Numeralla Mobile Phone Black Spot Resolution

Numeralla and District Activities Incorporated (NDAI) have strong concerns that under the Round 1 Mobile Black Spot Program, it appears a mobile phone tower is to be constructed within Numeralla Village. Funding for Numeralla’s black spot elimination was announced in April 2015, with construction now apparently scheduled in 2017. As far as NDAI can ascertain, Telstra and the Mobile Phone Black Spot Committee (MBSC) have not properly evaluated alternate sites, if at all, and to date have not engaged the local community in any discussion.

With a Federal election in train, why can’t we get a commitment from our Eden Monaro candidates, Telstra or the MBSC to properly investigate what appears to be a cost effective equitable investment of OUR tax dollars at a site known as the Hangman, 6.5 km north of the Village?

A Village site in the base of the valley will serve just the immediate Village environs, no doubt ‘ticking’ the black spot box and serving a political agenda. However, there appears to be two logical alternate sites that can achieve greater coverage with subjectively far greater value for their associated expenditure:

  • A new tower at the Hangman. This site would serve large parts of the District, up to a 40 km radius, serving up to 10 times the number of residents that a Village tower would serve
  •  Co-locate with no additional tower construction costs on the existing NBN tower 2.3 km from the Village, serving perhaps 50 additional residents, compared to a Village tower

The proposed location in the Numeralla Village does not meet the needs of the larger community, ignoring large swathes of potential users, residents, itinerant campers, tourists and workers alike.  A tower at the Hangman would appear to effectively address large parts of other identified District black spots such as Jerangle, Peak View, Badja, Countegany, Tuross, Carlaminda, and Rose Valley. In addition, it would reach the Monaro Highway to the west to parts of Murrumbucca and beyond.

Further, the Hangman site would dramatically improve emergency communication capability across the District. The District for the most part has no Bega based ABC AM reception, our designated emergency broadcaster. During times of emergency, effective communication is an ongoing challenge. Response and management of the relatively recent Yarrabin Bush Fire in the District suffered due to poor communication. Incidents requiring detouring Monaro Highway traffic result in significant numbers of vehicles using Peak View Road north of Numeralla and the Cooma Numeralla Road, often at night in poor conditions. Peak View Road is a largely unsealed, winding and narrow road about 40 km long with a heavy wildlife presence and no current mobile phone coverage, nor would it be covered by a Village or NBN phone tower. Then there are the incidents that occur in the bush and paddock that speedy communication can assist alleviating. Not to mention the NSW Ambulance’ use of mobile phones for transmission of ECG data that improves the survivability of patients with heart condition by enabling preliminary treatment enroute.

It should be noted that phone communication is not one way, effective, equitable communication infrastructure benefits the entire community, not just those living in remote areas, communication is two way and benefits those at both ends of the dialogue.

The Hangman site will no doubt cost more to implement than either the Village or NBN site due to provision of electrical power, site tenure and access. NDAI believes the additional expenditure up front is justified due to the dramatically increased coverage that the site offers, and offers straight away. When will the rest of the District black spots be addressed if this opportunity is missed now?

NDAI believes that siting the tower at the Hangman will result in significantly greater mobile phone coverage and a net cost benefit. NDAI therefore requests that the Hangman site be fully evaluated as a site for the mobile phone tower, and if it’s found not viable, explain why not.

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Monaro Council/Shire Mergers

The following is NDAI’s submission to the review:

27 February 2016

Council Boundary Review
Bombala, Cooma-Monaro Shire and Snowy River Shire Councils

Numeralla and District Activities Incorporated (NDAI), the community association representing the interests of the Numeralla district of Cooma Monaro Shire, strongly objects to the proposed merger of Bombala, Cooma-Monaro Shire and Snowy River Shire Councils.

NDAI has reached this position after reviewing the documentation made available by the NSW Government supporting the merger. The documentation appears flawed in many ways. Even if we were to accept it at face value, there appears to be no substantiative evidence to support a merger. The documents considered are:

1. KPMG Merger Business Case Report 18 May 2015
2. Fit For The Future Information Sheet; Cooma Monaro Shire Council
3. Community Consultation Findings 12 June 2015
4. Assessment on IPART site; Fit For Future; Cooma-Monaro Shire Council – CIP
5. Merger Proposal Bombala Council, Cooma-Monaro Shire Council, Snowy River Shire Council January 2016

Specific Issues Identified

• At odds with the assertion that there has been four years of extensive consultation, NDAI believes that there has been negligible community consultation to date:

o We note that the KPMG Merger Business Case Report is dated 18 May, 2015 and Cooma-Monaro Shire Council had to lodge its response for assessment as shown on the IPART site by 12 June 2015.

Part of the input required was the Community Consultation Findings; these findings are dated 12 June 2015 to meet the deadline.

How much consultation can be expected in less than 4 weeks from the release date of the Report?

Many people here are now just becoming aware of what is proposed.

• Doc 1, Key Findings states:

o “An analysis of the potential financial impacts of a merger of all three councils indicated a net benefit of $3.71 million over the ten year period”


o “When the NSW Government financial support to assist with council mergers is included in the analysis, the net financial benefit from the proposed merger increases to $13.76m”

Minister Paul Toole, stated in his foreword to the Merger Proposal, Doc 5, that there is a total benefit of $33 m over 20 years. This appears to be made up of the $13.76 m as stated in the KPMG Report, and referred to in the Executive Summary of the Merger proposal, and the $20 m from State Government, referred to in the Minister’s foreword.

However, the KPMG Merger Business Case, doc 1 above, already includes the State Government financial support. The KPMG document refers to a 10 year horizon. It appears that in effect $30 m of the $33 m identified benefit is coming directly from the State Government.

If this interpretation is incorrect, then its communication is poor. If this interpretation is correct, then it’s no justification at all. The numbers don’t add up!

• Nevertheless, whatever the actual amount, State Government money is actually OUR money, it’s OUR taxes that fund our Government. How can this significant expense be ignored in the financial case? It would be better for us in the three Shires if it was divided up and provided directly for, say, infrastructure development instead of the new stationery that will no doubt be required by a merged entity.

• An assumption is made that fewer councillors will be prorata cheaper? Fewer councillors will incur:
o higher per capita expenses, not reduced or equal, due to additional travel and overnight expenses of councillors and support staff
o harder access for community members, so more indirect community costs are incurred
o harder for councillors to be across all the issues in a much larger shire
o nevertheless, the amount presumed to be saved, $500,000, as a result of fewer elected officials appears wrong. Mayoral and councillor expenses across the 3 shires are not much more than that now. Or does this imply there will be no elected officials in the merged shire?

• Cabramurra and the Alpine areas are referred to as an inclusion in the merged Shire. They are currently inside Kosciuszko National Park? Is the Park to be annexed by the merged Shires too?

• Why was there no normalisation of road depreciation?

o Cooma depreciates their roads at $4,500/km
o Bombala depreciates their roads at $1,800/km

With about 800 km of roads each, this is a significant inconsistency in the financial analysis.

• The report states that the total infrastructure backlog for the three shires is $146 million. The Shires currently report it at $23.19m as follows:

Bombala $5.380m
Cooma $6.449m
Snowy River $11.361m
Total $23.190m
KPMG $146m
Discrepancy $122.81m

What has gone on here? Aren’t KPMG supposed to be financial experts?

• Doc 5, the KPMG business case, does not identify any guaranteed benefits. There are many “may” and “potential” benefits, with almost none actually identified let alone quantified.

o It’s stated that; “Scale and capacity is a minimum requirement as it is the best indicator of a council’s ability to govern effectively and provide a strong voice for its community.”

‘Scale and capacity’ seems to be the holy grail. What is ‘scale and capacity’, and how much is enough. The need for it is not backed up by any evidence, how does it relate to effective governance as stated?

Further; “The proposed merger will provide significant opportunities to strengthen the role and strategic capacity of the new council to partner with the NSW and Australian governments on major infrastructure projects, addressing regional socio-economic challenges, delivery of services and focus on regional priorities.”

What regional priorities, socio-economic challenges, which region? What’s strategic capacity? Not just provide opportunities, but ‘significant’ ones!

More waffle.

• Doc 4 says that, Cooma Monaro Shire currently fails in 2 of the areas of the ‘Fit for Future’ assessment. As a merged entity, that entity fails to meet the criteria in 3 areas. How is that better for all, if it’s such an important criteria?

• One of the failed aspects in the Fit for the Future assessment is that Cooma Monaro Shire Council will need to seek increased rates above the pegging rate in the future. It’s then stated that under the merged entity, that this will still be a requirement. It’s another apparent disconnect that will occur no matter whether the merger happens or not.

• Doc 1, KPMG Key Findings states “the three councils’ resources are already stretched…” and “a merger will likely lead to a loss of approximately 19 FTE”. (FTE; Full Time Employees) How is that good for the future of services provided to the community? Fewer councillors won’t be further stretched as well?

• Doc 5 cherry picks examples, with no explanation as to their merit, as further justifications for the merger:

o Lithgow City Council has 9 councillors, 4551 km2, therefore the 15,000 km2 merged entity will also function ideally with 9 councillors. Cooma Monaro Shire alone is already 5229 km2
o There are merged larger Shires in Queensland and Victoria, so it therefore must be good for rural NSW and the Monaro. How so, why are they exemplars?
o Nine councillors cannot be in touch with issues across a diverse merged ‘Monaro’ Shire with an area of about 15,000 km2. Local Government will no longer be local for much of a merged Shire

• Numerous identified benefits can be realised by cooperation without the merger, as per numerous existing examples like the Library and Community Transport. Consistent planning laws, like a number of other issues, are no doubt desirable, however they are not dependant on a merger.

• History shows merging of organisations, rather than adsorption, invariably results in increased layers of management and responsibilities and consequent increased costs, witness RFS and LLS in recent times in NSW.

• Doc 5; why is it that flood risk management for Cooma is somehow dependant on the merger? Is this bribery, a threat, coercion, confusion?

• If for a moment we were to accept all the flawed arguments in favour, and the merger progressed, the bottom line financial justification is that there will be approximately 1% net improvement in the merged entities’ financial position. This is a number seemingly based on best case assumptions and still down around or below the error ‘noise’ of a future financial projection. This is at the cost of local representation on Council for much of the community. This is a cost that is not justified.

It appears that a political decision has been made to merge our shires for reasons not clear to us in the bush. Perhaps there is a political need to sort out Sydney councils in some way and we are just collateral damage? This is being railroaded though with negligible consultation and fundamentally flawed justification.

Doc 5 again; “The proposed merger will create a council better able to meet the needs of the community into the future and will provide significant benefits for the community.”

As this has not been demonstrated to us in any way by the process to date, NDAI strongly objects to the merger based on the non-justification made by the NSW Government.

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Management of the Badja Reserve (the Junction)

Recently the Council erected a barrier in order to manage and rehabilitate damaged areas at the Badja Reserve (the Junction). This action became necessary due to ongoing damage from vehicles and fires being lit in non-designated fireplaces. We are advised however, that the area will be available for the Folk Festival (see below).

Information about the long term management strategy for the Badja Reserve may be obtained from the Council.

The Badja Reserve campground at Numeralla is managed by the Cooma Monaro Shire Council. The lower area of the Badja Reserve campground has recently been closed to vehicle access in order to manage and rehabilitate the area. Vehicles can still access the upper areas of the reserve for camping, and the area around the tennis courts in the village.

The lower area will be opened for camping for the 42nd Numeralla Folk Festival which will be held 22-25 January 2016. The Numeralla Folk Festival Committee is seeking advice from Council as to when the campground will be opened prior to the festival – as soon as we know we will let festival patrons know via this website and facebook page.

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European Wasps

Hello Everyone

This week I killed the first European wasp queen that I have seen this spring. They have emerged from hibernation and will now be busily breeding.

If you have children, fruit, bees or pets (not sure about livestock) or are allergic to stings, these insects pose a significant threat.

Having, long ago trained my children to have healthy respect for snakes, spiders and native wasps, I have never regarded any of them as serious pests requiring eradication. European wasps are.

Last season I eradicated six nests along the west bank of the Numeralla, in the vicinity of the school, and more elsewhere. All contained (estimated) at least a couple of thousand wasps. Unlike bees etc European wasps may produce hundreds of queens in a single nest. These establish new nests in the following spring.

Finding the nests is the most time consuming part of eradicating them. If you see the worker wasps on your fruit, or in your drink can, they are feeding and gathering food for more workers. Once bitten by wasps the fruit quickly becomes useless. When they have as much as they can carry they will eventually fly off in a straight line to the nest. If they fly in more than one direction, there are a number of nests around you. They take a long time to gather enough food, so much patience is required.

If they are in the dog or cat bowl or gathering meat from another source, they are feeding queens. This is much faster to observe because they quickly tear a strip off and fly directly to the nest. Their flight is slower because of the load being carried. I put out a small piece of meat and observe their flight direction, then all I need to know is how far is the nest. In most cases this will require movement of the bait along the flight path to where the wasp disappeared. Eventually you may see the wasps at the nest but are more likely to hear them first. All that I have found locally have been holes in the ground, sometimes hidden under tussocks. For further information Google: European wasps in Australia.

It is inadvisable to approach to closely or to attempt eradication during daylight, particularly if you intend to sprinkle the recommended ant & roach dust around the nest entrance, however do look for multiple entrances. Mark all nest entrances clearly at a distance of about 2 metres, depending on how active they are. I use 1.2 metre lengths of heavy wire with a bit of flagging tape and align two, sometimes three so that there is no mistake about where they are in the dark.

Wait until it is well and truly dark! A new moon is preferable or a cloudy night. Wasps sometimes are still returning to the nest well after sunset and are likely to get you from behind. Cover up! Wear loose dark clothes, a hat and preferably a bee net over your head, particularly your face. Cover your torch or lantern with a red filter or red cellophane as they do not see it and head for the light. Make sure you treat them effectively the first time, because they may be very aggressive on further attempts.

I am prepared to help out in eradication if you are not experienced in this sort of operation, but I do not have time to locate nests all over the valley.

If you want help or advice you can contact me on 64533009 or email:

Mark Shubert


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