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making fake news …

    The Beagle Editor,      Your readers might be interested in our latest media release making fake news

The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) believes that it is widely accepted that when human beings feel threatened or powerless to respond to real or even perceived threats, they will look to their leaders for safety & protection.

It is also true that the more threatened we feel as individuals, the more we look to our leaders to provide the sense of power & control that comes with being a member of a group, but which we lack as individuals. And of course, to be recognised as a “paid-up” members of our group in good standing, we need to adopt & espouse our leader’s beliefs.

Unfortunately, our fears can also render us more gullible & manipulable as we chase the lure of safety. We potentially swim into even murkier waters when our chosen leaders decide to pursue views & beliefs with what can appear to be righteous or evangelical fervour.

At that point, more often than not, followers no longer need to rely on evidence to support their views: they have potentially signed-on to a program whereby anything the leader says is accepted without question … even where cold, hard, factual evidence debunks the basis of the claims being made.

Recently the world has been treated to some outstanding fear memes: we’ve had ISIS, EBOLA, Russia, Iran, China, Extinction Rebellion & the Climate Emergency, just to name a few.

Recently, Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) has spent a good deal of time engaging in furious debate over the merits of council declaring a climate emergency, which it has with, it seems, a good deal of community support.

That episode was followed last week by a resolution by the Local Government NSW Association (LGA) at its Annual Conference to also call-on the State Government to declare a Climate Emergency.

Now this is where things start to get interesting.

In response to questions from the Bega District News (BDN) about the resolution of the LGA, Cr Cathy Griff was reported as saying that the adopted motion “is a vindication that the majority of other councils in NSW recognise the climate emergency, that's very clear".

While Cr Griff’s reported claim appears to have been accepted without question, the BVSRRA’s problem is that it believes that there is no factual evidence to support it.

Moreover, unless Cr Griff can produce factual evidence in support of her claim, the BVSRRA believes that she should publicly withdraw it & in doing so, acknowledge that there is has no evidentiary basis.

The facts are, had the BDN bothered to check, more than a little different to what Cr Griff reportedly claimed.

What most people do not realise is that while there are 137 member councils of the LGA, when it comes to voting on motions being considered at its Annual Conference, each council is entitled to a pre-determined number of votes calculated on the size of their shire's population. In BVSC’s case, each of its three nominated delegates were entitled to vote on each motion, if they chose to do so.

Now, the number of delegates that each council is entitled to & therefore the number of votes it gets to cast, varies widely, based on population numbers, with some councils being entitled to as many as 12 votes. To put the whole thing into some perspective, while there are 137 councils across NSW, as many as 484 votes could have been cast on any motion at the LGA’s Annual Conference.

However, according to the LGA, there is no record made of how many votes were actually cast for & against individual motions, but rather the motion is declared carried or lost purely on the percentage of the total votes cast either way. There is no record of the way individual delegates voted or even if they voted at all.

Based on those circumstances, the BVSRRA contends that no-one actually knows how many votes were cast on the Climate Emergency motion. Indeed, it could have been determined on as few as 40 delegate votes.

Now the BVSRRA is not suggesting that there was anything untoward in the way the LGA conducted its meeting, including the way it determined its resolutions, but it does reject Cr Griff’s reported claim that “the majority of other councils in NSW recognise the climate emergency”, when clearly there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.

Indeed, as the BDN article itself acknowledges, only 64 of the 537 councils across Australia (12%) have declared a Climate Emergency, while the BVSRRA has confirmed that a paltry 19 of the 137 councils in NSW (14%) have declared a Climate Emergency & certainly not the majority reportedly claimed by Cr Griff.

In an era of “fake news”, the BVSRRA believes that the media has an even greater responsibility to keep our politicians honest, but it is the responsibility of the politicians themselves to demonstrate through their actions that they are worthy of our trust & support.

Most importantly, just because a public official believes passionately in a particular issue does not mean that the public official has a licence to make claims that are simply not correct.

John Richardson

Secretary/Treasurer

Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association




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