Independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott.
Independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott. TREVOR VEALE

What's got the Coffs Coast talking?

Leave personal attacks on sideline

THE vacuum created by the Cowper Nationals' lack of a climate action plan has resulted in false claims and personal attacks on the independent Rob Oakeshott.

It is a sad state of affairs when political parties resort to these tactics in the absence of real policies.

Hopefully Cowper voters will fly high and think before they vote

Elaine Sherwood, Coffs Harbour

Independent Candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott famously backed Julia Gillard to form a Labor minority government in 2010. Picture: Jack Begbie
Independent Candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott famously backed Julia Gillard to form a Labor minority government in 2010. Picture: Jack Begbie

Clean up the mud- slinging and dirt files

IT IS so disappointing for all of us in Cowper to be the victims of the personal mud-slinging campaign directed at one candidate through the letter box and media by the National Party.

Of course, none of it is true. I'm sure many National Party supporters would be embarrassed by what we are witnessing.

It is the policies of candidates we need to address and shameful personal attacks should be left out of it.

Russell Chiffey, Coffs Harbour

The Coffs Harbour Base Hospital.
The Coffs Harbour Base Hospital. Trevor Veale

Zero out of three ain't good enough

A LACK of beds at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital - would you want this for a loved one?

A dear friend with a 98 per cent blocked carotid artery booked for surgery in early March this year and is still waiting.

First admission was a four-hour wait with discharge because there was no bed, second admission was a seven-hour wait, all prepped including cannula, then discharged from theatre due to an emergency.

The third admission for 11am was cancelled prior to arrival because there was no bed.

Speaking to people it would appear that "lack of a bed" is not an anomaly but a regular occurrence. That it occurs is unconscionable.

The emotional distress this places, atop a serious medical conditions whose symptoms are acute and chronic, is cruel.

That people are being turned away for this reason makes the NSW healthcare system's statement - that it provides adequate and timely healthcare - an empty promise.

Something is rotten in the state of NSW Health if a major referral hospital like Coffs does not have adequate beds, adequate staff for those beds and adequate theatre space to cope with an emergency (unless it's a seven-car pile-up) and a scheduled operation.

I am aware of the $194 million committed by the NSW Government for "enhancements" to the base hospital for completion, I am told, in another 18 months.

What can be done now? What assurance is there that the number of beds will be increased sufficiently to ensure no one is discharged simply for the lack of a bed?

Alina Loneck, Boambee East

Nationals candidate for Cowper Patrick Conaghan.
Nationals candidate for Cowper Patrick Conaghan.

The problems with independents

THERE are many problems, here are some:

No one knows what they will do in any situation.

Chaos occurs and time is wasted, some became candidates late so that minimum time is available to explain and respond to questions regarding their policies (if any).

Although they say they will not give preferences, often this changes as previously preferences were given to the Nats but this was not explained prior to the election.

There is no one to make them accountable - one person with inconsistent views, no team.

Sharon Grainger, Urunga


Patients using pool left out in the cold

THE rehabilitation pool at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital should be kept at a temperature (32C) suitable for the many handicapped people, stroke victims, arthritic sufferers, wheelchair patients, hip and knee recovery patients.

The pool is used also by CHERP, a group of mature folk with different ailments, six days a week.

For the last few weeks the pool is so cold as apparently the heater has had its day and they need $120,000 for a new one and guess what? Nobody has the funds to help us.

Do we start a GoFundMe page to purchase a new heater before we get hypothermia or, the last straw, a heart attack?

This pool is so important to so many people and we desperately need it fixed.

Phyllis Taylor


Your vote matters more than ever

THERE has never been a more important time for locals to cast their vote in the electorate of Cowper.

This previously safe Country/National Party seat has stagnated in a culture of neglect and complacency for more than 100 years.

Now we have a young, dynamic, dedicated, community-minded independent candidate to wake up the Canberra bubble.

Make Cowper a swinging seat at last and remind those in power we need more than just a bypass.

Bob Harris, Sawtell


Consider the bypass when you vote

IT IS crucial that we get tunnels and not cuttings on the Coffs Harbour bypass as cuttings will ruin the look of our countryside and, worse still, turn Coffs Harbour into a massive amphitheatre, with so many housing estates that will be affected. We deserve better than cuttings.

Michael Golsby


Thinking politically for the long-term

RECENTLY I met an old friend who had just returned from a holiday in New Zealand.

He said that on his return to Australia he could feel the anger in the air compared to New Zealand. I have experienced the same.

Why is there so much anger? Most sociologists will tell you that communities and nations become angrier and less happy when environments are degraded, when there is a loss of community, and when local issues and concerns are not adequately addressed by distant bureaucracies.

Coffs Harbour is not insulated from this. Our community has faced noise pollution for years with more to come.

Our environment is now faced with increasing visual and chemical pollution from intensive agriculture. Our city and suburbs have been split by a polluting highway that cuts through some of the most beautiful coastal real estate in Australia. Some may say this is just progress. Others may say it's a result of short term planning and disregard for our grandchildren's future.

The brave communities of the northern beaches and Coffs thought long-term back in the 1980's and stood strong against ocean outfalls at Woolgoolga and Emerald.

The long-term result has been one of the best water treatment systems in Australia and two beautiful whale watching headlands free from the stigma of pollution from sewage outfalls.

Long-term thinking could have solved the present dilemma of the inner bypass.

The inner bypass is a must now, but long-term thinking years ago, resulting in a far western bypass, would have been better for all of our local communities.

I believe we now have a council who thinks longer term. I think the community is now once again prepared to action together for better long-term decisions from the distant bureaucracies which determine our future.

We now need political muscle free from the constraints of the party line that only sees the future as three years long.

For a better future for our children and grandchildren with better long-term local outcomes, Cowper needs an independent member to which the major parties will be forced to listen to in a balance of power.

Phil King


Disenfranchisement of Coffs Harbour

I HAVE little to add to the debate on the Ring Road bypassing the Coffs CBD.

The monies were allocated in the budget last year and the debate about tunnels rages on.

My disappointment is that until the last election, Cowper was about Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie and their traditional rivalry with Coffs being lumped on and many of our northern residents were disenfranchised by becoming part of Page.

The expectation that the current Prime Minister would visit Coffs has left a sour taste because it proved once again that the traditional electors in Cowper continue to be taken for granted and ignored.

The biggest single issue for government with the looming election is the "By Pass".

The Nationals, especially our current representative are being very circumspect and place more importance in splashing money on a tidal pool than addressing the aspirations of the electors in the north of the electorate. Their return will in all probability mean a continuation of this mindset.

It is time to stand up for ourselves by relegating the Nationals and their presidential coalition partner to also rans, like they have done to us.

Peter Farquhar


Rob Oakeshott and the Cowper election

THERE has been an appalling amount of unfounded criticism and personal attacks directed at Rob Oakeshott in the run-up to the election. The facts can be easily checked.

Rob Oakeshott was elected as a Nationals candidate for the State seat of Port Macquarie in 1996.

He left the Nationals and stood as an Independent in 2002. He was elected.

He retained the State seat until 2008.

He resigned that seat to contest the Federal seat of Lyne in 2008.

Again, he stood and was successful as an Independent candidate.

He won the seat by a big margin and repeated that success in the 2010 election.

Once more the winning margin was significant.

Oakeshott joined the crossbench and then made the decision, after discussions with both major parties, to support the Labor Party in matters of supply and confidence.

He retained the right to vote according to conscience on all other matters.

This candidate has been unfairly targeted.

Those who oppose him seem intent on demonising someone who, to my knowledge, has only ever conducted himself decently and professionally.

His integrity has been even called into question.

He has not "betrayed" his constituents as has been suggested by Christine Foster (Tony Abbott's sister) in Saturday's Herald.

He has been very open about his political positions.

It is regrettable his opponents choose to create a history, which is well removed from the truth.

Brett Hendry,

Boambee East


Election campaign and climate change

THIS has to be the dirtiest election campaign I have come across in a long time.

Not only has it been full of bribery, but also mud slinging, innuendo and forced resignations.

If you had one puff of pot at college or made a sexist comment some time ago you are no longer eligible to stand.

Using these criteria there would be precious few of us who would qualify.

It is also amazing how all this money seems to magically appear out of the woodwork at this time, if there had been a Climate Change Deniers and Polluters Party (CCDP) it would romp in. A week or so ago someone wrote in that we should export coal to India to provide electricity to the under privileged.

Let him come back in 50 years and see if he can still breathe the air.

Some years ago China banned cars on some occasions for a day or more because of air pollution.

Keep going like we are and we will have it all the time.

Of course, we will all be driving electric vehicles powered by coal-fired power stations.

Andrew Jary, Woolgoolga


Bill's got a fast train and I want a ticket

A BIG hurrah to the Labor Party for the budget item on fast trains between Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne.

A person travelling by diesel train will generate 15 gram of air-pollution per kilometre and a person on an airplane will generate 100 gram per kilometre.

So a big step towards a cleaner environment.

This will be even lower when using electric trains fuelled from a renewable energy source.

Time-wise the biggest benefit will be to the residents of Coffs Harbour and other stops on the line, which would allow travellers to be in Sydney or Brisbane in less time than it takes by flying and at a much lower cost.

Here we go again. Another chance to make a significant change to our corrupt political system and we'll probably blow this one too.

We finally have a credentialed independent candidate, with a proven track record, but even he may be unable to overcome the might of the highly funded LNP machine.

Our electorate will endure further decades of National Party neglect.

What passes for democracy in this country is a disgrace.

Obscenely wealthy and powerful individuals and organisations engage in what amounts to nothing more than a huge game of Monopoly.

Political favours, "you scratch my back" deals, bartering of preferences to ensure that the "right" person is elected, mark a twisted system that serves its participants before those it pretends to serve.

Our system is beyond repair, but a few "band-aid" measures might be taken, which could limit the damage being done by the present perverted structure.

Outlawing external funding of candidates might level the playing field.

A vastly expanded Electoral Commission, could ensure that all candidates were funded equally for campaign expenses, with variations to allow for differences in the geographical size of electorates.

The seeking or offering of funds by corporations, or organisations such as America's NRA, should be severely penalised.

Banning lobbying, whereby "influential insiders" use their contacts to ensure that the needs of wealthy individuals and corporations are satisfied, at our expense, might help to return some power to ordinary people.

The setting of ethical standards in political advertising could result in funds being spent only on ads that outline policies, rather than making attacks on opponents.

The list goes on, but sadly, such essential changes may never occur.

Leif Nielsen Lemke


The Nats take on Rob Oakeshott

HE started out as a staffer in Mark Vaile's office in Taree when Mark was the Member for Lyne and went on to become Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade - Nats in infrastructure - it keeps coming up.

Mr Oakeshott successfully stood for Port Macquarie and eventually became the Nationals Member for those people in that seat.

Unfortunately, Mr Oakeshott had other ideas.

He spent quite a bit of time in his parliamentary office studying for a law degree (now it's medicine).

As time went on and he wasn't occupying his seat on behalf of the people of Port, the Nationals Whip had a word with him. There was no change, and the Whip warned him the second time, that there would be no further warnings.

Some weeks later, Mr Oakeshott announced that he was going to become "an Independent".

The rest is better known - especially that voting for him was the same as a vote for Labor.

The sad part was that so many people didn't know for whom they were voting. It's a bit like the Greens really - how many would vote for them if they still traded as the Communist Party and Trotskite Socialists?

Mr Oakeshott collected about $75,000 at the last election in public funding, so he could continue his studies in medicine.

He deliberately announces late so he doesn't have to spend much and then picks up the funding. Very un-Australian.

All non-metro seats are important to the Nationals, that's how people outside of the cities get proper representation.

John F Sercombe,

Coffs Harbour South


Franking credits and retiree refunds

DO YOU think it's fair for people to get a tax refund on tax they did not pay?

The money to pay this refund comes from taxpayers, many of whom cannot afford to have shares so they're not eligible to get the refund/gift.

More than 92% of taxpayers do not receive a cash refund for excess imputation credits and therefore won't be affected by the proposed change.

The change only effects a small number of shareholders who have no tax liability, and those people will not be paying additional tax.

Dividend imputation credits will still be used to reduce any other tax liability, but will no longer result in cash refunds.

The current system is costing more than $5 billion a year and is forecast to cost more than $56 billion over the next 10 years.

I think Labor's plan for a fairer tax system, cutting generous tax loopholes in order to better fund schools and hospitals, is a very worthy aim.

Diane Davies, Urunga



Sharing music and its gift around the world

THUMBS up to all those dedicated musicians who give tirelessly to entertain at charity homes and functions.

On Sunday, May 19, concert lovers are in for a treat.

The Salvation Army is having its annual Hymnfest at 2pm at St John's Church in McLean St, Coffs Harbour.

There will be the annual Salem (Peace) Concert featuring local bands and choirs performing to help give bursaries to 35 South Sudanese primary and high school children to continue their education.

A big thank you to all our generous musicians and entertainers in our city.

Cass Crocker

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