Letters to the editor

FUN DAY OUT: Marco Osta from Melbourne gets his portrait done while visiting grandpa Shane Osta of Merimbula. Photo: Alana Beitz
FUN DAY OUT: Marco Osta from Melbourne gets his portrait done while visiting grandpa Shane Osta of Merimbula. Photo: Alana Beitz

Australia Day date

Australia Day should be about what we celebrate, not what date we do it on.

A lot of people think that the 26 of January is an important date, but in reality it is fairly unimportant.

Firstly Captain cook did not "discover" Australia on this date. Australia was "discovered" by the Dutch in 1606.

Cook set out from England under direction from King George III, and was given instructions that "with the consent of the natives to take possession of convenient situations in the country". If he found it to be uninhabited (terra nullius), he was simply to "take possession for His Majesty by setting up proper marks and inscriptions as first discoverers and possessors".

The first fleet arrived in Botany Bay over three days from 18-20 January.

Obviously the land was inhabited but on 26 January 1788 Cook claimed possession and marked the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia, then known as New Holland.

After Federation in 1901, a national day of unity and celebration was looked for. It was not until 1935 that all Australian states and territories adopted use of the term "Australia Day" to mark the date, and not until 1994 that the date was consistently marked by a public holiday on that day by all states and territories.

Yep that's right we have only been celebrating this date nationally since 1994 so it's Hardly a significant date in our calendar, nor is the choice of an event to celebrate (proclamation) a very significant date in our history.

When we think about what we want to actually celebrate as our national day, there are lots more interesting options. Here are just a few.

Federation of Australia, 1 January – Possibly our most significant event in our history when modern Australia was born

Australia Acts commencement, 3 March. This is a bit like independence day. These Acts removed the United Kingdom's ability to legislate for the Australian States,the Queen's ability to disallow or suspend State legislation,

Opening of the first Federal Parliament, 9 May – The dare on which the first Federal Parliament was opened in Melbourne in 1901

All of these were significant events in the European history of our nation but if we want to move forward and include our First Nations people in the celebration, perhaps the 27 of May would be a more appropriate date. This date marks the Anniversary of the 1967 referendum. The referendum to amend the federal constitution. The amendments enabled the federal parliament to legislate with regard to Indigenous Australians and allowed for Indigenous Australians to be included in the national census.

This was the date when the European settlement officially recognised the country's First People.

Whilst I am not a proponent of any particular date, I think the discussion should be framed around what it is that we actually want to celebrate and not about what day we celebrate it on. We are a young nation with a short history, so we still have time to get it right.

Nigel Ayling, Merimbula

Scheme stinks

Since late November 2017, each and every carton of soft drink and beer sold locally is priced from $3.60 to $5 more than in the ACT. Why? The culprit is “Return and Earn” the container deposit scheme – sold to us as the way to reduce litter in the state. But which remarkably does not accept containers that are broken or do not have their original label attached!

This state government initiative has told us we can claim 10 cent refunds from December 1 for all eligible containers returned.

In the whole of the Bega Valley we have only two collection points, one at Bega and the other at Bermagui.  During our Christmas shopping, the only reason for us to be in Bega, we tried out the container collection set up – massive reverse vending machines, paid for by you know who!  

Success, a bottle went through the glass machine and we received a 10 cent credit to our PayPal account!  Then to the next machine for all our plastic bottles – hold on what’s this:  “Assistance Required – Please wait or contact customer hotline.  We apologise for the inconvenience”.  

The federal government is happy – it receives an extra 36 cents to 50 cents GST for every drink carton sold.  The state government pockets the rest to the tune of at least $600million per year.  

Victoria has reduced litter by almost 60 per cent over the past eight years.  Victoria’s approach combines public awareness with convenient infrastructure, identifying litter hot spots and installing appropriate bins to create social norms. 

Together with skyrocketing power bills, why is our state government increasing our taxes and cost of living through this container deposit scheme? Surely the government has more important things to manage!  

Our Premier Gladys Berejiklian needs to do another “back flip” to cancel this ill considered scheme which taxes us all. 

Chris Young,  Tura Beach