Councillors oblivious to real costs

Parents understand that the cost of children bears little relationship to their allowances.Business managers and accountants are acutely aware that salaries are only a portion of the cost of staff.But our councillors seem unable to recognise that it is the aggregate of what councillors cost us that matters, not the amount councillors pocket.Costs documented to our councillors by council’s accountants average nearly $100,000 per councillor for the year.Meanwhile, our general manager personally churns through another $506,000 in wages and sundries.These costs are on the public record in Eurobodalla Shire Council Statement of Council and Committee Costs; Attachment 2; Eurobodalla Shire Council Management Plan 01/07/2011 – 31/03/2012.No councillor disputed these costs when they studied the Management Plan.The Mayor’s Memoand Councillor Morton (Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, June 13) malign my reference to these costs as totally misleading, fictitious sensationalism and mischievous.They refer to my “letter about councillor remuneration” and contend that councillors take home modest amounts.But I have not written any letter about councillor remuneration. Their remuneration is decided by the State. It is a minor portion of what councillors cost us and a distraction they introduce to evade the bigpicture.Councillors are unwilling to separate their obsessive interest in personal remuneration from their responsibility to look objectively at all expenditure from the point of view of the ratepayers they are elected to represent.The guardians of our funds refuse to consider the large variation between their remuneration and the amount they cost the community.They care too little to look for any scope for savings. Yet they have a responsibility to lead council by example.Our mayor denies that the figures “reflect the cost to the community of its elected representatives”. It is not clear whether he believes the Management Plan has unreliable or fraudulent figures, or whether he dreams the accumulated costs will be paid by some other community.Either the figures or the mayor lack credibility.Don BurnsTuross HeadThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Gossip from around the Eurobodalla

Stuart Bammon, of Moruya, has just turned two, much to the delight of his beautiful mummy Beck and handsome daddy Chris.Beck has very proud grandparents, Henry and Jenny Hudson, and of course Denise and Garry Thornton are just as proud.A family picnic was held to celebrate with some serious gold prospecting and camping out. What brave people in this weather!After a three-month break Mark Schuelein is back in town. He has been in Queanbeyan working as a carpenter on a huge house that he said would take your breath away. Seems there is no shortage of pennies around that way.Caroline Smith had a wonderful time at Thredbo. She had a fabulous break with her husband Neil for five days. They took an apartment right on the slopes and the views were breathtaking. She is now back to the grindstone on the treadmill at the gym with her personal trainer Kate Turtianen.Jenny Tweedie has been away in Mittagong for a two-day conference with four other Quota members. They are all from the 35th District. Quota International of Batemans Bay is part of a women’s group that works very hard to raise money for various charities, like the hard of hearing and speech-impaired women and children. If you are interested in joining, please call the president, Carolyn Anderson, on 4471 3313.Renee Egan has just finished her final exams. She is off to Canberra with her Bachelor of Commerce degree in February for a graduate program which is like an internship in an accounting firm. We wish her all the very best. She will be missed in the Bay I am sure.Ron Maxwell and his mate Colin are off to Sydney for the big game tomorrow – the Wallabies vs Wales at the Sydney Football Stadium.Should be a great game, they certainly will have to rug up!Michelle and Dave can now see the light at the end of the tunnel after many weeks of building their new home at Catalina. All last weekend was spent hard at work finishing the final details. Next on the list is the interior design. Michelle says with the experience they have obtained, an audition for The Block TV show may be in order.DYK: When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking tin, use a bit of dry cake mix instead. There will not be any white mess on the outside of the cake this way.YUK: Smoking is an individual’s right but please don’t just butt where you stand. There are spots around the Bay with hundreds of butts just sitting there looking very unsightly.YUMMY: The winter menus in our local restaurants. Loving the hot soups and exciting menu changes.Mrs Farrington-Smythe has returned from Aspen looking fitter than ever. The outdoor and indoor sports have lifted her spirits somewhat. The Bohemian look is big overseas just now she told us. Does this mean we drag out all our old ‘60s outfits and become flower children again?This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Hillary Clinton, Will Smith…and Anne?

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has labelled a Eurobodalla lawyer a “hero” for her work against international slavery.Bingi’s Doctor Anne Gallagher was in Washington on Tues-day to accept the Trafficking in Persons Hero award from Dr Clinton, just a week after being named an Officer in the Order of Australia.The US Department of State recognised Dr Gallagher’s “ambitious efforts to strengthen legislative and criminal justice responses to human trafficking in South East Asia, and her substantial contribution to identify the core elements of a comprehensive anti-trafficking model that both prosecutes traffickers and protects victims”.Each year, the US honours individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. Dr Gallagher is acknowledged as a leading global authority on the law and policy of human trafficking.Guests at the ceremony included anti-slavery campaigner Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith.Dr Gallagher last week was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, “for distinguished service to the law, and to human rights, as a practitioner, teacher and scholar, particularly in the areas of human trafficking responses and criminal justice”.Speaking in Washington, Dr Gallagher said the award was “a great honour, particularly to be recognised along with such brave and selfless individuals who have sacrificed so much in their struggle against the exploitation of human beings for profit”.“It is my hope that the award will draw attention to the importance of a strong criminal justice response to trafficking: one that seeks to end impunity and secure justice for those who have been exploited.“This award is awonderful personal compliment, but I see it also as a tribute to what has been achieved in South East Asia over the past decade. While much remains to be done, great progress has been made and that deserves to be recognised.”Celebrating at home in the Eurobodalla were Dr Gallagher’s husband Cees de Rover and their twin daughters Elodie and Ruby.For more than a decade, Dr Gallagher has turned international law on an industry worth more than $30 billion a year.The United Nations estimates 21 million adults and children are victims of human trafficking and forced labour in the sex, agriculture, seafood, clothing and other trades, making $32 billion per year.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Eurobodalla Ratepayers’ group slams GM decision

The Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association has slammed council’s decision to extend general manager Paul Anderson’s contract for a further five years, criticising both its timing and the manner in which it was done.“While the decision has expensive and long-term consequences for all of the shire, it was taken in secret,” ERA chairman Geoff Plews said.“The terms of Mr Anderson’s new contract have not been disclosed. Information about which councillors supported it is hidden.“Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association is extremely disappointed by the way Mr Anderson’s re-appointment was handled.”Mr Plews said councillors had failed to determine whether other suitable candidates were available and claimed the decision was inappropriately timed, given a new council would be elected in September.He said the “short-sighted decision” could unnecessarily burden ratepayers with heavy compensation liabilities if future councillors wanted to employ someone else.However, Eurobodalla Mayor Fergus Thomson defended the decision and its timing, saying it was made in line with advice from local government authorities.He said there was little point in delaying a decision when it would then have to be made within months of the council election, potentially by newly elected councillors with little knowledge of the general manager’s performance to date.Cr Thomson said to seek othercandidates would have cost about $40,000 and would have involved terminating Mr Anderson’s tenure.Asked why a shorter, 12-month contract could not have been offered, the Mayor said it would likely have been rejected.“No general manager to my knowledge would accept a 12-month contract,” he said.Cr Thomson said a change of council created a “lot of hard work” for a general manager and no-one would expect them to go through that on a short contract, particularly after just receiving an “above average performance review”.But Mr Plews was critical of the general manager’s performance over the past four years, citing staffsurveys and consultants’ reports as evidence.He said an independent survey conducted by council showed council’s relations with the community were extremely poor and public uproar over the local environment plan was just one of many examples.“Mr Anderson has had little impact on the introspective and secretive culture of the organisation,” Mr Plews said. “Nor has he put council in a strong financial position to face future challenges. The new 10-year financial plan shows a long string of future operating deficits, ever increasing rates and charges, and no clear strategy to return council’s budget to balance.“Yet again Eurobodalla Shire has failed to convince Commonwealth and State authorities that this council would use a proper share of infrastructure funding as efficiently as competing councils. Private sector investors are bypassing the shire, local businesses are failing rapidly, property values are declining and many residents must search for employment outside the shire.“Eurobodalla ratepayers willbenefit only when councillors are able to recognise the difference between activity and achievement, with real, measurable, on-the-ground improvements in roads, health services and appropriate environment protection.”This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

More hives hit in bee massacre

Greg Roberts inspect his bee hives yesterday.The damage bill is rising for the shire’s honey-producers, with up to 1200 Eurobodalla beehives now confirmed hits in what has all the hallmarks of industrial sabotage.The mass poisonings first uncovered earlier this week have targeted the hives of major players in the industry at at least 10 sites.Apiarists now fear that whoever is responsible will strike again and beekeepers are being urged to keep a close eye on their loads.Police are leading the investigation but had no comment to make yesterday.Eurobodalla beekeeper Greg Roberts lost just two hives in Murramarang National Park, north of Batemans Bay, but his brother Pat lost 120 at a site on the same road.Mr Roberts fears the culprits oppose beekeepers being allowed to use leased sites for their hives in national parks and state forests. The hives are there to take advantage of flowering plants.Mr Roberts, a past president of the NSW Apiarists Association and former national chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, said as many as eight large operators had been hit.“I can’t work it out. It’s as though ghosts have come out in the night,” he said. “They left no footprints, no car tracks, no nothing, but the attacks must have been well planned.“With no footprints, they must have worn special footwear or put rags over their shoes. With so many hives destroyed, it is such amassive thing to do.”Greg Roberts said it would require more than one or two offenders to go around so many different sites.Although backpack chemical sprays or pumps had been discussed as the likely method to distribute the poison, Mr Roberts said aerosol sprays may have been used but this method would have required hundreds of cans.“The attacks are similar in a way to those on logging machinery that was damaged in the past when people went in against logging,” he said.Greg Roberts said he did not believe other beekeepers were involved in the attacks.“There are people who don’t want us in the state forests,” he said.“It would seem that they had maps or even inside information of where the beehives were.”Pat Roberts lost 240 hives at two sites and quickly ruled out disease as the cause of the deaths.“I’ve worked with bees all my life. I know when something has been sprayed (by chemical),” he said yesterday.“Each hive has 50,000 to 70,000 bees.“A lot of the guys didn’t have insurance. I don’t know yet how we stand.”With the loss of so many bees, Pat Roberts said it would be a slow process to rebuild the stocks.“We can’t do anything until spring as we have got to separate them away from other hives, then put in a new young queen. It will take 12 months at least to return to full honey production.”The Environmental Protection Agency and DPI are testing the dead bees and hives for traces of chemical and the results are not expected until later next week.Julian Thompson, EPA acting manager south branch, said staff sampled three beehive sites in the Batemans Bay region.He said apiarists have dozens of beehive sites each to check and had not yet visited them all.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.