I was surprised to see the backlash towards the City of Greater Geraldton over the recent loss of jobs within the city staff. For the last two years incessant cries of "reduce the rates" have in no way been countered by anyone asking for the City to continue to spend money as it's needed.
Yet when the reality of reducing expenses actually occurs, no-one wants to see job losses, or wants their precious kerb side collection to disappear.
Perhaps this is to be expected. Only those who are negatively affected by something bother to sign petitions, create community groups, or attend council meetings. So those who are happy with moderate rate increases for the foreseeable future made no noise at all, and those who are secretly happy to see staff reductions at the city also made no noise when that happened.
I'd like to make some noise in favour of something that I don't think is under threat yet, but I'd like it to stay that way; namely the level of funding provided towards the arts and culture in Geraldton.
"Arts and culture" is a broad term. In many people's mind it basically means painting, or maybe it means "waste of money".
Arts and culture, to me, encompasses everything from performances and entertainment, to sculptures, literature and paintings. Sport also plays a massive role in the culture of the Geraldtonian, and needs to continue to be fostered.
Over the last 8 years, I watched my step daughter succeed year after year in the Randolph Stow awards. For those who don't know, Randolph Stow was a successful author who hailed from Geraldton. The awards are run by the City of Greater Geraldton through the Library, and the opportunity for young people to participate is city wide.
She is now at UWA studying to become an English Teacher. It would be inaccurate to say the only reason she chose that is because of the awards. But remembering her pleasure in receiving the awards each year makes me appreciate the contribution they played in fostering a love in her for the craft of writing.
As the accountants and number crunchers look at what the council is spending money on and what it needs to cut back on, items like these are going to be hard to justify. But I would argue that they are somewhat priceless.
As much as I love business and free enterprise, things like this are unlikely to ever be funded by the private sector, as a direct return on investment is essentially impossible.
But without a thriving culture, what makes Geraldton a great place to live?
The sports, music and arts scenes in Geraldton have all birthed wonderful stories. The Mid West punches well above its weight when it comes to the number of sports starts we've exported, considering our population.
We've also produced a premier, the first female parliamentarian, and multiple award winning authors, and I'm sure there's much more to come.
Geraldton has been fortunate to become host to a wonderful new organisation called the "Comedy Emporium" in recent years. We have the well known Sunshine Festival each year which gives many people a sense of Geraldton's identity, we have a popular local basketball team, football league and lots of people who are into their fishing and hunting.
I understand organisations like the Chamber of Commerce demanding rate reductions. If businesses can't afford to do business, Geraldton becomes a less practical place to live. But without the rich tapestry of arts and culture, Geraldton would become a place little to offer, giving people even less reason to stay, and thus do business.
Geraldton really is an wonderful place to live. If you scratch the surface of our friendly and laid back lifestyle, you'll see an enormous spectrum of culture and art that adds a unique flavour to life in our region.
Let's not allow that to fall into disarray like a poorly maintained road, for the sake of a few dollars a week.