Letters to the Editor – January 19

Protect coast

Allowing  commercial racehorse training on the 5km stretch of beach between the Killarney cutting and Levy’s Beach would be destructive to one of the few areas where nature can exist without constant disruption by humans. James Purcell cites that fact that it is little used by people as a reason to open it up for racehorses, a view possibly coloured by that fact that his son is a horse trainer. It is my view that the remoteness of this beach is the very reason to leave it alone. There are not many places where this much coastline is available to shorebirds. While measures are in place to protect birds at more populated beaches around Killarney, these are often thwarted by people ignoring the rules, particularly dog owners allowing their animals off-lead where they should be under control. This 5km of little used beach is a natural asset that should not be squandered to appease the horse racing fraternity. It seems to have been forgotten that Warrnambool has been a top horse training centre for many decades without access to all these beaches. Trainers now speak as though they can’t carry on without it, threatening to take their horses elsewhere. Where to? Where else are they going to find beach training?  It’s a bluff to bully their way onto the beaches. It should not happen, particularly on this rare stretch of largely unused shoreline.

Steve Hynes, Warrnambool

Fix our roads

Luke Donnellan needs to get out of his ivory tower in Melbourne and drive on south-west Victorian roads. He should stop his criticism of Roma Britnell for doing the job we pay her to do and start doing the job he is paid to do. Fix our roads! I drive our roads every day dodging holes (craters) broken lumps of bitumen, stone and rock as result of the road surface breaking up. Our roads get even more dangerous when you add rain into the mixture as the water pools in the pot holes and wheel ruts up to 50 mm deep. Maybe Minister Donnellan ought to get in the car or truck with me on one of my regular trips to Melbourne on the Hamilton Highway so I can explain to him first hand why we have to drive from one side of the road to the other to avoid all the holes on the road and protect our vehicles from tyre and suspension damage. Why we have to slow regularly to accommodate dangerous sections of road that cannot be avoided due to oncoming traffic so as not to risk losing control of one’s vehicle. Then there are the roaring forties waves east of Lismore where one slows to 50km/h due to the shocking state of the highway. This is being repeated all over our crumbling road network in south-west Victoria. Yet Donnellan and Andrews are wasting half a billion dollars of our money installing dangerous wire rope barriers on our roads. Just last Sunday on an arterial road north of Melbourne I was faced with a fool overtaking an oncoming car coming towards me. I had no escape routes due to wire rope barriers installed very close (less than one metre) to the traffic lane limiting my options to avoiding a head on accident. The next innocent driver may not be so lucky or have the skills to avoid a head on when faced with a similar situation. Our freeways were designed to have gentle sloping run off zones to limited death and injury. But Donnellan and Andrews think they know better! Now instead of a safe runoff zone, vehicles now hit wire rope barriers and bounce back into other vehicles. In the event of a fire drivers can’t turn around and drive away from an approaching fire front. Emergency service personnel cannot access the fire as they can’t cross wire rope barriers either, these barriers also increase police and ambulance response times to accidents on our Freeways as they cannot cross wire rope barriers either. Roma Britnell has every right to raise some very serious issues about the Andrews Government waste of half a billion dollars of taxpayers money installing dangerous wire rope barriers while neglecting to fix our failing road network!

James Taylor, Framlingham 

Recognise Indigenous people

I would like to comment on the wonderful comments made by Adeline McDonald and Jason Mifsud re not changing Australia Day’s date. (The Standard, January 16). Knowing them both personally and having seen the great contributions they have made to our local sporting and social communities over many years we should all be very proud to have them speak out and more importantly we should listen to their advice. I have worked with many indigenous people over the last 15 years and there is progress being made but there is still a long long way to go. Opportunities are being created by both governments and corporates such as Andrew Forrest and his FMG group. Many indigenous people are grasping these opportunities and are building better futures for themselves and future generations. We must as recent arrivals acknowledge the injustices on the original inhabitants of this country but allowing the lunatic fringe on either side to divide us further will do no one any good. We need neither bleeding hearts or extreme elements dictating policies here. We need sensible level heads and genuine concern for all Aussies. Thank you again Adeline and Jason for your exceptional contributions and let us all celebrate Australia Day on the 26th and at the same time recognise and acknowledge the original inhabitants of this wonderful country.

John Sargeant, Terang

More renewable energy

The interim report from the Victorian government’s survey of gas reserves estimates that there is a seven-month supply of conventional onshore gas in the Port Campbell area (half a year’s gas supply in Port Campbell area, government says, The Standard, January 12). Industry has long argued that there are plentiful supplies of onshore gas, which will reduce the price of gas to consumers. Yet we all know that the key reason gas is so expensive is because domestic consumers are competing on the market with international buyers because of the development of the LNG export industry. It is very hard to imagine that a relatively small volume of new gas will impact dramatically on prices. Yet drilling for gas does come with environmental risks. And when it comes to climate science, it is clear that there is no justification for opening up new reserves of fossil fuel. Thankfully we have another path open to us: to continue the development of renewable energy. As we saw during the recent heatwave, wind farms in western Victoria played a key role in keeping the lights (and air con) going. Combined with new battery technology, renewables can provide low cost electricity, thereby freeing up remaining offshore gas for use in sectors where – at present – there is no alternative to gas.

Cam Walker, Campaigns co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth Victoria

Leave Australia Day

Australia Day January 26th is a day of unification for all Australians. It is a day to recognize and take pride in the way the nation has matured. It celebrates new migrants and our commitment to the history, and future, of Australia's Indigenous people. Like all nations, Australia has a pitted past of memorable and forgettable events - neither a reason to dump our national day.  The Greens Party is deep into dangerous territory by trying to create division, derision and animosity within Australia by seeking to change the date to a day that better reflects the troubled Indigenous experience from 1788. They want to rewrite history. The Greens Party’s Geelong City Councillor, Sarah Mansfield, is indicating she won't attend civil duties on that day as a form of protest. With the greatest respect to Ms Mansfield, I am not sure that she will be overtly missed.  But she will no doubt be satisfied she has complied with the ugly demands of her leader Richard Di Natale. Of course, she is paid to carry out her civic duties. How will she spend taxpayer’s money that day? Aboriginal people don’t all agree with the calls for change. Alice Springs Councillor and indigenous women, Jacinta Price, told 3AW radio (16/01/2018) that the message is not coming from remote Australia – but from the inner-city – and a divisive Di Natale. She draws the comparison with Anzac Day – with Turks and Australians standing together in memory, forgiveness and hope for the future together – closer and stronger. As per countries all over the world, a National Day is to recognize history and look to the future with hope, friendship and a commitment for improvement. Changing the date or the name does not change history. We have said Sorry.  We spend billions every year for indigenous advancement. Australia Day on the 26th of January celebrates all that we are and all that we want to be.

Simon Ramsay MP, Assistant Opposition spokesman for Agriculture

Have an opinion?

This week you may have received a postcard from Upper House member James Purcell in your letter box. James lives in Port Fairy and is the head of a small community advisory group planning the next stage of Warrnambool Hospital upgrade and redevelopment. I am part of that group. It has become quite obvious recently how quickly the population of Warrnambool is growing and also to what extent the booming tourist industry adds to this growth. In the past 20 years Warrnambool has added 10,000 extra residents . However the capacity of our public hospital has not expanded proportionally. Now we have the opportunity to plan a significant extension of services - as government grants are in the offing. Imperative redevelopments such as the operating suite and emergency department will devour a fair proportion of these grants but other areas will need to be addressed. If you have been a visitor, staff member or patient you will most likely have an opinion on how it could be improved. Perhaps you have seen a great idea at another hospital - or you are a lateral thinker. Fill out the postcard or write James a letter or do it on line- and send us your ideas. The people know best. 

Peter Headen, South West Healthcare, Community advisory Group. 

Parking meter confusion

The recent correspondence and reporting in The Standard of the new parking meters in Warrnambool’s CBD has certainly been revealing. When a new system of any kind is introduced, it is to be expected that there will be a certain amount of uncertainty and confusion, but the comments by numerous people over the last few weeks demonstrate how a system that works (the old meters) can be changed into one that exasperates. One has to ask: why change? One of the aspects of the new meters that seems to have confused most users initially is the 1, 2, 4 hour and all day choices. Quite naturally, it is assumed at first by many users that this gives you the choice of the parking time required, whereupon, the question is then asked by the user, how do I pay for 30 or 40 minutes or whatever? Council are at fault in this respect. Why is it necessary for the user to have to go searching for the time limit for that particular parking zone in order to enter it into the meter? How simple could it be for each meter to have this information clearly displayed on the meter itself? After all, it doesn’t change. And why cannot this information be entered into the meter’s memory permanently, if these new meters are so sophisticated and clever? At the moment, we have a situation where everyone, including older persons, and people of limited mobility, have to walk up the street to discover the time limit, walk back to the parking meter (which may be some distance in the other direction from their car) and then having entered the time limit, they need to enter their car’s rego number. I have already heard of some people getting so confused that they end up forgetting their car’s rego number by the time they sort the other things out. Council promoted these machines as smart meters, partly because you can drive from one paid parking area to another, and as long as the time paid for has not expired, you can park elsewhere without making further payment. But then I read recently that you cannot go from one time zone to another, you must stay within say the one hour, two hour, four hour or all day zones. So if I park and pay for four hours in a four hour zone initially, does that mean that I cannot park in a one hour zone in Liebig Street or elsewhere in a two hour zone whilst still being within the time that I have paid for? And if not, why not? And where is this information displayed at the time of parking? As a past retailer in Liebig Street, I note the number of people that say that they will not be parking or shopping in the CBD in the future, and I feel for those businesses that have had to put up with the upheaval of the road works during the past year, and are now faced with past and potential customers shying away from the area due to the parking meter confusion. Having increased parking charges by 50 per cent last year, and now having changed many free parking spots to meter spots (library and Red Cross blood transfusion areas come to mind especially), is it any wonder that the CBD is struggling?    

David Pearson, Warrnambool

Thanks for support

The Salvation Army has been overwhelmed with the incredible outpouring of support and generosity from the Australian public with our Christmas Appeal raising $15 million to help those in need. We have been heartened to see our community unite and give hope where it’s needed most. For many people in Australia and around the world, 2017 was a year that was filled with adversity and challenges. Sadly, The Salvation Army continues to see an increase in people facing hardship, distress and crisis. With all of life’s injustices, it can sometimes be hard to hold onto hope. So as we enter the New Year let us prioritise empathy, respect and compassion for one another, never underestimating the power these qualities can bring to those in need. Let us renew our commitment to persevere and help those who are suffering, empowering them with love and hope. And let us not underestimate the influence we all have to make a difference in the lives of others.

Leigh Cleave, Communications & Fundraising Director,  The Salvation Army