Fire disaster reveals the true strength of community spirit

NATURAL disasters are part and parcel of life in rural Australia.

Fires, storms, floods – in recent years we’ve seen many facets of living in our variable climate in the Ballarat region.

Through all manner of incidents, there is a true community spirit that never ceases to amaze us. 

Never more so than that being experienced in the Chepstowe and Carngham districts this week, as the community recovers from a devastating wildfire.

The incredible strength of the community, as we report today, keeps people going when they otherwise have no hope and no energy.

It seems from the warnings that every ounce of energy and determination will be required again today, and throughout this summer, as the fire danger rises.

A Total Fire Ban has been declared across the state today and hot temperatures and strong northerly winds will only enhance fears of flare-ups or new fires.

Given what has been experienced during the past two weeks, the resolve of all our communities will be tested.

Voting changes would struggle for support

AUSTRALIANS will go to the polls in the federal election sometime later this year – and one fact we know for sure is that all eligible residents will be compelled to vote.

It’s a system that has been in place for many years and has worked successfully, despite significant numbers of informal votes at federal polls in the past decade.

The suggestion that changes will be made to preferential voting systems – effectively meaning that voters would not have to number the ballot and give preferences to candidates they may not support – would be a major shift from current provisions.

The idea has support in some political circles, particularly those on the right, as any change could potentially damage smaller parties, including the Greens.

Others say it would reduce complications in the voting process, and therefore the number of informal votes.

Despite talk of change, it is not supported by the leadership of the two major parties – and voters should expect a full investigation before any such action is taken.

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