I write with regards to the editorial that appeared in your paper last week relating to the long overdue Warrnambool Base Hospital upgrade. I was deeply concerned that you seemed to be letting the Andrews Labor government off the hook when it came to funding for this vital upgrade. It is the job of government to provide critical services like health care and education – no matter where they are located or how that particular town votes. To say Labor has no reason to invest in the south-west because the region traditionally votes Liberal is a cop-out and ignores the fact this government has failed to do its job and provide adequate healthcare facilities to this region for the past four years. Your newspaper is providing excuses rather than questioning why the work has not yet been done. All we have seen is a series of delaying tactics and now we have a project that looks significantly bigger than previously planned – but why? No one has explained why we have seen a seismic shift in scale of the hospital project since the last master plan was completed just eight years ago. No one has explained where this significant increase in demand is coming from; no one can say why a second master plan was even needed. Are we expected to believe the plans done in 2010 were so off kilter, so wrong, they had to be done again at a reported cost of $7.5m to the taxpayer? This has all the hallmarks of a Labor government looking for an excuse as to why it hasn’t done something and in the end it’s the people of South West Coast who are left waiting and the taxpayer of Victoria who will be footing the bill for what appears to be another Labor blow-out.
Joy Howley, Caramut
Queen’s birthday protest
I wish to protest against the upcoming celebration of the Queen's birthday. I don't think it's appropriate that we should be feting the monarch of another country – a country that has much to answer for – we don't even attach these indulgences to the correct day. My forebears, like many of their time, were marginalised, subjected to incredible injustices; tried, sentenced and held in demeaning conditions on rotting ships, brutalised, thrown into cramped, filthy vessels and then sent half-way across the world in appalling conditions to be left in a new land and facing unknown and frightening conditions with nothing but despair, fear and terror to look forward to. I demand that England apologise not only to myself but to all Australians whose heritage traces back to those horrendous times. There is no excuse for the way the colonisation of this country took place. I feel as though my line of ancestors have been dispossessed of their rightful heritage. I demand that England pay to all those affected all these years later for the tremendous hurt they have inflicted upon us. I demand that we have a new flag, one that is our own and does not incorporate a symbol of the oppressor's might, representing the historic abuse of Australians everywhere.
Ian Marr, Warrnambool
Value small businesses
In thinking about all that is wrong in this world these days, after much thought I believe one major answer to many problems can be traced back to one key issue. Prioritizing economics above family and community. The key being the difference between small business and big business, which are often spoken about by politicians as if they belong in the same portfolio, when in actual fact they are opposites. Small business is often local family business which builds community, supports local goods and services, offers local kids a local future and identity, and is accountable to the community and its concerns. When people stay local, the community is a safer environment for kids as more people are known to each other. A friend of mine who works in Melbourne for a big company recently said he wishes his kids could see what he does to earn his wage so they would appreciate him more. We concluded that in a small business a child can watch and learn from their father, but in big business this is not possible. There is a disconnect. Big business reduces everyone and everything down to a mere number, it systematically devalues identity, family priorities, community, dismantles small business and destroys the natural environment for its only priority, more profits. It even exploits our children as a means for more profits. Yes big business has its benefits and is important, but it has become too powerful to the point of ruining our lives and influencing our politicians. When our government is offering billions of our taxes to big business, I believe it is time to say enough is enough. I believe our mindset changed for the worse when former treasurer Peter Costello told us we will all need $1,000,000 to retire on in Australia. This I believe encouraged many people to value economics above all else, and as a result our society is a reflection of these values. It has made us all more focused on our own financial situation, and less focused on our communities. I would like to see our governments invest our taxes into small business because this is the direction to rebuilding our communities and offering our children a better future.
Dean Fleming, Warrnambool
I was amazed to hear Scott Morrison leaping for joy about how well our economic situation is for everyone due to their economic management. I wonder if he realises the irony of one of the main factors contributing to that great performance is our export record sales of our country's gas reserves, while at the same time our PM blames our shortage of gas reserves for our electricity being so ridiculously high.
John Patterson, Warrnambool
Sports grants on offer
I remind local clubs and community organisations in Western Victoria to lodge applications for the current round of sports grants. The Andrews Labor government is giving grassroot sporting clubs a historic boost to fund modern, inclusive and safe facilities, grounds, equipment and uniforms.There are a range of different sports grants rounds currently open, and I am keen to see clubs in Western Victoria get their share. The grants currently open are: Community Sports Infrastructure Fund, which funds facility upgrades such as clubrooms, ovals and lights; Female Friendly Facilities Fund to ensure Victorian women and girls have the facilities they need to play the sport they love; Sporting Club Grants Program, assisting clubs to purchase uniforms and equipment; Better Indoor Stadiums Fund, to build multi-sports venues like basketball stadiums; and Defibrillators for Sporting Clubs and Facilities Program, which allows sporting clubs to acquire a defibrillator for their club or facility. In addition, there is also $100 million available in the Community Sport Infrastructure Loans Scheme, which provides low interest loans to fast track important community sporting facilities that might otherwise fall short on funding. This scheme will open later this year. These grants form one of the biggest ever investments in sport and recreation by an Australian state government. For more information about all these grants or to apply online visit www.sport.vic.gov.au. If my office can be of any assistance in helping your club apply, please get in contact on 5224 2088.
Gayle Tierney MP, Member for Western Victoria