Who will pay the penalty?

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In the wall adjacent to the Point Lonsdale pier is the above “Survey Mark.” Readers will note that this artefact of Point Lonsdale’s history, this surveyor’s mark, exists with a warning of a £50 penalty for anyone who might be tempted to engage in “interference”. The integrity of coastal mapping was and is at stake. We cannot really allow for the marker to be unilaterally shifted by those who might wish to souvenir a nice artefact for their lounge room wall or their coastal hideout.

There was, and is still, a need for meticulous accuracy when measuring tidal shifts in the sand and sea. I’m not an expert in the technology of guiding ships through “The Rip” but I can imagine that the authorities who had this “Survey Mark” installed knew well enough why they needed it to remain in place without “interference”.

As the Queenscliff museum will reveal to those who are interested in our community’s history: we are located at the start of southern Australia’s “ship wreck coast”.

I am only one of the local residents who are dismayed by the “place name theft” that is now associated with the real estate development on the west side of Fellows Road. They have tried to sell their properties by referring to the precinct as “The Point”. It is not Point Lonsdale’s point. Point Lonsdale’s point is 3km away on the coast and its exact place on the map is indicated by the survey mark, interference with which, to say it again, incurs a £50 penalty.

Over a period of 3 years I have sent out emails to this real estate business, to Councillors of the Queenscliffe Borough and those of Geelong. I have made my views known by letters in local papers and generally continue to make a “point” of directing people’s attention to the true location of our coastal community’s “point”. I have not been the only one to have gone into print on this. A friend of mine, an accomplished writer, has written about this “place name theft” in a popular on-line magazine.

I would like to suggest that the “place name theft” that Point Lonsdale community has to deal with involves a serious “interference”. It may not be a physical vandalisation of the above pictured artefact that can be seen in its place near the pier and the Point Lonsdale lighthouse. But we have been subjected to , a serious “interference” and I would respectfully suggest that there is a violation of our civic and coastal responsibility here as citizens that requires redress.

I have no actual data as to when the Survey Mark was put in place. It may well have been in the 19th century. Let’s say it was there at Federation (1901) – which is convenient for my calculation because the Reserve Bank’s Pre-Decimal Inflation Calendar does not reach back before that date. So what would £50 at 1901 rates mean for today’s penalty? The calculation given by the web-robot is a cool: $7,200.

Now this is written to engage our calculation of the unpriceables in our community life, the value of our community’s name. And to think about the unpriceability of that I am simply proposing an exercise in our civic imagination.

There’s about 2400 residents of Point Lonsdale. OK let’s levy a $1 fine on each of us. We simply haven’t been civic-minded enough; we haven’t respected our community’s name as we should have. Let’s penalise ourselves $1 each and $2400 of the weighted penalty means 33% of $7,200. Let’s weight it that way since this is the name of our community, Point Lonsdale. We’re responsible.

Although the Real Estate developer should shoulder it’s fair share of this penalty – it could have changed the name of the precinct very early on in its development but it hasn’t done so and it has continued to maintain its rude presumption with its two web-sites; the “interference” from the theft of (part of) our name – a dismemberment of Point Lonsdale – continues to this day. So what would we say: let’s put it at 25% liability for their share of the penalty ($1800)?

And what about the City of Greater Geelong that effectively flagged through the “place name theft” of a point on the coast as well as the name of the community whose centre of gravity lies outside its own ballywick? 12% ($840). And what about the failure of the Queenscliffe Borough Council to raise its public concern not only to CGGC but also to remind us, the people who elected them, of the integrity of our and their own place of residence? I’d say another 10%. ($720). Then of course there is the State Government that should pay 10% ($720) for its negligence and let’s not forget the Federal Government chipping in with its 10% ($720).

Now I can imagine that some readers will be bemused; they may even think this is “whoopee”. What I am trying to suggest is that things do happen to our local life and we, as citizens, as members of our community don’t lose our responsibility just because we do nothing, or are not interested, or tell ourselves that we are political. We are political; we are citizens and the name of our community, the good name of our community, is also an ongoing part of our responsibility as citizens.

I do not think we should allow our name to be stolen, usurped, dismembered as it has been.

The surveyors who embedded the “survey mark” understood its importance. It helped to identify the place.

We should take note and respect the integrity of our coastal community and guard its name from theft.

11.1.17

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