Letters to the Editor

May 04, 2017

Welcome to Country backlash

REGARDING the story of the opening of the new Echuca Fire Station and the absence of a ‘welcome to country/smoking’ ceremony, one point so far overlooked is these ceremonies usually come with a price tag running into the hundreds of dollars.

In the case of the CFA I don’t know if the local brigade is expected to pay the bill or the state authority but either way it means that funds intended to resource brigades to fight fires are instead spent on what is, let’s face it, politically-correct posturing.

And just how welcoming is a ‘welcome to country’ ceremony if you get vilified for not having one?

Maybe it should be called a ‘welcome to country — or else’ ceremony.

The ‘smoking’ component that usually accompanies these ceremonies is problematic as it is a religious practice.

I thought the CFA was supposed to be a secular organisation?

Has the CFA chief officer also mandated that all new station openings have a priest give a blessing?

We are all members of one race — the human race.

Let’s not mandate practices that are ostensibly designed to unite us but instead very often cause division, especially when they are mandated from on high by government bureaucrats (i.e. the CFA chief officer in this case).

It should be a democratic decision of local brigade members if they want a ‘welcome to country’ at their events.

Ewan McDonald, Rochester

We need to elect willing politicians

WHILE the productive use of river water is portrayed as an environmental problem, the underlying reality is that it is actually a political problem.

To solve the water problem, we need to solve the underlying political problem. The political problem is that politicians are generally unwilling to legislate improvements to law relating to water. To solve the political problem, we need to elect politicians who are actually willing to legislate improvements.

The biggest impediment to solving the political problem is the lack of political competition for the rural vote.

Every three years federally and four years state wise, Australians participate in elections - and in the NSW federal seat of Farrer Sussan Ley wins for the Liberal Party, and in the Victorian federal seat of Mallee Andrew Broad wins for the National Party. This return of sitting members is replicated in federal and state elections across virtually all regional seats in NSW and Victoria.

The National and Liberal parties have actually established a political cartel where they have both agreed to not compete against each other where one party has a sitting member. This leaves the sitting member virtually certain to be re-elected.

The problem for the constituents of these electorates is these politicians no longer have to compete for their vote, and no longer have to achieve results, and in fact spend more time and effort courting Labor and Green voters.

Hence the Water Act, Basin Plan, so called ‘safe schools’ and a multitude of National Parks.

By participating in what is in fact electoral collusion, both the National and Liberal parties are acting to the detriment of constituents in affected electorates.

We, the people in regional areas, need to establish genuine competition for our vote. We need to insist that the National and Liberal parties compete against each other in every regional seat in every election.

One of their candidates will still probably win, but it will be the best one for us.

These parties can have a coalition after the election, but not during it.

John Johnson, Murray-Darling Basin Citizens’ Association

Commemorating Anzac Day

ON ANZAC day we commemorated the anniversary of Australian and New Zealand soldiers landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, 1915, during World War I.

It was the start of an eight-month campaign where more than 50,000 Australians are estimated to have fought, some 8700 lost their lives and almost 18,000 were wounded.

It was the birthplace of the Anzac legend, where Australians forged a reputation for bravery, ingenuity and mateship that has become central to our national character.

These are the traits we respect and honour in every man and woman who has served in defence of our nation.

This year we also continue to commemorate the role of the Australian troops on the Western Front with the centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt in France and the Battle of Messines in Belgium.

At Polygon Wood, near Ypres in Belgium, there will be a service commemorating the centenary of Australian involvement in the Third Battle of Ypres.

We must never forget that more Australians lost their lives in 1917 due to war than in any other year of our history.

Later this year we will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba in Israel.

This year also marks significant anniversaries from World War II.

We have already commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore and the Bombing of Darwin, and later this year we honour the Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Milne Bay, Australia’s involvement at El Alamein and the end of the Kokoda campaign.

On Anzac Day we also paid tribute to those members of the Australian Defence Force currently on active service overseas, including in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

So when you see someone wearing medals on the left-hand side of their chest, please shake their hand and say, ‘thank-you for your service’.

We owe our service personnel an immeasurable debt of gratitude. I encourage everyone to say ‘thank-you’ to those who have served our country.

Dan Tehan, Federal Veterans’ Affairs Minister

‘Diversion from the main issues’

THE $1.45 billion regional rail boost must be examined with the knowledge the present arrangements of the services provided do not run on time.

There are cancellations, reduced speed limits and the systemic problem of overcrowding that endangers the safety of passengers and antiquated passenger rolling stock that have been converted from metropolitan passenger rolling stock.

These are the issues regional commuters want rectified but the Andrews Government and Transport Minster seem incapable of fixing.

So the next best thing is to create a diversion from the main issues as listed above and proffer a $1.45 billion announcement and media release of investment in regional rail — one that has terms and conditions and an exit clause (and a lack of accountability if the Federal Government does not come to the party with the funding).

The Andrews Government is city centric when you compare the $1.45 billion for regional rail to the amount of funding going to the Metro Line, the sky train, new passenger rolling stock and the upgrade of the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines.

There are country towns and cities advocating and lobbying for the return of their passenger rail services that were systematically removed by the myopic and insular Kennett and Stockdale governments.

The Andrews Government has turned a deaf ear to these towns and cities and the $1.45 billion does not even address these requests.

The Andrews Government fears a Kennett-style backlash from the country vote at the next state election in 2018 and in all probability it will get it.

The $1.45 billion is an attempt to reverse the criticism of the government’s lack of performance with not only regional rail, but also with freight rail and the isolation of country towns and cities.

Scott Ramsay, Rail Revival Alliance

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