11 September 2019

2018 Year in Review - Most Commented

| Amy M
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About Regional is a place where people can talk, share, celebrate and advocate for this great place we call home. So it’s no surprise that we love when our readers share their thoughts.

The top articles that had people talking this year were a mixed bunch, with regional politics, policy and police stories all getting a run. From brumbies in the Snowies to community initiatives along the coast, the most commented stories were, above all, about the issues that resonated with our reader base.

10. Wild horses that cross into ACT from Kosciuszko will be killed

Feral horses are a major threat to the unique environment of the Australian Alps, says ACT Parks and Conservation Services. File photo.

File photo.

The first story that had readers commenting was a report that wild horses that cross into the ACT from Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, where culling has been halted, will be killed.

Director of ACT Parks and Conservation Services Daniel Iglesias said the ACT’s threatened plants, animals and water catchment needed to be protected.

“Heavy hoofed animals damage waterways, cause erosion and trample habitat. They threaten the water quality in the Murray-Darling Basin,” he said.

9. Community steps out to reject Frogs Hollow Flight School

Around 400 people gathered against the Frog Hollow Flight School in Bega on Wednesday. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Photo: Ian Campbell.

The Bega Valley delivered a resounding “bugger off” to those who wanted to develop a $10 million flight school at the grassy Frogs Hollow Airstrip between Merimbula and Bega. Close to 400 people packed into the Bega Civic Centre to address the State Government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel in August.

Kanoona dairy farmer Ancret Shipton identified noise and stressed animals as potential concerns, and said “It is unacceptable for one enterprise to impact so many livelihoods.”

Resident Sandy Rocca, speaking of the Social Impact Statement submitted by Sports Aviation Australia, commented that the developer “made no effort to engage with the community”. And Bill Kershaw from Whyndham said that “every 12 weeks there’ll be 360 trainee pilots; that’s 28,000 takeoffs and landings.”

8. Council moves on Merimbula Aldi and Eden’s Hotel Australasia

The old Merimbula Library site on Main Street will be redeveloped into an Aldi Supermarket. Photo: BVSC

Photo: BVSC

In May came the news that an Aldi supermarket is set to become part of the Merimbula streetscape after Council formally resolved to enter into a contract for sale with the German giant.

Also making headlines further south was the news that Eden’s historic and derelict Hotel Australasia is very close to returning to private hands.

7. Fluoride flows for Bega Valley water supplies – Council votes “yes”

Some of those in the public gallery today at Bega Valley Shire Council. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Photo: Ian Campbell.

A ten-month debate at Bega Valley Shire Council came to an end in February with councilors voting to add fluoride to most of the shire’s remaining water supplies. The long process was characterised by conflicting science and at times hostile debate.

“I do not give council permission to introduce this toxic substance as mass medication without choice into my water supply,” Merriwinga resident, Sean Burke said.

In voting ‘yes’ Pambula’s Russell Fitzpatrick said, “Good oral health is vital and has a huge impact on overall health.”

6. Thousands of illegal guns removed from the community – 70 from SE NSW

Some of the many firearms surrendered during the 2017 amnesty. Photo: ACT Policing.

Photo: ACT Policing.

Police commended regional and metropolitan communities in October for their response to the firearms amnesty across NSW. An extraordinary collection of weapons was surrendered, including 48 firearms from the Monaro Police District and 22 from South Coast Police District.

In total, more than 8300 guns including 413 shotguns and 1373 rifles, along with more than 74,000 rounds of ammunition, 56 prohibited weapons, and 338 firearm parts and accessories were surrendered.

5. River Cottage Australia host finds new work with ABC TV

River Cottage Australia, just outside of Central Tilba. From RCA Facebook page.

Photo: Keo Films.

With the SBS program River Cottage Australia coming to a close, local fans asked what’s next for the property and the show’s star.

Ian Campbell investigated, finding the River Cottagae property in the lush foothills of Gulaga had been sold by Keo Films to a 36-year-old builder from Sydney for $895,000, and that there were exciting prospects ahead for host Paul West.

Lynda Ord summed up the thoughts of many in the region when she wrote:

“Such a terrific young man! We loved him on River Cottage and we’re now enjoying his appearances on Gardening Australia. We’re great fans of Back Roads too so we’re looking forward to seeing his episodes. Go well Paul – and come back to the Far South Coast sometime!”

4. Jindabyne’s future up for discussion as masterplan process starts

Chilling on the shores of Lake Jindbayne during the summer months. Photo: Jennie Jane, Destination Jindabyne Facebook.

Photo: Jennie Jane, Destination Jindabyne Facebook.

The Jindabyne business community welcomed the State Government’s November commitment to revitalise the high country tourist town. Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro and Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts launched the $2.4 million Jindabyne 2036 masterplan.

“Jindabyne is the gateway to the beautiful Snowy Mountains, it is a thriving town with enormous potential for growth, and proper planning will see Jindabyne become known as the nation’s premier alpine destination,” Mr Barilaro said.

3. Local projects in need of Snowy Hydro dollars – transport to culture and sport

Snowy River Mayor John Rooney is pushing to have the Canberra to Bombala rail line reopened. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Photo: Ian Campbell.

Readers had plenty to say about news that the full sale of Snowy Hydro to the Federal Government was a $4.2 billion injection into the New South Wales economy, and that the mayors of South East NSW were lining up to spend it.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro had “ring-fenced” those dollars for infrastructure projects in rural and regional NSW, we reported.

About Regional readers shared their suggestions for spending the cash and their thoughts about the proposed projects.

2. Doors to close on Sapphire Coast Tourism after $$$ clash with Council

The ‘unspoilt’ Sapphire Coast. Photo: SCT.

Photo: SCT.

The board of Sapphire Coast Tourism voted to wind up the organisation in June 30 because they were unable to work with the budget direction of Bega Valley Shire Council, we reported.

For almost a decade, Sapphire Coast Tourism was responsible for promoting and maximising tourism opportunities between Bermagui and the Victorian border. Their mandate was to plan and implement marketing and promotion and provide strategic direction for the $782 million Bega Valley tourist industry.

About Regional reader Grant summed up the sentiments of many when he wrote, in relation to Bega Valley Shire Council: “Talk about penny wise pound foolish. You have successfully trashed 10 years of strategic positioning and the long term prospects of the shire’s only viable industry. Take a bow.”

1. Batemans Bay grandfather to be deported on Thursday

David Degning and his daughters Rachael and Sharon. Photo: Sharon Degning.

Photo: Sharon Degning.

The top story that had About Regional readers talking in 2018 was the news that a Batemans Bay grandfather was in Villawood Detention Centre awaiting deportation to the United Kingdom. Family, friends, and supporters said David Degning was bundled out of his home in handcuffs at dawn by 16 Border Force officers.

And as the local story continued to evolve, we kept you updated as discussion about the conflicting circumstances moved to the national stage.

Which stories on About Regional had you talking this year? What were the highlights for you?

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Georgie Rowley8:54 am 03 Jan 19

Hi there
A major point of discussion as well for the area in the Eurobodalla north of Bega is the drive to push for the ONE- New Eurobodalla hospital to service our area, with the aim for a Level 4 hospital which will improve & expand services for our region, centralise the emergency services & improve the staff shortages which is at a desperate level at both hospitals.
It will be central to all residents in the Eurobodalla
At the current moment there are 2 separately funded hospitals 20 mins apart, both struggling under the current system

So far we have gained $150 million from Andrew Constance & Gladys Berijelkian(apols for spelling) & the area’s clinical services plan meet in June to discuss & finalise the year long planning that’s been in place
Dr Michael Holland who has pushed hard, along with the hospitals hard working management & the social medical push with the 3000 plus signatures petition presented to the government, our future looks brighter
Both the hospitals staff upon the decision made to have ONE main hospital has made such a change to staffs moral, they feel like a weight has been shifted. It may still be a few years away, (hoping for shovel in the ground in 4-5 years) but progress has been made
Services need to be centralised with the range of services available addressed & increased to benefit the community & its large visitor influx
When the city arrives to the coast our hospitals struggle more with the work load & staff levels are barely addressed
We’re loosing valuable precious staff who don’t want to hang up their boots however the stress levels have reached critical levels

This is a massive issue in our area. Our health is being jeopardised & the community are feeling the strain of having to travel anywhere from 1.5-4 hours for care for their loved ones when it could be offered & provided closer to home
The doubling up of 2 ‘separately funded’struggling hospitals doing the best they can under this system needs the change that’s coming

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