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LETTERS

Pharmacy guild destroys profession

Pharmacy guild destroys profession

IT SEEMS the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is trying in one fell swoop to destroy the professionalism of pharmacy practice ("Chemists' pill deal under fire", The Age, 26/9). The guild represents the 5000 pharmacies, but not the 23,000 pharmacists, in the country. To suggest pharmacists should be recommending add-on vitamins and minerals and other substances of unproven worth is anathema to any good professional.

As a pharmacy educator of some 50 years standing, I would say to all pharmacists: consider the code of practice you work under and refuse to take part in this potentially unprofessional behaviour.

Dr Louis Roller, honorary associate professor, Monash University,

Pass the salt

PHARMACISTS were once a trusted part of the healthcare system. However, forewarned with the knowledge that my chemist is being motivated by profit and reminded by his/her computer to recommend extra supplements, I will be taking all the recommendations with several grains of salt. I wonder if Blackmores markets salt for cases of scepticism.

Howard Oglesby, Alderley, Queensland

Conflict of interest

ONCE upon a time, pharmacists used to have the patient's interests at the core of everything they did. Now it seems that they will have Blackmores' interests at heart instead. Another noble profession falls.

Matthew Gilbert, Hampton Park

Security at risk

NO EFFORT should be spared to prevent our military and industrial intelligence falling into the hands of our enemies, or indeed even allies ("Foreign spies with cyber eyes on our government", The Saturday Age, 24/9). But it is also concerning that cyber warfare has been added to the ANZUS treaty. This "commits both parties to war in the event of a cyber attack against either nation". That the federal government has taken such an important step without a debate in Parliament is astounding.

The US has the largest conventional and cyber network in the world and it is the largest military power. Consequently, the US is obviously the target of counter-espionage. If this leads to a hot war, we will also be included by virtue of being a party to the new treaty. This is an untenable situation for Australians. The Prime Minister should explain.

Bill Mathew, Parkville

Topsy-turvy plan

IN RESPONSE to Carol Nader's article on the demise of Acland Street (Comment, 24/9), Maxine Hardinge writes that the council should take a strong stand in favour of independent shops and put a cap on the number of chains (Letters, 26/9).

Both are good ideas but planning doesn't work that way in Melbourne. In most places around the world the planning departments of local authorities start by identifying what communities want and then a regulatory system is devised to deliver it. But not us.

We start with a regulatory system that dictates what can and cannot be delivered, and communities have to live with what is allowable. Controlling the business mix is deemed to be "meddling with the market" and therefore not allowed even if acknowledged to be in the public interest.

Nigel Flannigan, former planning academic, Camberwell

Loved and wanted

JOFFA'S selfless contribution at a Salvation Army hostel is heartwarming ("Joffa's other side, guardian angel to the lost", The Saturday Age, 24/9), but my brother, who is in the accompanying photo, is most certainly not "unloved and unwanted" .

Michael is loved and wanted by his family. He has chosen to live at The Anchorage and regards it as his home. We are grateful to The Anchorage and his support workers for that. People who know Michael value his humour and humanity. For our family the photo is sad, but there is another side to the story.

Cecily Ann McGee, Mullumbimby, NSW

Hostile movement on the march

HAVING read Muriel Porter's book Sydney Anglicans and the Threat to World Anglicanism to launch it, and having come to ordained ministry in Melbourne since 1995 from licensed lay ministry in Sydney, I am well placed to correct the assertion that Porter's critique is no more than nostalgia for the 1950s ("Sydney Anglicans a 'threat' to church", The Age, 26/9).

The book warns ordinary Anglicans that a new and aggressive style of church is on the march and may be coming to your parish if you are not alert.

The real issue the book tackles is how did a diocese, firmly in the Evangelical stream of Anglican breadth, though low in worship and not zealous to eradicate alternatives, become so hostile to the mainstream of Anglican life? As a member of the national general synod and its standing committee, I now encounter my former diocese as a place with an unyielding refusal to accord difference any respect.

Colleen O'Reilly, vicar of Malvern, Malvern

Locals shut out

LIKE John Belfrage (Letters, 24/9), we were puzzled by Planning Minister Matthew Guy's intervention in a local issue that could have been resolved without ministerial intervention. Port Phillip Conservation Council appealed against Mornington Peninsula Shire Council's approval of a massively expanded lifesaving club on the narrow remaining foreshore reserve at Dromana pier.

We did not argue there shouldn't be a lifesaving presence. Our issues were that the building footprint was unnecessarily large, its bulk overbearing, and the Sea Scouts who also used the area would be disenfranchised.

But a week before our March hearing at VCAT, Mr Guy called in the matter. What was the trigger? A quiet word from Liberal colleague and local MP Martin Dixon? Our VCAT hearing was cancelled, denying us our right to have our concerns considered by an independent expert.

Victorians are being served up a series of "planning interventions" that make "ministerial discretion" look more like ministerial indiscretion.

Len Warfe, Port Phillip Conservation Council, Dromana

We pick up the tab

WITH at least 3000 deaths each year attributable to alcohol misuse, the government needs to take off its blinkers on alcohol tax reform ("Wine giants pushing for tax reform", The Age 26/9). In more than 50 peer-reviewed studies around the world, taxation and price increases have been proven to lower alcohol consumption. Those most likely to abuse alcohol are most likely to buy the drink that gives them the greatest alcohol content for their money.

The excise on a typical cask wine is only 5? per standard drink, compared with 32? per standard drink of mid-strength beer, despite the much higher alcohol content of the wine (typically 12.5 per cent by volume compared with 3 per cent of the beer). Further, two bottles of wine may have the same alcohol content, but the cheaper one attracts less tax.

Excise on alcohol raised more than $3.5 billion in the 2008-09 financial year, with $700 million from wine. Yet the social harms inflicted on the community as a result of alcohol misuse cost at least $15 billion. In other words, the community is picking up the tab for three-quarters of the harm.

Mark Zirnsak, Uniting Church, Melbourne

Manners on move

IT IS nice to see people observing good etiquette while eating. The young lady bringing the plate to her chest and supping her cereal with a spoon was a case worth observing. The problem was she was driving, on Sunday morning, along Ferntree Gully Road. Now I have seen everything.

Norman Miller, The Basin

Penalise guzzlers

MARK Brandi (Letters, 26/9) highlights the stupidity of the way we are charged for water. Our bills are accompanied by leaflets suggesting we fix dripping taps or install water-saving shower heads. It's not surprising such ineffective means of encouraging water saving are chosen when selling less water will affect the companies' profit.

But this need not be the case. The same profit could be made if the supply charge were lowered and the usage charge increased. Prices could be perhaps free for the first 50 or 100 litres per day; heavy water use would attract high prices. Thus guzzlers would pay more and water savers less. Is it so difficult?

Rosalynd Smith, North Melbourne

What we deserve

RON Hayton is spot on (Letters, 26/9. If my memory serves me correctly, the same year that St Andrew's hospital was forced to close because of financial problems, the public rallied behind the appeal to raise the millions needed to save Footscray Football Club. We have the health system we deserve.

Graeme Norwood, Wodonga


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