LETTERS

Getting serious about pipi pillaging

Getting serious about pipi pillaging

AT LAST the desperate situation of pipi collection at Venus Bay is receiving attention (Pipi harvest sparks concern, The Age, 9/1). For years, industrial-scale pillaging of pipis, sometimes involving refrigerated trucks, walkie-talkies and teams of people, has meant that a vast but unknown quantity of these shellfish is being removed from a pristine fishery. Two wildlife officers, with no authority to issue fines, are no match for the many hundreds of collectors along Venus Bays five beaches.

For Fisheries Victorias Anthony Hurst to say there is 95 per cent compliance with pipi harvest limits is no comfort. That means many thousands of litres of pipis are taken from the beach each big fishing day.

There has been no real, ongoing research from any of the three government departments involved on the ecological effect of this plunder. Meanwhile Fisheries Victoria makes a lot of money from the sale of pipi licences, and the rich pipi beds quietly collapse.

Gillian Upton, Balaclava

Dont blame public

IT BOTHERS me that the little people are being held responsible for the demise of Australian companies because of their preference for cheaper imports ( Cheap consumers blamed as Heinz plant squeezed out, The Age, 7/1). Preference implies choice, when often there isnt one. Families struggling to feed and clothe children on tight budgets may prefer to buy Australian but in a tough economic environment, they have no option but to buy the cheaper product.

Meanwhile banks, utility companies and other powerful companies continue to vacuum up all available cash from the economy to the cost of other industry. The pie is only so big, and if a small group of overly powerful companies continue to take far more than they need, many smaller companies and individuals will get less than they should.

It may yet come to pass that extreme capitalism and greed realises it has bitten off the hand that fed it. People are increasingly working towards becoming self-sufficient, and not purely for environmental reasons many are tired of effectively supporting the greedy and are seeking ways to cut ties.

Emma Borghesi, Elsternwick

Bin your butts

THE article Call for smokers to butt out (The Age, 7/1) highlights the number of cigarette butts on our beaches. I also have a real concern about the problem, but there is another vital contributing factor. Litterers who drop their butts (or other rubbish) on the street or in the gutter dont appear to connect the fact (or dont care) that, as soon as it rains, this rubbish washes into the bay, and much of it ends up on the beaches.

In the past I have seen signs painted on drains highlighting this fact, but they seem to have been phased out.

Lindy Fagan, Hampton

Wiser investment

THE Future Fund itself should be scrapped, not just its tobacco and nuclear investments (Heat on Labor over tobacco investments, The Age, 9/1). In recent years it has lost money, reducing our capacity to pay public sector superannuation commitments.

All the earmarked revenue should instead be invested in income-generating domestic infrastructure investments, like public transport and ports. This would not only assure a provision for the future, unlike the current fund, but improve our woefully low productivity and, in the case of public transport investments, reduce pollution.

George Finlay, Balaclava

Ethical realities

I HAVE always thought it odd that supporters of ethical investing oppose holding shares in tobacco and alcohol manufacturers, but are perfectly happy to hold shares in retailers such as Woolworths and Wesfarmers (Coles). Between them Woolworths and Coles sell well over half the tobacco and alcohol consumed in Australia.

John Cleaves, Elwood

Pay is shocking

THE standards of preschool education come as no shock to me (The Sunday Age, 8/1). But what is shocking is the pay.

While the national curriculum and the national quality standards in early childhood education are welcomed, pay is the third component that must be tackled to help bring early childhood education into the 21st century.

The government expects facilities, whether they are family day care, kindergartens or childcare centres, to undertake a curriculum and do more and more to ensure children in care get the best start in life.

But parents cannot be expected to fork out more and more for the rising cost of care. The sector is in crisis trying to retain staff and fill positions because first-year qualified workers on the award are getting about $20 an hour. You can stack supermarket shelves for more, yet these people are responsible for the care and education of very young children.

Bronwen Jefferson, Kensington

Check the prices

THE decline of domestic tourism seems to be largely blamed on a stronger dollar (Tourism battered by high dollar, The Age, 6/1). I believe this is only a small part of the problem. Domestic carriers and accommodation providers need to have a hard look at their pricing models and start thinking about being reasonably competitive.

Qantas runs two direct flights from Melbourne to Broome a week an economy ticket is $990 return per person for a four-hour flight a four-star resort in Broome charging about $350 a night wants $50 a head for a continental breakfast. Is it any wonder an increasing number are looking overseas.

Douglas Tait, Toorak

CityLink goes way over the top

HEY, CityLink, scaring customers is not a tactic to win their support. I received a letter from Transurban dated January 2 headed Suspension Confirmation. It contained threats of referring me to a debt collection agency, and the possibility of being fined by Victoria Police, followed by a weak apology for any inconvenience caused if I had already paid the $64.50 owed. I then had to spend 46 minutes on the phone waiting to speak to an agent. He politely informed me my account was overdrawn only $24.50 due to Christmas trips and the $40 required minimum to hold an account.

Get real CityLink a simple reminder would have been sufficient. I cant imagine what or who it would send to you if you owed them hundreds of dollars and didnt pay for months. And what about the interest accrued on that unused $40 for all these years?

Gayle Brenchley, Point Cook

Heed wake-up call ...

THE tragic accident at Urunga on Sunday morning, where a B-double truck ploughed into a house killing a young occupant, should, but wont, be the wake-up call for state and federal governments to tackle a problem that has been festering for decades (Speed camera at Urunga to be reactivated, theage.com. au, 9/1).

Spending billions more on roads is not the answer. For too long both sides of politics have allowed our national rail system to decay as they spent billions on national roads to accommodate the road freight industry.

Dallas Fraser, Mudgeeraba, Queensland

... listen to experts

EVIDENCE grows that drug harm minimisation is better than prohibition. But the drug law-enforcement treaties we obey prevent Australia from adopting optimal solutions.

We are a sovereign nation, free to choose our domestic policies as we see fit. We are just as free to leave harmful treaties as to join helpful ones.

Americas alcohol prohibition was a failure, causing many more deaths than it prevented. Now, it commands a global drug strategy that repeats the fiasco in almost every way.

When will our government join other nations in showing backbone and self-confidence? When will our leaders heed expert advice, ahead of overseas masters?

Carl Turney, Belgrave

Breaking the nurses

I HAVE just received a four-page update from the Australian Nursing Federation regarding negotiations with the state government. There has been no progress at all. The government, through the employers union, is determined to exploit legislation to break the nurses.

What the public should read into this is that it has nothing to do with costs or efficiency the quality of healthcare delivered to the majority of Victorians is to be the sacrificial lamb on the governments altar.

If theres a shortage of milk, bread or vegetables due to a disaster, you will cope. But a shortage of properly qualified nurses will be long term and you or a member of your family may pay a terrible price.

Marian Gedye, Killawarra

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