Not the community's view
We read with dismay the opinion article concerning the Manyana development project written by Alex Cooke. While he has every right to express his own opinion, the article appears to be under the auspices and agreement of the Budgong Community Group and by inference, that he expresses the general opinion of Kangaroo Valley as well. We do not believe this is a majority view. The Budgong Community group was not consulted and he therefore has no right to use its forum as a platform for his opinion.
The Currowan fire destroyed huge tracts of forest and habitat and one would have to be blind and deaf not to notice the massive reduction in flora, wild animal and bird life. How can it be even considered to now destroy this tiny bit of unspoiled remaining habitat? The reason people want to come to this area is because of the opportunity to get away from the eternal urban sprawl. Why would we want to destroy the very thing that is unique and special about usl?
We know well that the South Coast developments are largely to service the holiday home market which does not ensure employment for our children and will certainly not provide homes for them in the future. As it is, a large number of the present homes are empty for much of the year, provide only seasonal work for the youth and have priced affordable housing right out of reach for the local community. It has also destroyed huge areas of habitat for our unique animal and bird species.
B. and A. Acworth, Budgong
Open letter to the minister
I am writing to tell you (in your capacity of Minister for Local Government) of my experience during the COVID-19 shutdown while in isolation. I have never seen a council meeting in full flight and so I tuned in to the streaming broadcast of two meetings of the Shoalhaven City Council, one in mid April and the other on May 4. I did so because I had a particular interest.
On both occasions I was appalled by what I heard and saw. They certainly did not link with my own expectation or understanding of a council meeting when people have matters important to them and which have been thoughtfully prepared for debate and decision by Council. I expected the meeting and the debate to be conducted with dignity and erudition, that common decency would prevail, that the councillors would be well prepared and respectful.
Firstly, there was no debate. It was replaced by a councillor yelling and shouting abuse at another, and blatant intimidation. In short, the meeting descended into a schoolyard rabble. Councillors capitulated without decent debate.
Secondly, as a ratepayer for the last 20 years I expected I would be entitled to have grievances and questions properly considered and debated and submissions treated with alacrity and full understanding. This did not happen. The matter in which I was particularly interested was dealt without any apparent due diligence, and was merely dealt with as 'the professional planning department has done a wonderful job' and that was enough. The matter had many detailed submissions opposing the application being considered but those were ignored.
Thirdly, as someone who has had great respect for the Shoalhaven Council over the years, I now have very little. If it reflects local governments in general, then something needs to be done. Democracy does not have to operate as a shambles. In my opinion it is a shameful state of affairs, and this council needs to be examined. In this case it did not have its constituents in their consideration and were ill-prepared.
As a ratepayer who took the opportunity to witness a council meeting, I was surprised and very disappointed by what I saw and heard. Although I was disappointed by the outcome in the matter I was particularly interested, I was more disappointed by the hopeless process. I feel I am entitled, indeed obliged, to share this observation with you.