Seats could serve dual purpose

By Reader Contributed

We’re an ageing society, aren’t we?

And we can never have too many seats in strategic public positions.

Generally, Greater Shepparton’s towns are well-served by street and park access to seating but we could do with more — something we learn about as we get older.

Why don’t we consider a double-banger solution — more seats and a discreet way of remembering our departed citizenry?

What about offering families the opportunity to ‘sponsor’ a street or park bench to commemorate the life of their loved one — a seat in a position of their choosing with a small, unobtrusive plaque attached?

Come to think of it, what about an even more expansive and elaborative streetscape?

Just a thought, well-done in other municipalities.

●Well, November 24 and the Victorian state election is now a fraction more than six weeks away.

Although intending candidates have until early November to formally nominate, all those who you’d imagine would have much of a show, such as the four main parties and the current incumbent independent, have now made media commitments to stand: Nickee Freeman (Greens), Cheryl Hammer (Liberal), Bill Heath (Labor), Peter Schwarz (Nationals) and Suzanna Sheed (incumbent independent). There will probably be a few others before nominations close on November 9 at noon for independents (same time the day before for Registered Political Party candidates).

All those main contenders are excellent people — all reputable, all altruistic, all committed and all with community records of varying intensity.

Aptitude, including broad and focused experience, for a highly successful four years of representing the district of Shepparton, including Nathalia, Numurkah, Dookie, Tatura, Mooroopna, inclusive of our important broadacre agricultural districts, is, to my view, the key deciding factor.

This Shepparton state election will undoubtedly hinge on preferences so traditional party voters will need to carefully determine how their high second choice is allocated — keeping firmly in mind who can best deliver the goods. Who can keep us out front at Spring St — no matter whether Guy or Andrews holds the reins.

In our upper house Northern Victoria region where five seats are being contested, local Liberal incumbent Wendy Lovell is a dead-set cert with Nationals’ Luke O’Sullivan likely to take the other Coalition possie.

Labor’s Mark Gepp and Jaclyn Symes probably will get back in — but the fifth spot, currently held by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ Daniel Young by a mere 183 votes from the Greens in 2014, is possibly up for grabs.

The Greens have an impressive lead candidate in Nicole Rowan, a Macedon Ranges-based lawyer.

Who knows the future of that last seat?

Punters this time can vote as early as November 12 at electoral offices — up to 50 per cent of voters may choose to take this new option (official election day will remain as Saturday, November 24).

Go to it but do it carefully — we’ve four years to repent if we get it wrong.

●Government board appointments very often reflect the political colour of the government of the day. Both sides do it — Labor and Liberal-National. It’s called nepotism or partisanship — nothing new, been going on since Adam was in nappies.

Local hospital boards are no exception; when the Coalition was in power the majority of appointments were of Liberal-National flavour and post-2014 appointees were thought to be ALP-leaning.

Interesting was a News letter on Tuesday from the former chair and deputy chair of Goulburn Valley Health, (one incidentally a former state country vice-president of the Victorian Liberal Party and the other a prominent local National Party member), asserting that independent Suzanna Sheed’s advocacy was not mainly responsible for the Andrews Government’s allocation of $170million for the current desperately-needed re-development at Graham St.

No secret that those two would much prefer to have their respective challenging candidates oust the runs-on-the-board Ms Sheed.

In my book, $170million in the bank trumps a $70million out-of-date, Coalition, last-minute pre-2014 election conditional promise.

Don’t you agree?

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