Letters to the editor

August 25, 2016

Danger in the Senate

The major professional difference between an engineer and a scientist lies in their handling of uncertainty.

One Nation politician Malcolm Roberts claims that legislation should be based on empirical data — cause and effect.

However, the world has moved on and all state OHS and E legislation now has a risk-management performance-based approach.

In short, the requirements are now based on likelihood and consequences, ie probability of incidents and their potential outcomes.

With his retarded approach towards environmental safety, Malcolm Roberts will probably become a danger in the Senate.

— Alan Cotterell, Benalla

Never breached the Act?

Administrators appointed. What an amazing bookend to the term for Benalla Rural City Council.

Shortly after the election of the current council, chief executive officer Tony McIlroy informed council and the community that in his time at council, then almost a decade, it had never breached the Local Government Act.

Months Later after I reported a breach made at the first meeting of council the same was confirmed by a senior officer at the local government inspectorate.

What our then new councillors did at that early meeting was to approve for themselves an increase to their allowances beyond the level of increase approved by the Local Government Minister.

Only one councillor, my son Ross Jenkins, acted prior to the adverse finding by the inspectorate to repay this effective over payment.

This week, with just one full meeting remaining before going into caretaker mode, we saw in The Age and in the Benalla Ensign that council had failed to meet its obligations under the Local Government (Improved governance) Act 2015.

Mr McIlroy was quoted as saying, ‘‘A large number of councils have found it complex to implement’’.

That large number was reportedly 13. Thirteen of 79 across the state.

Certainly a larger number than the state government would prefer, however, let’s be honest, more than 80 per cent of councils got it right and ours is one of less than 20per cent that did not.

Imagine the surprise of the gallery at last night’s meeting of the Council Planning and Development Committee to hear from general manager development and environment Veronica Schilling that council had also breached the Local Government Act in the manner it had procured services for the Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre cell-construction project.

Good governance and never breached the Act. Really?

—Matt Jenkins, Benalla (Mr Jenkins is standing as a candidate in the forthcoming local council election.)

No to bike track under any conditions

I am writing to thank The Ensign for including the information provided in last week’s paper regarding the proposal to build a dirt bike track in the Chesney Vale Hills.

In regard to the information provided in the article there is one point I wish to clarify.

Our objections are against the development of the dirt bike track under any conditions.

Despite the fact that the application process is nowhere near complete, the applicant has already proceeded with extensive earth works and sign posting.

The use of this site for dirt bike activities, of any description, will have dire consequences for the natural environment and is in fact against Benalla Rural City Council’s own planning scheme.

In addition to this, justification against Victoria’s Planning Provisions would need to be considered.

The provisions clearly state that decision making should take into account the impacts of land use and development on Victoria’s high-value biodiversity.

Chesney Vale is recognised as an area of high-value biodiversity.

Given there are already bike tracks at Winton, Peechelba, Broadford, Myrtleford, Bonnie Doon and Shepparton it seems superfluous to build yet another one in an area of such high-environmental significance.

I would urge people who live in the local government area of Benalla Rural City, including those who have recently joined our community because of the beautiful environment that surrounds us, to monitor closely the outcome of this application and to bear it in mind when they are considering their vote in the upcoming council elections.

— Freida Andrews, Chesney Vale

Petty actions deny the people

Daniel Andrews’ bullying reached new lows this week.

The Andrews Government defied 150 years of parliamentary convention and blocked requests for a joint sitting of Parliament’s upper and lower houses to swear in the new Nationals Member for Northern Victoria, Luke O’Sullivan.

The Premier’s dummy spit is over the suspension of his right hand man, Gavin Jennings, who was suspended by majority vote in Legislative Council for failing to table a number of requested documents.

This week Daniel Andrews attempted a dirty deal, offering to permit Mr O’Sullivan’s swearing in on the condition that Mr Jennings suspension is cancelled.

Luke O’Sullivan’s appointment has nothing to do with Mr Jennings’ conduct.

Mr Jennings could return to tomorrow if he produced the requested documents.

And while Mr Jennings still has access to his full range of Parliamentary and Ministerial entitlements and resources while on suspension, Mr O’Sullivan has no resources or official capacity to serve to the people of Northern Victoria because he isn’t yet a Member of Parliament.

While Mr Jennings continues to work for his city constituents, Daniel Andrews’ petty actions are denying the people of Northern Victoria one of the Parliamentary representatives they are entitled to under Victoria’s Constitution.

Yet again, people in country Victoria are missing out because Dan Andrews favours dirty deals over good government.

The Nationals will not be held to ransom. We will not be bullied or intimidated by the Premier.

We will get on with the job of being the strong voice of regional communities in our State Parliament, and we will do our utmost to service the people of Northern Victoria until such time that Daniel Andrews allows Mr O’Sullivan to take his rightful place in Parliament

— Peter Walsh, Member for Murray Plains, Leader of The Nationals

Community needs to know

Currently before council is an Application for a Planning Permit to hold a two-day Beer and Cider Festival adjacent to the former SEC building in Bridge St, with alcohol sales, food stalls and amplified music with an expected attendance of 1000 people onsite at any one time.

The first festival is scheduled to coincide with the Benalla Show weekend in October.

The permit is for the upcoming festival and up to four festivals a year — every year.

The community has not been informed of this permit application with only adjoining properties receiving a copy by post last week — 10 days prior to the closing date for submissions of objections that close this Friday, August 26.

This has not given the Benalla community sufficient time to consider the long-term consequences of this permit.

The Ensign has only this edition to advise the community of the event prior to the close of objections.

The haste to rush through this Planning Permit application must be seriously questioned. The high and wide adjoining SEC building will direct the noise across a wide residential area to the south east.

The adjoining and nearby residential properties have the right to the quiet enjoyment that residential land affords.

Our council is empowered to ensure that inappropriate activity or development does not occur within the Benalla Rural City.

The promoters have seriously understated the activity associated with this event.

No mention is made of preparation and clean up days, the number of people, vehicles, noise, litter and disruptions for this event that will be far more than just eight days a year.

Within Benalla Rural City many other suitable festival sites already exist that would be far better suited to hold the festival being much further away from residential properties. While the concept of another large festival sounds good for Benalla as a whole, it simply does not need another festival site.

— David Elford, Benalla

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