General Manager’s Pay Packet Increases to $240,000

Report of Richmond Valley Council's GM's pay increase

Report of Richmond Valley Council’s GM’s pay increase in Echonetdaily 21 May 2014

At yesterday’s meeting Richmond Valley Council’s General Manager was awarded a $10,400 increase in his salary package bringing the total to $240,000 per year.

Last year he was awarded $19,350 bringing his total salary package increase over two years to $29,750 (see last year’s story). Continue reading

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Council’s Musical Chairs for Managers and 42.5% Proposed Rate Increase

Storm clouds gathering at Casino!

Storm clouds gathering at Casino, an omen for Richmond Valley Council’s Special Rate Variation application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal?

On the 18th of February 2014 Richmond Valley Council  agreed unanimously to a Special Rate Variation (SRV) Application which will increase rates (based on material provided by IPART) by 42.5% over five years for residential ratepayers:

SRV Summary header IPARTSummary Table Special Rate VariationThis proposed increase is the third highest in NSW with only Tenterfield and Holroyd higher out of the 32 councils who got their applications in on time (24 February).

For one of the most socially-disadvantaged local government areas in NSW this proposed increase is truly remarkable.  Despite what council says, there is no demonstrated support from the community for the actual proposed increase as the information provided to the community when the survey was taken did not, in the view of VWD, tell the whole story of the cumulative effects of the proposed rate rise over time and contained summary comparison information with other Group 4 councils which was incorrect.

The survey was taken between the 2nd and 5th of December 2013 BEFORE council held its community consultation meetings attended by only 16 people, and the final application was not available for public scrutiny until the 14th of February, 4 days before the matter was considered by council and 10 days before it was due with IPART.

Survey material from Micromex which prepared its survey material in conjunction with Richmond Valley Council.  The Survey of 400 people was done between the 2nd and 5th of December before Council held its public consultation meetings on the 9th and 10th of December 2013.  The General Manager had written a letter dated 20 November 2013 about the SRV but it contained no information about the cumulative impact of the rates over time but instead gave information about people might expect to pay based on an AVERAGE rate per week.  It was not clear what the "average" per week would be after five years

Survey material from Micromex which prepared its survey material in conjunction with Richmond Valley Council. The survey of 400 people was done between the 2nd and 5th of December before Council held its public consultation meetings on the 9th and 10th of December 2013 (with only 5 to 6 days notice). The General Manager had written a letter dated 20 November 2013 about the SRV but it contained no information about the cumulative impact of the rates over time but instead gave information about what people might expect to pay based on an AVERAGE rate per week. It was not clear what the “average” per week would be after five years.

Level of awareness

While 74% knew that council was seeking to make an application for an SRV it cannot be concluded, as council did, that people were informed about the details and impacts of the proposal.  That question was never asked.

Council shows from survey data that 74% knew about a potential increase but council provides NO evidence showing that the community actually understood and agreed with the proposed application put to council on the 18th of February.  Here’s what council had to say about the 74% response to its micromex survey: “The 74% success rate demonstrates that Council had been effective in its Communication Plan to inform the Community of the details and impacts of the proposal”.  Not so.  This interpretation goes well beyond the data.  The best council can say is that 74% knew about the proposal and nothing more.     Community consultation, such as it was, was abysmal.   In the view of VWD,  IPART should reject Council’s application.  It certainly has lots of grounds on which to throw it out and VWD looks at one of these matters here.

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Noxious Camphor Laurels Spreading Along Evans Head-Broadwater Road Need Urgent Control

The introduced Camphor Laurel is spreading along the Evans Head Broadwater Road on the road verge adjacent to Broadwater National Park

The introduced Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora is spreading along the Evans Head-Broadwater Road on the verge adjacent to Broadwater National Park.

Camphor Laurel trees are a pest weed species in Northern NSW.   The Evans Head-Broadwater area, including Broadwater National Park,  has been relatively free of this invasive weed until just recently.

Camphor Laurel along the Evans Head Broadwater Road

Camphor Laurel along the Evans Head-Broadwater Road

The sudden appearance of young trees followed the digging of a trench along the western side of the Evans Head-Broadwater Road.  The trench carries the sewerage line from Broadwater to the Evans Head Sewerage Treatment Plant.  It is well-known that Camphor Laurels like disturbed soil Continue reading

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Bandjalang Native Title Claims #1 & #2 Finalised at Evans Head

Editor’s Warning:  This story contains the name of a deceased member of the Bandjalang People

Aboriginal Flag

Native Title Claims by the Bandjalang have finally been resolved 17 years after the original application was made to the National Native Title Tribunal.

Sign prepared for the Consent Determination at Evans Head

Sign prepared for the Consent Determination at Evans Head

The claim, instigated by the late Mr Lawrence “Uncle Lawrie” Wilson of Coraki, has been through many iterations and has included many parties including various NSW government departments and the Federal government.

A walkway at Dirawong Reserve on the eastern side of Evans Head has been named after Uncle Lawrie.  The Dirawong has very special significance to the Bandjalang people

A walkway at Dirawong Reserve on the eastern side of Evans Head has been named after Uncle Lawrie. The Dirawong has very special significance to the Bandjalang people. Part of Dirawong Reserve is shown below

IMG_1115

Continue reading

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Manitoulin Island Grandeur Canada: photographers’ paradise

This is my first time to Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario.  What a fantastic place!

One

One of my favourite places in the world             Photograph courtesy R. Miller

One of the best times of the year to visit is the autumn when the leaves are changing Continue reading

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Where’s the Evidence Minister Hazzard To Support Your Claim?

Planning Minister Brad Hazzard’s claim that ‘a lot of the groups don’t agree with each other’ in their submissions on his new planning system needs to be substantiated by the Minister especially in light of the recent independent analysis instigated by the  Better Planning Network.  The BPN represents more than 420 groups across NSW.

The analysis showed remarkable consistency among disparate stakeholder groups as discussed in the media release from BPN shown below:

The take-home message seems to be that the Minister’s claim just doesn’t stack up.  There is broad-based concern about  his defective planning bills for which he has no answer other than the old chestnut about ‘people not agreeing’.  So where is the evidence for this claim Minister?  Where is the evidence!  Your legislation and your credibility are on the line.

In view of the concern expressed by the ICAC about the potential for the new legislation to lead to corruption and the broad-based consensus that his plans suck, the Minister needs to take his head out of the sand and fix the problem pronto.  Particular attention needs to be paid to addressing the broad themes set out in the independent analysis.  Nothing less will do.

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NSW Government Hires Spin Doctors to Flog Flawed Planning Laws

The NSW government is gearing up to flog its proposed new planning laws to the public.

Two posts were advertised over the weekend, one a Director of Public Affairs or ‘Spin Doctor‘ to sell the fatally-flawed planning system,  and the other Director of External Engagement or ‘Spin Doctor‘ to create ‘engagement strategies’ to make it look as if the public has been involved in the early stages of the planning process so that the government can say ‘the community was consulted’ before it is virtually shut out of the planning process while the big developers have a field day with little restraint.

Note the advertising and closing dates for both posts, one is 13 days and the other 9!!!  Could it be that they already have some folk in mind for these posts and are just going through the motions.  Continue reading

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Planning Minister Brad Hazzard Ain’t Listening

More than 420 organisations oppose NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard's proposed planning laws but the Minister ain't listening!

More than 420 organisations oppose NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard’s proposed planning laws but the Minister ain’t listening!

Despite extensive, responsible  criticism of  Planning Minister Brad Hazzard’s proposed new draconian planning legislation, slated for introduction right after the Federal election, the Minister is clearly not listening to what is being said by the wider community and is pushing on with his ill-conceived laws. Continue reading

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HAZZARDS Proposed Planning Laws for NSW a Hazard

The NSW State Government is not listening to the people of NSW about its proposed new planning laws which give big developers a free kick and shut out opportunity for you to object to that three storey block of flats proposed for next door.

The first thing you’ll know about it is when the bulldozer moves in to begin work early one Monday morning.

The Minister for Planning is about to give himself enormous powers which will override virtually anything and everything. (Transcript from NSW Hansard……….read and see how the Minister responds to questions.  How would you rate accountability?) The economic imperative comes before anything else.  Stuff the environment.  Stuff the people.  Stuff our quality of life.

The Better Planning Network with more than 400 affiliated bodies has been very active in putting well-thought-out views about the proposed new laws but the government doesn’t seem to be listening.  Here is the BPN’s latest media release:

Capture BPN 1 media releaseCapture BPN media release 2

It is time for us all to step up to the mark and object to these draconian new measures.

ICAC has indicated the new laws will increase the potential for corruption.

There is a petition circulating at present from the Better Planning Network which deserves support:

http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-premier-of-nsw-the-hon-barry-o-farrell-mp-withdraw-the-nsw-government-s-planning-bills?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created

 

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F-111 put together for Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Museum

F-111 A8-147 arrives by low-loader on the 5th of August 2013 and is prepared for unloading on the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Apron to the north of the now restored Bellman Hangar

F-111 A8-147 arrives by low-loader on the 5th of August 2013 and is prepared for unloading on the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Apron to the north of the now restored Bellman Hangar

A large crane was used to lift the fuselage of the F-111 of the low-loader.  There was no stuffing around.  It all happened very quickly.  The RAAF team assembled to do the job really demonstrated an integrated team performance.  It was impressive

A large crane was used to lift the fuselage of the F-111 of the low-loader then the truck was driven away leaving the F-111 suspended in the air…..probably for the last time! There was no stuffing around. It all happened very quickly. The RAAF team assembled to do the job really demonstrated an integrated team performance. It was impressive to watch.

The fuselage was lifted off the truck and lowered onto the apron.

The fuselage was lifted off the truck and lowered onto the apron.

Touchdown....but without a tail or wings

Touchdown….but without a tail or wings

Continue reading

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