Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

Bendigo shows its support for marriage equality as ballots for the postal survey arrive in people's mailboxes. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Bendigo shows its support for marriage equality as ballots for the postal survey arrive in people's mailboxes. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Views on record and will be remembered

At the September City of Greater Bendigo Council meeting, councillors were asked their voting intentions in the federal marriage equality survey. Six councillors answered without hesitation a simple "Yes". Three councillors were less clear in their intentions and despite one proudly displaying to the gallery her "It's OK to Say No" advertising material atop her council papers, were unable to bring themselves to utter the word itself. 

Rather, one councillor took a long time to say he didn't want to say. 

Another ignored the question altogether, while the last chose instead to claim that she "supports traditional marriage". While one might wonder which version of traditional marriage she meant, it would seem that when directly asked by your electorate, saying no is not OK. 

Neverthless, the councillor voting intentions are on the record and will be remembered in the future - by future potential voters, and by future generations who will look upon this period in Australia's history with the shame it deserves.

Natasha Joyce, Bendigo

Who is best to lead?

Mayor, Margaret O’Rourke, stated councillors undertook a performance review of CEO, Craig Niemann, and the results were “very good”.

Well those results are in marked contrast to community opinion expressed in the latest Community Satisfaction Survey. Council’s “Overall Performance” score was a meagre 56 (out of index score of 100), “sitting behind” the State wide average of 59.

A fair part of this low rating can be attributed to the CEO’S performance. You might think the CEO would promptly address that, and previous poor survey scores; learn, and take remedial action. But I cannot find any public report or positive proposals to improve performance by Craig to Council. Craig said, he “hopes to see a continual improvement over the coming years”. Hope?

Remember in 2013, Craig strongly opposed the Independent Review that resulted in $11million in savings and efficiencies, with better outcomes and ongoing annual savings. He then threw away further opportunities. A number of residents offered detailed submissions calling for a streamlined council management structure, particularly City Futures directorate. An Independent Review recommendation backed those ideas. But Craig convinced the then Council everything was OK.

Had he acted promptly millions more ratepayer dollars could have been saved. He delayed his partial structure reform until forced to with rate capping and when directors resigned.

The CEO has also presided over a high level of rates, services, staff costs, and a massive tourism spend that clearly fails any careful cost-benefit analysis.

Special interest groups dominate; ratepayers have rarely been consulted on whether they want additional services. Might residents have preferred lower rates than 50% compound increases, over Craig’s nine-year reign, prior to rate capping. His advice to councillors in the same period ignored most people who had income increases tied to the 22% CPI movement.

Mr Niemann is a decent and personable fellow; It is not a question of personality, but who is best equipped to lead our City into the future . Greater Bendigo deserves the best.

Michael McKenzie, Strathdale