Are We Going Completely Bonkers?

Rant

tonyhSun, 05/01/2020 - 9:21am

The biggest change embodied in the revised constitution proposed at last December’s chaotic community meeting, was to open up membership of NACCA (ex NACRA) to the much larger community of NAC rural landowners.

I voted in favour of this change. I knew and trusted those who were appointed to rewrite the constitution and I decided that, if this is what our community really wants - well, so be it. Why shouldn’t the rural landowners share the benefits of our association - and everyone else for that matter?

I have just read the latest rewrite by the new (self-appointed and unnamed) constitution group which is to be put to the vote in February.

A number of flaws in this latest edition of the constitution have already been well noted on this website by Doug Kohlhoff. I want to pick up here on the very idea held by many that opening the doors of our long-standing association will be of benefit our village.

As Doug points out, this latest proposal extends NACCA membership entitlement to an area the size of a town, to the very extremes of a district loosely called North Arm Cove (for council planning purposes). It has the potential to increase existing membership by much more than 10 times.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The more the merrier when it comes to having a voice. That is, if it’s one voice!

The real problem is that, by going down this path, we are attempting to incorporate three entirely different communities with entirely different and disparate interests:

  • Our village. A small urban community with a focus on day to day issues. Road maintenance and street signs.  Clean-up days. Organising and running our committees. Grant applications to improve village amenities. Who’ll mow Casuarina Park? How about some picnic facilities in Heros beach? How can we reduce bush-fire risk and keep our residents informed and safe? And so on.

 

  • The rural owners. Their primary focus is on getting a return for the declining value of land they can’t use. This is long term stuff with a whole set of development issues that can only be resolved by negotiation with the council and State government. Way outside NACCA’s brief. Meanwhile these owners don’t live here.  They aren’t troubled by urban village issues. If a storm water drain blocks in Eastslope Way, they aren’t going to be around to find a resolution. They won’t be volunteering for a working-bee in Yallawah park, or organising a pizza party at the Hall.

 

 

  • Then there are the rest. The land and property owners on the other side of the highway. In my 20 years here, I have only ever seen them at our meetings on the very odd occasion when there has been an issue of common interest, i.e. the quarry. But that’s okay. They have a different lifestyle, different issues and presumably different ambitions. And, to my knowledge, they have never asked to be a part of NACCA.

 

The great advantage of living in a small village like ours is that we are actually a community. We can share problems and views. We can elect sub-committees and call for volunteers who live on the spot. We can garner local support quickly. (It only takes two hours to contact/rally everyone in NAC by maildrop!)

By extending the membership group as proposed, it could take days or weeks to communicate important issues and to assemble members together for action. Important decisions will be delayed. Different priorities and perspectives will be set.

How will we allocate resources? Will we spend our association’s money in the ratio of 3000 to 300 according to property ownership numbers?

These ‘new’ groups will know nothing of the long history of our village. They don’t need to know and probably don’t care very much. Why should they? What we do has little relevance to them.

So, I have to ask if we thought this through properly. Do we really know what we are doing?

In my time here, as a small community we have punched well above our weight with many successes in protecting our environment and improving our facilities. We have got things done.

But things are changing and, frankly, I’m saddened with the way our village community is developing.

Community meetings ignore/deny long established and well proven protocols designed to give fair hearing for all our people. Inaccurate reports of meetings and events are giving everyone an unbalanced picture of local issues.

The result is that Issues that are of high importance to some are ridiculed by others who don’t have access to the right information.

Instead of a sense of common purpose, we seem angry and divided. There’s a lot of fixing to be done now.

So, how will all this pan out with a new super-size community association? I fear not well. I realise now how foolish I was to think this was all proceeding in the best interests of our village.

By getting bigger, I can only see further division as our little village gets outvoted and overwhelmed by the lethargy typical of a large, unmanageable association.

Yes, I think we are completely and seriously bonkers if we go down this path.

Tony Hann

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