Save our piano
I speak on behalf of many concerned Port Fairy residents, who are extremely dismayed by the report in last Saturday’s Standard, about the Council’s recent advertising to sell the town’s old baby grand piano. Many people have contacted me saying “the piano belongs to the town.” As a qualified and experienced professional pianist and concert performer, I gave recitals on that piano in the ‘nineties’ and played it in many Port Fairy theatre group musicals, and Michael Easton and Len Vorster, founders of the Spring Music festival, played it for local fund-raising concerts, keeping the piano in working order. I have played it recently and found there is nothing wrong with it. A professional musician from the Queensland symphony orchestra wanted to use it in a concert this year as it is an instrument with an authentic sound.
The Men’s Shed and Shire spent considerable money on its restoration to full working order. The piano is a unique “small” baby grand which I believe is over 130 years of age. It has a rich history. It does belong to the town. If it was a cricket bat, sporting memorabilia, a maritime relic, it would not be ever sold off. Not every piano is suited to all styles of music. A vintage car is not expected to be on the race-track or highway, and this piano was never essential for use in our festivals as other instruments are always brought in. We do not expect historic items to perform in the same way as new shiny objects, but neither should unqualified “workmen be blaming the tools.” I refer here to the people who three years ago moved this piano to the very back of the Reardon Theatre, totally out of sight, it has become unused, neglected and deemed irrelevant. For several years I have been concerned that few people knew where the piano even was, let alone who has made the decision that it should be first replaced and now gotten rid of. The decision to first remove this piano from the magnificent historic Lecture Hall, replacing it with a rarely used electric monster, was another strange decision. Performing musicians bring in their own electric keyboards if ever needed. When that electric piano, currently never used, has even minor failures, it cannot be repaired, it is land-fill, it has no value, and the baby grand could/should replace it and return to its original proper home. It will last for several hundred years.
It’s also a poor excuse to say “there is no room in the inn”. There is room for it. Our grand piano is unique, it has its own history, it is a part of the town, and it is a very disrespectful and short-sighted decision to sell it. Heritage, history and musical instruments need to be valued and cherished.
Julie McErlain, Port Fairy
Long-term cash solution
At first I found it amusing that the Warrnambool City Council would employ consultants at rate payer’s expense to seek feedback on a proposal to increase rates above the regulated cap. Far from amusing it is now clear we have public servants struggling to balance a budget and our council looking for an easy self serving solution. It seems the mayor is offering ratepayers two options, accept a rate increase above the regulated cap or identify services that can be cut. The answer to the latter is obvious, people do not want to see services cut or removed. Anyone with experience managing large organisations would know it is not this clear cut, efficiencies can be made across the organisation be it cost or people power, some services may be more cost effective contracted out, staffing at this level of government is often a major problem, etc. Maybe a third option is an evaluation of management structure, the elephant in the room is the question, `is council management top heavy?’ Too many managers perhaps, at a minimum cost of $150,000 each the budgeted shortfall would be eliminated by removing two management positions over the budgetary period. A short term solution will no doubt work but we will be facing the same situation in the next budgetary period, a long term solution to council funding is required and this is what rate payers should expect of their elected councillors.
Rob Graham, Terang
Right of reply
The debate on renewable energy growth and the south-west should be about present realities without hankering for a past that’s not sustainable economically or environmentally. Graham Keith says wind farms “despoil the landscapes”. (The Standard, December 22). This is purely subjective as is my view that wind turbines majestically dotting our landscape and quietly meeting our energy needs are a beautiful sight to behold. Perhaps we could agree they are more attractive and environmentally way ahead of a sprawling open cut coal mine. The transition from one outdated generation system to another will always be costly but to my knowledge nobody says renewables will totally produce all our electricity needs any day soon. What we do know is that recent advances in battery storage technology make the transition to more renewables generation a stronger probability. In the same edition Michael Cane disputes my economic benefits to our region claim. My statement was largely based on The Standard article November 11 headed $1b wind farm boom time, that among other things details the new jobs to our region through new wind farms at Berrybank, Dundonnell and Mortlake South. The combined employment growth is 440 new jobs in the construction phase plus 30 permanent positions. The spinoff for the Warrnambool economy also forms part of the assessment. Mr Cane also queries my reference to climate change and man made global warming factors. He’s as free to reject the overwhelming scientific evidence on global warming and climate change as he is to promote the existence of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool
I agree with Robert Rowley's sentiment, The Standard, December, 29. It is certainly odd for local councils to initiate and spend on scientific reviews into loss of beach sand and erosion of dunes and take protective action only to allow such a large animal (horses) into these same areas. Certainly this would not be recommended in any scientific review but we are dealing with a strong racehorse lobby within local councils. Allowing cattle to graze on the marshland adjacent to the Moyne River and the extreme damage caused is another matter of concern to me.
Russell Allardice, Port Fairy