Letters to the editor | July 13, 2018

Fire dam delays frustrate

AFTER attending Horsham Rural City Council’s latest meeting on July 2, I am very disappointed and extremely frustrated to see the Mockinya Fire Dam project has once again been delayed.

As a firefighter for more than 25 years, Wonwondah Captain for past three years and officer for 14 years prior I believe myself and my colleagues, some with many more years’ experience can identify water supply shortfalls in our local area.

Fed up with the delays on this project, I believed I had found a solution to the problem. A proposal was put forward to have 500,000 litres of water held in two large tanks on an existing stack site alongside a large main pipeline. These tanks would have a large refill system and several ports for filling tankers to minimise time tankers were away from the fireground.

Estimations of total costs for this project vary between $50,000 and $60,000. This is a far better outcome for all than the $120,000 to $320,000 being quoted by council and private contractors to build a small dam. These are ridiculous quotes. I’m sure for $10,000 on my property I could comfortably construct a two-megalitre dam.

I am insulted to think my compromised solution to an already funded project needs to be investigated by council officers.

This proposal enjoys the full support of the Wonwondah Fire Brigade, Grampians Group of Fire Brigades, Local Advisory Fire Prevention Committee and Municipal Fire Prevention Committee.

Goodness knows the combined years of experience involved and yet, we still need to see a report from council officers while we are experiencing one of the driest autumns ever recorded. In 16 weeks’ time, we may be seeing fires in this area. If the dry conditions continue, Horsham South will not have a lot of water available should fires break out.

Yes we have the pipeline – but supply cannot be guaranteed. A fixed body of water is always preferred when fighting grass fires, preferably with multiple access points to refill tankers.

We don’t need another council report and we shouldn’t need to find more funding – it should have been built 12 years ago.

To borrow a line from another project – just build it.

Jason Pymer, Wonwondah

Concern over farm rates

THE recent large increases in the rates of certain councils for farmers is wrong and avoidable.

Many of these increases are unconscionable and unjust. No one individual or group – whether farmers, shopkeepers or residential properties – should be subject to such. 

Even if the increases applied to every tax payer, they would still be wrong and not of good governance. 

This is why the state government introduced a 2.25 per cent limit to rate increases. 

If councils have found a loophole, their actions are against the spirit of legislation.

There are some associated with local government who claim the fault lies with state legislation, which outlines the method of valuations and rate setting. 

However, the legislation only applies to the overall average, not individual cases.

It is true that state legislation regarding municipal rates is medieval and needs revision. However, this doesn't excuse bad decisions. The rules of a sport may be inadequate, however, they are not an excuse for poor play or loss of a game.

While changing state legislation regarding municipal rates is another topic for another day, the state government would do well to study methods used in England. They are good and fair – and they were even fairer before a previous government modified them several years ago. 

In this world, most of us start off our budgets with an estimate of expected income and plan our expenditure accordingly.  

I am a member of the first elected Northern Grampians Shire Council after amalgamation. We faced a 20 per cent to 30 per cent deficit due to previous mistakes in accountancy.

As councillors, we met night after night, reducing expenditure with only ourselves as councillors participating and the chief executive taking notes on our decisions. No other officers were present. The target was achieved with moderate deductions across the board. We then held a series of meetings throughout the shire, explaining the situation. I did not hear one complaint. 

Jim Anderson, former mayor and councillor, Northern Grampians Shire Council 

Celebrating NAIDOC week

IT’S NAIDOC week across Australia.

Following this year’s theme of ‘because of her, we can’ I want to tell you about the importance of women in all the work I do especially within my Aboriginal Services.

Women play a significant role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and this NAIDOC week we are asked to reflect on their contribution to the growth and development of our country.

For at least 65,000 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge. In more recent times they have been there at the forefront of major turning points in Australian culture and history. 

From the Torres Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, to the 1967 Referendum – which included Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples in Australia’s population figures – to modern issues such as the 2008 apology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women have been a driving force for Aboriginal rights.

Having strong female role models is absolutely crucial to helping young people grow. There are many inspiring stories from women on the website, www.naidoc.org.au

I ask you to think about how important women have been in supporting your community.

Father Chris Riley, chief executive and founder, Youth Off The Streets

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