Letters to the Editor – February 2

Apostles plan needed

Former Premier Jeff Kennett warns that tourists will "turn their backs" on the Twelve Apostles if better infrastructure is not built. The area around the Twelve Apostles is pristine, fragile wetland which would be decimated by a massive hotel or similar development. But with 2 million tourists a year, surely we should be devising ways to attract at least some of those tourists to continue on the short journey to Warrnambool, where there are plenty of local businesses ready, willing and able to provide all the services they would require.

Helene Clarke, Warrnambool

Save our beaches

I wish to voice my strong objection to the significant escalation in government regulation that is proposed for the Armstrong Bay beaches under the new Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan. Parks Victoria is to remove the beaches from the community and turn them into “conversation zones’. And with this come all the associated rules and regulations and exclusions. From now on, when we visit our favourite spot at The Cutting or Gormans Road, at Towilla Way Beach or Pelicans, we will be strictly policed as to the legality of our presence, and the Moyne Shire sherriff will be enforcing fines. We have been deceived by Parks Victoria. Never have they mentioned their intention to close off the beaches for public use. They have allowed us to focus our energies on horse training at the beaches, when all the time their intentions were to steal the beaches from us, fence them off and use them for their own purposes. In fact they have already started, with a sign at Towilla Way saying “NO ACCESS”. These beaches are not tourist destinations; they are predominantly used by us locals. We, the locals are respectful, considerate, and sensible beach users. We have recreated on, in and around them for years even decades – with no detrimental effect on the native bird numbers. In fact the science states that the biggest enemy to the birds is the tidal flows. It is outrageous that the Victorian Government can suddenly remove a huge chunk of our coastline for their exclusive use. It is nothing more than a land grab. They have taken advantage of the politics of the moment and slipped their hidden agenda into the mix without any prior warning. They have conned us into believing that the only issue is with commercial horse trainers. At no time did they suggest the blanket restriction on recreational horse riders, dog walkers and public beach access. Don’t be fooled or intimidated by the length of the report. It is merely an opinion piece, not based on fact. And make no mistake, a conservation zone is just another term for exclusion zone. If you don’t want to be excluded from your local beach, please have your say. Moyne Shire will help with the link to the web page, and from there you can contribute your own thoughts and opinions. We still have time. So please have your say. 

Viva-Lyn Lenehan, Killarney

Celebrate our way

We ‘Australians’ do not have a coherent sense of national-identity. Instead, we effectively see ourselves as either part of the British Empire (ANZAC Day,  26 January) or part of the United States (speaking and dressing like US people and copying their culture), rather than celebrating what is unique about Australia and its people. The Australian continent is hundreds of millions of years old, with an extremely diverse range of unique landscapes, plants and animals. Humans first settled Australia at least 40,000 years ago (well before 1788) and developed a rich culture that was in harmony with nature. Ever sInce Britain invaded Australia in 1788, not only have the original Australians been cruelly oppressed, the Australian natural environment has been severally degraded by European invaders and their pest plants and animals, with healthy ecosystems turned into wastelands. Instead of quoting (US-style) hollow rhetoric about being a ‘free nation’, we should be celebrating what makes us different and special. We should celebrate the day we became a nation (01 January 1901) not the day we were invaded. We should be proud of our 40,000 (+) year-old human culture and restore our unique natural environment. We should also have a flag that depicts the Australian landscape and long-existing human culture. We could either combine Australia Day with New Years Day or make it the next day (02 Jan) (and have an extra long weekend). Until such change occurs we can not call ourselves a democratic ‘free’ nation.

Stephen Chenery, Torquay

Active kids are healthy

Helping our kids to get active is critical for their health and wellbeing – we know that currently two-thirds of kids aren’t getting the physical activity they need to be healthy. As your kids start school for the year, it’s a fantastic opportunity to help them get more physical activity into their day by walking, riding or scooting to and from school. We know that Victorian kids love walking to school – during our Walk to School program in 2017, 140,000 kids across the state took part and walked, rode and scooted more than 1.6 million kilometres to and from school. That’s the same as two return trips to the moon! With the warm weather and energy from their summer holidays, it’s a great time to continue walking, riding or scooting to and from school. Even walking part-way can make a real difference, so try parking a few streets away from school and walking the rest if the whole way is too far. Another way to help boost kids’ health is to pack their lunchboxes with fresh, healthy food. New research from the Heart Foundation shows that typical ‘go-to’ school lunchbox options such as a ham and cheese sandwich can deliver more than half of schoolkids’ entire recommended daily salt intake. Instead try roast chicken and avocado on multigrain bread, or an egg and avocado sandwich, as both contain less than a gram of salt. We also know that many kids’ snacks contain excessive amounts of sugar, fat and salt so try swapping foods like biscuits, chips and juice boxes for vegetable sticks, nuts, fruit and water. Making little changes can make a big difference to your family’s health. For more healthy tips visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au

Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO 

Minister attacked

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan has hit a new low. On a recent regional excursion to announce the further roll-out of expensive wire rope barriers on country highways he dismissed those that raised concerns as banjo-playing conspiracy theorists and dingbats. The CFA has raised legitimate concerns about the lack of gaps in the barriers, which has already delayed brigade response times to road incidents and roadside fires. Motorcyclists have also spoken against the barriers, worried that high-impact collisions will result in certain death. The Minister’s cold dismissal of concerned CFA volunteers as dingbats and banjo-playing conspiracy theorists is an insult to the hard-working men and women who selflessly give up their time to protect their community. Attempting to stereotype those that disagree with you as backwards, banjo-playing hicks is not befitting of a Minister - but maybe it is to be expected from an MP who has clearly developed a warped sense of Victoria’s regional communities from his home in Melbourne’s trendy inner-north.

Roma Britnell, MP, Member for South West Coast