Protect the aerodrome
CONTEXT was unfortunately absent in the lead article on the aerodrome (Titled: Future remains uncertain, Wimmera Mail-Times, October 26) where Horsham Rural City Council failed to provide responsible governance to protect a key asset.
Some pertinent facts:
Point one: It is incorrect to state, “the current master plan remains in draft form”. The draft Aerodrome Master Plan (AMP), prepared in 2016 by AECOM – the same consultants who proposed bypass option D – was recommended for adoption at the council meeting on September 19, 2016. It was emphatically rejected by council, including Crs Radford, Clarke, Grimble and two others, who gave passionate and logical reasons for doing so. Why then, is council now seeking to review a redundant report; is there a hidden agenda?
Point two: The local aviation community stakeholders on the AMP project had unanimously rejected the AMP outright as a blatantly biased, fatally flawed (essentially an option D facilitation) report.
Point three: The 2010 Aerodrome Business Plan, a Master Plan other than by title, is the only council-adopted report that guides future development of the aerodrome. The planned extension south will not, “send aircraft closer to Horsham”, as claimed by Crs Radford and Power. It’s for operational capability and safety. for example to facilitate aircraft, such as a heavy fire bomber, take off to the north in hot summer weather.
Point four: All current councillors and the executive group were comprehensively briefed on the aerodrome in early 2017 by Horsham aviation stakeholders, which included an advisor to the Federal Minister for Aviation and CASA. Irrefutable evidence was provided why bypass option D (and the AMP) is fatally flawed.
Point five: Bypass option D or variant thereof, if approved, would directly impact on both current and future operational use of the aerodrome, for example, an air ambulance would be prevented from making a precision instrument approach, unlike other regional airports. Option D would create a critical hazard for an engine failure on takeoff going south. Country roads would override council and prevent planned development of the aerodrome, significantly compromising its existing and future use – a major impact on the municipality. Why is the majority of the current council prepared to let that happen?
Point six: The core specific question, “is option D fatally flawed” was posed by the Planning Panel in 2015 for council to answer through the AMP and Integrated Transport Strategy, has been avoided. Why is this so?
Point seven: Cr Robinson is the only person in council with extensive personal and professional expertise in aviation. His motion was supported by Crs Grimble and Koenig, who clearly recognised the importance of the aerodrome as a significant and critical asset in the municipality and the absolute necessity to protect it.
Point eight: Cr Robinson’s motion contained evidence and clear logic designed to protect the aerodrome, aircraft and community safety, and valuable farmland, with no impact on existing or planned property development. Appropriate zoning will help protect aviation operational capability and safety, prevent encroachment of incompatible use and help future proof a key asset.
All too often, direction and discussion appears to be biased by personal, uninformed opinion displacing objective consideration, which results in division by decree, not good leadership and governance. The municipality is much the poorer for it and deserves much better.
Cr Clarke is reported as not supporting Cr Robinson’s motion because it was, “too complex” and, “lay people can’t make complex decisions”. Could the mayor have used her casting vote to move that the motion lay on the table until the next meeting, instead of voting it down?
Point nine: All past councils have recognised protecting the aerodrome asset is essential. To not do so now abrogates council’s responsibility to act in the best long-term interest of this municipality, as required under the Local Government Act. This is completely unacceptable to the community.
Kevin Dellar, chairman, Strategic Directions Group
Keep safe by the water
SUMMER is on the horizon and we’re starting to feel the heat across the country. With the warmer weather more and more Australians and visitors flock to the various waterways as a reprise from the heat.
Follow these tips to keep yourself, family and friends safe around water:
- Always wear a lifejacket.
- Supervise children.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol around water.
- Be aware of medical conditions and their impact around water. Make sure you know your limits, have regular check-ups with your doctor, treat conditions, and don’t swim alone.
- When swimming check for currents and rips before entering the water.
- Don’t take risks around water. Cliff jumping, diving from bridges, and reckless behaviour on boats can result in permanent injury or death.
- Always swim between the flags when at the beach. If you get into trouble, stay calm and attract attention by raising your arm above your head.
- Learn CPR and first aid. Resuscitation can be the difference between life and death.
The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report found that 249 people drowned in Australian waterways between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. About 42 per cent of drowning deaths occurred in summer.
Enjoy the water, but be aware of the dangers, and always take care.
Justin Scarr, chief executive, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia