Letter to the editor

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Dec-2017


White-ant forest values

The City of Greater Bendigo’s cagey plan to develop local forest areas into an extensive mountain bike park will white-ant environmental values. 

Creating a high density 50-kilometre network of trails throughout a large part of the Bendigo Regional Park for mountain bike races will permanently damage the area’s conservation values. 

Legitimate long-term forest users will also be negatively affected or excluded by the plan.

Without first consulting relevant community groups who have a long association to the forest area, council has spent thousands of ratepayer’s funds developing detailed trail plans that will directly affect other user’s values. 

In a backward step for regional park management, the council wants to use trail sections that have been illegitimately created without proper approvals. 

These trails should have been immediately closed and rehabilitated for the wildlife that relies on this habitat.

The actual economic benefits of the proposed mountain bike park are sketchy at best and likely to be over-hyped, however, the environmental cost will be real for the wildlife displaced from their habitat by high frequency bike traffic passing repeatedly through the bush. 

No matter how it’s dressed-up to appear as “sustainable”, bulldozing trails through the bush is not environmentally friendly or benign.

With the recent $1.9 million government investment in the Harcourt Mountain Bike Park (a sensible re-purposing of an old pine plantation), it’s very hard to see any real justification for ruining the natural values of our local regional park for just another trail, especially when there are plenty of other tracks to use. 

Specialised racing trails that damage the bush and affect or exclude other users and wildlife should be developed on private land or land specifically acquired for the purpose where they won’t degrade our last remaining local forest areas.

Richard Goonan,

Kangaroo Flat 

Planning stealth

Our state government is planning to take away from local councils and ratepayers their right to object to planning which affects their neighbourhood environment.

The first indication we will get is when a block of flats or other development is commenced next door and our council and the ratepayers will not be able to do anything about. We will be locked out of any consultation or say in the issue.

This from a Labor government that has spruiked democracy for the people, this is an attack on local government and our democratic rights to know and have an objection. 

Residents and councils will be locked out of any discussions – what are our local labour politicians and elected representatives doing about this situation? 

It appears nothing, they fall in line or are ignorant of what is about to happen in local government and are only interested in the land revenue tax and increased rates. 

The plan is to make changes by stealth to Victorian planning provisions that will significantly expand the number of planning applications exempt from permits including medium and high density developments in our residential suburbs.

There is an election coming up in 2018 and our pollies need to understand that ratepayers have rights, and there will be consequences for their actions.

This is the state riding rough shod over our democratic rights and needs people to write to councillors and politicians demanding to be allowed to know what is going on in our local government.

Bill Collier,

Golden Square

90th birthday for league

Before nurse education was transferred to universities each major hospital was responsible for training its own student nurses. 

On completion of their training, many girls left their training hospital to work elsewhere or to be married.

Agnes Esler, matron of the Bendigo Base Hospital, decided to arrange an opportunity for girls to meet together socially and renew old friendships. 

Originally this get together took the form of afternoon tea at Favaloro’s café, Pall Mall at the cost of threepence each.

The idea was well received and so became an annual event. Reunions were held in Bendigo for two years then Melbourne for the third year, and this format continued until it became too difficult to find a suitable venue in Melbourne.

Following the success of these functions, The Bendigo Base Hospital Trained Nurse League was formed. On April 14, 2018 the 90th birthday of the league will be held at the Kangaroo Flat Sports Club.

Members of the league automatically receive information and an invitation to the event, but if you are not a member and would like to attend please contact Wendy Wilkinson on 5447 8582 or email wilko134@bigpond.com.

Joan O’Shea,

Spring Gully

Drugs crisis ruining lives

New figures show more and more Victorians are falling victim to the drugs scourge, with Victoria recording the highest rate of heroin use in Australia.

The state government thinks a drug injecting room in Richmond will fix Victoria’s drugs crisis, but this does nothing to address problems with drug crime and access to rehabilitation.

A drug injecting room will not stop the flood of heroin coming into Victoria and will not help the many Victorians desperate get off the drug but having to wait up to a year for a rehab bed.

Because of the government’s lack of action we are now in the grips of a drugs crisis that is ruining lives and families.

Victorians have a choice at the next election.

More of the same Labor neglect or a Liberal-Nationals government focused on tackling the drug epidemic with targeted education, better access to drug treatment and bringing down the drug kingpins that prey on vulnerable people in our community.

Emma Kealy,

Shadow Minister for Mental Health

Residents have little say

The past 10 years’ 60 per cent council rate-hike has paid for an explosion in the range of services and a massive 100 per cent increase in staff costs.

Council distances itself from core services and follows the trends that interest well-to-do groups, officers and certain councillors.

Services for everyday people have changed little. By contrast, in 2007 there were no staff serving “resilient” and “strong” communities, now there are 10.

My observation is residents (and councillors) have had minimal meaningful input. Special interest groups dominate and senior staff steer. Councillors need to come down to earth and represent residents; it’s our money. 

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke sloganised, “councillors are calling the shots”, yet councillors have no direct say on the number of staff on the payroll.

Under the Local Government Act the CEO can employ as many staff required to enable the functions of the council to be undertaken. 

So, an unelected bureaucrat, with limited public accountability, heavily influences the spread of council services and decides on the number and level of staff. We pay.

True local government reform should give councillors a say on staff numbers and cost.

Council officers prepared our city’s submission to the State Government’s Review of the Local Government Act. 

There was no community input or consultation. Councillors never publicly debated the matter, they failed to “call the shots”.

No wonder the 2017 Council Community Satisfaction Survey resulted in a poor overall score of 56 out of 100.

There are many good ways to improve future Community Satisfaction Survey scores that can be included in the 2018 Community Plan update. In fact, positive ideas for improvement are being conveyed to council; but will they listen? 

Michael McKenzie,


Walker appreciation

A big thank you to all the pleasant young people from Special Development School who deliver the Bendigo Weekly each Friday to my area, they deliver in rain and hot weather.

A very merry Christmas to you all and look forward to seeing you next year, keep up the good work.

Juanitta Kelly,



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