Regarding the Warrnambool to Melbourne airline service future viability, I think we really need to look at some numbers and compare it to the V/line rail service. The first, and what would seem to be the most obvious advantage of the air service, is the saving in travel time. So let’s compare. By air, 90 minutes versus 205 minutes by rail, so that would appear to make air travel a clear winner on that score. But then again, there are four train services a day compared to only two flights so that also needs to be considered. Now let’s look at the cost. A one way air ticket is either $195 or $148 depending on which flight time you choose, whereas a full priced train fare is $38.60 and concession fare is $19.30. And then of course, anyone with a Seniors Card gets four free V/line return trips per year plus there are a couple more for anyone with a Commonwealth Seniors Concession card. But here is the real issue when it comes to the time saving. Sharp Airline’s route doesn’t actually carry anyone from Warrnambool to Melbourne at all like the train does. It takes them from Mailors Flat to Essendon, so getting to or from either of those places adds considerable extra time and inconvenience, when you compare it to the train which drops you right in both cities. I would also imagine you couldn’t just jump on the plane a couple of seconds before departure time at either airport, as you can with the train so that would also add to the true time. I am not in any way knocking Sharp Airlines on this and in fact reading between the lines in The Standard article I think they may perhaps agree with my assessment. The air service may be feasible for Mount Gambier, Hamilton and Portland but not for Warrnambool with our direct rail link. So why is our council and apparently the state government so keen to spend our money to prop it up? I think it has a lot more to do with prestige than practicality. They seem to feel that if we want to be seen as a significant regional city, then we must have an air service. But it just doesn’t add up and will not survive without a subsidy. The irony is that our much maligned rail service is in fact just too good for the airline to compete with.
Jim Morrissey, Woodford
I have been disheartened by the recent push to ban plastic straws in cafes and eateries. Many disabled people rely on plastic straws to eat and drink. Currently, there are no viable alternatives to plastic straws for this purpose. A plastic straw ban at a business denies disabled people who rely on straws from receiving service, and sends the message that disabled people are no longer welcome at the establishment. A town-wide straw ban would have more broad-reaching implications. This kind of neo-liberal, individualistic "environmentalism" might feel good, but it does little to address the actions of corporations and government policies which are responsible for the bulk of the damage to the environment. It does, however, place the burden of change primarily on disabled, poor and other marginalised groups. An easy alternative to a straw ban is an “offer first” policy. Wait staff offer patrons the alternative of a plastic or biodegradable straw, or no straw at all. This ensures those who need straws have access to them, and those who do not, can opt out. To the proponents of banning plastic straws, I ask: if a disabled person tells you that they need a plastic straw to eat and drink, and yet you still insist on a straw ban, what does that tell you about the value you place on the lives of disabled people?
Siobhan Simper, Warrnambool
The article 'Midfield Plant gets Council Tick (March 5) concerns the planned expansion of Midfield meats on their Scott Street site. Cr Michael Neoh states 'building a new facility would create jobs and help foster economic growth...both good wins for Warrnambool'. In reality the proposed expansion will create short term construction jobs but once completed few ongoing jobs. If Midfield cared about the future of Warrnambool they would realise that vacating the abattoir site plus surrounding hectares of holding paddocks would open up Warrnambool through rezoning to significant coastal housing and tourism opportunities. Homes and businesses in all affected areas weren't leafletted. The nauseating odour from the abattoir spreads over a wide area depending on prevailing winds and includes Merrivale Primary School. Cr David Owen remarked the odour even wafts up Lieibig Street. Is this the impression Warrnambool wants for visitors? At all three consultation meetings the overwhelming opinion of residents was that the abattoir should relocate. Mayor Tony Herbert stated community members are very concerned about current levels of noise and odour pollution from the abattoir. Some residents have to keep windows closed and sleep with earplugs. Warrnambool is about a magnificent coastline and clean air. A significant part of that coastline will continue to be dominated by a meat processing company. The winner is Midfield. Warrnambool has for now missed a chance for significant future development and all the benefits of this.
Erica Code, Warrnambool
To the kind passer-by who came to the assistance of my 86-year old father on Saturday March 2. It was 40 degrees, Dad was lost and confused, having wandered from his aged care home in east Warrnambool. The quick-thinking motorist offered him a ride and drove him to the police station. Shortly there after Dad was back, safe and sound in his care facility. My heartfelt thanks to the thoughtful and caring actions of the passer-by and police.
Helen Laufer, Nunawading
Letters on election issues must bear the name and full address of the writer(s). Responsibility for election comment in this issue is accepted by Greg Best, editor of The Standard. Writers should disclose any alliance with political or community organisations and include their phone number for verification. Election candidates should declare themselves as such when submitting letters.