Clearing not the solution to fire protection
I was surprised to read that 28 residents have called for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to potentially clear “high-value remnant vegetation” because they are concerned about fire risk (“Balancing fire risk and vegetation” The News 23/5/23). Living in rural Victoria for 30 years and fighting the Ash Wednesday fire it became obvious that no amount of clearing or burning has any effect on the advancement of fire when the wind is strong, the vegetation dry and the temperature hot. A related finding from the Bushfire Royal Commission after the 2019-20 fires was that reducing fuel loads “may have no appreciable effect under extreme conditions”.
Victoria is the most cleared state and as you report, “about 70 per cent of remnant native vegetation has been lost on the peninsula”. The recent State of the Environment report found that “Overall, the state and trend of the environment of Australia are poor and deteriorating as a result of increasing pressures from climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and resource extraction”.
I hope the Red Hill reserve and the species of “national and international significance” it is home to, can be protected and residents can find a way to accept the reality of the new risk we face because of climate change.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
A number of your correspondents have construed that bizarrely that voting for the Voice will be a form of apartheid that favours First Nations people and that we already have one person, one vote so we are all equal already.
I would suggest they not listen to the dribble emanating from the mostly Coalition No voices.
It is worth remembering that First Nations people were not given the vote until the 1960s. This nation has a lot of repair work to do to bring First Nations people to some level of equality. The Voice on its own is just a step towards equality.
Perhaps opponents of the Voice would prefer to advocate that First Nations people gain influence in parliament in the time honoured way, buying it with lobbyists.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
I appreciate the respectful responses to my earlier letter (“Direct advice” and “Voice not a wedge” Letters 16/5/23). We are united in wishing to have Indigenous issues addressed effectively, but I remain of the view that amending the constitution is not needed to achieve this and would be a massive over-reach.
No one has suggested having an Indigenous advisory body per se is racist, but it is the proposal to afford it and those it represents extra rights in the constitution over and above every non-Indigenous Australian which is at issue.
The Voice is misleadingly being sold as a necessary “catch up” for Indigenous people not being represented in the constitution. Indigenous people currently have exactly the same rights and recognition as every other Australian. What is being sought in this referendum is additional representation, or a second “vote” for one group over all others, based purely on race.
If, as is stated, the NIAA isn’t a voice for Indigenous people, it raises the question of where the NIAA currently receives the advice which is not relevant, but nevertheless directs the efforts justifying their existence. If the advice is not appropriate, what is the impediment to setting up a new and effective body to fill this void? After all the government is already available to listen and the NIAA already there to act.
This can be done without introducing a racially based division in the constitution. History tells us that dividing people by race does not lead to good outcomes.
Several previous Indigenous representative agencies have failed necessitating closure by government. Entrenching the Voice in the constitution will not guarantee that this cannot happen again, but it will make it virtually impossible to fix.
John Matthews, Heathmont
Question of identity
Today, in the constitution, I am identified as Australian. But the referendum, The Voice”, demands I must be one of two identities. If I don’t self-identify as one or the other the government will decide for me. I wonder what my identity will be? An Aboriginal Australian or a non-Aboriginal Australian? A First Nation Australian or Second Nation Australian? A Black Australian or White Australian? A European Australian or non-European Australian? An Indigenous Australian or a non-Indigenous Australian?
I am none of these. I am Australian. I do not want to be identified as a “something or other” Australian.
So, it is a No from me.
Sandy Robinson, Hastings
I find the continuous insensitive contributions of the entitled and un-thinking on the Mornington Peninsula and the odd one from further afield about the Voice to Parliament a little bemusing.
It is not that hard to see that the treatment of our first nation people by the invaders over the last more than 200 years resulted in the total disenfranchisement of them. Any of the patronising efforts of the white invaders over the several decades since the final “emancipation” of our First Nations people has only ever resulted in a further disempowerment of them.
So, isn’t it high time we allow our First Nations people to speak directly to parliament and government to let them know what will be needed to lift this century long yolk of paternalism off their backs?
The conservative muddying of the waters on the issue of the Voice is just another sign of their irrelevance in Australian politics and a petty need to cling to undeserved privilege at all costs.
Rupert Steiner, Balnarring
‘Protest’ a tribute
As a resident of Mornington, I visit Mornington Park most days and as such was out enjoying the sunshine on Mother’s Day.
I observed many individuals and families out and about enjoying the day, silently and respectfully walking the path reading the many stories.
I disagree that this was a protest, but rather a respectful tribute to the lives lost or injured as a result of an unsafe and ineffective vaccine (“Shire investigates park protest” The News 16/5/23).
I spent some time reading the stories and at no time was I approached by any “so-called anti-vaxers”.
Yes, some of the stories were quite confronting and deeply touching and I wonder what has happened to our society, where is compassion, empathy, and caring for our fellow humans?
I suggest that you speak to the organisers who I expect are just concerned volunteers wanting to give a voice to those who have lost their voice.
Investigative journalism seems to be a thing of the past.
Perhaps the woman who accused the organisers of spreading misinformation could have taken the time to speak with the organisers and express her concerns, rather than going to the press uniformed.
Community is unity, it is time to come together.
Annette Quilty, Mornington
The cost of hydrogen
Japan could be on its way to meeting its emissions standards, thanks to the state and federal Labor governments’ stupidity.
While Japan will hugely benefit from buying hydrogen made from coal and gas, Australia will singularly add tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere providing brown hydrogen.
Hydrogen is dubbed “grey” or “brown” when produced with natural gas or coal respectively, owing to the carbon intensity of the processes: steam reforming emits 11kg of CO2 equal parts per kilogram of hydrogen; coal gasification 19kg per kilogram of hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is produced with clean renewable energy using a process called electrolysis of water and there is no carbon emission during H2 production.
Here is a big duh. Japan Offers $1.6 billion to Australia’s coal-to-hydrogen plan and Labor says OK and no problem.
To offset these huge increases in new CO2 emissions the industry can buy dodgy (in the first place) carbon credits from Indonesia where the forests being credited for dodgy carbon credits that do not even exist are at the same time being logged.
Joe Lenzo, Safety Beach
Logging ban appreciated
At last, some good news in the announcement of an end to native forest logging in Victoria. VicForests’ operations has made no economic sense, with substantial losses over many years, and its failure to conform to regulations has been well documented.
We have sent our forests to Japan in woodchips, a country which retains nearly 70 per cent of its land area as forest.
In Australia we have lost 50 per cent of our forests since colonisation and this destruction continues.
In logging we have witnessed the demolition of our precious cultural heritage, forcing the near extinction of both flora and fauna. About 86 per cent of felled native forests become woodchips and paper pulp.
More than 80 per cent of all sawn timber comes from plantations, this is the future.
Climate-wise, it is estimated that an end to logging is the equivalent of taking 730,000 petrol and diesel cars off the road. Old growth forests are important carbon sinks, and young forests which replace them are highly flammable.
Effort now needs to be directed to replenishing logged areas, and to concern for those communities affected. There are jobs – in the plantation sector, in reforestation, feral and animal control, and others. Let us hope other states now review their practices and cease this destruction of our national heritage.
Margaret Reid, Rye
Help save reserve
Frankston Council will make a final decision at its 14 June meeting whether to proceed with the development of a new child and maternity centre in Long Street Reserve, Langwarrin, a beautiful and peaceful open space with an excellent playground, plus tables and seating for the community to share not just now, but also in future generations.
Local parks like this are crucial to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the community, not to mention the environment and biodiversity of the city, something which even Frankston Council acknowledges in its policies and action plans, yet which are totally disregarded when they initially voted to proceed with this development.
It would result in the immediate loss of up to 55 trees, some of which are large mature native species that provide invaluable habitat for local wildlife with some identified by an expert on native trees as needing to be protected.
Construction work and surfacing around the area would most likely disturb the extensive root systems of remaining trees, causing them to die within a few years.
As our suburbs become more densely populated with subdivisions of existing residential blocks, together with multiple, often multi-storey dwellings being built on those subdivided blocks, open spaces for community recreation and wellbeing are becoming ever more vital and in demand. We cannot afford to lose any of the ones we already have.
Viable, non-damaging alternatives to Long Street Reserve have been identified.
We are asking residents of Frankston to come to the council meeting on 14 June and show support for our cause that council must not proceed with taking away such a valuable community and environmental asset from the residents of the City of Frankston.
Manfred Berger, Langwarrin