at, or in denial of the legacy and burden they have left behind. At a Federal level there is the catastrophe of RoboDebt, at a State level the long term impacts of audacious pork barrelling and at a local level the recommendations presented and adopted that carry disappointing consequences. The tide is changing however, and not just for the accountability of politicians. It appears that the once faceless bureaucrats now have faces, and that the role they played in the decision making process, by way of their advice or under their persuasion, will become public. As a consequence they too will hopefully be held to account. As we delve deeper there will be investigations into more, the illegality of Home Affairs decisions that impacted thousands, the decisions and recommendations that contributed to poor environmental decisions in farming, water and forestry. Finally the faceless will be unveiled and we might then discover their role, and their reasoning, in the myriad of schemes that have delivered for the few at the cost of many. Some might consider, at a local level, that the pork barrelling of previous governments has unnecessarily burdened struggling communities with facilities they neither requested, nor have the capacity to maintain. Looking inwardly at Eurobodalla we were the recipients of grants that came with ribbons and speeches and bought kudos to those who “delivered”. Mountain bike trails on Forestry land that will have to be maintained by Council, a 33km Coastal path with viewing platforms, paths, fencing, toilets and signage that we will have to maintain. Even a $70m Aquatic centre that now burdens the ratepayers with a $4.6 million dollar cost per annum. At the time the politicians (Federal, State and Local) of the day ran the spin of “delivery”. When our own councillors were warned, and they were, of the future financial burdens of accepting this “mana from heaven” they chose to reject that advice, instead listening to the advice of public servants that told them there was nothing to worry about. Only a few knew otherwise but they were in the minority when it came to the vote. While this is by no means comparable to the scale of RoboDebt the advice of public servants and the intentional refusal of some politicians to listen to informed contrary advice is equally reprehensible. What drove good people to knowingly accepting pork barrel funding, what drove civic leaders to turning a deaf ear to sound advice contrary to the feed they were being delivered? Was it ineptitude, was it complacency or was there an agenda that might well deliver the edifices that gain another term? Yes, there should be enquiries. Across the nation and in Eurobodalla. And Yes, there should be consequences for those who intentionally drove their own agenda. But will there be? No. Some time ago a member of the community dared to suggest the word “maladministration” when it came to matters of Council. When asked to retract his statement he refused. His view was of an inefficient and improper administration that he believed displayed unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, improperly discriminatory conduct that may, or may not have been based wholly or partly, on improper motives and inactions of a serious nature. To ensure that THAT WORD was never suggested again in Council’s chambers all speakers, from that day forth, were told that they MUST provide their public presentations in writing 24 hours ahead. In addition to this draconian safe guard it was decided that future public presentations were also not to be recorded, nor webcast. But these are new days with, fortunately, only a vestige of what was. Nationally, at a State level and Locally the smell of distrust still lingers as these faceless self servers remain. One only hopes that the those deserving consequences receive their due. It is hard to move forward whilst the stench lingers but there has to be a point where we redevelop trust and move on. New days bring new hope but the proof will be in the eating. So far the report card is sitting at B+ with a “Could do better”. Until next Lei


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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