Benefits for Manilla – Fact or Fiction?

The Namoi River Community Group Inc. have grave concerns over the history of the Strathfield developers. Photo courtesy Flopp (Matthew) Fletcher.

The Namoi River Community Group Inc. have grave concerns over the future of this beautiful river, given the history of the Strathfield developers. Photo courtesy Flopp (Matthew) Fletcher.

 A historical fiction writer must study historical facts; and research is a big part of my life. Many months, even years, are spent delving into the period setting of a book, including the news of the day; what people wore, ate, talked about, believed; how they lived, spoke, dressed, went about in society and conducted their business.

HF authors are, by necessity, investigative: you can find out a lot about people by the way they behave in their dealings with others.

It is easy to see clearly, in hindsight, the mistakes of the past; to pinpoint the exact set of circumstances that caused something to go wrong. So much ends in tragedy that could, so easily, have been avoided.

As a member of the Namoi River Community Group Inc. and faced with the ‘pros and cons’ dilemma of the huge proposed development on Strathfield, I decided to research it as I would a novel. But plotting the future is much more difficult than the past.

In trying to sift the facts from the miasma of rumour, contradictory statements, misinformation and apparent games of ‘smoke and mirrors’, my research has thrown up some disquieting questions. The group has already compiled a disturbing list of facts about the track record of the developers. You will find it here.

Believe me, I don’t want to have to write an unhappy ending!

So, if you think it may be worth sacrificing the health, safety and comfort of all the citizens of Manilla for perceived benefits to the business end of town, I would beg you to think again:

About questions such as the viability of having to wait a full 180 days for payments for goods and services (having outlayed in advance for them); and the wisdom of signing contracts that bind one party hand and foot, but allow the other to escape on a legal technicality. (Including ones you’d never dream of!)

Then there’s the question of employment: a succulent carrot for any small town. “600 jobs,” proclaimed our mayor.

Great for Tamworth! But what about Manilla, Mr Mayor?

Before you make up your mind about the truth of this statement, take a look at this and ask yourself: Who will get the jobs?

Do the words of Deputy Mayor Webb add credence to the, as yet, unconfirmed reports of Tamworth houses fitted out with bunk-style accommodation for imported workers?

And, while I’m about it: Here’s a question I would like to ask our mayor on behalf of all the citizens of my town:

Councillor Murray, would you approve a development of this type and magnitude in a sensitive catchment area above the Tamworth water supply?

The people of Manilla await your answer.