Straight-forward questions

I read with interest and some incredulity that the ABC's 7.30 Victoria had selectively edited and distorted the Macedon Ranges Shire Council's decision to develop the 'East Paddock' ('Incorrect view', November 5, 2013, Peter Johnston, CEO, Macedon Ranges Shire Council).

Peter Johnston is correct in saying the story was selectively edited. Every story broadcast on television is selectively edited. However, if the story distorted council's decision making, then Peter Johnston needs to take responsibility for that by either his failure, or inability, to provide straight-forward answers to straight-forward questions about the finances of the Hanging Rock Reserve.

In light of the fact the Hanging Rock Reserve has generated a budget surplus in nine of the past 10 years, I am more than happy for Midland Express readers to make up their own minds about whether 7.30 Victoria's story on Hanging Rock was distorted.

TRANSCRIPT EXTRACT

GS: Isn't Hanging Rock currently operating at a profit?

PJ: No Hanging Rock's not operating at a profit at the moment.

GS: What is the precise financial situation of Hanging Rock, there appeared to be an operating profit of about $150k?

PJ: That varies from year to year ... sometimes it makes a profit, sometimes it makes a loss.

GS: So it has just made a profit but some years it makes a loss?

PJ: I'm saying some years it makes a profit, some years it makes a loss.

GS: You say the rock has had profits and losses over the last 10 years, can you give me a net figure up or down over the last 10 years?

PJ: They've fluctuated, usually fluctuated up to the extent of $100k a year profit or loss

GS: (Interrupting) But is it down over the 10 years?

PJ: There's a small amount in the reserve at the moment but that's because we've been looking at the best way to invest that for the infrastructure upgrades that are required now and into the future.

GS: I'm just curious that initially you said it was operating at a loss and that was the reason why there needed to be development.

PJ: No, I didn't say it was operating at a loss, I said it operated at a profit or loss, year to year.

* The full transcript of the relevant sections of that 15-minute interview may be viewed at:

www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-11/hanging-rock-development-no-picnic-for-council/5017990

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