Letters to the editor | October 6 edition of The Esperance Express

Member for Agricultural Region Colin De Grussa with the new shark sign he funded, placed on the way to Kelp Beds.
Member for Agricultural Region Colin De Grussa with the new shark sign he funded, placed on the way to Kelp Beds.

Bigger sign doesn’t make it safer

The big high visibility sign that is located at Wylie Bay Beach and the Shark Locating Buoys around Esperance create a false sense of security on our beaches. Why? Because they inform us of what we already know, that sharks live in the ocean. These buoys can only locate those sharks that have been tagged with a GPS transmitter. There are still plenty of sharks that have not been tagged. On the CSIRO website they mention that “… no reliable estimate of white shark numbers…” or for that matter any shark breed can accurately be assessed. Just because a shark that has been tagged isn’t in the area, doesn’t mean there are no sharks. In fact there usually are. Also mentioned on their website “While it may give the impression that sharks have rapidly increased in numbers, it is the ability to see and report them that has substantially increased.” So in reality there are still plenty of sharks in the ocean, but we are more aware of them.

The big issue here is the lack of any reliable data on sharks in Australia. We still don’t know where their breeding areas are, and where their feeding grounds are. It is assumed that Kelp Beds is a shark feeding area. Mr De Grussa should really be pushing for more research on sharks instead of spending $3500 hiring a big sign reminding us what we already know. If anything, more funding and infrastructure to ensure rapid life-saving care should be considered. Maybe if a medical helicopter was purchased to access remote areas, and increased our wonderful but often overworked volunteer ambulance staff to perhaps full time employed 24hr available staff, then such emergency aid could be delivered sooner. Those people who say we should kill sharks are not solving the problem. Sharks are aquatic animals, humans are land animals, we are entering the shark’s territory and the shark behaves on its own nature. The sharks don’t have a vendetta against humans, which is small minded thinking from ignorant people. Instead we should educate ourselves on shark behaviour and learn where sharks feed and breed. Culling solves nothing and creates illusions of safer beaches.

What we really need to do is remind ourselves of the risk we take in life. We cannot remove all risk, and if we did life would be very boring. A person needs to be responsible for their choices in life, not look for ways to blame, or expect to have someone protect them from life. If a person doesn’t want to swim with a risk of being attacked by a shark, then visit your local swimming pool. 

William Dearborn

West Beach

Beautiful town jetty

I 100 per cent agree with Dave Law’s letter in the Express. I am a born and bred Esperance local. At the age of 18 I left for the southwest and called Busselton and Dunsborough home for ten years. 

I enjoyed the original Busselton jetty and along with the community pushed and donated to get it restored. 

The southwest community with its shire councils all united to ensure that they could replace the structure as close as possible to the original. 

Even reinstating all the memorial plaques remembering the passed away locals that loved its structure and environment. No one questioned its replacement. 

Since coming home with my young family I have noticed the division and strange motives of this shire towards such a joy-bringing and historic structure. 

I love this town and its heritage. I cant understand why everyone won't unite and get the job done. 

Jetties such as this provide an amazing platform socially and historically, bringing together young and old, travelers and locals. Its an investment, whatever the cost you put on it.

Kyle Mackean

West Beach

Love the town but respect each other

We all live in Esperance because we love this town – we love the spectacular coastlines, the lifestyle and the community. But our community is fractured right now.

People feel very passionately about the big issues in our community. Unfortunately, for some, this passion is beginning to be expressed as anger, and things are getting downright nasty, particularly on social media. So let’s put aside the personal attacks, the name calling and the nastiness. Let’s accept that not everyone will have the same views and opinions, but that we all ultimately want the same thing. 

We want Esperance, and this community, to be the best it can be. We might just have different ideas on how to get there.

Tori Castledine 

Esperance 

Accountability. Honesty. Transparency.

It should be of paramount importance, if not mandatory, to expect our elected officials (aka Esperance Shire Council executive and members) to report accurately and truthfully when authorising articles which will most likely be read by a large number of the local community, as well as visitors and out-of-towners. In a letter by Shire of Esperance deputy president Natalie Bowman published in the Esperance Express on September 29, headlined ‘Recent history of the Tanker Jetty’, deputy president Bowman states: “Our community told us they wanted a replacement in the same location, in the same curved shape and ideally the same length.” In an article published in the Esperance Express on April 2, 2016 headlined ‘Shire mulls jetty survey response’, shire president Victoria Brown stated:

“It is apparent the community as a whole wants a replacement structure in the same place as the existing jetty.”

Both statements are falsehoods, incorrect and misleading.

By definition, ‘a community’ as a singular group is a body of people living in the same location. ‘Our community’ and ‘the community as a whole’, each as a singular group, is representative of the majority of the people living in the same location. The majority of Esperance’s residents did not endorse a replacement jetty.

Between February 18, 2016 and March 21, 2016, the shire conducted a survey in the form of written responses in a document headlined ‘Tanker Jetty Replacement Survey’. A shire media release on April 3, 2016 recorded that 1770 completed surveys were received (less than 12 per cent of the population of Esperance) and 459 of those were from high school students. The release went on to state “...However it was disappointing that it (the input) was not higher being such a significant community issue.”

Considering the survey was headlined ‘Tanker Jetty Replacement Survey’, it is no wonder the response was disappointing. Why would any resident/ratepayer who wanted the jetty saved, bother to respond when it was clearly obvious that the shire had already decided the jetty would be demolished and replaced?

In October 2016, the Shire of Esperance released two concept designs (based on the feedback from the 1770 completed surveys) to potentially replace the Tanker Jetty. The designs were displayed at the Esperance and Districts Agricultural Show. Given that all of the population did not attend the show, and given that over 6000 residents would not have had any interest in selecting a preferred design, it is then clearly apparent that ‘the community’ did not select a preferred design. In an article published in the Esperance Express soon after the Agricultural Show, headlined ‘Jetty plans hit wall with opposition’, the second paragraph stated:

“More than 6000 people, around 60 per cent of the population of Esperance, signed the petition to save the Tanker Jetty.”

The fourth paragraph stated:

”The Group’s chairman David Eltringham said that the six thousand plus people clearly want the Esperance Tanker Jetty retained, restored and maintained.”

So, we have the majority of the community of Esperance wanting the jetty saved. But didn’t both shire president Victoria Brown and deputy president Natalie Bowman say ‘the community as a whole’ and ’our community’ want a replacement jetty?

When shire executive are elected by the majority of the community, the least that should be expected is that the executive continue to represent the wishes of the majority of the community.

Rod Smoker

Esperance