Letters to the editor | June 21

If someone else is paying, spend, spend, spend

It seems obvious to many residents of Goulburn that the definition of a successful council is the council that spends the most, and our council is going for top of the list.

There seems to have been a rush of unnecessary spending of ratepayer’s money on glamming up Auburn Street with centre planters, a full makeover of the footpaths and of course replacing 18 or so parking spots with trees.

And the RMS has also blown a heap on the 2GN corner stuff-up.

The centre median strip in Bourke Street is yet another example.

And my information is that the decision for the centre median strip in Bourke Street ‘just slipped under the radar’ of councillors with a bunch of other decisions when it was approved.

Very pretty – but not practical or useful, only very expensive.

I note now that shoppers in Auburn Street battle to keep their shopping carts on the path as they slide toward the road and cars on the steep slope. And no doubt the council will need to employ more people to water and sweep up all the leaves of the new trees in the parking spot gardens.

Now we businesses not in Auburn Street pay extreme CBD rates for no benefit. And here’s a council telling us that there is plenty of parking about for the new Performing Arts Centre after they take 18 away. Hullo?

Goulburn Mulwaree Council should be looking to make our CBD more easily accessible by spending money on creating more parking for the whole CBD, not wasting money taking it away.

There seems to be little consultation with businesses on local government issues affecting them. Issues like staff and customer parking, CCTV surveillance and so on. Well, none.

So really, local government is just the same as other organisations that operate using other people’s money like Federal and State governments, trade unions and big companies. If someone else is paying, spend, spend, spend: and it doesn’t matter what on. For heaven’s sake, we don’t want to reduce rates.

Grant Pearce, Goulburn

Arts education goes for more than just a song

As a subscriber to Opera Australia, I recently received a letter from [artistic director] Lyndon Terracini enclosing a brochure. Both asked for donations to support Opera Australia's work to bring music to regional children in Australia.

It is admiral that that Australian Opera makes their subscribers aware of the needs of children in rural and/or disadvantaged areas. However, although very well meaning and very generous, I think the direction and focus of the donations misreads the needs and capabilities of these rural area.

The idea of singling out individual children for help is perhaps not as worthwhile as consulting those who are already trying to assist the making of music in these areas and asking where the greatest needs lie.

For music is something that belongs to all in a community, not just to the elite. In many rural and regional areas there are dedicated people working on the arts, trying to bring singing to children, teaching musical instruments, acting and performing in theatres.

I was exposed to this as a child in the country. My grandchildren are now being exposed to this.

Rather than those from capitol cities from time to time picking out the "elite" among these children to supply them with extra largesse or providing a glimpse into the world of opera or the city; those trying to give local education and local opportunities for rural children to sample music by joining in, listening and watching, need the support.

Perhaps they are the teachers who are training them to be singers or, as importantly, may be showing them how to be the instrumentalists who will help the area's music to go forward. They may be teaching some to be the accompanists or amateur singers of the future in the area, exhorting and showing others to be conductors of choirs in the area. Perhaps they are the supporting clubs or institutions who donate venues to schools and children performing. Perhaps it is the local seamstress who can make or donate a costume for much less than the $185 dollars donation you ask for to supply a child's costume for Madam Butterfly. Amateur rural theatre companies need real support too.

Singing is for all. If all get exposure, opportunities will come for the exceptional to climb ladders of their choice.  But what needs to come first is to ensure support for rural areas themselves to facilitate, for children of all abilities, the same wonderful opportunities to sing and play in their home towns as children have in cities. And for Australia proud of this. To do this needs financial support. 

As I run through the suggested amounts for support I realise I cannot afford $1100 to pay for a student and a parent to travel from a regional town to the Opera Centre in Sydney. I can afford the $75 dollars that would pay for one singing lesson.

But I would prefer to pay this money to The Lieder Theatre in Goulburn. I am sure they will have a good use for it.

Anne Powles, Bateau Bay

The unkindest cut

My take-home pay is less than $350 per week. I live with chronic sinusitis and mouth pain, and have been saving for over two years to afford the surgeries necessary for me to be able to breathe properly and not shred my mouth on a daily basis.

Losing my penalty rates will leave me in chronic pain and discomfort even longer than necessary. I am not alone in this type of situation. Retail workers do not enjoy a good wage as it is, and any cut will devastate us.

Claire Lawson via email