Letters to the Editor – September 9, 2017

Legal definition the key

We have seen claims from both sides of the marriage debate that no rational argument can be made for the other’s position. Clearly the issue is being viewed from two very different perspectives. My position is no secret and I would like to offer what I think is a rational, though brief, argument for traditional marriage. What is often lost sight of in this debate is that we are not simply being asked whether we think two people who love each should be allowed to marry regardless of their respective genders. What we are being asked is whether the legal definition of marriage should be changed to allow that to happen. For us to properly consider that question we need to understand why marriage is legally defined the way it is now – why societies and nations have put legal boundaries around marriage which are also reflected in the traditional marriage vows. Marital longevity and fidelity promote social stability and harmony, as well as security for any children of the union: hence the “as long as we both shall live” and the “forsaking all others” parts. The “union of this man and this woman” reflects the fundamental importance of identity. Each one of us is the product of two significant people, a man and a woman who together gave us the biological foundation of our identity. The importance of this has been amply evidenced in case after case of individuals desperately searching for that significant person who can satisfy the basic human need to know who we are. In general, biological families have a bond unlike any other, which best provides the certainty and security which children need to flourish. Sadly, not all children are able to experience growing up with their biological parents, in which case loving step-fathers, mothers, or opposite-gender adoptive parents can best compensate for that missing mother-or-father-figure or both. Girls and boys need role models of manhood and womanhood in loving relationship and the unique contribution of each in parenthood. Not every married couple has children, but that is no reason to change the model, and who knows when a couple may wish to adopt children or be asked to care for the children of others. Nor is every marriage the ideal, but that is no reason to move the goal posts. I acknowledge that any loving parenting arrangement is better for a child than being unloved, but if we rule out “best” for some children by legislation, we will alter a fundamental social dynamic, and to that I cannot agree. 

Alec Witham, Warrnambool

The will to build it

A recent report by Bloomberg (June 2017) predicts that the shift to renewable is unstoppable. With the rapidly falling cost of solar and wind, it is now realised that storage of power is only a problem if we don’t have the will to build it. The technology for adequate storage is over 100 years old, and has only gotten better. The expectation is that about 15 per cent of generated power will be used by electric vehicles. This will also help change the equation, with small scale storage becoming the majority of storage. This will be a huge change as most storage is currently pumped hydro at over 90 per cent.

Andrew Pettingill, Gorae West

Love a right for everyone

What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the very thing that there’s just too little of. Love, not just for some but for everyone. That's all I have to say.

Vicki Walter, Warrnambool

Call for common sense

As a recreational horse rider, historian and former chair of Killarney Coast Care I fully support the need to ensure the preservation of endangered species, native vegetation and protected Aboriginal sites in the Belfast Coastal Reserve. I acknowledge that all horse riders should act responsibly regarding the above while respecting the rights and ensuring the safety of other beach users. This being the case I should like to comment on some of the misconceptions in recent letters to The Standard calling for a ban or the imposition of unnecessary restrictions on horse riding in the BCR. While one of Victoria’s most beautiful coastal reserves, the BCR is not ‘pristine wilderness’ as has been suggested. The predominant vegetation is imported Marram grass European settlers planted to stabilise sand dunes which over time facilitated the spread of tough coastal scrub. The BCR is a particularly dynamic environment constantly being reshaped by natural forces of waves and wind. Manmade erosion, including the impact of horses being ridden on established tracks in the dunes or on the beach is minimal. Any indication of horses being ridden on the beach disappears with the next wave or incoming tide. None of the narrow tracks in the dunes cross or are anywhere near Aboriginal middens. I’ve not seen or heard of a single instance where horses have trampled on a hooded plover nesting site, most of which are roped off. Nor do I know of any incident where anyone has been injured in the BCR resulting from a collision with horse. Apart from the BCR, recreational horse riders including children have very few locations where they can ride safely and legally. Through an arrangement with Parks Victoria, Rundell’s Mahogany Trail Ride conducts supervised rides through the BCR. Rundell’s is one of this city’s key tourism businesses attracting domestic and overseas visitors to Warrnambool as well as teaching local children to learn to ride.  Community concern regarding commercial racehorse training in the BCR originated from an escalation of the number of horses being exercised on Killarney beach by one trainer. The solution was to limit number and times racehorse could be worked on Killarney Beach. Instead regardless of the evidence, a vocal minority seized on this as an opportunity to call for a ban or additional restrictions on all horse riding in the BCR. To separate fact from fiction, there is an urgent need for an open public debate as part of the state government’s process of developing a future management plan for BCR. This would provide representatives of various interest groups with an opportunity to present their case based on verifiable evidence rather than personal prejudice or group think.

Dr Gordon Forth,  Warrnambool

Horses help plovers

With respect to James Dunbar’s opinion last week "horses trampling through the plovers nests". I would like to express a different opinion. Horses that work on the beach do so on the waterline or on the sand above the waterline. The plovers nest are in the seaweed well above were the horses work. The plight of the plovers is a sad one in that like most Australian species that live on the ground are extinct or in danger of becoming extinct, why? The answer is introduced species – fox, feral cats, roaming dogs, natural-born meat-eating killers.  Ask the farmer who has to pick up newborn lambs killed by roaming town dogs. Just recently the penguins on Middle Island decimated by foxes and last but not least feral cats that kill anything on the ground or that flies. Horses do not trample through plovers nests, any horse person will tell you that horses baulk or shy away from seaweed on the beach. If anything, beach training horses protect the plover. By having human activity in the plovers’ environment, the natural-born killers are less likely to be in the area. Parks Victoria has mapped the nests –  it will be interesting to see with less human activity what happens to their numbers. I hope it’s not like Middle Island which suffered dramatically when human activity was taken away.

Christopher Watt, Warrnambool