The Standard's weekly letters to the editor

It was with great surprise that I read an article featuring comments from the out-of-touch Deputy Nationals Leader Steph Ryan about her angst that Labor is returning training to Glenormiston.

The deception that Steph Ryan, Roma Britnell and Simon Ramsay have shown, trying to rewrite history, is quite astonishing.

The trio have completely forgotten it was the Liberal National Coalition that closed and tried to sell off Glenormiston, for good.

The Coalition worked tirelessly to destroy TAFE during their four failed years in government and it is quite clear that Steph Ryan is continuing that dangerous legacy by continuing to undermine TAFE.

The Coalition want to keep Glenormiston closed; this is highly disrespectful to both the locals and industry leaders who have worked so hard to return training to Glenormiston.

Both the dairy industry and the racing industry are critical to our region and we should be supporting efforts to help locals study and train here.  

This is an opportunity for locals to get a leg up and secure a job close to home.

The coalition talk big on TAFE but when it comes to delivering for students and local communities their farcical approach is exposed for all to see.

The Hon Gayle Tierney MP, Minister for Training and Skills 

I attended the Hawkesdale meeting between community members and the Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer as an independent observer. 

Based on what I heard, it's clear some community members have had a bad experience with a developer. 

It's probably worth pointing out it was opposition leader Matthew Guy who approved the Hawkesdale wind farm in 2012 when he was planning minister--the project developed to meet national energy policies. 

Is Roma Britnell MP suggesting that her party leader exercised poor judgement by approving the Hawkesdale wind farm?

Leigh Ewbank, Former Yes 2 Renewables coordinator, Friends of the Earth

Warrnambool ALP Branch President Peter Steele should stop defending the current State Government’s failure to fund the Warrnambool Special Development School (WSDS). 

Instead he and his ALP branch members ought to be making it very clear to Minister Merlino that this facility is desperately needed by the Warrnambool community.

In his letter to ‘The Standard’ (23/9) Mr Steele launched an extraordinary attack on a group of volunteer parents claiming that: “The parent group ‘Every Child’ and the local member are implying that no progress has been made towards the provision of a new school.” 

This is not true, they are advocating for the Government to take the vital next step – the job is only half done.

Having 120 children with special needs cramped on a hilly site that was originally required to accommodate only 13 children is entirely unacceptable.  The parents are simply advocating for the provision of a school with suitable access and amenities for children with special needs.

Mr Steele claims that progress has been made such that “plans have been drawn up and approved”, but what is the point of having plans if there is no funding to realise them?  So Premier Andrews, Minister Merlino and Mr Steele, show us the money.

James Taylor, Framlingham

One thing that Gordon Forth (Call for common sense 9/9) and I can agree on is a need for common sense in the resolution of the debate about the use of the Belfast Coastal Reserve.

But how we each define ‘common sense’ is poles apart.

Common sense would dictate that if a reserve is set up to protect coastal wildlife, cultural heritage and passive recreation, then commercial horse training should not be allowed.

Common sense would dictate that if commercial horse training risks threatened species, coastal habitats, cultural heritage sites and the safety and amenity of beachgoers, it should not be allowed in the reserve.

Common sense would also dictate that if commercial horse training were to be deemed in breach of coastal management and crown land reserve laws, then it should cease immediately.

Contrary to what Gordon Forth says — and Christopher Watt (Horses help plovers 9/9) — commercial horse training does damage coastal habitats, and horses have been known to disturb wildlife, crush plover eggs, damage protective fencing and churn up beaches making it impossible for chicks to get to the water’s edge to feed. And concern about damage to cultural heritage sites was a powerful reason for the City of Warrnambool banning horse access to Levy’s Beach.

The Victorian National Parks Association is resolute in its opposition to commercial horse training in the Belfast Coastal Reserve and in its support for the community in its efforts to get the horses out. We will continue to advocate for the reserve to become a park under the National Parks Act, which would better recognise and protect its significant natural, cultural, social and recreational values. Any management plan for such a park must exclude commercial horse training.

Finally, Gordon Forth refers to the nineteenth-century planting of introduced marram grass on shifting sand dunes to question the reserve’s natural values. What he failed to mention was that grazing likely caused the moving sands. Just another inappropriate use of coastal habitats that had to be removed.

Chris Smyth, Marine and Coastal Coordinator, Victorian National Parks Association

The push for more horses on beaches by the local gambling industry has sunk to Donald Trump standards.

After exhaustive community engagement and state minister interventions, local horse trainers have been given a new sand training track, a new horse swimming pool, and a licence to train 65 horses on Belfast Coastal Reserve beaches (extra to the horse's training on Warrnambool foreshore).

Public safety, the environment, and legislative obligations were all factors in these decisions – although the latter was overlooked in favour of support for our local racehorse industry.

Moyne Shire Council voted some time ago to allow Killarney Beach to remain just that: a beach – for people and for wildlife, free from the dangers and environmental effects of galloping horses.

But the freebies handed out to local race horse trainers aren't enough – they still want Killarney beach, and they still want Levy's beach.  Pretty much, most of the beaches between Warrnambool and Port Fairy (and the dunes) is what they think they should have (for next to nothing).

There has even been 'fake facts' from the local horse fraternity. For the record, there is a lot of evidence of racehorses training through bird-nesting territory, training too close to people, running amok, and training along the base and through sand dunes. And no - horses on beaches certainly do not help hooded plovers or other birdlife in any way.

Laughably, the Country Racing advertisements currently on television paint a picture of country racing as a family day out. If that's the case, it’s just as well, because the beaches around here won't fit that category any more.

This week, we have Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas looking to cancel the ban on using Killarney beach by using dubious voting means. It is unknown as yet how many race horses he is planning to allow at Killarney, with whom his behind-the-doors deal applies, nor the cost to ratepayers, but clearly community consultation is not part of this deal.

So good governance, due process, and responsibility to the public, ratepayers and the environment are being thrown out to sea by mayor Doukas in arranging this special deal for a gambling industry.

It’s not just the horse poo that’s on the nose at Killarney beach. 

Toni Ryan, Tower Hill

I wish to let you know of my disappointment of Murray Goulburn talking about selling to the Chinese.

China owns too much of our country now. You can't buy outright in China, you can only own 49 per cent of any business in China.

We are on the edge of war with North Korea and China said that they would go with Korea. As for China they could walk in to Australia without a shot being fired because these weak politicians, both Liberals and Labor, have been bribed by the Chinese through their donations.

And you have the Greens ruining our country with their scaremongering about climate change.

The government needs to start helping all our returned services personal, homeless and aged pensioners before giving it away to so called third world countries.

Take the cheque book off Julia Bishop, just look at how much she gave away in the last month.

We are over $850 trillion in debt.

Hello, wake up we are a third world country.

Neil Swan,  Warrnambool

What divisive times we live in. The current debate on same sex marriage shows our community to be anything but cohesive and accepting.

Whichever way you choose to vote the recriminations and attacks are relentless. Humorously enough both sides seem to claim to shoulder the right to anti-discrimination and non judgmental standpoints while shrieking discrimination and judgmentalism on an almost biblical scale.

I personally have never witnessed such a display of widespread hypocrisy. While the majority of the vile threats and behaviors seem to be restricted to one side, neither can claim the high moral ground as they both demand justification and allegiance to the cause. On the infrequent occasions that I have expressed my view I have been pilloried and have had demands placed on me to explain myself.

That is a heinous assault on the principle of free speech that this country has in the past been famous and renowned for. I do not have to explain my support or disagreement to anyone. I as an individual will garner the information that I require to ascertain the response appropriate to my opinion.

The abuse and threats, scorn and derision will not deter me from my opinion but will show me the poor state of public debate in this once great free country. All the screaming of abuse and now the totally disgusting assault on one of our former prime ministers shows me that this totalitarian rule of elitists has reached a critical flashpoint and it only a matter of time until lives are lost at the front line of political correctness and thuggery.

We are used to seeing the masked cowards abusing and assaulting anyone who dares to have a dissenting opinion all the while denouncing the ideology that they live their lives by. Free range anarchy that is fostered and nurtured in our universities and schools that filters its way back onto the political and public arena mirrors the very worst of our worlds horrific ideologies that have in the past cost millions of lives while these ignorant dunces elevate its perpetrators to cult status.

This country stands divided and our unity and collective power stands on the precipice of unproductive ideologies that threaten to tear asunder the fabric of the current society. Maybe that is the point? I have heard it said many times that western civilization needs to go, as per the ANTIFA ‘chant hey ho western civ has got to go’, but can these shortsighted puppets really pronounce a better idea? Is there a better methodology than free speech-based democracy?

Is this current assault really the death knell to the ability to have an opinion and a voice aside from the collective? What must happen for this country to return to its free society roots and become young and free? Please come back Aussie community spirit and freedom, I miss you. I think we all do. Some just don’t realize they do.

Scott Norris, Warrnambool