Letters to the editor - March 9

Milk transport benefits

We already have three dairy factories operating in south-west Victoria; Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, Murray Goulburn and Fonterra. The three factories have not provided any great benefits to farmers in the way of competition. I see benefits in the Saputo and Murray Goulburn deal. Over the years, one of the regular suggestions in the industry is rationalising transport. This deal would rationalise transport. Under the current arrangements Murray Goulburn draws milk from as far as Colac to Koroit and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter from South Australia to Allansford. If a merger were to take place this would also rationalise transport, and eliminate milk travelling through Warrnambool as milk east of Warrnambool can be sent to the Allansford site and milk west of Warrnambool to the Koroit site. This will also ease congestion at the nine sets of traffic lights in Warrnambool from milk tankers. Fonterra already has two plants in south-west Victoria (Cobden and Dennington) and able to have these transport efficiencies. Why are Saputo being denied this benefit?  We also have New Zealand with one major company operating which, they claim, give them efficiencies of scale. This would be another benefit should Saputo be able to retain Koroit. As I understand it Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has past environmental issues and are operating above full capacity, having Koroit which is currently approximately one third capacity. The acquisition would relieve pressure on WCB and environmental factors also. There is also no guarantee that whoever would purchase Koroit would have access to the milk supply. My concern is whoever purchases Koroit may find they have a factory without more than one third supply. I believe that Saputo is the only one who can guarantee supply to Koroit as they have surplus milk that can be placed into this site. I have a concern about the guaranteed loyalty payment to Murray Goulbourn suppliers. Would they have to forfeit this money if Koroit has to be forfeited? How would this impact the value of their shares? Would the Koroit shareholders end up with a smaller payment/portion due to the difference in their circumstances? The majority of farmers affected want this deal completed as soon as possible as they have dealt with enough uncertainty and financial blows to their businesses.

John McConnell, Terang

NDIS service issues

There was a working system in place previous to the NDIS called Individual support Plans, which our son had many choices and us his primary carers, nominated representatives, and guardians had full control of. Now the NDIS is full of:

Untrained in disability NDIS staff; A lack of general respect for participant and families; Poor communication skills with rude disrespectful comments toward participants and families; Across the board services unable to cope with NDIS compliance; Services withdrawing services from participants; Vital products and equipment not being ordered or takes too long to process; No phone contact in Warrnambool office; Central call centre will not pass messages on so therefore need to visit local NDIS office for any queries; No parking on site, on highway too dangerous; Service providers are not being paid. These are only a few of the problems people are suffering, in short, my son has a plan that’s not worth the paper its written on.

Lorraine de Kok, Warrnambool

Road safety priority

More than two million Australian cars have defective air bags. Many of those cars are in Victoria. These air bags can, and have, killed car occupants. This news may not make drivers feel comfortable about taking the family out this weekend.

Tax payer funded VicRoads is responsible for road safety but it’s not working.

The air bag threat has been known for some time. Why didn’t VicRoads push the Feds to counter this threat sooner? Why were defective cars allowed on our roads in the first place? Why is the onus on drivers to monitor threat lists? 

What is the Minister for Road Safety doing to fix VicRoads?

If you add this air bag mess to the dangerous neglect of rural roads and the very costly wire rope barrier roll out you get a lot of extremely worried road users.

VicRoads urgently needs a complete overhaul if not replacing.

Damien Codognotto, Independent Riders Group,  Melbourne

Train promise questions

It’s hard to trust the Liberals and Nationals rail announcement (Rail Deal, The Standard, March 5) - going by the history books. They have no credibility when it comes to regional rail - all they’ve done is cut and shut. When last in Government they didn’t order a single new carriage for two years, didn’t start a rail project anywhere and ripped $120 million out of V/Line - and it was a Liberal National Government that shut regional rail lines. We’ve stopped the cuts, restored the funding to V/Line, ordered 87 new regional carriages and already begun the design work needed to run VLocity carriages on long haul lines. We’ve added 600 services to the regional network and additional VLocity carriages to services that need it most. These carriages, built in Victoria, reduce crowding on the busiest services and allow more trains to run more often and we’ve invested in the design work necessary to replace the classic feet with modern trains. If the Coalition want to do something useful for V/Line users they should pick up the phone to Malcolm Turnbull and tell him to release the money he has promised for Regional Rail Revival so we can get on with upgrading every regional line and run modern trains across the state. 

Jacinta Allan, Minister for Public Transport 

We need peace

A reactionary US President who ignores his advisors. China setting up its leader to rule for life while expanding its territory and military. Russia expanding its nuclear weapons and posturing for war. North Korea edging towards the means of destruction. Japan changing its constitution so its military is longer purely defensive. Ongoing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. A current genocide in Myanmar.

On top of this, our government here in Australia prepares to become a player in the manufacturing and export of weapons.

In a world being torn apart at the seams, take solace in a speech by JFK from 1963, a message to be well heeded today. 

“...I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived--yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace. 

I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children--not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women--not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. 

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn. 

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles--which can only destroy and never create--is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace. 

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war--and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.”

Thomas Campbell, Warrnambool

Active April campaign

Warrnambool is once again warming up to get active through the Premier’s Active April challenge, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year.     

I encourage all locals to spring into action and sign up for Active April. It’s a fun and free way to increase our activity and get healthy, and there are some great special offers and prizes.

Everyone should enjoy the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle, but research shows this is not the case.  More than 50 per cent of Victorian adults fail to meet the recommended levels of physical activity, while 80 per cent of children don’t exercise enough. 

The Premier’s Active April is a great place to start - it’s as easy as taking the stairs, walking the kids to school or getting out in the garden.

This year’s campaign is encouraging Victorians of all ages and abilities to register and call on their pets as a fun and easy way to increase levels of physical activity.    

A new personalised “My Local” feature on the website will be introduced to help people in Warrnambool find local activities, events and offers within the community.        

Active April is also a great way for workplaces to boost morale around the office, and workplace teams are encouraged to apply.  

In 2017, we had more than 375 people from Warrnambool participate and we are aiming to beat that number in 2018.

With so many great opportunities across Warrnambool to get moving and meet new people, signing up to Active April will be a healthy change you won’t regret.

To register, visit www.activeapril.vic.gov.au or follow the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Registrations are open until April 30. 

Gayle Tierney MP, Member for Western Victoria