Letters to the editor - November 24

Political power

Let’s get the facts straight about James Purcell’s ego-charged letter to the editor last week. Mr Purcell is not the balance of power in the Victorian Upper House. There are three non-aligned MPs, two Shooters Party MPs and five Greens. For Mr Purcell - a late comer to opposing Labor’s anti-CFA plans, to claim he is the make or break MP, is simply bizarre.  So far the parliament has passed 207 bills this term. Mr Purcell claims to have been the deciding vote on 21 pieces of legislation – that means his vote has decided less than one eighth of the legislation passed.  As the local MP I always stand up for my community; I’m proud that the Liberals are committed to upgrading the Warrnambool hospital and adding extra rail services – but we won’t stop there.  I’m working hard in the lead up to the election, which is still a year away, to ensure key projects in South West Coast have the support of the Liberal and Nationals should we have the privilege of forming Government. I’m continually working with Ministers and members of the government to ensure South West Coast is continually at the front of their minds. If he was an effective local member, Mr Purcell should be able to convince the government to fund projects based on their merits, not based on what others are doing. His comments are showing that independents can’t do it alone; they need to ride on the coattails of others to be effective. 

Roma Britnell, Member for South West Coast

Comments ‘bit rich’

In response to comments by Ms Britnell (The Standard, November 23) "If he sees this as such an important issue, why has it taken him so long to act" - I was only asked to intervene six months ago after the Warrnambool Special Developmental School missed funding in the 2017 budget. Since then I have visited the WSDS with the Education Minister, organized and attended a meeting in Parliament House with the Deputy Premier and Health Minister with WSDS Council, staff and parents and have more recently put the case to the Treasurer and Premier. While this important project has missed funding from the current Labor and the previous Liberal governments I am 90 per cent certain I will get the funding in the 2018 budget and tried to make it 100 per cent by getting Ms Britnell's Liberal party to commit. Considering what I have done in just six months I think it is a bit rich to say it has taken me a long time.

James Purcell, Member for Western Victoria

Trail query 

May I first apologise for the ignorance of one of my fellow Wangaratta residents upon his recent visit to Warrnambool and his opinion of the Levy's Point rendering plant after he stumbled upon it during a ride on the Port Fairy - Warrnambool bike trail. When my Grandfather, John O’Connor, first built the ‘knackery’ back in 1961 the furtherest thing from his mind and also that of the local government would be the establishment of such recreational facilities, let alone one being built upon an unusable swamp. I must also express my complete dismay at Mr Shaw’s lack of recognition of such a situation and question the City of Warrnambool’s planning of placing a cycling trail so close to a rendering plant. The hundreds of good men who were employed at that site during my grandfather’s lifetime and continue today under the umbrella of the Midfield Meat company should not be dismissed by the opinions of a baby-boomer in lycra. I clearly recall the days when, as a child playing in the school grounds of St. John’s Dennington, a good sea breeze would remind me that my father and uncles had a job.I warmly invite all Warrnambool baby-boomers in lycra to visit our region and experience our beautiful rail-trails and wineries. 

Marty Corboy, Wangaratta

Roundabout congestion

I was recently assured by a VicRoads spokesperson that Warrnambool City Council would not be able to implement its proposed roundabout pedestrian crossings without VicRoads approval.  And this would be contingent upon them putting forward a suitable design. I spent a number of years working in the Portland area where they had similar crossing setups and saw many examples of the problems and mayhem that these caused - and Portland has a much lower traffic volume than Warrnambool. I believe that these crossings have now been removed. I also recently visited Mornington and saw first-hand the problems caused there by having pedestrian crossings at the roundabouts. Problems are exacerbated when there is insufficient separation between the crossing and the roundabout exit point. Unfortunately it would seem that Warrnambool City Council have won the day. This will lead, inevitably, to added congestion and potential for conflict at the roundabouts. Instead of making roads safer for pedestrians, it will have the exact opposite affect, creating confusion and adding danger for both pedestrians and vehicle users alike.

Ian Marr, Allansford

Cycling classic support

Bring back the handicap system and the race will survive.

John Medley Jnr, Warrnambool

Harbour plan questions

The Draft Warrnambool Harbour plan does not address the ongoing issues of safe launching and surge protection. I would like to make the following points:

1. As a long-term private user of the current boat ramp and experienced Coastguard Skipper, I can attest to the high levels of surge and wave action experienced even when the sea is not rough. I have had my own vessel damaged during launching, and seen other users risk their vessels and vehicles while launching and retrieving at the ramp. I have even towed a car/trailer/boat combination back up the slippery ramp with my own vehicle when a launch was aborted. Why build a 3 lane ramp with “improved traffic flow and parking” without addressing the fundamental problem? There have been previous references to a new ramp with wave dissipating properties, but his unproven technology (no other similar ramps have been constructed), has only been tested in a wave tank. This design has not been mentioned in the draft proposal – surely this should be stated if it is still being considered? Finally, I am absolutely sure many boaters bypass Warrnambool in favor of the superior and safer Portland and Port Fairy facilities, depriving our city of considerable financial spinoffs. 

2. There has been a long overdue need for safe moorings and alongside berths in Warrnambool Harbour. The Coastguard Vessel can only be accessed by a tender, which significantly delays response time to an emergency callout. I have witnessed callouts of a critical nature, and I believe it is only a matter of time before persons and property are placed at risk by this situation. The Coastguard vessel needs to be quickly accessible alongside the breakwater, but this is not possible with the current wave surge. An enclosed harbour is the only solution, and this again would provide a haven for visiting overnight vessels, with financial gains for our city.

3. It is unclear why so much effort and expense is being made in the plan to improve horse training facilities in the vicinity, when the trainers are conducting a commercial operation in an area which is primarily concerned with marine/maritime activities. Why are expensive horse washing facilities being provided at public expense? ($162,000). There seems to be more emphasis on the horse facilities in this plan than consideration of the harbour/boat ramp itself.

4. I support a user pays approach, as long as the facility is well designed, safe and accessible all year in all weather, but why is a fish cleaning facility so expensive? ($148,000). Parking areas for vehicles towing boats/trailers must be dedicated and should not be used by other vehicles. The present situation where trailer bays are occupied on busy days by single cars is unacceptable.

Keith Prest, Warrnambool