The following Letter to the Editor was published in the Benalla Ensign on Wed 19 October 2022.
Letter to the Editor
Time for Council to change its priorities
Events of the past week in Benalla (and in recent months elsewhere in Australia) must surely sharpen our Council’s attention towards addressing climate change.
The 1993 flood was called “a 1 in 100 year event”, but climate scientists have been warning us for decades that extreme weather events will become more frequent in Australia and in fact worldwide, and so it is being proven true. With a super-saturated catchment, and forecasts of further heavy rainfall events this year, we may not have seen the last of the floods. This will be very worrying for people residing in vulnerable areas.
Twelve months ago, Council rejected a petition with 600 local signatures calling for it to declare a “Climate Emergency”, and to develop policies which would help mitigate the effects of climate change into the future. Instead they opted to pass a motion stating they recognised climate change was a concern, and they would work with the community to revise their “Climate Change Adaptation Plan”. That still has not happened, and the question needs to be asked, is this revised plan going to include sections on advising residents how to get used to being flooded on more regular occasions? Or how and why you should stay cool when it is 50 degrees?
Wouldn’t it be much better, and also more reassuring for the future generations of this city, to see a document produced detailing action plans to help try to stop the above scenarios occurring? This would need to be backed up by a Council budget that actually prioritised purchases and projects reducing greenhouse emissions, and created more green and cooler spaces in the urban areas, as opposed to most of the concrete, brick and bitumen heat sinks of the new subdivisions.
Finally, did anyone notice the foundations of the proposed boutique cinema floating downstream last Friday? Another question for Council – why was this project approved for construction in a flood zone?
Peter Holmes, Lima East
The following Letter to the Editor was published in the Benalla Ensign on Wed March 16, page 15.
Sent: Sunday, 13 March 2022 10:15 AM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Where are our Leaders?
Last Saturday afternoon, the Australian film producer Damon Gameau (“2040”, “That Sugar Film“) was at BPACC to introduce his latest film “Regenerating Australia”, and host a talk-back discussion centred on ideas to tackle one of the big issues of our present and future – climate change, and how it will impact our way of life if we don’t make the innovative changes required to avert the dangers it poses.
Our local Councillors and Managers were invited to attend, but not one was present.
This poses the question – “where is the leadership to come from in our community to tackle these issues?”
This is not just a local problem – we have witnessed lack of leadership at the federal level of government with regards to climate change. There is no EV policy in place in Australia, the government is still handing out huge amounts of money to fossil fuel companies to mine coal and gas, and there are no transition policies in place to help workers in these industries adjust to the alternative technologies.
The past few weeks should have shaken our leaders out of their comfort zones. Surely the record rainfall totals and floods of Queensland and NSW, with the consequent displacement of thousands of people, billions of dollars needed to restore communities (or preferably relocate them), and the emotional damage sustained by the victims, all must be a wake-up call to our leaders that climate change is real, and here now!
The other crisis (Russia invading Ukraine) has affected the World supply chain of oil, so in the space of just over a week, petrol prices have increased by 50%, and still rising. This leaves Australia in a very vulnerable position because of the greater distances people and goods need to travel – we need to rapidly transition away from this reliance on petrol to EVs and public transport, and this is an area of policy that all levels of government must be involved with.
In Benalla, climate action must start now.
Peter Holmes, Lima East
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of North East Victoria, and pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.