Letters to the Editor – February 9

Mural puzzle

I have nothing but contempt and revulsion for Rolph Harris and his offending. Regarding the removal and destruction of the mural. Hmm. The logical extension of this puzzles me. Does this mean we must get rid of and destroy all of the Caravaggios. Since he was also a very naughty man!

Vincent Callaghan, Warrnambool

Australian pride

I had no say in my birth. I was born Australian, I was born white. I will not apologise for something I cannot change, nor do I want to. I do not see myself as better or lesser .I have the right to my place in the universe. I will not be made to feel I am not entitled to embrace and love the land live in. I will not say I am sorry for something I played no part in. I am sad it happened, that's it. I will not be made to feel acknowledging Australia Day and my heritage makes me somehow the bad guy. I am so over the ongoing guilt factor and reminder of what occurred. Yes it was wrong, yes it was barbaric, yes it was cruel, yes it was racist, yes it was incredibly ignorant. All those and more.....I accept that. I can only try to understand, because I wasn’t there. I will not accept the noose around Australia’s neck that keeps us apologising, repaying, trying to make it better. How long, just how long do we have to carry the burden? Much has been done to try and make up for the wrong doings, some of it good, some not so. Still we keep trying, mistakes have and are made and will continue to. Through it all nothing has changed. What is it that's wanted, what do the Aboriginal people want us to do.....what would be good enough? I can empathise, I try to understand, I could be a friend if wanted, I can appreciate their culture, I would stand beside them, I would lend a helping hand. The only thing I cannot do is change the horror that happened. Australia should not have to keep living with this. Accept the things you cannot change. Change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference. Be part of the solution, do not be the problem.

Vicki Walter, Warrnambool

Pedestrian crossing ‘spin’

Warrnambool council CEO's reported comments regarding the provision of pedestrian crossings at some CBD roundabouts unfortunately clearly demonstrates that he has no idea of what people are really complaining about and why.  We just get the usual spin. He says: "the crossings came about after extensive community consultation" - not true, all spin. I recall consultation regarding CBD upgrades but little or no mention of the crossings and their proposed locations. "Welcoming to the aged, people with disabilities and young families" - not true.  Although not directly related to the crossings, as a person with a severe disability, I can categorically say the CBD is far less welcoming to people like myself than it used to be - far less, to the point that I have made a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission regarding the discriminatory way in which the changes have been implemented. "But change is always a challenge" - people are not complaining because of the change, they are complaining because the change is nonsensical and in fact counter productive to the whole concept of improving the CBD. "People need to safely enter the roundabout" - this, I am sure is what everyone is trying to achieve, but by their very design, it is now far more dangerous when entering, driving through and leaving the roundabout. "It has been designed to allow room for people entering into and exiting it."  Once again, not true. One simple example is if you are unlucky enough to be a visitor, and take your caravan or large vehicle down Liebig Street, at some point you are almost certain to block a crossing, either when entering or leaving the intersection. "The (pedestrian) priority was for safety." - not true.  By its very nature, because they create a funnel effect, no matter how hard a driver tries, there are going to be times when traffic is banked up within the roundabout.  Any unnecessary congestion means less safety for both motorists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, councillors seem to share Mr Anson's ideas. One can only hope that we go the same way as Portland, who removed theirs due to the problems inherent in the system.

Ian Marr, Warrnambool

Save corellas

Glenelg Shire and Moyne Shire councillors who are eager to cull corellas have no right to assume their constituents are in agreement with this outdated, barbaric, short-term ‘solution’. What happens next year, the year after that, etc The Port Fairy Cricket Club needs to invest in a long-term solution by getting real advice from an organisation who actually cares about management of the environment. Maybe spend money on pitch covers. For god’s sake, there is enough cruelty in the world without it being added to by ignorant councillors with lazy attitudes looking for a ‘quick fix’.

Tess Hocking, Warrnambool

Hooded plovers in decline

The introduction of the marram grass weed to the Australian coast line has turned the sand dunes into strong wall barriers. And the tidal action has turned the previously undulating sand hills into steep faced cliffs. Further to this, the marram grass infested sand dunes now provide protection for the natural predators of the hooded plovers; foxes and snakes. The hooded plovers are unable to climb the cliff faces to build their nests, and so are forced to lay their eggs on the beach sand at the base of the cliffs. Over the decades, the Government roads located through the Armstrong Bay sand dunes (Crown Land Reserve), have been whittled down to mere goat tracks, allowing only the odd horse rider to manoeuvre their way along the tracks to the beach. The occasional presence of the odd horse rider has caused a disruption to the foxes and so a “balance of nature” of sorts has prevailed. Over the last 12 months, Parks Victoria has systematically set about closing off these goat tracks, eliminating the presence of the odd horse rider.  And what has been the result? – 12 months on and there are less hooded plovers nesting on the beach than ever before; in fact, significantly less. Why is it so?  Has the balance of nature been upset?  One must at least ask the question.

Viva-Lyn Lenehan, Killarney

Pedestrian crossing confusion

I’ve been a little bothered recently by the traffic management in the refurbished Liebig Street precinct, particularly the roundabouts at its intersections with Lava and Koroit Street. Warrnambool is well known for its roundabouts and I recognise them for what they are, simple traffic management treatments at intersections. They control traffic passing through the intersection and are a means by which we all know who has right of way and who doesn’t.  They also eliminate the need for expensive traffic signals or a Policeman on point duty. For a guidance, I consulted the Victorian Road Safety Rules 2017 which summarises its objectives as follows: (a) to provide road rules in Victoria that are consistent with those across Australia; (b) to establish rules in matters not otherwise dealt with in the Australian Road Rules; and (c) to the safe and efficient use of roads in Victoria. Rule 114 help tells us what to do at roundabouts: A driver entering a roundabout must give way to (a) any vehicle in the roundabout; and (b) a tram that is entering or approaching the roundabout. The two intersections in question seem to miss the objective of the Rules and contradict all other roundabouts in Warrnambool (and elsewhere in the State for that matter) by creating a new “right of way hierarchy”. At conventional uncontrolled intersections vehicles pass through giving way to those on their right - We understand that process.  Moreover we understand that pedestrians cross only when the road is clear of traffic and it is safe to do so. Warrnambool’s new roundabouts specify that pedestrians now have right of way and thus vehicles in the roundabout must stop to allow them to cross. Here’s where it gets interesting.  As a vehicle stops to allow the pedestrian to cross, traffic behind must also stop.  For example a vehicle executing a right turn by passes through 270 degrees of the circle, must stop to allow the pedestrian to cross and as many as three other vehicles may be forced to stop behind it thereby blocking the intersection to other traffic. The safe and efficient use of roads is interrupted and that’s not the worst of it. The vehicles have transgressed Road Rule 128 which states quite specifically and unambiguously: A driver must not enter an intersection if the driver cannot drive through the intersection because the intersection, or a road beyond the intersection, is blocked. The pedestrian intending to cross the road has always been governed by a requirement to give way to motor vehicles at roundabouts (and elsewhere) and that remains the case at all other such intersectional treatments in Warrnambool.  Why confuse them by having two prominent exceptions? I also checked the VicRoads website and found that pedestrians must give way to motor vehicles at roundabouts (Rules for Pedestrians - A to Z of Road Rules www.vicroads.vic.gov.au). There are ample alternative pedestrian crossings in the area in question - in Lava Street outside Coles about 60 metres west of the intersection and two crossings in Koroit Street similar distances to the east and west of the intersection. The Road Rules don’t specify a give way to pedestrians sign amongst the “Standard or Commonly Used Traffic Signs”.  That’s a whole other story. Pedestrians still cross at roundabouts without this new facility and traffic flow is smooth and orderly (or safe and efficient). Why then do we have a confusing, irregular and contradictory treatment of two intersections in Warrnambool that creates an offence for drivers unwittingly trapped by the vehicle allowing the pedestrian pass? We had a perfectly functional traffic management treatment in the past.  It wasn’t broken so why did someone “fix” it?  Bring back the safe and efficient use of the roads (such as it was).

Mick Fennessy, Koroit

Defence policy criticism

After doing so much to harm the manufacturing industry by closing down car makers it’s good to see the Federal government prepared to invest $3.8 billion to support manufacturing. Unfortunately this money is not being spent on infrastructure or creating a world class renewable energy industry, or on many other initiatives that would make our country and the world a better place.  The $3.8 billion will be used to “help our defence companyies export to the world”. The Prime Minister has proudly boasted of his aim to make Australia one of the world’s top ten armaments producers! As the former Minister for Defence Materiel and Defence Personnel and a current inner cabinet minister our local member of Federal parliament Dan Tehan would have been one of the main planners and key instigators of this morally bankrupt scheme, which he is currently promoting on his Facebook page. Mr Tehan thinks it is a wonderful idea to “create … jobs for Australians” by killing people and, even better, to deliberately make profits out of other people’s suffering. However, he can’t do it without the support of the people of Australia. Regardless of who you vote for at the next federal election just remember that a vote for Dan Tehan, or any person or party who supports this proposal, is a vote for spreading death and destruction among innocent people around the world. 

Peter Martina, Warrnambool

Ditch VicRoads

There are two major problems which delay correct maintenance on our state roads. First and foremost our politicians cannot be relied upon to organise our roads to be fixed. Secondly we have VicRoads who are supposed to be responsible for state roads, yet they fail right across the board, irrelevant of which political party is in power. The south-west of Victoria has been considered a safe Liberal seat for ever and a day, while we have the worst roads in the state, despite the fact, from this electorate we have had a state Premier and a Federal Prime Minister, while our roads continued to fall further into disrepair.  All politicians when campaigning have a clever way of convincing the public that when elected, they will fix our roads, however their main objective is to score votes and when elected they fail their election promise. When questioned, they say it is a funding issue, while they increase their own salary. Our present Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke DonneIlan is spending millions erecting “safety barriers” to “kill you”, if you bounce off the rough roads with a damaged rim and flat tyre. Fixing our roads is used as a political football, a method of gaining power and when in opposition, a method of slamming and ridiculing the government of the day to score political points. Do our politicians understand where the problem is? Do our politicians assess the problem? The big question, is there a political party prepared to fix our roads? Is there a political party prepared to accept help and advice? Submissions to the inquiry into VicRoads have now closed, while the outcome was probably decided upon before the inquiry opened, “Remove VicRoads and form two bodies, one Metro and one Country”,  which will require more managers and inspectors, creating more bureaucracy than ever before, without solving any of the real problems that exist at the moment. In fact it will mean less funding for country roads. However we must put forward a better alternative. There is a much better way to fix our roads than the,present legislation employing VicRoads. If you doubt my words, then please refer to the recent Auditor General’s Report (June 2017) into VicRoads. Throw as much money as you have at VicRoads and all you will get is more of the same, roads failing left, right, and centre.  VicRoads are past their use by date and need to be replaced with a council-run system as explained in the submission to the inquiry into VicRoads - under “Maintaining State-Controlled Roadways by a Council Run System”  This system will solve 23 VicRoads problems highlighted in the Auditor General's Report. This system also provides 17 advantages over VicRoads, plus extra bonuses including the fact that all these councils are in place with access to equipment and engineers, ready to maintain state roads. The big plus is, when this system is initiated, adequate and fair funding would be ongoing irrelevant of which political party is in power, eliminating the “political football game” and enabling councils to budget on a set figure of funding per kilometre of state roads. After all, who is experienced in road maintenance, our politicians or our shire and city councils? This is not a short term fix and this is not a short term campaign. First of all, our politicians need to do a course in economics, then they might realise the importance of a council run system. If they were genuinely interested in having our road network correctly upgraded and maintained then they would replace VicRoads with a council run System.

Wallace Hill, Macarthur

Bright future?

Canberra likes us to think’ they’ care – and they think ‘we’ cannot see. The National Competition Policy, and all that goes behind such a simple statement, has been the countries unquestioned governing rule since Hawke and Keating days. Recently Loy Yang B power station was sold to our Totalitarian Northern neighbour. They only just out- bid an Australian consortium but under the National Competition Policy the highest bidder is the winning bidder. I am sure Canberra would see Loy Yang as an insignificant piece of property; and every dollar counts. Common Australians looking at the benefits of privatisation- and those who suffered the recent power blackouts - would see Loy Yang as a Vital National Asset. The car industry and manufacturing is gone and our steel industry floats face down. All our vital defence plants were grouped together as ADI then the ‘lot’ was sold to the French multinational Thales. Defence industries are acclaimed by Canberra as our ‘export salvation’ but all the multinationals seem to be able to avoid any profit and tax here in Australia. Farmers have been left in the unprotected grip of international markets and desperately hope for some improvement with the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the small print of the agreement precludes our Foreign Investment Review Board, or anyone else, from even ‘looking’ at a foreign bide of a Billion Dollars or less. Is the future bright ?

Gary Ryan, Colac

Answer the call

Every March for 70 years, thousands of volunteers have made a wonderful contribution to our community during Red Cross Calling. They’ve knocked on their neighbour’s doors, said g’day and their combined efforts have raised millions. All of that effort has gone a long way, allowing Red Cross to help where we’re needed most; from fires to floods, reducing suffering, while keeping people safe, secure and connected. So many extraordinary volunteers here in Victoria have also gone the extra mile – not just raising money but also reaching out to their neighbours, asking how they’re going and checking on their wellbeing. Red Cross Calling is more than a fundraiser – it gives us a reason to connect and volunteer for the sake of our community. Research shows that volunteering and helping in our neighbourhoods helps us live happier, longer lives. I’d like to send a massive thanks to all those thousands of schools, businesses, community organisations and individuals who’ve answered the call over the years.   These volunteers make Australia a special place to live. This year we aim to double the number of volunteers in Victoria. Will you be one of them? Join the fun today: redcrosscalling.org.au or call 1800 RED CROSS.

Wenda Donaldson, Director, Victoria, Australian Red Cross