The Standard's weekly letters to the editor


Ask yourself whether you'd rather have a healthy environment, clean water and food security for yourself and future generations or risk it all for the sake of saving money on your gas bill. Although it involves some financial sacrifice now,  I prefer the earlier and suspect that the majority of Victorians do, too.

We have a beautiful  state, let's keep it that way. The Federal Government ought to respect our moratorium on onshore gas developments and let us pursue our path towards a sustainable future based on the development of renewable energies, hopefully soon with the backup of battery storage, rather than fossil fuels. 

Anton Maurus, Warrnambool


It’s disappointing The Friends of the Earth only want to tell part of the story. In his letter last week, Leigh Ewbank said it was Matthew Guy who approved the Hawkesdale Wind Farm in 2012 – this is not entirely correct.

The Wind Farm was first granted planning approval in 2008 by the Brumby Government’s Planning Minister Justin Madden. In 2011, The Baillieu Government made changes to planning laws that prohibited the construction of wind turbines within two kilometres of a home – but the wind farm was still compliant under the transitional arrangements.

The transitional arrangements ensured already approved and advanced projects like Hawkesdale could continue to construction. In 2012, Matthew Guy approved a time extension in accordance with the transitional arrangements.

I found it interesting that Mr Ewbank said he attended the meeting, yet his name is not on any sign in sheet for the evening – did he not want it known he was there? Did he not want to speak to a community concerned about a major development in their back yards? Rather than trying to stir up trouble through the pages of a newspaper, perhaps Mr Ewbank could be brave and speak to the community this will impact, rather than sneak into a meeting and sit up the back only to take pot shots at concerned locals later. Mr Ewbank should spend some more time out of the city – listening to the people who are now being faced with towers three times the size of the West Gate Bridge, with blinking red lights, right across the landscape.

He may be used to a view of giant monoliths from his inner city backyard – but this is a confronting and concerning prospect for hundreds of people who have a right to meet and express their concerns about proposed changes to their landscape.

Roma Britnell, MP, Member for South West Coast


From numerous sources, not just the ABC’s Four Corners, arise some compelling questions about the whole Adani business.

It would appear that Adani in hindsight has paid far too much for their mine, so its economics must be questionable to say the least.

Why, if no bank or equity fund will entertain funding the mine, are the Federal and State Governments so hell bent on providing funding for it?

The power station in India, owned by Adani, is losing money and will be sold at a giveaway price. The very power station Adani was intending to use its carmichael coal in. So where will the coal go, at apparently a price no one wants to pay?

Why are the Federal Government and Queensland government so desperate to invest our money in what is bound to be a losing project?

I am fast losing confidence in the ability of governments to deal with these national and multi-national companies. These companies are experts on lobbying for their cause, and bring huge budgets to bear upon them, and our governments are like lambs to the slaughter.

I am sorry, but this whole episode has a rising stench to it. And that is not to even start on the convoluted structure of the company, the environmental concerns, and where the future revenue is destined for.

Charles Cowell, Wangoom


What is really getting me is that Trump and Kim Jung Un are making decisions that are going to affect the whole world.  Not just for now but forever.  Who told them they can speak for me?

We have our own elected Australian Government who are acting like Trump ventriloquist dummies every time a camera hits them on world TV. I can clearly see our leaders opening their mouths but Trump, word-for-word rhetoric falls out every time our usually sensible, cautious Australian politicians open their mouths.

I see the American politicians threaten what they are going to do then pull Australia right into the fray. As soon as they finish what they are saying they more or less say and that goes for Australia as well. Now every time Trump talks he talks for us. We may as well give him the money and dump our own Parliament.

I’m not happy that Trump is in what appears to be a school yard slanging match with Jung Un.

There appears to be no guide lines or rules that seem to apply and no government overseers pulling strings to pull both these people back.

No one man should ever have the right to declare war for the whole of the western or eastern world. This is something that each country needs to discuss and not to be taken for granted. Frankly, our government is making us look like we are blindly following a man who looks like a fool on television and threatens people like a bully instead of having proper, closed party, top secret talks.  

We need to do the best the west can do and get a proper governmental committee surrounding Trump from every western country. He must be held accountable for his threats.

This man will draw us all into war if we allow him to. While I am a friend and supporter of America, this is just insane.

If this runs its course we may well see our children and grandchildren gone. Surely Russia and China supported by the west can do the deed and in reward they can keep the country as east and communist. That would be the intelligent option.

If we have to have a war it should be a last resort and not because some country was goaded into a fight by another. This may have been the way Wild West gunslingers sorted out their differences but it has no place in modern democracy.

David MacPhail, Warrnambool


After years of campaigning, the Victorian community won a permanent ban on the process of fracking for unconventional gas and an extended moratorium on the development of conventional gas. The ban is widely supported by the community.

This fantastic result – which protects our land, water, farms and climate from this dangerous industry – has been relentlessly criticised by the gas industry and many in the federal government, who have refused to accept a decision taken by the state parliament. Both major parties support the ban.

In recent weeks, the pressure on the state government to lift the ban has ramped up significantly. PM Malcolm Turnbull has intensified his attacks, former PM Tony Abbott has suggested defence forces should be engaged to coerce states to approve gas drilling, and Treasurer Scott Morrison have suggested that states should lose GST revenue if they don't lift their ban, essentially blackmailing or "frackmailing" the states to allow onshore gas mining.

In reality, the key reason we face ever higher costs for our gas is because the federal government has relentlessly pursued the development of an export liquid natural gas (LNG) industry. As consumers we are now competing on the international market for gas. State based bans and moratoriums – as exist in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and the NT – are not driving up prices.

To his credit, Nationals MP Andrew Broad has said that exports, not bans are the reason we are facing high prices. But this begs the question: where are the other state Coalition MPs on this issue? The federal government needs to stop playing politics with our state. They need to get on with developing a coherent national energy policy, and intervene in the gas market so that local consumers are paying reasonable prices for this resource. And the Victorian Coalition needs to publicly distance themselves from this push to drill and frack by their federal counterparts. 

Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth, Fitzroy


The casual observer might think the claims and counter-claims of the “No” and “Yes” proponents in the current marriage debate are little more than a “tis; tis not” exchange. Well, Professor W G Carson (The Standard, Oct 2 17) is certainly not a casual observer and he is right in saying it is about much more than marriage.

But is he being fair in claiming the advocates of a “No” vote have transformed the whole significance of the current survey, “broadening” the debate to include matters like education, freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Surely it begs the question, have the “No” advocates really broadened the debate or have the “Yes” advocates sought to deflect our attention from consequences by sticking to vacuous slogans like “love is love” and appealing to our sense of fairness by telling us it is just about “equality?”

We have ample published evidence for evaluating the claims of the “No” advocates, which we can only ignore through lack of diligence or a settled commitment to same-sex marriage which brooks no consideration of relevant facts. But there is a serious consequence not mentioned by Professor Carson.

The changes in the Marriage Act will have ripple effects on a number of other federal acts, to say nothing of state legislation, and will have known and unknown consequences for all Australians. There is a remarkable zeal driving the push to accommodate the desires of an adult minority, which seems blind to the consequences for others, not only for the majority but for a forgotten minority who will have no say in their future — the children who will be cut and pasted into same-sex parenting relationships — not through unavoidable circumstances but by legislated institutional change.

But, sadly, we are seeing gender ideology trump inconvenient realities in one institution after another, lately with a Family Court Chief Justice telling us that children don’t mind who brings them up provided it is with love. Well, pardon me, but speaking of slogans I think this one applies here, “Children’s rights come before the preferences and desires of adults.”

Alec Witham, Warrnambool