Letters to the Editor

October 05, 2016

The Ensign's candidates forum for the 2016 council election

Clarification of objection

In response to Mr Schwind’s letter (September 28), please let it be known that objectors and councillors were not opposed to holding a Beer and Cider Festival, but that it be held at a more suitable, purpose-built facility, rather than the undeveloped site at 126-128 Bridge St. Objections to this venue were due to the close proximity to residential properties as there would be noise pollution for the duration of the event, as well as car parking difficulties, pedestrian and crowd control problems within the surrounding area.

Other matters for consideration were the lack of suitable on-site amenities for patrons as well as damage, trespass and vandalism to private and public property when patrons were returning home.

— Irene Wills, on behalf of the objectors

Interpretation incorrect

I write in response to recent letters from David MacKinnon and P Carter. Contrary to Mr MacKinnon’s claim, I assure the community that there is no law that ‘‘installs the CEO as the sole person in control during the transition’’.

The council’s Election Period Caretaker Policy, which Mr MacKinnon appears to be referring to, has been adopted to ensure transparency, good governance and accountability are adhered to by councillors and officers during the election period.

Mr Carter’s interpretation of the council’s recently adopted Governance Local Law 2016 is also incorrect. Section 4 of the local law referred to by Mr Carter outlines a wide range of meeting procedures and in no way ‘‘hands over control of the new council to the Chief Executive Officer’’. I encourage community members to visit the council’s website to see both documents for themselves.

— Benalla Rural City Council Acting CEO, Veronica Schilling

Fund all equally

I did not pay my taxes at a high marginal rate for all those years so that private schools could be funded preferentially to public schools.

The best academic achievements amongst students of Year 12 are from selective-entry public schools. It is not rocket science to extend and develop the model.

— Alan Cotterell, Benalla

Where are the real visionaries?

Having attended last Wednesday’s council candidates forum in Benalla, I am left wondering if we are being confronted with quantity rather than quality of candidates, because very little of what I heard inspired me to believe that our prospective councillors really understand what is needed to create a municipality which will prosper both socially and economically into the future.

The mantra of “roads, rates and rubbish” is all very hackneyed when it comes to local government elections. Of course they are important issues, but they alone don’t make a town a better place in which to live, or for someone to visit.

Encouraging more businesses to set up in town, or growing existing businesses, are also very laudable exercises, and pretty much on every candidate’s wish list, as was the comment ‘‘we must look after our volunteers’’ — but I don’t think I heard anyone say how that would be done.

Only two of the candidates (Ellen Crocker and Margaret Richards) mentioned the issue that most people in Australia are becoming more and more concerned about, but sadly many people fail to understand that the solution lies not just with national and state governments, but well and truly with individuals, and very importantly, with local government. The issue is climate change, and local government can have a huge influence in this issue by supporting the development of local renewable energy projects (which will also provide new employment opportunities), the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from existing industries and vehicle fleets, and encouraging reduction of energy consumption by either upgrading existing buildings or strengthening local planning laws for all new property developments to make them super-energy-efficient.

There are many other opportunities to make Benalla a less wasteful community, and to achieve outcomes that are sustainable in the way we develop, and in so doing we will make other communities sit up and take notice that Benalla is a vibrant, healthy and progressive place to live.

Unless we as a community are prepared to tackle this issue now, and in a very meaningful way, you can forget about Benalla, or any other town in which you choose to live, being a great place for your children and grandchildren to grow up in.

My plea to the candidates is to take off their blinkers, and look further into the future — imagine what our area will be like if we don’t readjust our priorities, and we fail to see that this is how we can really make a difference. Make tackling climate change a top priority — and please tell the voters that you will.

PS: Why don’t we make Winton Motor Raceway the Australian hub for electric powered motor racing stage an electric/solar powered Grand Prix? We could also encourage the establishment of electric car building industries in Enterprise Park alongside the Community Solar Farm!

— Peter Holmes, Lima East

Green answers sought

Benalla Sustainable Future Group has conducted a survey of all the candidates standing for election to Benalla Rural City Council. The purpose of the survey was to find out about each candidate’s attitude to taking urgent action on climate change and moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

The questions asked in the survey were:

1. Do you support an urgent transition away from polluting fossil fuels towards clean energy?

2. In order to address climate change, how will you use your position on council to ensure council moves quickly towards zero pollution?

3. Do you personally care about cutting pollution, supporting clean energy and addressing dangerous climate change?

Unfortunately not all candidates made the effort to respond to the survey which surely indicates their lack of concern about the major issues of global warming and climate change.

Candidates’ responses to this survey will be available to the public on the Benalla Sustainable Future Group website

— John Lloyd, president, Benalla Sustainable Future Group

Tick of approval

It was obvious by the number of people who turned up for the council candidate forum, the concern the community has about the city’s rapidly rising debt levels and the seeming inability of the Benalla Rural City Council bureaucracy to adapt to, or accept that, we live in a rapidly changing world and to make the necessary changes. The challenge for the new council is to hold the bureaucracy responsible for its actions and put repercussions in place for failure.

People wanted information about the candidates and at the tables before the meeting there was much talk regarding who knew what about whom.

I took pen, paper, and hearing aids to the meeting.

By the time the meeting was finished the paper was covered by the candidates’ names, followed by ticks, question marks and crosses, as their utterances provoked such.

What was ignored was the amount of debt the city is in. When I mentioned that at the table, the answer was: That is one thing nobody will know.

I haven’t got the space to elaborate why, but after that meeting my ticks were, in no particular order: From the present council — Peter Davis and Andrew Vale; then Scott Upston, Phil Hauptmann, Matt Jenkins, Alison Ballard and Anita Sanson.

I think there is enough toughness there to handle Benalla Rural City management, and it is a fairly young group of people whom I am banking on that their interest in the community will triumph over self-interest.

— P Carter, Benalla

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