Winter General Meeting (and AGM)

From: 
Saturday, 15 August 2015 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

The Venue for this public meeting will be at the Kippax Library.

Where the Murrumbidgee's Flowing....from the mountains to the sea.

This talk presents a picture of the Murrumbidgee and of Charles Sturt’s exploration of its tortuous course until, 1600 km from its source high up in the Snowy Mountains, it joins the ‘broad and noble’ Murrray before eventually, with the waters of the Murray and many other streams, flowing into the sea in South Australia. The talk includes comments on the land at Belconnen granted to Sturt in 1835 as a reward for his exploration work, with relevant maps and photographs.

Our guest speaker this afternoon is Barrie Virtue. Barrie and his wife Claire have lived in Canberra for more than 50 years, having moved here from Lismore in 1964 when Barrie joined the staff of the then Minister for the Interior, Doug Anthony.

After almost 20 years in that job he went to the Law Council of Australia when Mr Anthony retired from parliament in 1984, and spent 13 years with the Council.

In retirement Barrie worked as a voluntary guide at the Australian War Memorial for 16 years and these days devotes much of his time to speaking to various community groups on a wide range of subjects.


President's Annual Report - 2014-15
Christopher Watson (August 2015)

Thanks to Committee

Our Association's strength lies in the various roles played by your committee. Vice President, Brian Rhynehart, is the backbone of public events and liaises with the Belconnen Community Council - as does Vena Murray, too. Secretary, John Connelly, not only does our monthly minutes but also writes submissions and records various deputations and other meetings with allied groups. Treasurer, Doug Finlayson, is meticulous, and continues to create regular illustrated park updates and articles for magazines: his latest is a land use history of the Ginninderra Falls and Gorge area. Webmaster, Darryl Seto also does our regular newsletter. Thanks, too, Robyn Coghlan's submissions and convening a group to investigate water quality problems affecting both Ginninderra Creek and the nearby Murrumbidgee River. Last but not least, Ellen Robinson, has been very active especially with a new baby in her arms.

Let us remember, too, our Patrons, Meredith Hunter and Dr Bryan Pratt.

National Park Working Group Needed Urgently

We have long sought the formation of a group of Professional Park experts from both NSW and ACT to give boundary recommendations for a Park centered on Ginninderra Gorge and its falls, including both sides of the adjacent Murrumbidgee Gorge. There has already been a survey conducted in 2013 by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service: some 274ha was assessed to have 'conservation and recreational opportunities'. Governments in both NSW and the ACT are still yet to act on this. In fact, our Association has been treated with disrespect by NSW, ACT and the Vass Valley Council, by merely requesting that we participate in a planning committee which is convened by the ACT Land Development Agency. This has not worked as we had thought it would, as there appears to be no formal secretary and we have not received any minutes from their meetings.

‘Parkwood’ – Proposed Housing far too close to Gorges and Falls

Firm plans are now afoot for housing that will eventually stretch form outer West Belconnen to Ginninderra Gorge and its Falls in New South Wales.

Maps and detailed plans for this cross-border subdivision have been available for a year or so, but adequate urban setbacks from both Ginninderra and Murrumbidgee Gorges in NSW have yet to be achieved. For example, housing is set to come less than lOOm from the upper falls (see 'West Belconnen Project Community News' May 2015). We want corridors of at least 300m to preserve scenery, the native flora and fauna, and to provide an appropriate entrance to the National Park.

In our submissions on the first stage of urbanisation, near Strathnairn Arts Centre, we have asked both the ACT government and National Capital Authority to provide adequate corridor widths, buffer zones and reservation of hills and ridges both in the ACT and NSW. Such principles have always been deemed essential in planning of our National Capital and to be a condition of urbanisation across the border into NSW.

Necessary Involvement with Allied Groups

This past year has spawned much activity with other groups, especially with the ACT Conservation Council, the Ginninderra Catchment Group, and also 'Riverview Projects' itself. 'Riverview' has provided a number of consultancy reports which has made us aware of the dangers to threatened species.

A 'Ginninderra Falls Working Group' chaired by Damien Cusack, is now beginning biodiversity surveys in the Gorge. We now need to also become involved with a 'Bush on Boundary' (BOB) group, which will work on local environmental matters.

Aboriginal elder, Wally Bell reminds us that the Ginninderra Gorge area has been a ceremonial site for millennia.

The Way Ahead

We must strive to achieve public access to both the Upper and Lower Falls of Ginninderra Gorge within the next couple of years. This will require negotiation with 'Riverview Projects', also with the private owners, as well as financial assistance from all levels of government, namely ACT, NSW and Federal.

Walking tracks, look outs, and native vegetation all need to be restored. There also has to be an information centre (why not a 'Bio - centre' as proposed by Professor Stephen Boyden?), together with a cafe, and parking for cars and school buses. These facilities must be well set back from Ginninderra Gorge and its falls itself; an ideal site would be near the adjacent unsightly quarry, which can hopefully soon cease operations and then allow the landscape to be restored. All of the above will especially require the coordination of Riverview's David Maxwell.

May I conclude with ideas from our guiding light and patron, Dr Bryan Pratt:

  • To always talk of the 'Ginninderra Falls National Pork' so that the idea becomes part and parcel of the psyche and expectations of Canberrans as a whole.

  • Let ACT and regional residents realise that a large proportion of our population, primarily the young, are being denied the experience of visiting these falls and the grandeur of these Gorges.


Treasurer’s Report for the Financial Year 2014-2015

The constitution of the Ginninderra Falls Association stipulates that the Association financial year ends on 30 June each year. This report sets out the accounts of the Association for the period 1July 2014 to 30 June 2015.

The income during the financial year was derived mostly from members fees and a few donations. The number of financial members during the 2014-15 financial year was 21, a very disappointing level of financial support.

A statement of accounts is attached. The Association bank cheque account exists with the St George Bank (BSB 112-908; Account number 447 299 504) with five signatories (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Officer), any one of whom may singly operate the account. A receipt book, cheque book and a computer file of electronic receipts and bank statements document the Association income. A record is kept of all Association supporters, whether or not they are financial members.

In summary these accounts indicate the following –

Net bank and cash assets at 1 July 2014 $1345.72
Total income, 2014-15 $877.53
Total expenditure, 2014-15 $1329.12
Net bank assets at 30 June 2015 $894.13

The statement of accounts for the financial year 2014 to 2015 is attached.

Treasurer’s comments:

  • The Association chooses to be a member of the Conservation Council of the ACT along with other like- minded associations; there is a membership fee.
  • The Ginninderra Falls Association is obliged to have public liability insurance if it wishes to apply for grants and conduct meetings and excursions. Contrary to previous advice from the Conservation Council, it was found that the public liability insurance held by the Conservation Council of the ACT does not covers its member associations. Consequently a commercial insurer was necessary. This is a significant cost for the Association.
  • The Association maintains a web site that incurs commercial administration and running costs.
  • As a result of the cost of public liability insurance, the low fees charged for the financial year 2014-2015 cannot be sustained. Consequently a membership fee for the financial year 2015-2016 of $35 is recommended for every member (no family membership). Those supporters dependent solely on an aged/disability/study/unemployment Government income may seek membership fee relief from the Association Treasurer (entirely in confidence).
  • The small number of financial members during 2014-2015 is a cause for concern. If there is a continuing decline in financial members then the Association may lose its ATO tax free donation status.

Acknowledgements

The Association wishes to thank the following:

  • Organisations that have absorbed some costs associated with the operations of the Ginninderra Falls Association during 2014-15. In particular the Belconnen Community Council and the Ginninderra Catchment Group are thanked for absorbing some costs associated with meeting room hire, catering, printing and web site development costs.
  • Riverview Pty Ltd is thanked for sponsoring a proposed art exhibition at the Belconnen Arts Centre some time in 2016.
  • Individuals, including committee members, who have absorbed costs connected with the operations and administration of the Association and the promotion of the Association in the public domain.
  • The Association wishes especially to thank those individuals who have made donations to the Association.
  • Ben Natali, Australian National University, for auditing the Association accounts.

Signed

Douglas Finlayson
Hon. Treasurer, Ginninderra Falls Association

1 August 2015

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