Brian Dale, Mullumbimby
In response to Ben Franklin’s letter, I feel the Nationals have only just now discovered the Ballina electorate. I moved to Mullumbimby from Victoria in 1998. In Victoria the Nationals really cared about their electorate.
However, I could not believe the neglect that greeted me when I moved here. The roads were appalling, and in some cases still are. The Pacific Highway was no more than a country road. To exit the T-intersection from Byron Bay onto the so-called highway was a death trap. The libraries were small, overcrowded and under stocked. As a primary school teacher moving from the Melbourne fringe, I found the schools in this area to be sadly lacking in resources and especially infrastructure. Integration for the disabled was almost non-existent.
We initially rented at Ocean Shores where there was no television or phone reception. This was a huge challenge with a disabled son and a mother-in-law suffering dementia. The only benefit was the Mullumbimby hospital which was a couple of hundred metres down the road. Now, of course, in an emergency we have to drive to Byron.
It also seems unbelievable that the State Government will not consider a bed tax to alleviate the impact of tourists on the Byron environment. In 1998, I could not believe that the electorates, both State and Federal had many, many years of parliamentary members from the National Party. Doug Anthony was Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister. Yet the neglect was incredible. It seems that it is only now that the electorate swung to the other side that the Nationals are interested in holding onto the little influence they have.