Day: May 14, 2018

Troy recontests Mayoral position

Mark Troy is seeking is third term as Mayor at the local government elections on Sept 8.Mayor Mark Troy is to recontest to position at the September 8 local government election.
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Cr Troy will be seeking his third term as mayor after being in the position since 2004. In the 1990s, he also served five years as a councillor, two as deputy mayor.

“Following careful consideration and consultation I have decided to seek a further term on Council, I will be nominating for the position of Mayor and Councillor,” he told the Courier-Sun.

“I will head an experienced and community spirited team, with Cr David Scott placed number two on the ticket.”

“I still have plenty of enthusiasm for Local Government and believe I have more to contribute to our Shire community and would bring experience and continuity to the new Council,” Cr Troy said.

“I strongly adhere to the notion of ‘one region-different communities’ and if re-elected will continue to explore local and regional opportunities to improve efficiencies and strengthen our Local Government area.

“Change, both positive and negative, is occurring at a rapid pace, this change needs to be carefully planned and managed, while respectfully recognising the distinct and diverse character of our communities and their range of objectives and expectations.

“I am very conscious of the fact that many challenges remain for Local Government at a local, regional and State level and I am keen to continue the work of reform at all levels. With my appointment to the Shires Association Executive and continual active involvement in regional organisations I believe I am well placed to achieve positive outcomes,” Cr Troy concluded.

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Fuller’s underpaid international student $14,000

The South Korean student was working at Fuller’s Fruit and Veges on Waterfall Way west of Bellingen.A young international student was allegedly underpaid almost $14,000 when she worked for six months at Fuller’s fruit and vegetable store, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges.
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It’s claimed the South Korean student, who spoke little English, was paid as little as $6 an hour when she worked at the retail outlet on Waterfall Way east of Bellingen.

The student was one of three females aged between 18 and 20 and two other employees aged in their 30s who were allegedly underpaid more than $82,000 between December, 2006 and August, 2010.

One of the workers was allegedly underpaid a total of $60,827 over the four-years she worked at the store.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has initiated legal action against the operators of the store in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney.

Facing court is E. A. Fuller & Sons Pty Ltd and company director and part-owner Eric Andrew Fuller, who manages the store.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges the five casual shop assistants were paid flat hourly rates, which led to underpayment of their casual loadings, annual holiday loadings and penalty rates for weekend, overtime and public holiday work.

Court documents allege that sham contracting laws were breached in relation to two workers, who were knowingly misclassified as independent contractors.

The Statement of Claim says the two should have been classified as employees, for reasons including the high degree of control their employer had over their work.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the alleged breaches when they investigated complaints lodged by the employees. Record-keeping contraventions allegedly were also discovered.

Some back-payments have been made to employees but it is alleged that almost $64,000 in outstanding entitlements remains to be paid.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully says a decision to prosecute was made because of the significant amount involved and the employer’s failure to fully rectify the matter.

Mr Fuller faces maximum penalties of up to $6600 per breach and the company faces maximum penalties of up to $33,000 per breach. The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a Court Order for E. A. Fuller & Sons to rectify the alleged underpayments in full.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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Canoe sign has consent

Bellingen Canoes operates a business from Fernmount with a directional sign on Waterfall Way.The debate over Council’s signage policy raised the issue of approval for Bellingen Canoe’s directional sign on Waterfall Way.
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General Manager Liz Jeremy said Bellingen Canoe adventures leased the land on which the ‘Bellingen Canoe Adventures’ business operated and as such it was considered that Council could issue development consent for such a sign under the provisions of Clause 53 of BLEP 2003 (the EPI) which operated at the time. Development consent was granted inNovember 2009.

“The consent is limited to the terms of a lease over the subject land for the purpose of ‘Bellingen Canoe Adventure Business’, which terminates after 5 years or upon sale of the property, whichever comes first, after which time the sign is to be removed,” she said.

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Signage policy to stay

Urunga Antiques operates out of the Raleigh Industrial Estate.Bellingen Council won’t change its signage policy to accommodate one person operating a ‘marginal’ business from the Raleigh Industrial Estate.
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For the second time in as many months, the owner of Urunga Antiques, Paul Hynes addressed Councillors on the plight of his business caused by the ‘rigid enforcement’ of council’s signage policy, which prohibits the erection of signs that are not adjacent to the business.

Mayor Mark Troy said: “What distinguishes Bellingen Shire from other local government areas is the distinct lack of ugly signage along our roadways. We don’t need to be like Nambucca, Coffs Harbour or Parramatta Road for that matter”.

“The Raleigh Industrial Estate is probably not the best location for a business that depends on retail trade,” Cr Troy said.

Cr Bruce Cronin said he felt some compassion for Mr Hynes “but you opened a retail business in the Raleigh Industrial Estate”.

Cr Shaun Tuohy said it was not appropriate to change Council’s signage policy “for one marginal business”.

However, Cr Gordon Braithwaite said it was time to review the out-dated 1990 signage policy.

After Mr Hynes addressed the June meeting, Councillors agreed that the directional signage board outside the Industrial Estate needed to be reviewed and the names of the businesses made larger.

Cr Kerry Child said that in response to these concerns, Council had erected bight blue directional signs to the Industrial Estate.

As well, Cr Troy said the directory sign board would be replaced and moved to the other side of the road. “It’s a work in progress.”

During his address, Mr Hynes said he was not the only person to complain about the signage policy. He lodged a petition with over 800 signatures calling for a review of the signage policy.

“Public opinion obviously means nothing to you (councillors),” he said. “All I want is a fair go. I need a sign on Short Cut Road to boost my shop.”

Council’s Director of Environmental Health and Planning, Charlie Hannavy said local businesses were allowed to erect signs for advertising, but were limited to erecting signs on the property to which the sign related.

“This has been Council’s policy for at least the last decade, and has allowed businesses to adequately advertise their presence, while at the same time maintaining the unique natural and heritage aesthetic of the Bellingen Shire,” Mr Hannavy said.

“It has in effect been an exceptionally effective Signage Policy, and to date no business other than Urunga Antiques has complained about the policy. The policy was transferred to the new Bellingen Local Environmental Plan (BLEP) in 2010, without any notable public reaction during the exhibition process. It is not in the public interest to change the current Signage Policy to allow the Shire to be visually polluted by a proliferation of unnecessary signage,” he said.

“It is natural for people to support a small business when it is seen to be struggling for survival. It is clearly evident that the retail sector in Australia is facing difficult circumstances at present. However, the issue here is not as a result of Council’s Signage Policy. The cause is a mix of changing consumer sentiment and preferences, as well as economic uncertainty.

“In the case of Urunga Antiques, an industrial estate is not necessarily an ideal location for a retail function. If the business relies on the retail function for survival, then the industrial estate is probably the wrong location for this business. A town centre business area with main street exposure would be more appropriate,” Mr Hannavy said.

“It is also important to note that Urunga Antiques is only permissible in the industrial estate on the grounds that the core component of the business is industrial activity, i.e. in the subject case, the repair/renovation of antiques. The retail function, i.e. the sale of goods, is only permissible as an ancillary use to the core industrial activity. If the retail function is in fact the dominant component of the land use on which the business relies for survival, then the business is not permissible in the industrial estate.”

Mr Hannavy said that in relation to retail advertising in general, it was questionable whether increased physical signage increases sales. “Advertising signage is primarily an American phenomenon, readily adopted in Australia. However, businesses in economically successful countries such as Germany and Switzerland survive and prosper with minimal physical signage. In the current economic climate, businesses can enhance their prospects of survival by embracing the internet and other electronic media.”

Current status of A-frame sign:

Mr Hannavy said the request for a change to the Signage Policy arose because Council asked the proponent to remove a utility vehicle displaying an A-frame sign, which was advertising the Urunga Antiques business.

“Following discussions with the proponent, Council agreed to obtain legal advice concerning the legality of the A-frame sign displayed on the vehicle. Council subsequently received legal advice from its Solicitors to the effect that the utility vehicle with an attached A-frame sign is in fact an advertising structure. On this basis, the sign is subject to Council’s sign controls contained in the Bellingen Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Under the LEP such a sign is prohibited, because it is not displayed on the property to which it relates. Council has since advised the proponent of this advice, and has requested that the proponent now remove the sign.”

He said it was important from an environmental and social perspective that Council enforced its adopted policies and applied the law equally to all constituents.

“It is not a sustainable form of governance for Council to either ignore or change its own policies simply because one particular business disagrees with them, and when there is no compelling public interest reason to change them,” Mr Hannavy said. “If Council wishes to maintain a sustainable environment, then it needs to ensure that appropriate controls on visual pollution are maintained.”

Mr Hynes will be advised that following consideration of the petition and its implications, “Council finds no compelling public interest reason to change its current Signage Policy”. Only Cr Braithwaite voted against the resolution.

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Tony Abbott to ride through the valley

Tony Abbott with local MP, Luke Hartsuyker.Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has confirmed he will register to participate in the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge, which will pass through the Bellinger Valley on Sunday, August 5.
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Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker said he had invited Mr Abbott to be part of the cycle challenge and the Coalition leader’s office had today indicated that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will be a starter.

“It is well known that Tony is a keen cyclist so I am delighted that he has agreed to be part of the 2012 ride.

“Tony will be on the Coffs Coast that weekend and will participate in the full 100km team ride.

“I have registered a Riders on the Hill team which is what the federal parliamentary cycling group is called and all riders on the team will complete the maximum distance.

“The cycle challenge continues to go from strength to strength and raise much needed funds for many community based organisations.

“It has been successful because it offers something for everyone. You can ride the 100km or you can join the kids on a family ride.

“With Tony here on August 5 I trust it will add to what is already a very successful event.”

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River Ballet presents a great show

Photos by Solveig Larsen.It was a fantastic show spanning all ages, from pre-schoolers to adults and including Classical, Jazz, Spanish, Hip Hop and Contemporary. The audience was in raptures with the great performances, imaginative costumes, and the variety of genres. Thanks to Meryn Jones and Antonia Erskine, and all the supporting families sponsors and community. It was a most entertaining night, all the performers living up to the title, really “Bringing It” again to Bellingen with another fabulous night of spectacular dance theatre.
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Last council meeting in Laurieton

ONE of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council’s last meetings before the September 8 election will take place in Laurieton next week.
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As part of the ongoing “Taking Council to the Community” program, the meeting is one of a series held in parts of the local government area outside Port Macquarie to provide greater community access to council meetings.

The meeting will be held next Wednesday, August 15, in the Laurieton School of Arts Hall, on the corner of Bold and Laurie Streets, beginning at 5.30pm.

The meeting will be attended by the council Administrator, Neil Porter, and senior staff including its general manager and directors.

By prior arrangement members of the public can address the council about agenda items or in its public forum.

The business paper for the meeting will be available on the council’s website – www.pmhc.nsw.gov.au – on the Friday afternoon prior to the meeting and hard copies can be viewed at council offices and libraries on the Monday before the meeting.

Anyone wishing to address the meeting during the public forum needs to complete a “Request to Speak in Public forum” form, which can be lodged electronically through its website or through council offices by 4.30pm on Tuesday, August 14.

More information on the regulations applying to public forum addresses is also available on the council website.

Last council meeting before elections on September 8.

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Sun shines on Energy Fair

Big crowds turned out in perfect weather for the Bellingen Energy Fair on Saturday to hear the main speakers Bob Brown and Dick Smith. Photos by Tim Aitken.The 6th Bellingen Energy Festival held at the show ground on Saturday is being hailed as ‘the best so far’ with a record crowd coming to hear Dick Smith, Bob Brown and other inspiring speakers talk about our options to save ‘this blue marble revolving in space’.
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Organisers estimate the crowd peaked at over 4,000 around 1pm when Ellen Sandell and Bob Brown gave their addresses, following Dick Smith, Rose Wright and Dick Clarke earlier in the day.

“It was a wonderful day, really Bellingen at its best. I felt so proud of our community for its passionate, artistic and knowledgeable people, who so generously share their time and skills. I loved seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces all day and the sea of people listening so intently to Bob Brown,” said coordinator Liz McCabe.

Paul Nebauer felt the same way: “Everyone had a terrific day: I was really impressed by the willingness of people to make a contribution, from the Girl Guides at the front gate to Reanne, who kept the bathrooms clean all day: everyone gave their best and it all worked, and most of all everyone had fun, even us stress-heads behind the scenes”.

Commercial exhibitors and community groups alike reported strong interest in their products and ideas: Transition Bellingen and Bellingen Seed Savers emailed that they had their busiest day yet, and have signed up 25 new members; Community Gardens, Bellingen EYE, BelloFoodBox and the Men’s Shed similarly reported strong interest in their activities.

The unifying theme for the day amongst the speakers was that the way we are doing things at the moment is unsustainable, and that we have to find a new way of being if we are going to provide a liveable planet for our grandchildren.

Dick Smith boggled the audience with his graphic illustration of how much energy we all use every day: something like 8 bags of coal for every family, every 24 hours, every day of the year: the resulting amount of C02 is staggering. He highlighted the intermittency problem with renewable energy technology at the moment, particularly Solar, and said that we need to find ways of storing and distributing green energy more efficiently in order to move away from coal.

Bob Brown spoke about the power of people acting out of concern for each other as the catalyst for positive change. In a homespun and powerful speech, he recalled his early years in Bellingen, and some of his history as an environmental activist and Green political leader.

He spoke about the sustainable employment in eco-tourism created by the saving of the Franklin River in 1983: there are now hundreds of jobs in a tough area that would have gained only 32 permanent full-time jobs from the proposed hydro-electric dam.

His underlying message was that technological solutions will be found for the problems of renewable energy, and that the most important catalyst for positive change is the determination to do it, motivated by ‘a little bit of love’.

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Tony Abbott to ride through the valley

Luke Hartsuyker and Tony Abbott after completing a bicycle ride near Parliament House in Canberra.Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott has confirmed he will participate in the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge, which will pass through the Bellinger Valley on Sunday, August 5.
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Federal MP, Luke Hartsuyker said he had invited Mr Abbott to be part of the cycle challenge and the Coalition leader’s office had today indicated that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will be a starter.

“It is well known that Tony is a keen cyclist so I am delighted that he has agreed to be part of the 2012 ride.

“Tony will be on the Coffs Coast that weekend and will participate in the full 100km team ride.

“I have registered a Riders on the Hill team which is what the federal parliamentary cycling group is called and all riders on the team will complete the maximum distance.

“The cycle challenge continues to go from strength to strength and raise much needed funds for many community based organisations.

“It has been successful because it offers something for everyone. You can ride the 100km or you can join the kids on a family ride.

“With Tony here on August 5 I trust it will add to what is already a very successful event.”

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Whale washed up on Hungry Head beach

The dead whale on Hungry Head beach.A dead whale was washed up on Hungry Head beach on Tuesday (July 24).
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Robert Harman, who took this photo, says it appeared the whale had been hit by a boat propeller.

However, staff from the Pet Porpoise Pool believe the young male had become entangled in a net or was caught in some strong fishing line.

Vet Duan March said that whale was already dead, possibly for two or three days by the time he was beached.

In the meantime sharks had fed on the carcass with large bites taken from the whale’s tail section.

Mr March said it was not unusual to see a humpback whale stranded alone.

“Typically with humpbacks you don’t get strandings en masse,” Mr March said.

“Usually they’re single strandings.”

The vet added that the sight of an 11 metre gentle giant of the sea washed ashore is one that will be seen more often during the migration season.

“There’s probably more strandings to come,” he said.

“With the humpback population increasing you’re going to get more if these during the migratory period which is May on the way north and November on the way back.”

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