Monthly archives: November 2018

Krambach community forum

A PUBLIC community forum is being held in Krambach on Wednesday, July 2.

Greater Taree City Councillors will be at the School of Arts Hall in Krambach from 6pm to 7.30pm to discuss issues important across the area and the Manning Valley.

The forum will be an opportunity to meet and greet councillors, who will be in attendance to respond to topics raised by residents, businesses, and community groups.

“We look forward to highlighting and responding to topics important to the communities, from Nabiac and Krambach to Dyers Crossing, Firefly and more,” said Cr Robyn Jenkins, acting mayor.

If you have topics important to you, please e-mail [email protected] no later than Friday, June 27.

Councillors will endeavour to have the correct information on-hand at the forum.

The Krambach School of Arts is located on the Bucketts Way in the heart of Krambach.

Please see web page for councillor contact information, or call on 6592 5399.

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Sharks kept in the dark by ASADA

CRONULLA has had no official word from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) as of yesterday (Wednesday).

Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce said the club has not been contacted.

“There has been no contact as yet from ASADA,” Mr Noyce said. “The investigation is still continuing.”

The Sharks last December were handed a $1 million fine and their coach Shane Flanagan was suspended for 12 months by the NRL, in regard to alleged anti-doping rule breaches in seasons 2010, 2011.

– In other club news, Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis, who lives in the shire, has signed with the Sharks for the 2015-16 seasons.

A Leader website reader Rob Mayne posted his comment yesterday about Paul Gallen’s story of how the ASADA investigation has played emotional havoc with the players and their families.

“Everyone is asking why has the great name of the Sharks been destroyed why has it gone this far whose fault is it; ASADA Sharks management or recent players?

“Is anyone going to come clean and try and resurrect the club or do we keep heading towards oblivion?

“What’s the use of having money if you have a bad name?”

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Polo pals to Belgrade in Australian U15s team

Strong bond: Jett Turner and Keellan Milinkovic at Sutherland Aquatic Centre. Picture: Jane DysonCRONULLA Water Polo Club players Jett Turner and Keellan Milinkovic have a special bond beyond their sporting endeavours.

Two angels will be watching from above as the teenagers play in August for the Australian Youth under-15s team tour of Belgrade.

The 10-nation, Memorial Darko Cukic Tournament, is on August 13-18.

Jett, 15, of Caringbah, and Keellan, 14, of Oyster Bay, have experienced sadness during the past year.

Jett’s father David died in 2013 and Keellan’s mother Taryn died in 2012.

Both boys’ parents would be proud to see how their sons have stayed positive to do so well.

“This is my first time in the Australian team,” Keellan said.

Jett said it would be his first selection for the national under-15s team to head overseas.

Both boys have been mates through Cronulla Water Polo Club since they started there at seven.

Keellan is a year 9 student at Kirrawee High School and Jett is in year 10 at Cronulla High School.

“We’re good mates through Cronulla Water Polo Club,” Jett said.

Both Dave Turner and Taryn Milinkovic will be cheering the boys in Belgrade.

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Council forecasts ‘manageable’ borrowings

THE Port Lincoln City Council has flagged plans to borrow $10.2 million over the next two years to pay for a new indoor aquatic facility if it goes ahead with the project.

The Port Lincoln City Council has adopted its Long Term Financial Plan for the next 10 years.

The forecast borrowings are included in a new long term financial plan adopted by the council on Monday night.

The plan looks at the council’s projected revenue and expenses over the next 10 years and how it will achieve its objectives, which are based on its existing strategic directions document and a new infrastructure and asset management plan, also adopted on Monday night.

The plan gives an indication of the rate increases Port Lincoln ratepayers can expect over the next decade starting with 6.4 per cent in the next financial year.

A 6 per cent rise is forecast for 2015/16 followed by 5 per cent rises for the next three years until 2019/20 when the increase is reduced to 4.5 per cent, then to 4 per cent from 2021/22.

In the years to 2016/17, the transition to full cost recovery on the waste/recycling service will be completed and in 2015/16 the introduction of an additional $35 fixed charge amount is included, to cover the likely operating costs of an indoor aquatic facility if it proceeds.

These charges are on top of general rate revenue.

Borrowings of $4.2 million and $6 million are included in 2014/15 and 2015/16, primarily driven by the capital cost of the potential indoor aquatic facility project, based on a 20-year loan and 5 per cent interest rate.

However, the plan forecasts the borrowings being reduced to $1.8 million by 2024 as cash balances allow early repayments.

The council’s chief executive Rob Donaldson said the “manageable” planned borrowings and rate revenue increases “settling at 5 per cent or lower” were sustainable and responsible funding and strategies to meet the community’s needs and aspirations.

Mr Donaldson said it was “pleasantly surprising” how quickly the council could revert back to rate rises of 5 per cent and below.

He said there would be some “hard years” in the meantime as the council progressed toward full cost recovery for waste and recycling services and if it borrowed money for an aquatic facility, but “we very quickly get into what I think it a very satisfactory financial plateau”.

Councillor Mick Bascombe voted against adopting the long term financial plan, which he said would move the council “very swiftly” into an unsustainable position.

“In 2016/17 we’ll be over $10 million in debt with a city with 8000 something rateable properties.”

Mr Bascombe said the proposed rate rises combined with additional charges equated to an 80 per cent increase for ratepayers over the next 10 years, which was not fair, particularly when compared with a rate rise of only 30 per cent from 2000 to 2010.

“This plan is proposing to go into massive debt and there’s no way I’ll have anything to do with it.”

Councillor Neville Starke said the decade Mr Bascombe mentioned “was a period when very little was done in this city” and the future looked brighter.

Councillor Peter Jolley said the council acknowledged the work previous councils had done but there was no point comparing eras.

“We’re in an age of compliance, we simply can’t do the old business we used to without paying enormous amounts of money.

“The rules have changed and I think this is a responsible budget along those lines.”

Councillor Danny Bartlett said he shared some of Mr Bascombe’s concerns about the level of debt, “but ultimately our decisions are budget by budget”.

“I would almost say (the plan) presents a worst case scenario.”

He said whether or not the council ended up borrowing $10 million was yet to be decided.

Councillor Malcolm Catt said he felt like the council had been “flying blind” for a number of years and it was good to know where it was going: “hopefully we get there”.

The long term financial plan will be reviewed every year after the council’s budget is adopted.

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Official inquiries shine light on the dark side of human nature

Individual self-interest is at the heart of much of the dark side of institutions. 

We are going through very dark times indeed, observing the dark side of too many institutions and individuals on a regular basis. It is no exaggeration to say that almost no institution in Australian society, public or private, left or right, big or small has been left untouched.

My focus is the current major inquiries into aspects of Australian life by royal commissions and/or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The list is a long one, including five major subjects of investigation. Each of the inquiries is broad.  Most have called numerous witnesses to public hearings. No final reports have yet been issued but the preliminary findings and the content of public hearings all point towards damning conclusions.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is currently sitting in Canberra. Previous inquiries have been held in Melbourne and Newcastle. Its focus has been on the Marist Brothers in particular and the Catholic Church in general. But previous hearings have focussed on the shortcomings of government-run institutions as well as other churches. There have been hearings on the Salvation Army, the Scouts and the YMCA among other organisations. Police and the legal profession have also been implicated. Half or more of the Australian community has an association and/or identification with these institutions.

The NSW Independent Commission against Corruption has been sitting in Sydney to examine a number of cases involving criminal and/or unethical behaviour in public life. It has implicated both sides of major party politics, probably more so the previous state Labor government but Liberals, too. Several former ministers have been implicated in large-scale corruption and many others, including MPs, lobbyists, fund-raisers and party officials have been condemned for their association with dubious if not criminal behaviour. A dark underside to public life has been revealed.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Union Governance and Corruption is sitting in Melbourne, investigating alleged corruption in many parts of the official labour movement. The unions involved in public hearings so far include the Australian Workers Union and the Health Services Union. Major public figures, including former prime minister Julia Gillard, have been the subject of allegations from former union officials. The enquiry has cast a pall over an institution (trade unions) which still claims up to 20 per cent of the workforce as past or present members. At least one major company is involved.

An ABC Four Corners report recently cast further light into the long-running enquiries into sexual harassment and abuse within the Australian Defence Force. Investigations are ongoing under the leadership of Justice Len Roberts-Smith, chairman of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce. There have been several damning reports over the past decade and allegations of hundreds of unresolved cases. It is probable that some of those implicated are still serving in positions of authority. Many believe there should be a royal commission and some even want the Australian Defence Force Academy shut down. Roberts-Smith reckons sexual abuse in the Defence Force, an institution with which most Australians identify in one way or another, is much greater than has ever been publicly acknowledged.

The royal commission into the previous Labor federal government’s home insulation scheme has investigated the role of ministers, public servants and the private sector in the administration of a scheme that led to four deaths. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has appeared to defend his stewardship of the program, as have other former ministers and public servants. The program itself was implemented by many large and small businesses within the private sector.

These inquiries all receive plenty of publicity but that focus tends to be narrow. Reporters have their specialities and very few reports join the dots between the inquiries. Readers, sometimes driven by partisanship, have their pet guilty parties.

As a consequence the light is shone in turn on individual institutional targets: federal governments; state governments; the churches; welfare agencies; trade unions; the military; big business; small business; lobbyists; political parties; the police, and so on.

There are common themes, however, which reflect on Australian society as a whole, including politics and many of our major institutions. The stories that emerge are not just about a few bad apples but about dysfunctional institutions. These institutions have cultural problems. Invariably they lack transparency and defend their own self-interest. Senior office-holders have abused public trust and the trust of their members. Of course, all of these institutions also distinguish themselves by the good they do in and for the community. But that is not the point.

There is no easy solution to this institutional criminality and malfunction which indirectly touches nearly all of us, but three general points should be made.

We should be looking beyond individual commissions of inquiry and particular guilty institutions. The facts must be established. Criminal actions should be punished. No one in high office, whether they be ministers, chief executive officers, archbishops or generals should be protected or spared. Nevertheless the bigger picture of cultural dysfunction is ultimately more important, particularly if history is not to be repeated.

Second, government should not be made the scapegoat. Nor is stronger government the solution to better individual behaviour, no matter how much the law is enforced or new regulations introduced to manage public and private institutions.

Finally, human nature is central. Individual self-interest is at the heart of much of the dark side of institutions. The problems are so widespread that no one political, religious or social philosophy has the answer. We can’t just push the blame onto our political, religious or social opponents. Very few of us can be absolved from contributing in some part to the cultural understandings within which these abuses flourish.

John Warhurst is an emeritus professor of political science at the Australian National University

[email protected]

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