Letter to the Editor: Language shapes our ideas and culture

DEAR News Of The Area,

INCREASINGLY the debate over foreshore development occupies the Opinion and Letters section of NOTA.

Opinions are wide ranging but generally fall into two groups: those for and those against.

My letter is not about picking sides but rather the language used and how language influences ideas and opinions.

Recently Grace and Ian Blackie (NOTA 12/04/2024) asserted that ratepayers should ‘make decisions on the Foreshores’.

I do not agree and here are some reasons.

Many in the community are renting (29.4 percent ABS Census 2021) and according to Grace and Ian would not have a say in what was to happen at the foreshore.

Almost one-third of the community.

What about those who invest in property here but live remotely?

Why should their opinion carry any more weight than a local resident?

Further, about ten percent of the community are aged 15-24 years and many of this group would likewise have no input.

I’m guessing many of this group do not own property.

Then we consider our seniors in various retirement facilities, many of whom contribute to the facilities rates but are nonetheless not considered ratepayers.

I couldn’t find an estimate on the number but sixteen percent of the community were aged over 70 years (ABS Census 2021).

I did not write this letter to criticise Grace and Ian and I am sure they would not want their message construed in this way.

However, the language promotes inequity and elitism.

If we are a community bound by common values and purpose then why shouldn’t all members of the community be treated equally?

Language is our primary tool of expression and communication.

Language shapes people and their culture.

Language is beautiful when not abused.

However, when it is misused to spread misinformation and disinformation it fuels the rise of such things as the ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘Trumpian politics’.

Language can be enlightening, a defence of the indefensible and ‘make lies sound truthful and murders acceptable’ (Orwell).

It comes in many forms such as the political spin and obfuscation that we see in the debate over foreshore development.

NOTA, be careful with the language.

Peter O’BRIEN,
Coffs Coast.

2 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: Language shapes our ideas and culture

  1. Progress in Coffs Harbour and redevelopment of the Jetty Foreshores is being delayed by a few Greens councillors who do not speak for the majority of Coffs Harbour residents as they were elected onto councillor on a ticket not individual votes from the community endorsing them as suitable to be on council. The Greens speak for what 5% of the general voters in Coffs Harbour according to every NSW election every held. But the impasse on council on the shoulders of these Greens councillors is what happens when party politics enters local council elections.
    How about the General Manager of Coffs Harbour Council sends out a document to every ratepayer in Coffs Harbour with the rate payment notices (among the highest rates in regional NSW) asking whether they support the State Government’s plans to develop the foreshores. Council’s position should then be adopted based on feedback from the ratepayers not on the ideology of a few professional students serving as councillors. This council is continually forgetting its core responsibility in engrossing itself in State Government matters. How about council just focusses on its core responsibilities like cleaning up the graffitti on the highway walls on the Pacific Highway near Park Beach Plaza and leave the planning and development of the foreshores to the professionals
    Remember when Coffs Council got given $1 million to fix up the boat ramp from the State Government and their planning and rock wall could not even stop the sand from entering the basin
    Or what about the viewing deck built at Diggers Beach maybe 5 years ago which has now been demolished and remains an eyesore with large concrete piers sticking out of the dunes
    Or when council back by these Greens councillors voted to build the monostrous council building which the public did not support still they proceeding against public wishes
    Ratepayers in Coffs Harbour pay among the highest rates in regional NSW we deserve better public representation when it comes to taking the region forward
    It is time to vote the Greens councillors out of office at the next election

  2. Those in retirement villages that don’t pay rates should be entitled The same as those who pay rates

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