Letters to the editor

Sheringa community left out of opening

We are writing to express our dismay on the “opening” (as announced on local radio on Friday morning) of the Sheringa mobile phone service.

After seeing the Facebook posting on the Elliston Council Facebook page we were prompted to write, as it was very one-sided and lacked a local focus.

Let us start by saying, the day the mobile service went into operation, excitement and relief rippled through our small community, Sheringa.

Sheringa, if you didn’t realise, doesn’t just stop and start at the 80 kilometre sign posts. Sheringa isn’t just a dot on the map or just a location. Sheringa, like many other locations, is about the surrounding farms, families and workers who live and work there.

This phone service doesn’t just affect the chairman of this council because he lives in Sheringa. Mobile phone and internet service gives the local community and businesses, ease of access to communication and worldwide services.

As farmers it is important for us to stay on top of and up to date on markets, marketing, research and development, access to banking, business portals for livestock management and welfare, grain marketing, biosecurity and work, health and safety.

We are quite sure in that list we will have forgotten something as farming businesses are now complex, fast paced enterprises.

What dismays us the most is the business owners, phone users and voters of this community were not invited to participate in this momentous occasion.

We don’t have many opportunities to show case our small district, what we are all capable of and what we contribute to the council area, the state and world at large.

We all work to feed and clothe millions of people across the state, nation and world.

The day of the opening we had Telstra officials, federal MP Rowan Ramsey, some local councillors and the acting chief executive officer attend our small location and we had a wonderful opportunity to show who we are. We were not given that chance.

Having been told that it wasn’t official but announced on the local radio as an “opening” we can’t fathom what it was really all about then. If it was just a photo opportunity then having a few locals on board, who are impacted by this, should have been considered.

What has struck us the most is that none of the Telstra officials, councillors and acting CEO knew what the existing tower was for. Considering the chairman uses it every day to connect to the outside world, it shows poor knowledge and research done before the day.

The tower in Sheringa supports a system known as a DRCS – Digital Radio Concentrator System, or rural radio phone service. It gives communities like Sheringa, landline phone connection when cable connection isn’t possible.

The tower also supports the emergency Government Radio Network system.

This phone tower was placed there in about 1986/87, 30 years ago. Up till this time Sheringa was still a manual exchange system that operated out of a small building. The last person to operate the system was Ethel Ward in about 1985/6.

In 30 years Sheringa has come a long way in communication. During this time, the locals, despite lack of services have managed to keep up with technology and run their businesses with what was available. (Although, sometimes with a great deal of frustration.)

It was only by accident we found out the night before the opening it was happening. The sad thing is none of the locals were invited to go to the tower and have a look. We all made an effort, once informed, that morning, to turn up, put on morning tea and no offer was extended. How sad when a community holds so much knowledge and information, and is disregarded.

We would like the chairman and councillors to remember that locations aren’t just that, a location, they are families, businesses and people who are proud of the area they live in.

A day like this doesn’t happen very often and, official or not, it would have been nice to have an invitation extended to us, especially when it has such a large impact on our community.

MICHELLE NUSKE on behalf of the Sheringa community

Call for survivors to join Relay for Life

I extend an invitation to all cancer survivors and carers to take part in the opening lap of Ceduna’s Relay for Life at 2pm on Saturday, April 7 at the Blues’ Oval.

Afternoon tea will follow for the participants of this lap and registration can be done any time prior on that day.

This is a moving experience to show how many people are affected by cancer and that there is hope.

Let’s make it the biggest we can.

For catering purposes please email Ali Brown uworrapgb@bigpond.com, ring 86250023 or text 0428565093.


Relay for Life Committee


A vote against Oil in the Bight

As we approach the pointy end of the state election, it’s time Flinders residents take action on what most of us recognise: that oil extraction in the Bight is not a golden opportunity but rather the biggest economic threat to our electorate we’ve ever seen.

Evidence for this is everywhere. Offshore resource projects pay no royalties to state governments. The federal Minerals and Resources Rent Tax is written so companies don’t need to pay it for up to a decade. We already know close to one in three multinational corporations pay no income tax in Australia anyway. No company has to guarantee that any percentage of the product or the profit has to stay in Australia for local consumers. Their loyalty is legally to their shareholders alone. The ‘national energy security’ argument is therefore a falsehood at present – similar to the LPG situation in the eastern states.

Then we look at the employment prospects. In an industry pushing more and more into automation, the human jobs require technical skills and knowledge. There will be very limited numbers of entry level jobs for West Coast residents. A few FIFO (fly-in fly-out) workers may base themselves in Lincoln or Ceduna undoubtedly but they could just as easily be based in Sydney, or Bali or Norway itself. A real estate boom is hypothetical. All this without even getting to the issue of 457 visa workers and the free trade agreements our federal government seems so keen on.

The next company off the rack, Statoil, is roughly two thirds owned by the Norwegian government and one third by private investors, of which only 5 per cent don’t come from the US or EU. Not much in the way of trickle down profits will enter our region from them. The fact is, given Norway’s long standing commitment to state-owned enterprise, the average Norwegian will probably make more money out of it than the average West Coaster.

All it presents for us is risk. Risk to the seafood industry, especially shellfish and crustaceans. Risk to tourism, current and future, at all levels. And a risk to the lifestyles and livelihoods of a fair chunk of the Flinders electorate. Whether you’re a fourth generation professional fisherman, a surf addict up at dawn each day, an inland farmer with a shack tucked away somewhere to chase whiting and crabs once reaping’s done for the year, or simply the owner of a house with water views and a close by beach for the grandkids to splash in, there aren’t too many of us who don’t have links to the ocean somehow.

And yet we’re encouraged to jeopardise all this for a foreign company in a dying industry?

When the technology is experimental, the payoffs are overstated. The mitigation process, should an oil well blowout occur, would take at least 35 days to cap and would be near impossible to clean up. We deserve better.

This fight requires community action at all three levels of Australian politics. Local councils, including here in Elliston, have consistently lead the way on this so far. At the next two levels only one party has so far genuinely done so. It’s therefore time we all use our vote wisely, and send a message neither major party can ignore.


Greens candidate for Flinders


Election letters

  • Letters commenting on election issues must bear the name and full address of the writer(s). Responsibility for election comment in this issue is accepted by Fairfax South Australia group managing editor Brooke DuBois, 200 Greenhill Road, Eastwood. Writers should disclose any alliance with political or community organisations and include their telephone number for verification. Election candidates should declare themselves as such when submitting letters.