I am writing to express my disappointment in the national inquiry by the ACCC into the dairy industry. I am not a farmer myself but have family and friends who are, but this is not just about them, this is about everyone in regional Australia. In the long run, all country residents suffer financially when there is less money in the community to keep our rural areas alive. The ACCC has found what is very obvious to most people, there is a strong bargaining power imbalance with farmers being at a major disadvantage and recommended a mandatory code, yet it has done nothing concrete to remedy the situation. I ask, what was the point of the inquiry then? What is most galling about the inquiry is that the ACCC has stated that discounted supermarket milk has not directly impacted the price farmers receive for their milk. What don't the ACCC understand? Technically they are right, but once you de-value a product, it impacts its long-term price for generations to come, as that de-valued price gradually becomes the norm and seeps into all aspects of its sales. It is also ironic that Coles, who introduced the $1 a litre milk regime, under Scottish CEO Ian McLeod are now sponsoring farmer of the year awards at a national level through a major country newspaper publication. This must be a slap in the face for farmers who read it. To cover the costs of the discounted milk, the 2 major supermarkets, who are now in partnership with fuel companies, have increased their fuel profit margins to record levels so not only are rural communities losing out on the benefits of fairer prices for farmers, but paying extra for fuel as well. I can only hope that in the next few years there is an awakening and an appreciation of the work that Australian farmers complete for us. They provide us with our most basic needs yet are treated as pawns by many – this needs to stop or we won't have people wanting to farm in future generations.
Dennis Bushell, Warrnambool
City looks great
Warrnambool has not looked better in 250 years. Obviously, this pre- European area, pristine, life-sustaining and environmentally cared for, took a dive with the cultures that arrived. Until recently. The streets look amazing, and it is becoming safer to cross them. The “lap-cutting” hoon mentalities down the main streets are hopefully a thing of the past, where now, people pushing prams, people in wheelchairs, people walking have the right of way. Let that sink in. People have the right of way. Two-ton iron killing machines, driven by morons who can’t yet read their “P” plates are forced to slow down. Fantastic! Congratulations to all involved in making Warrnambool a world-class city.
Lawry Mahon, Port Fairy
Support for fire stance
I take issue with Irwin Lowe (May 5, The Standard), suggesting some councillors from Moyne and Corangamite Shires had a hidden agenda concerning roadside vegetation. During the St Patrick's Day Fires, the Garvoc fire entered our farm. One only had to witness the chaos of trees falling across Ayresford Road following the fire to understand the councillors concern. It is not fair to ask firefighters to put their lives at risk by ignoring the dangers of burning trees falling across roads. The trees that fell across Ayresford Road should have been removed following Ash Wednesday fires. If the roadside did not create tunnels of fire why is the ground under the roadside trees still black while the pastured areas show signs of recovering? Over the next few years, fire-damaged trees particularly in Howards Road will continue to fall across the road as happened after the Ash Wednesday Fires. We do have conservation areas on our property, one of which was burnt in the recent fire. I do have a small amount of experience with fires, Ash Wednesday Fires 1983 and now St Patrick's Day fire. If making the roads safe is the councillors hidden agenda, I fully support them in their stand.
John McConnell, Terang
It’s ME/CFS Awareness Month, and once again my social media is filled with images of former ballet dancers now unable to lift a foot from bed; promising travel photographers now limited to the four walls around them; and the #MillionsMissing whose lives have been otherwise destroyed by this illness. ME/CFS is a neurological disease of unknown origin, commonly known (and often dismissed) as “chronic fatigue syndrome”. I could recite statistics, such as ME/CFS affects millions worldwide, that it receives less research funding than hayfever does, or that studies have shown the quality of life of an ME/CFS patient is, on average, far worse than those who live with kidney failure or heart disease. But what tells the story of ME/CFS best is the lost hopes and dreams of its victims. Those who cannot leave the home without use of a mobility device, or at all. My friends who have been bed bound for decades. And myself, a promising young psychology student, volunteer, violin player, daughter, sister and friend, identities what this disease has laid waste to. Perhaps the most grinding thing about this illness is the egregious misdirection of research funding, which led to potentially harmful treatments being forced upon patients whilst research into biological causes and evidence-based treatment has been set back decades. We can’t force governments to fund research into ME/CFS, nor save those who we have already lost to this illness. But we can contribute to study into the biological origins and possible causes of ME/CFS, by donating to the Griffith University Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Disease in QLD. A free way to help is by watching the documentary Unrest, now available on iTunes, Netflix and YouTube. It’s these small gestures that could make the world of difference to someone with ME/CFS.
Siobhan Simper, Warrnambool