Letters to the Editor

I use to ride a push bike on the local roads. It was stunning to see the video off the truck driver passing the cyclists and he complained because he had to go on to the wrong side of the road.

What was he going to do if they had been riding single file, miss them by one to two feet which I used to get a lot. Or just go through them? It is appalling to see this man whinging he should take up cycling and see the real life that professional cyclists have with road traffic.

I used to ride for fitness, their are times out their when people respected me by giving me plenty of room and their were people that did not care. A few examples I had, I got missed by cars doing over 100kmh and missing me by 1 to 2 feet one of these motorists was a Police Officer.

The best I had though was that I had a grain truck give me room only to force the grain truck coming the other way to run off the road to avoid a head on. Cyclists are not out their to cause trouble they are only out their doing what they love. Please everyone try to respect that.

Peter Moore, Camperdown

In July 2003, I was working in the United States as a lifeguard when one of my friends asked me when Australia’s national day was. The motivation behind his question was driven by the fact that the following day was the Fourth of July, a grand anniversary of the US victory in the War of Independence and the creation of their new nation in the modern sense.

“It’s the 26th of January for us” I replied. “We call it Australia Day”.

I predicted the next question before it was asked. “So what happened on the 26th of January? What is being celebrated?”.

Again, awkwardly this time, I explained that it was an anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Harbour to build a prison of sorts in the new colony. I explained that many Australians have an ancestral connection to the First Fleet, including myself. A grandmother about 6 or 7 generations ago, stole dress material and was sentenced to seven years in the new colony and was transported on the Prince of Wales, as part of the First Fleet.

Flabbergasted, my friend could not believe that a nation would celebrate nationhood based on an event such as this.

“It gets better” I explained initiating a little Aussie sarcasm. My ancestor who was brought to the colony in 1788 in chains, through no choice of her own was British. No-one on the First Fleet was Australian, no-one who came on the First Fleet even died as an Australian. The colony itself wasn’t even called Australia. It was called New South Wales. Funnily enough it wasn’t until Federation in 1901 that New South Wales joined several other colonies to become Australia more than 100 years later.

“Whoa”. My friend was more convinced of the inappropriateness of this holiday than he was before. I explained further, “It gets worse. Within the first few days of the new colony, things got out of control and there was a mass rape of many of the women in the colony. My ancestor was attacked, but not sexually assaulted like most of the women in the colony were. The perpetrator got 200 lashes for it”.

The common romanticised view of a British settlement, a camp on the edge of Sydney Harbour, hosting a fleet of tall ships, an image commonly painted by our school experiences throughout the ages, was now completely smashed to bits.

You can look at national days across the world and each has a unified cause for celebration. Canada Day, Bastille Day, you name it, each has a purposeful means of celebrating their nation appropriately and respectfully. In Australia, our national day is not a day of victory, unity or freedom. It is an anniversary of punishment, struggle and tragedy.

Sadly, the greatest crime of all didn’t come up in conversation with my American friend. The greatest tragedy is the impact that European arrival had on the First Australians. The long and short of it is that the 26th of January is the anniversary of the birth of colonialism on this continent, which would ultimately continue to destroy the longest continuing culture in the world.

Navel gazing politicians will call it divisive, but to change the date would be the most unifying move in the national quest for reconciliation.

As for a date for a national celebration, the single moment I can recall when I was most proud to be an Australian was on the 24th of September 1993 as an 11-year-old when Juan Antonio Samaranch announced that Sydney had won the Olympic Games. I still buzz just thinking about it. A genuine cause for national celebration regardless of your race, religion or creed. There have been few moments quite like that since.

February 16 must be a candidate too, when Steve Bradbury won gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics. Never has a nation united, rejoiced and celebrated a win in such unlikely circumstances, with such humour in a sport unbeknownst to most of us. Celebrating a uniquely Australian icy achievement in the summer time, sounds like a great Australia Day to me!

Whatever we decide, we need to #changethedate.

Robert Dart, Warrnambool

The article in the Real Estate lift out in The Standard 20-01-2018 on a person going to an outback location to work and finding people very sociable says very much for a society used to everything available at an instance and those who have to plan long in advance.

When growing up with very few things available, people kept communities together and helped each other  so everyone knew they were wanted.

But in many built up areas this is not now the case.  It is I must be looked after first and only if time left over others considered.

This says very much that we must always give thanks for those living in isolated places and communities.

James Judd, Colac

We will all have noticed the new private hospital so visible from The Prince's Freeway, labelled St. John of God.   

People may not be aware that The Order of St John of God is a part of the Catholic Church, and, according to the evidence given to The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in February 2017, had 40.4 per cent of its members being alleged perpetrators of abuse.   Many of the victims were physically and intellectually disabled children living in homes run by the order, so the children had no support from families or the wider community.   For many touched by this abuse the very name St. John of God being so publicly displayed on a place of healing must be offensive.

Would it to be better anyway if our private as well as our public hospitals were a "religion free" zone?   We are officially a secular country and our area hosts a wide range of cultures and religions, all with their own beliefs and practices, particularly concerning the beginning and ending of life.   To me it seems divisive for a religion to be controlling hospital and palliative care services when the Census showed most Australians professed no religion.   This seems especially so considering the catholic church's opposition to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill which was passed by Parliament and, according to surveys, supported by 80% of the population.

Those of us who can afford it are encouraged to use private health facilities and take the pressure off public hospitals.   I would be happier complying with the Government's wishes if my best, newest (and to a large extent publicly funded) hospital was not run by The St John of God religious order.

Roz McNaught, Tonimbuk