Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Setting the record straight

Letter to the editor The Northern Star 27 August 2013:

Can't go both ways

Can the Nationals be allowed out on their own? It is reported that, in a letter to Mr Albanese in late June this year, Mr Duncan Gay, NSW Minister for Roads and things, stated: "...NSW has received nearly $740million more than requested from the Federal Government..." for the Pacific Hwy upgrade.
In a press release in August encouraging voters to support Coalition candidates, Mr Gay stated: "Kevin Rudd and Anthony Albanese have turned off the (funding) tap for duplication of the highway from Newcastle to the Queensland border..."
Perhaps a little more central office oversight or possibly more rigorous vetting of Nationals propaganda is required.

Kevin Ruff

Letter to the editor The Daily Examiner 27 August 2013:

Hogan set straight

On July 31 on his Facebook campaign page, Nationals candidate in the Page electorate Kevin Hogan stated: "After six long years of Labor mismanagement, the Northern Rivers economy is nowhere near as strong as it could be. Debt has grown to record levels, unemployment has risen and local families are struggling with rising costs."

Sounds as though our region is in dire straits doesn't it? But how factual is that statement?
Looking first at the unemployment rate in those regions into which the Northern Rivers falls.
It was 16.2% for Richmond-Tweed and Mid North Coast in July 2013, down from 17% in November 2007 (ABS Cat. No. 6291.0.55.001) and across the Northern Rivers has been trending down since peaking during the global financial crisis (Regional Development Australia: Northern Rivers, 2013).
In fact: "The number of employed persons in regional NSW grew by 7.2% (85,000 persons) between 2008 and 2013. Newcastle experienced the largest growth (22,600 persons) followed closely by the Richmond-Tweed and Mid North Coast region (19,700 persons)," as cited in NSW Regional Labour Force Trends: Statistical Indicators 3/2013.
So local employment has actually grown during the almost six years there has been a Federal Labor Government.
Turning now to the regional economy.
Regional Development Australia's documents show that the Northern Rivers Gross Regional Product (GRP) has continued to grow annually. In 2008/9 it was $7.8billion, in 2009/10 it was $11.1billion and by 2011/12 the annual growth of GRP was 11.4% compared with overall NSW GRP growth at 2.2%.
Which means the Northern Rivers has been outperforming the state average when it comes to GRP growth - that doesn't happen if a regional economy is not reasonably strong.
Next, how are people faring in the Northern Rivers with cost-of-living pressures as opposed to lifestyle pressures?
Well, the Life Cost Index (LCI) for employee households rose 1.4% through the year to the June quarter 2013 compared to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which rose 2.4% through the year to the June quarter 2013 (Selected Living Cost Indexes, Australia, June 2013). In June 2007 when the Coalition was last in power, the CPI rose 3.1% for employees (Analytical Living Cost Indexes for Selected Australian Household Types, June 2007).
However, if you are a self-funded retiree or receiving a Centrelink/Veterans Affairs pension, then the LCI and CPI percentage changes actually fell between June-September 2012 and March-June 2013 (ibid). Presumably because income/tax concessions/government cash transfer levels increased.
Comparing March-June 2007 with March-June 2013, then the CPI fell from being between 2.2-2.8% to 0.4% for those receiving Centrelink/Veterans Affairs pensions.
So when it comes to cost of living, Northern Rivers residents are not faring any worse under a Federal Labor Government.
Finally, the question of debt levels. Mr Hogan did not specify whether he was referring to Northern Rivers public or private debt, so looking for answers is a waste of effort at this time.
For the record, I have never been a member of a political party.

Judith M Melville

Letter to the editor The Daily Examiner 28 August 2013:

Saddled with Tony
I was amazed to read in Saturday's Examiner that the Federal Opposition Leader claimed expenses for participating in community and charity events.
As I have participated in some of these events myself, including the BUPA challenge ride during the Tour Down Under in January this year and the Coffs Cycle Challenge earlier this month, I now find out that not only have I paid my own way to these events, but have help pay for Tony Abbott's way as well.
I have also assisted in organising fundraising events in both Queensland and NSW, all of which cost personal time and money, to give you an example.
In the most recent event, two months ago, the Brooms Head Fun Run that raised $2200 for the Westpac helicopter service, I travelled a total of 196km ie three trips to Brooms Head to set up the course, check on facilities and organise the day, set up signs and pick up trophies from Yamba.
On top of this the Lions Club members and other helpers on the day travelled a combined total of 400km and no one claims or gets paid expenses.
If you look at the Coffs Cycle Challenge, there would have been at least 40 people acting as marshals around the course, all using their own vehicles to get to their locations.
Our Mayor Richie Williamson has participated in our fun runs and I can bet you that he did not claim any expenses from the Clarence Valley Council.
And to say that Tony Abbott had other business to attend to would be incorrect because if these events were not on he would not have turned up.
He would be better off supporting these events with a cash donation.
This may only be small costs compared to the big picture, but it shows the contempt that our politicians show towards the general public that try and make our communities a better and more enjoyable place to live.

Ken Crampton OAM

Letter to the Editor The Clarence Valley Review 28 August 2013:

Disempowering communities

The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas (KNAG) have written to the Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis MP, about the Government’s proposed amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP)  dealing with Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries.
The Nannas are appalled that the Government is proposing to disempower local communities even further when it comes to mining development.
The proposed amendment means that the “significance” of the “resource” (be it a coal or gas or some other resource) becomes the central consideration in the approvals process.
This means that matters of importance to the local community – such as their amenity, health, water resources, and the natural environment – will be downgraded to minor considerations.
The Knitting Nannas fear that the Government is forgetting the importance of those people they are supposed to represent – the general community.  We also note that many people are becoming increasingly concerned about the continuation of governments’ anxiety to promote mining despite public unease.
We believe that this amendment to the SEPP should be abandoned in the interests of the general community and our children and grandchildren.

Leonie Blain
for the Knitting Nannas, Grafton

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