We need to get off this freeway to nowhere

We need to get off this freeway to nowhere

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Senior traffic engineer Andrew O’Brien has stated the obvious – when the North East Link is built, in its current form, Option A, it will have a dramatic effect on the Eastern Freeway. His evidence to the environmental effects hearings into the motorway should ring alarm bells for the government and public alike. The reported extra 100,000 cars that will be virtually dumped onto the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen will create one giant bottleneck at the tunnels in Donvale/Mitcham/Ringwood and at Hoddle Street heading west. It’s all very well widening the lanes from six to 10 or 20 in places, but the tunnels only have three lanes each way. It will be the Eastern Freeway car park. We should demand the East West Link is built as a matter of urgency. Option A for the North East Link should be junked and Option C be the preferred build, where the North East Link meets East Link at Ringwood on the east side of the tunnels. The current Option A without the East West Link being built will end up being a disaster for Melbourne’s east.

Peter Allan, Blackburn

Why should businesses suffer?

Why do Bulleen businesses have to move when the North East Link could easily relocate to give us a true ring road? Or why not give us a rail link now to provide more capacity and save our local businesses from moving away from local customers. Instead, we are told that the mega freeway will not rule out rail in the future. Why not give us rail now as part of the $16 billion North East Link budget? It is a ridiculous waste of our taxpayer money for the government to argue that the expensive new lanes can be destroyed after 2027 to build the train line we need right now.

Helen Tsoutsouvas, Balwyn North

Give us all the options, minister

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan claims there is no viable option for the controversial upgrade to the Western Highway (“Minister digs in on Western Highway”, 10/9). She describes it as the safest, cheapest and most environmentally sound option despite the fact that culturally significant tress will be cut down and the Indigenous heritage issues ignored. While road safety is important, an alternative could be to reduce the speed limit on this section of the highway. Why claim there is no alternative? Perhaps the minister could be more transparent by tabling the options for the whole community to judge.

Ray Cleary, Camberwell

Plenty of better ways to save lives

Apparently the Western Highway upgrade must go ahead to “save lives”. All road deaths are tragedies, so let’s consider more generally how our transport choices could save lives. More roads mean more cars. More pedestrians are being killed – because of more cars. These extra cars contribute to air pollution, which the EPA estimates kills 3000 Australians a year. And all that bitumen and concrete contributes to the urban heat island effect, which can make heatwaves more lethal. More cars mean more resources need to be extracted – which is wrecking the planet and causing terrible health impacts and fatalities. And all those extra carbon emissions are contributing to climate change. I can think of many ways that our transport choices could save lives. None involve building more roads.

Andrea Bunting, Brunswick


Racism is alive and well

I’m Greek. I’ve lived in Australia since 1971, and I still come up against the implacable face of prejudice and discrimination in everyday life. “Yes, but you’re not really Australian,” said a colleague in a publishing house. “You write so beautifully for someone who speaks English as a second language,” said a fan.

I once edited a manuscript in which the author put a full stop after a question mark or exclamation mark at the end of a sentence. I, of course, deleted them. He rang to tell me to reinstate the full stops. “I don’t know what it’s like in your country, Dmetri,” he said, “but in Australia we put a full stop at the end of a sentence.” Another author told me to go back where I came from “you filthy wog”. A magazine editor told me to change my name to “a nice pronounceable pseudonym” and she would happily publish my work. The list is endless.

Despite claiming to be “proudly multicultural”, Australia is very ethnocentric. We are a big island with a small-island mentality.

Things will change, but it is taking a long time. Meanwhile us “wogs” have to grit our teeth and agitate for change. One way of doing it is for more Europeans, Asians, Africans, Middle Easterners and Aborigines to enter the cultural fray. When the “marginalised” are no longer in the margins, they have won half the battle.

Dmetri Kakmi, Williamstown

A shameful message

I would like to express my sense of outrage and disbelief regarding the match review officer’s findings on Giants star Toby Greene (“Greene light, Giant relief at tribunal”, 10/9). It seems everyone inside the AFL machine has rubber-stamped Greene only being fined, but out here in the real world people are feeling angry and let down by the decision.

I have kids who play footy. What the AFL is saying to every junior, suburban and country footballer out there, is this: “We don’t really like what Greene did, but if it’s going to win you an important match, it’s worth doing, because you won’t be suspended. So go ahead, pull hair, slam people’s heads into the ground. It’s called ‘playing on the edge’ now.”

This is Greene’s 17th charge in 143 games. That’s a charge every eight-and-a-half games. Yet the AFL basically let him get away with this disgusting attack on a helpless player. Shame on the AFL.

David Bowers, Flemington

Ill winds for workers

You have to feel for those people on the frontline, as firefighters, farmers, emergency and medical services workers in their daily battles against the ravages of climate change.

Right now, south-east Queensland and northern NSW are facing unprecedented, unseasonal and utterly destructive fires. “Absolutely enormous” was how one fire chief described them.

Continued drought and heatwave conditions which are forecast this summer also place added strain on the farming community and health/medical services. These tireless workers might gain some solace if they knew state and federal governments demonstrated the political will to take strong action on climate change. But alas, while this political paralysis continues, things will only get worse for these courageous and stoic people who bear the brunt of climate change across our “sunburnt country”.

Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Help on the ground

Every spring and summer without fail somewhere in Australia large areas are devastated by bushfires. The consequences are sometimes significant loss of human lives, always huge areas of natural habitat or farming land burnt out, livestock and native animals killed. This is followed by years of recovery for the people impacted and nature. And what do governments do after the events? Offer their thoughts and prayers.

With climate change and the drought, isn’t it time for more than thoughts and prayers? It is time for bold action to help defend our country communities and vast forests. We have a sizeable Defence Force with cargo planes, heavy-lift helicopters, regiments of engineers with all types of earth-moving equipment, armoured troop carrying vehicles spread throughout Australia.

As a person who has spent 45 years in the ADF, I know its command and control capacity is second to none. How about we dual-role significant elements of the ADF to be able to quickly respond to major bushfires? It would be a radical shift in the Defence Force role but it is time we thought outside the square.

Chris Grigsby, Beaumaris

Playing with fire

Many medicines and farm chemicals can have side effects which require that great care is used. We hear reports of large quantities of fire retardants being used in Queensland. These retardants are generally phosphorus-based chemicals which act also as fertilisers.

Here in Victoria, in catchments where forest fires have been attacked with retardants, we have an increased risk of toxic algal blooms in our streams and rivers the following summer. We must watch for the effects of these algal blooms in Queensland’s rivers, the ocean at their mouths and on our Great Barrier Reef.

For 20 years, denialism has obstructed our response to the climate emergency now clearly endangering so many small communities, our farming, environment, water and food supplies. Our urban concentration of voters has been isolated from the effects clearly visible in country communities. We must hold many of our politicians responsible for our rapidly cascading problems.

John Poppins, Yarragon South

Curb the logging

When so many areas of forest are burning now or likely to burn in coming years, it doesn’t make sense that logging continues in our precious woodlands (“Fires are burning where they never used to”, Comment, 11/9).

Consider the Rubicon Forest in Murrindindi shire. Over the years small pockets have been clear-felled and the casual bystander would have said that’s fine – they are only small areas. However, when we see a map of the whole forest showing the past 20 years’ worth of logging, we realise the massive level of destruction.

Forest can never regenerate fast enough to compensate for the destruction of habitat, destabilisation of soils, damage to water storages, and the inevitable “letting in” of blackberries and other noxious weeds. Old-growth forest such as the Rubicon should be classified as a treasure not a trashable resource.

Elaine O’Shannessy, Buxton

Failing the pub test?

Energy Minister Angus Taylor told Federal Parliament he would not apologise for representing himself and his family, who are farmers in his electorate, in a discussion he had two years ago over environmental regulations (“Minister rejects call to resign”, 11/6). While it seems he has met with disclosure rules, it is still a concern as to why the Energy Minister acted outside his portfolio in meeting with Environment Department officials to discuss issues affecting land in which his family held an interest.

A conflict of interest is defined as “a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity”. Even at arms length, his interest in the family business would still seem to suggest a conflict may have occurred.

Stephen Farrelly, Donvale

Face up to realities

Hooray for Jacqui Lambie (“Senator shoots holes in PM’s agenda”, 10/9). At last someone is prepared to challenge the Scott Morrison orthodoxies which depend on ignoring the harsh realities of life for so many, including the homeless, the aged, and welfare recipients. Complex problems need well thought out rational solutions, and not the quick-fix beloved of politicians.

Helen Scheller, Benalla

Make lives better

Chris Uhlmann, no, I don’t want “boring” (“At last, a resumption of normal (boring) service”, Comment, 11/6). I want a progressive government which spends its energies genuinely improving the lives of people; those who (for instance) have a hard time financially, such as people who are unemployed – just to mention one of the “groups” this boring government has shown its contempt for.

Fiona Colin, Malvern East

Missing the creative spirit

Chris Uhlmann raises two cheers for the stability and security of boring government, but the third cheer sticks in my throat. We need creativity, imaginative ideas, purpose and determined action, not the suffocating effect of the status quo. A government bereft of forward-looking policies is just marking time. Is this really the best we can do?

Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Step back to ugly times

Judith Ireland’s article “LGBTQI warning on religious bill” (11/9) reminded me of the enormous struggle over many years among women unable to obtain birth control from Catholic doctors because of the doctors’ “religious beliefs”. Are we going backwards to a world of pain, which is what it was for women then, and looks like the so-called “religious right” want again. That is, control over people who don’t fit their particular viewpoint. We don’t need or want this hypocrisy again.

Elizabeth Kulpa, Townsville

War, what war?

I don’t think I got that memo – we’re at war with China, are we (“Liberal MP denies ‘links’ to China”, 11/9)? All this paranoia about inter-nation co-operative societies. What should we look at next, the Australian American Association?

Tony Haydon, Springvale

Encourage smoking switch

I have been vaping since 2013, after smoking cigarettes for more than 40 years. As part of a study for the early detection of lung cancer, a CT scan of my lungs revealed no cancer or any other detectable issue. I believe vaping should be legalised in Australia, with the government regulating the quality of the ingredients (“Vaping caution wise until air is cleared”, 9/9). Sales should be restricted to over-21s and current smokers should be subsidised to switch to vaping.

David Benham, Strathmore


The environment

Queensland – beautiful one day, burning the next.

Jen Gladstones, Heidelberg

ScoMo fiddles while Australia burns.

Ron Hayton, Beaumaris

Natural Disasters Minister David Littleproud doesn’t know if climate change is man-made. Perhaps he could ask one of the thousands of scientific experts who do know.

Ross Hudson, Camberwell


The first lesson of defeat – don’t put up an unelectable leader (“Labor policy will change, says Shorten”, 11/9).

Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Unfortunate that Gladys Liu has been struck down with a serious case of forgetfulness so early in her political career (“Liberal MP denies ‘links’ to China”, 11/9).

Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Gladys “Cannot Recall” Liu could try the Groucho Marx defence – I wouldn’t join any organisation that wanted me as a member.

Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Money for Jam, a new film by Taylor Brothers Inc. A pastoral saga with a sticky ending (“Minister rejects call to resign”, 11/9).

April Baragwanath, Geelong

Perhaps if the Hong Kong protesters cast a spell in the direction of China they might end up with a Hexit.

Andrew Powell, Caulfield

Looks like Boris is dying in a ditch.

Jean Andrews, Cheltenham


After a thief has served his jail sentence, he is still a thief. After a cricket cheat has served his ban, he is still a cheat.

George Houlder, Cambrian Hill

Steve Smith: he did the crime, served the time, get off his back.

Graham Reynolds, Wendouree

David Jones and Myer scrap celebrity marquees at the races (“David Jones shifts track”, 11/9). They just didn’t sell enough frocks?

Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale


Realistically, how many abusers of children are likely to go to confession?

Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

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