Senior students from Carroll College and St Peter’s Anglican College at Broulee, and Batemans Bay High School were given time to address Council – including Mayor, Liz Innes and Deputy Mayor, Anthony Mayne.
One of the Shire’s Federal MP’s was also taking notes – Member for Gilmore, Anne Sudmalis.
Courtney Fryer from Carroll College used the opportunity to advocate for young people living with physical and mental disability.
Harrison O’Keefe from Batemans Bay High, made a great point around youth engagement –“show them what they are missing out on” and he has an idea to do just that.
While Pippi Sparrius from St Peter’s presented some surprising stats around teenage pregnancy in the Eurobodalla.
Keen to give the students a ‘real council meeting’ experience, Cr Innes was watching the clock, with Courtney, Harrison, and Pippi all given five minutes each.
‘Head garbos’ across the region have welcomed the supermarket ban on light weight plastic bags but are looking to new opportunities and challenges in their ever present ‘war on waste’.
Woolworths and Coles were tripping over themselves in announcing the news last week, both committing to a phase out of single use bags over the next 12 months.
Shoppers will be asked to bring their own bags or be charged 15 cents for a heavier weight, reusable plastic bag.
“This will significantly change the number of bags going to any landfill or transfer station,” says Mandy Thurling, Rescouse and Waste Manager for Snowy Monaro Regional Council.
In the Eurobodalla, Amanda Jones, Council’s Manager of Waste Services says, “This is great news, keeping problem waste from entering the environment.”
While also welcoming the action, Toby Browne, Waste Services Manager for Bega Valley Shire Council has signaled a need for further change, “It’s a move in the right direction but definitely more needs to be done to reduce packaging and other soft plastic waste.”
Environmental groups have been campaigning for a plastic bag ban for decades, and while some states and towns have imposed restrictions, the ABC TV series “War on Waste” seemed to inject new momentum into the national discussion.
Clean Up Australia estimates six billion plastic bags are handed out every year, with just 4% recycled.
Let loose in the environment they choke, smother, and tangle wildlife.
The supermarket ban doesn’t go far enough according to Clean Up Australia, who continue to lobby the Premiers of New South Walse, Victoria, and Western Australia for an out right ban.
“Hopefully more commercial premises will come on board and ban the bag,” Ms Thurling from Snowy Monaro says.
Given their ‘last for forever nature’ all three South East councils will have to continue to manage plastic bags and soft plastics into the future.
Apart from taking up tip space, the Eurobodalla’s Amanda Jones says, “Plastic bags at landfill sites get caught by the wind and need to be managed by catching them in litter fences and manual litter picking.”
Toby Brown is frustrated by plastic bag contamination of other waste streams at his Bega Valley facilities.
“When they contaminate recycling and organic waste streams, they must be manually removed,” he says.
With that Amanda Jones jumps in.
“Please don’t put your recycling in plastic bags!” she says.
“The bags don’t always fall open to allow recyclables to be sorted.”
The recent introduction of REDcyle bins at Coles supermarkets in Bega, Eden, Batemans Bay, Ulladulla, and Cooma is part of the equation Mandy Thurling is hoping locals might take up.
REDcycle bins not only take plastic bags but the soft plastic wrapping and packaging many products come smothered in.
REDcycle askes you to do the scrunch test, “If it’s soft plastic and can be crunched into a ball, it can be placed into a REDcycle drop off bin,” their website says.
The material collected is transformed into a range of products including street furniture, decking, and bollards by Replas.
“Council is always looking at the next step in reducing waste to landfill, this could be by reducing all soft plastics and finding alternate recycling avenues for this material,” Ms Thurling from Snowy Monaro says.
In the Eurobodalla, where Council runs their own recycling facility the ‘war on waste’ is reaching new heights.
Crushed waste glass is starting to be used instead of quarried sand in road construction projects.
The sand substitute has just been tested in Murray Street, Moruya where 63 tonnes of the local product was used to install new drainage culverts and reconstruct the road.
“The crushed glass has proven to be a viable product to replace sand in concrete mixes,” Council’s Works Manager, Tony Swallow says.
“It does need to be treated differently to bedding sand but our crews are happy with the performance,” he says.
Around 30 tonnes of sand like substance is produced each week at the Materials Recycling Facility in Moruya; glass represents 40% of the 5,200 tonnes of recyclables collected in the Eurobodalla each year.
“The savings to our environment and Council’s materials budget are significant,” Mr Swallow says.
Polystyrene is the other win in the Eurobodalla’s waste war.
Known for making a mighty mess, up until now polystyrene had taken up valuable landfill space at Surf Beach and Brou.
With a $30,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Authority, Council has installed a thermal compaction machine at its Surf Beach facility.
“The process reduces the volume and turns polystyrene into a hard white substance,” Mr Swallow explains.
“Our contractor is shipping it to China where the material is made into items like picture frames.
“What has made this such a success is that we have supplied local businesses that have a lot of polystyrene packaging with metal frames and wool bales to easily collect the material,” Mr Swallow says.
Council estimates the move will save them $100,000 worth of landfill space each year, with other savings spinning off to local electronic businesses and supermarkets in reduced waste disposal fees.
Bega Valley Shire is looking to do more with waste and is currently developing a waste strategy.
“Our key areas are likely to be addressing food waste recycling and improving local economic opportunity in recycling and resource recovery,” Mr Browne says.
“It’s great to see business making meaningful change in response to community concern. Change creates opportunities.”
Batemans Bay’s seaside location is guiding a vision for the town’s future, with the Business and Tourism Chamber inspiring a plan that includes floating pontoons in the CBD and a pier off Hanging Rock for cruise ships to pull up alongside.
Spruiking on Facebook, the Member for Bega and NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance said, “We’ve got a $1.3 billion fund, the message to the community is get out, push your councils, push your mayors, push us, look for great projects.”
“One central piece of infrastructure required at Batemans Bay is floating pontoons to enable recreational boats, personal watercraft, and seaplanes to access our town centre and seaside boardwalk,” Mr Maclachlan says.
Floating pontoons seem more feasible at this stage compared to a fixed pier at Hanging Rock. Current pontoon planning still accommodates cruise ships in that it might cater for cruise ship tenders as opposed to ‘a mothership’ that perhaps needs a purpose built fixed structure to tie up to.
Access for all seems to be a driver in the Chamber’s pontoon push, inspired by what is being achieved by ‘The Bay Push’ an the inclusive playground at Batehaven.
“The proposal is to install a wheelchair hoist on the proposed pontoon and at the existing Hanging Rock boat ramp,” Mr Maclachlan says.
Primarily though stimulating the local economy and tourism industry is at the heart of the Chamber’s plan.
“Without floating pontoons, there is little practical recreational boating access to the CBD,” the Chamber chief says.
“There is no mooring point at which the boating public can get a coffee, groceries, or bait and fishing tackle.
“There are few public wharfs available to boat owners and what is there is of such a height that it is largely unusable by recreational craft,” Mr Maclachan explains.
“The seaplane operators are now licensed to land on the water adjacent to the CBD, yet do not have pontoon access,” Mr Maclachan says.
“The seaplanes feature in Eurobodalla and Tourism Australia’s national and international marketing for the region.”
According to the Chamber, the plan has been received positively by the NSW Government. About Regional sought comment from local member, Andrew Constance, and Maritime Minister Melinda Pavey.
“The proposal has been internally submitted within Roads and Maritime Services for funding,” Mr Maclachlan says.
Eurobodalla Mayor, Cr Liz Innes says Council is supporting the idea.
“When you look at these projects that deliver tourism infrastructure into our shire, the potential is fantastic, Cr Innes says.
“But we need to be realistic about the environmental constraints.”
The Mayor points to wave action within the bay that perhaps impedes pontoons, and that Council is seeking expert advice.
“Council is really keen to look at these kind of projects that the Chamber is bringing forward, we really commend them for thinking outside the box and having the courage to step up, but we do need to have a look at those environmental concerns,” the Mayor says.
“There is a little bit more involved in the engineering to make sure that they [the pontoons] are stable and that long term the maintenance doesn’t become a huge burden and an issue for ratepayers.
“But in this day and age, the engineering solutions are just incredible, we’ve just gotta make sure we get it right,” Cr Innes says.
The Mayor is clear that Council has no capacity for funding such a project and that environmental considerations need to be explored further, but she is keen to see the idea succeed if feasible.
“It’s important that we take the time to ensure what we do now doesn’t create issues in the future,” Cr Innes says.
“We have a really good working relationship with our local member [Andrew Constance] and he is very keen to see benefits from the State flow down to this region in particular.”
Chamber chief, David Maclachlan accepts those concerns but is confident a solution already exists.
“You see it in Sydney Harbour and up on the Hawkesbury,” Mr Maclachlan told About Regional.
“Our largest industry is tourism, we need to keep growing and always look to do better and provide more – everyone benefits.
“Private and public tourism infrastructure has been identified by various studies as a solution to local employment issues and increasing visitor spend,” he says.
The Chamber’s pitch is just part of the Batemans Bay buzz at the moment, which not only includes a new $300 million crossing of the Clyde River but plans for the old Batemans Bay Bowling Club site, MacKay Park/Batemans Bay Pool precinct, the Bay Link Road project to the Princess Highway, and Council’s CBD streetscape makeover.
“There is massive momentum Ian, an indoor aquatic centre and an arts and cultural centre are extremely exciting possibilities,” Cr Innes says.
“Both Andrew Constance and myself have made very strong commitments that that is something we want to see delivered.
“All this will have flow on affects for the whole Shire because it is a gateway site,” Cr Innes says.
The new bridge is locked in, the Batemans Bay community waits to see what the NSW Government’s $1.3 billion booty might deliver next.
A Council spokesperson says, there were 39 submissions from the community, and the Jury considered all of them carefully.
“Although the Jury project was primarily set up to look at how Council currently spends its money, it did consider new ideas, for instance, a community ‘think tank’ activity to run as part of Local Government Week and investigating a mobile library service,” the spokesperson explains.
Kate Raymond agrees that the Jury considered new ideas, but was somewhat ambivalent about Council’s response,
“For instance, our report recommended (p.9) having an agricultural officer in Council, to supercharge the outcomes from the Rural Lands Strategy,” Kate says.
“Council’s response was, ‘We will look into this’ and if there is grant funding available (p.32) they’ve told us they will investigate options.
“Does this mean Council is actively looking for grant funding for this position? What does investigating options mean? That’s unclear,” Kate says.
Council’s spokesperson says the Citizens Jury worked well and achieved the goal of providing feedback on how Council spends its money.
“The jury made 86 recommendations, 76 of which align with the Draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and the Operational Plan 2017-18. These two documents inform upcoming Council spending in the immediate future,” the spokesperson says.
“We [Council] also realised that there’s quite a lot of confusion in the community about the three tiers of government (local, state and federal) and their respective roles. So we’re working at getting some information about this out there.”
The Deputy Mayor believes it was a worthwhile process.
“In the modern world of social media, to see 28 people deeply engaged and enquiring of any number of issues over a sustained period of time is to be applauded,” Cr Mayne says.
“These were volunteers, paid a small allowance to give up seven nights and many hours of reading over several months to listen, wonder, seek, exchange, explore and debate a variety of matters before finally presenting their outcomes to the Councillors”.
South East NSW is pitching itself as a new home for a range of Federal Government departments.
Following the political and media stink around the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale, a Senate inquiry was established to investigate elements of the decision by Agriculture Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and local member for Armidale, the National’s Barnaby Joyce.
However, the work of the committee has been seen as bigger than just the issue of the APVMA as regional leaders look to fertilise a deeper discussion around moving public service jobs out of Canberra, all looking for a greater share of the $16.7 billion annual wages bill for their local economies.
All of the local submissions declared the region as an ideal location for Commonwealth investment and backed the idea of decentralisation.
In his submission, Snowy Monaro Administrator Dean Lynch spoke of the boost such a move would be for the local economy and pointed to an available workforce.
Andrew Greenway, from Eurobodalla Shire, highlighted lifestyle advantages and the benefits that had for staff retention.
Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain pointed to the region’s proximity to Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne and the private investment that would follow.
Senator McAllister says the terms of reference of her committee are narrow and focused on the APVMA decision, none the less local government and regional business organisations from around the country have seized on the opportunity to put a stake in the ground.
Among the 200 written submissions were councils from the Mallee, Longreach, Manning Valley, Colac, and the Spencer Gulf along with groups like Australian Wool Growers, NSW Business Chamber, the Winemakers Federation and the Country Women’s Association.
Listening to the live stream on Friday morning as Cr McBain spoke, Senator McAllister and fellow committee member Senator Bridget McKenzie seemed to encourage that wider discussion, moving beyond the APVMA.
All those on the call were asked if their region had been considered along with Armidale as a new base from the APVMA, all answered, “Not as far as I know” and the conversation quickly moved on.
Both senators went on to point to the separate but related process underway within the Turnbull Cabinet, where the Minster for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash is developing the Government’s broader decentralisation policy which will be released later this year.
“When government invests in community it breeds confidence,” Senator Nash said.
She went on to explain the process all Federal ministers are currently involved in, which asks them to detail the departments, entities or functions that might be suitable for relocation to a regional area.
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned in looking for those agencies that could be relocated to the regions for the benefit of the regions,” Senator Nash told the Press Club.
Danielle Mulholland, President of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils and Mayor of Kyogle, told Senator McAllister that she is keen for the government to better definition ‘the regions’.
At the moment a regional community is seen as being one that lives at least 150km from a capital city.
“That’s a really loose definition,” Cr Mulholland said.
She fears authentic regional communities might miss out with a 150km starting line.
Dean Lynch from Snowy Monaro, in fact contends that regional areas around the ACT should be “initial priorities” and that Cooma’s proximity would “facilitate an easier transition from existing to new workplaces” for Commonwealth staff.
As the phone panel’s assessment of decentralisation evolved on Friday, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain said there also needed to be a synergy between the agency being relocated and the new host town for the process to be a win-win.
“From our point of view, it would have to be an agency or a department that had a natural fit with our area,” Cr McBain told the Senate committee.
From a Eurobodalla perspective, Business Development boss, Andrew Greenway believes that includes agencies responsible for regional communications, marine services, sciences and safety, regional development, regional transport, aged care, tourism, and education.
“We are going to have a big conversation around this over the next six months,” Senator McKenzie said.
All those on the call encouraged the two Senators in their suggestion that there should be a parliamentary committee formed with broader terms of reference than their own to fully develop a transparent and fair criteria and assessment process around decentralisation – the suggestion being, to avoid the allegation of political pork barrelling that has been leveled at Barnaby Joyce in the APVMA decision.
The findings of Senator McAllister’s committee will be delivered in June, it’s understood Turnbull Cabinet ministers have until August to complete their departmental reviews and report back to Senator Nash.
With 83% of Commonwealth employment located in Canberra or the five largest Australian cities, the potential of shifting some of that into regional areas is huge, hence the level of interest. In the Bega Valley’s submission, Cr McBain points to NSW Government data that estimates for each public sector job in a regional area, two jobs are created in the private sector.
However, “Government can’t fix everything,” warned Senator Nash at the Press Club, signaling that the Turnbull Government would be looking to partnerships with local government and the community more broadly as decentralisation rolls out.
It would appear that regional Australia is interested to know more and ready to play its part.
Disclaimer: Author is part time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council
Organisers of Anzac Day marches across South East NSW say they will take any new security arrangements “in their stride“.
Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council told About Regional that there was no way Anzac Day marches through the high country would be stopped.
Concern was sparked this week following the cancellation of marches in the Blue Mountains after the local council refused to cover costs associated with new anti-terrorist requirements.
David White, a spokesman for ex-services organisations at Katoomba, Springwood, Blackheath and Glenbrook told the ‘Blue Mountains Gazette‘ that he was devasted by the decision.
“It’s such a long, unbroken tradition and something which we believe is cherished by the local communities,” he told the paper.
“The terrorists are winning. I say that because the reaction to events overseas continues to provoke overreactions here, in our view, which require mitigation actions that are beyond our means.”
The new anti-terrorist measures are said to include the need for solid barriers across roadways to prevent a truck or other vehicles being driven through crowds, similar to what the world witnessed in the French city of Nice in July last year.
Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill told the ABChe was appalled that the State Government was forcing these changes on to communities and expecting local government to pick up the cost.
“What other government in a country around the world would say ‘you need these measures to keep you safe but we won’t fund them’? It’s completely outrageous,” Cr Greenhill told the ABC.
The State Liberal Member for Bega and NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance says the security requirements for commemorations in the South East will be guided by local police with measures put in place on a case by case basis.
“Unfortunately this is the way of the world,” he says.
“Governments everywhere need to take these steps, especially at high profile events, to protect people.”
While acknowledging the need for extra security, Mr Constance says it is important that people go about their business.
“We can’t live in fear, we need to stand together and be strong as a community and not let terrorists dictate our way of life,” he says.
Mr Constance suggests the cancelling of events in the Blue Mountains was politically motivated.
“The Labor Mayor for the Blue Mountains has behaved disgracefully,” Mr Constance says.
The Member for Bega says the NSW Government will ensure Anzac Day will continue around New South Walse as planned and any extra costs will be shared, which is now the case in the Blue Mountains.
Snowy Monaro Council chief Dean Lynch says an assessment will be made and if there are extra expenses locally, all involved will work together and find a way to cover them.
Director of Infrastructure Services, Warren Sharpe told About Regional he sees no reason why the marches wouldn’t proceed with the usual sensible traffic control measures in place.
“We absolutely support the wonderful traditions and symbolism of our local Anzac marches,” he says.
“They mean a great deal to all of us and Council will do everything possible to make them a success this year, just as we do every year.”
In the Bega Valley, Tathra ex-serviceman Allen Collins says the Bega RSL Sub-branch is conscious of the need for security but is confident it’s close relationship with Bega Valley Shire Council and local Police will ensure a positive outcome.
“Anzac Day does cost money, but Council and groups like Tathra Lions and the RSL Club have always looked after us,” he says.
“I don’t think there will be any problems,” he says.
Bindiis are the curse of summer 2016/17 in South East New South Wales.
Barefoot cricket is not an option and running under the sprinkler ends in tears. My dog Duke has even worked out a path around the bindiis when fetching a ball – smart fella!
Spread easily by foot traffic and in the fur of animals, bindiis AKA Soliva sessilis are a native of South America, but are now well established around the globe. Backyards in New Zealand, France, Hawaii, and California have also become no-go zones.
In 2016 it seems these little ‘pricks’ have made the most of a good growing season.
A spokesperson from the parks and gardens team at Eurobodalla Shire Council says bindiis generally flourish in spring, but especially so after a wet winter.
And a wet winter we have had.
Checking the rainfall stats, South East NSW received an average of 364mm of rain over the three months of winter. Bega was the top with 808mm, then came Batemans Bay with at least 400mm, Eden 236mm, Bombala 235mm, Jindabyne 258mm.
As a bonus, most backyards also had a good dump in early spring.