Opinion

What are we going to do about vandalism in Greater Shepparton?

By Shepparton News

It's not a pretty picture with a background of bushfire devastation across Australia's eastern seaboard.

This picture was taken a day or two into the new year and prompt restoration of the kids’ well-used playground was executed, virtually within hours, by Greater Shepparton City Council's maintenance staff.

What are we going to do about vandalism within the city, particularly upon completion of expensive amenity infrastructure — for example the tastefully-appointed toilet blocks such as that at the northern precinct of Victoria Park and even more recently at the bus terminal at Vaughan Central?

I can't recall the age-old ``monetary reward” having been implemented by local councils — and it irks me to suggest such — but something has to be tried.

The majority of kids are decent and responsible, and 500 smackeroos in return for some anonymous info might be attractive, don't you think?

Parking "trial"?

It's interesting how a parking "promotion" has surreptitiously become a "trial".

Council minutes, October 2019, read: ". . . beginning from Monday 2 December until Friday 31 January 2020, council provide free timed parking (whatever that may be) in the CBD of Shepparton, for both on street and off street car parking owned by council as part of a Christmas and holiday promotion".

No mention of a "trial", or anything like it.

First the term "trial" appeared in The News, claiming both our mayor and the Chamber of Commerce used that term, followed by The Adviser making the same error.

Is it a problem? Well, it shouldn't be — it depends of the consequences in respect of stakeholders’ expectations.

Do traders and shoppers take the misquoted term "trial" as meaning the overwhelming resultant support for "free" parking suggests that, come February 1, meters can mean obsolescence?

Sit back and observe; who will be first to break the ice, and what logic will they use to press their anti-meter point?

Any councillor now wanting the January meeting that they voted out late last year?

Nearly forgot: there's a survey, of sorts, running on council's website — four itsy-bitsy mainly useless questions. Wonder if the objective nature of that enlightenment came from staff and was okayed by councillors?

Let's see what funny business transpires, if any, to try and put the skids through the strict adherence to the "legislated" finish of the "as part of a Christmas and holiday promotion" populist free parking gift, in two weeks’ time.

In support of opinions

This column has been an ardent supporter of The News "Letters to the Editor" — my first personal participation being 60 years ago.

My own quirky first reading attack each morning is the opinion pages of The News followed by the opinion pages of The Age.

Can I direct your focus to the word "opinion"?

Now it's not my job to chastise correspondents — rather I should be encouraging readers to share their views — but surely News readers can tell the difference between opinion and news reporting.

You see News journo James Bennett (whom I have never met) wrote clearly an opinion piece, headed up as Viewpoint (January 7) where he broadly found fault with the bushfire leadership, displayed until then, of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Since then no fewer than four News correspondents have vigorously reprimanded Mr Bennett individually and independently screeching "lies", ``I think you should take a good look at yourself", "My stomach convulsed and has not settled down yet", together with "any wonder that the media of this country are not respected or trusted by so many?".

James Bennett, keep on scribbling your accurate news reports and keep writing interesting Viewpoint commentary, even if your so-labelled "opinions" occasionally ruffle a few Tory feathers.

Your critics exercise their right to their opinions to rebuke you, but apparently don't think you have the right to exercise your right to have different sentiments. What bunkum.

● Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.