I am deeply concerned with what has happened to Blackmans Bay Beach and our environment in general. One of the main reasons why Kingborough is such a lovely place to live and raise children is because of its natural values. Recently, due to mismanagement, lack of care and often in the pursuit of short-term profit, we have been damaging our own home.
As I have said before, I believe that we are but custodians of the land, water and atmosphere and therefore shouldn't simply exploit these things for a short-term profit. Equally, we shouldn't neglect our obligations to engage in natural resource management simply to save a few dollars. As I will explain, neglecting to care for our environment ends up costing us much more in the long run, not just financially, but environmentally, socially and spiritually. I think we need to take a much longer-term view to ensure that our grandchildren and their grandchildren can enjoy Kingborough as we did.
For several years now, in its mindless pursuit of 'cost-cutting', the council has not allocated appropriate resources to remediating and rehabilitating our waterways and now we can't swim in parts of the beach this summer and possibly next. Are we supposed to believe that that counts as "good financial management"?
What good is cutting costs and cutting rates if you can't even go for a swim at the beach because its so heavily polluted, or can't go for a walk among nature because it's all been privatised or can't enjoy a beautiful view because it's all been sold off for commercial gain?
I think this Blackmans Bay disaster speaks volumes about the short-term mindset of the 'cost-cutters' that are currently on the council. Hence, I am very sceptical when candidates and councillors wax lyrical about "going back to basics of roads, rates and rubbish." To them I say, how about stormwater management and water catchment rehabilitation? If the council won't make sure we don't have effluent running into our beaches, who will?
It is disheartening to see so many candidates and councillors clamour about slashing budgets but not clamour about compassion or about protecting the people, places and organisms that make our community beautiful.
At last Monday's council meeting there was mention made of $50,000 being directed towards fixing this Blackmans Bay Beach problem and they have begun weekly water quality monitoring of the stormwater outlet which is the source of the effluent run-off.
I will be making enquiries about why we had to wait until a crisis like this before having weekly water quality checks and implementing preventative measures to treat or remove effluent before it pollutes our environment. I will also be checking if in fact this $50,000 is a bigger cost to the council than would otherwise have been outlayed by having a regular, long-term policy of land and water-care and natural resource management. If, as I suspect, it would have cost just a couple of hundred dollars a week to prevent this calamity from happening in the first place, then I will make mention of it in these pages. I predict that it will have ended up costing much more to fix this problem than what it would have cost to have a program of long-term management. Not to mention the added consequence of the damage to amenity and to our natural values.
Finally, it is worth noting that this is not an isolated problem. While doorknocking I have heard some heartbreaking stories. One person in Snug said he used to go fishing but now there's hardly anything to catch. Another in Tinderbox said that only twenty years ago there was an abundance of little lace coral that has since disappeared completely. Another person who is a diver said he remembered vividly that Blackmans Bay used to be teeming with marine life and today it is a deadzone by comparison and just a shadow of its former self.
We need a much healthier discussion about 'costs' in general and a recognition of the triple bottom line.
This is why I am so hopeful I will be elected this month onto Kingborough Council. I feel like we need more people who are going to put compassion first. Compassion not just for humans but for the planet that keeps us.