Letters to The Islander | March 14

Vale Jack Meakins of Kangaroo Island.
Vale Jack Meakins of Kangaroo Island.

Saddened by loss

I am saddened to note the loss in recent days of two outstanding Island citizens - Jack Meakins and Wendy Zealand.

I had the privilege of serving with Jack during my two stints on Kingscote Council in the seventies and eighties. Jack was a fierce but fair fighter for the Island and his ward.

Wendy I came to know as a charming and capable lady. She was an indefatigable contributor to the family business Island Concrete, one of Kangaroo Island's largest and most successful businesses.

Both Jack and Wendy, for different reasons, will be a huge loss to the Island community.

Neville Cordes, Glenelg

Fact or Fiction

In reference to the letter March 7, 'Councillor concern' that in my view pretends 'astonishment and dismay that "KI Council boss axed for willful misdoing" signed by 2018 Councillors Joy Willson 06-18, Larry Turner 13-19, Graeme Ricketts 14-18, Pip Masters 14-18 and Sharon Kauppila 14 ongoing.

Were not these the same councillors who refused to investigate the apparently still missing money that came to light so dramatically at the January, February and March 2018 council meetings?

Nada Clark, American River

Smith Bay concerns

In reference to the above I wish to make the following comments.

Please refer to an excellent report contained in The Advertiser on 2/3/19 which was headed Eyre Peninsula Port a Game Changer for Transportation. Page 57 and 61.

I was impressed by the report and an important factor was the highlighting of ‘there would be far less impact on the environment and its surrounds’.

I suggest it would be very advisable for KI and others to look into this proposal before proceeding any further with the controversial path they are taking at this juncture.

We already have a port at Kingscote, perhaps this could be developed in line with the Eyre Peninsula proposal.

Most of the Island population are fully aware about the present abalone farm together with other activities namely dolphin and fishing which are most important to Kangaroo Island and would be impacted by the Smith Bay port proposal.

If we must pursue the concept of a suitable deep sea port then there are more suitable sites available than Smiths Bay.

I repeat please explore the Eyre Peninsular concept before you proceed with the alternative.

Robert Clark, Kingscote

Speaking out

I commend the former councillors on their letter speaking out in defence of KI’s dismissed CEO.

Following on, as the dismissal does, from the scurrilous anonymous documents which clearly swayed voters in the last election, it is indeed very easy to view this as a vendetta.

The complete evidence presented to council, which lead some to vote for termination of the CEO’s contract, rightfully belongs to those who are paying for it....the tax payers.

Keeping it under the carpet will simply strengthen the suspicions.

Scott Mcdonald, Pelican Lagoon

Thanks to Andrew

On behalf of the Penneshaw Progress Association, I express our grateful thanks and appreciation to Andrew Boardman and his staff for his cooperation, consideration and assistance during his term as CEO of the Kangaroo Council.

Betty McAdam, PPA president

Footpath priorities

I refer to a letter submitted to council on February 18, 2019 from residents of "Boronia Village" regarding the state of footpaths within the town precinct.

The "town loop" from Foodland to the Medical Centre, Ingram's Hardware and back down Dauncey St to Amadio's, is a mixture of concrete, bluestone and bare earth, intermingled with shallow pot holes and unacceptable gradients.

As the population ages, so will claims against council, for injuries sustained on footpaths increasingly identified as not fit for purpose.

A fall for an elderly, or any person, may result in anything from bruising to a broken ankle, knee, hip, wrist or other multiple injuries, depending on their agility.

In fact, greater injury will usually be sustained from a fall, than a car collision at 15 kilometres per hour, wearing a seat belt.

One of the economic benefits to town traders with easier foot, pram and gopher access is actually increased customer flow on a permanent basis.

Over on the Esplanade, we have a walking trail, posts and associated signage costing many, many thousands of dollars, which would see far less foot traffic in one year than Dauncey Street would see in one day, created by parties ignoring community priorities and safety, for the promotion of their own agenda.

Meanwhile, over on Murray Street, they are falling over themselves for decent footpaths.

Peter Murch, Kingscote

Council contracts

Pages 11-13 of the March 12 meeting agenda for Kangaroo Island council listing contracts and purchase orders awarded to councillors.

How many other island businesses were involved in the tendering process (if any) for the works listed, and did council approve of awarding the listed contracts to Elected Members?

As a ratepayer I expect my dollars to benefit the whole island.

Rhonda Avard, Walkerville

Cruise ship questions

The cruise ship industry is active and powerful, always looking for opportunities, and SA is a relatively new arena. This last season KI visitation increased by 34 per cent as we welcomed 28 ships, next season the aim is 100 ships. Unsubstantiated reports of frustration, anger, and confusion felt by residents, business owners, government employees, passengers and visitors (by visitors I mean tourists who come specifically to experience our island) alarmed me so much I decided to try and find out what was going on so, in early January, I wrote to 36 people and organisations identified as decision-makers, and a week later my questions on KI cruise ship visits were published in The Islander. I've since received a handful of replies.

My questions were about economic benefit; lack of a visitation fee; pressure on health and volunteer services and; 'destination damage' a consequence of the sudden on-masse arrival of large numbers of cruise ship passengers at our star attractions: Seal Bay and Flinders Chase. Council advised that they would address the issues raised by my letter at their April Informal Gathering. This is an important opportunity for our community to hear our elected representatives discuss and decide if concerns raised need to be addressed.

TKI wrote that an open forum will be held at the end of the season, and the Tourism Minister advised that stakeholder meetings are held before, during and after each cruise ship season. You and I, all of us, are stakeholders. I've never seen any promotion of any such forums or meetings. Tourism Minister wrote that the direct benefit to KI in 2016/17 was $18.6m. TKI reported the direct benefit to KI that same year was $10m as did the Commissioner. Tourism Minister claims that 50pc of cruise ship passengers say they intend to return to KI within three years, and thus that this represents long-term benefits.

TKI reported that while SeaLink is a beneficiary it is not a direct beneficiary and argued that many benefit, for instance, drivers, cleaners, maintenance workers, cellar doors, farm gates, and experience providers; that salaries of locals are spent on the island and this contributes to economic activity. He further claimed '… eateries across the whole island benefit.' KI doesn't receive a visitation fee. TKI admitted that 'most ports extract a fee from cruise ships' and our Local Member wrote that if we did, '…they will choose an alternative port.' Tourism Minister wrote that there were '..no flow-on costs to KI Council' but Councillor Denholm advised that each ship costs ratepayers $ 900 to remove public waste bins.

KI Health Advisory Council explained that funding is based on the number of residents and while tourists currently represent 20pc of accident and emergency patients and that with increased funding, they would be able to cope with cruise ship passengers. Our Local Member recognised 'the added burden the influx of tourists places on the current system' and is supporting the Advisory Council in seeking that additional funding.

It's hard to report on anything from our DEW tourist attractions because they didn't respond. As an essential element in our island's survival and with our reputation at stake, DEW offered nothing to allay concerns yet the Environment Minister contacted me personally on two separate occasions to say he was going to write, yet he didn't, and neither has the KI Regional Director, who e-mailed me last month to expect '.. a response soon'.

From admittedly unsubstantiated claims, it is 'chaos' at Seal Bay with unprecedented numbers converging on the facility on any cruise ship day. As experiences are deliberately designed for a constant stream of smaller numbers, Seal Bay is having difficulty providing a quality experience. It is probably too trivial to mention the toilet mess; the intense frustration on both sides; guide and passenger, the hot weather, the long lines, the ageing demographic, even the distance from Penneshaw comes as a shock. Our visitors, those who make the effort to come here under their own steam, are quite lost in the mix. This letter tries to point out the discrepancies, query the claims made by politicians, expose the fact that the community itself is not being compensated for costs, the wear and tear on island services, roads and, importantly, our volunteers. This letter also hopes to alert you to the discussion scheduled at next month's informal gathering.

Sara Hourez, Wisanger

Park more accessible

I refer to Bev Maxwell’s Letter to the Editor and Bev's response to Peter Wales, who offered his support of our proposed Flinders Chase project. Bev’s comment regarding people with mobile difficulties accessing the Flinders Chase National Park is disappointing. Australian Walking Company’s objective is to make national parks more accessible to people of all abilities.

Our oldest guest walked the full multi-day Cradle Mountain Huts Walk at 87 years of age. We have had blind and deaf walkers, and under special circumstances worked with Tasmania Parks to allow a fully harnessed guide dog to accompany his blind owner.

These guests would not have been able to experience the national park without our support. To address Bev’s comments regarding jobs, as I mentioned last week, should our KI proposal be successful, we will provide full-time, part-time and casual roles equivalent to 30 full time jobs when operating at full capacity. This figure is accurate and tied to the Futures Job Funds grant.

This was clarified at the Kingscote info session together with my statement that it is our desire to employ locals.

Australian Walking Company is open to meeting with the Friends of Parks KI Western Districts and Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks to discuss the proposal and again correct the inaccuracies of their commentary. The members have declined to meet with us however our invitation remains open.

Heath Garratt, general manager, Australian Walking Company