Access lanes a good start for jet-skis

Access lanes a good start for jet-skis

THE tragic death of a swimmer from a jet-ski collision (The Age, 27/2) is an accident that's been waiting to happen for years, and, without major changes to licensing, education and zoning, will likely happen again.

As a lifesaver patrolling several inner-city beaches, I've witnessed hundreds of jet-skiers flagrantly ignoring the rules exceeding 5 knots within 200 metres of shore, being within 50 metres from a swimmer or entering swimming-only zones. When questioned, they answer that they do not know how far 200 metres is, what the yellow cones mean or when they are doing only 5 knots.

Clearly, the education and licensing system is hopelessly inadequate. To obtain a boating licence you need only memorise the answers to the sample exam questions in the Victorian boating handbook the same questions appear on the exam paper and to obtain a personal water craft endorsement, memorise an extra 19 answers. Why not just give away licences?

Simple ways to increase safety are enhanced education and licensing, practical tests, more and larger clearly marked buoys, zone signage on all beaches and boat ramps, designated PWC access lanes in non-swimming areas and a ban on PWCs entering water other than via an access lane.

Gerard Kennedy, Bentleigh

Special measures

THERE are some more sinister reasons why university students drop out ("Tuning in to those dropping out", The Age, 28/2).

My daughter began a hospitality course in Bendigo two years ago and found that because of university cost-cutting by combining lectures, hospitality students had to study accounting and statistics with students from the full-time accountancy and maths courses. No consideration was given for a lack of secondary school study or aptitude in those specialised areas. Apparently about 25 of the 30 hospitality students therefore failed their first year and dropped out.

When I and other parents tried to intervene, the university cited "privacy" as a reason to refuse to talk to us or rectify the problem. I had the impression the university could not care less it had received funding for these teenagers to start the course, and there was always next year's crop of bright-eyed students to exploit.

Jennie Hill, Kangaroo Ground

Elderly bled dry

THE main reason people are not entering retirement villages is that often the units cost at least $200,000 more than comparable accommodation in the same neighbourhood ("Retiree villages get old shoulder", BusinessDay, 28/2). Then there are the maintenance costs, which are much higher in the villages than when tradespeople are employed outside. Finally, there are the convoluted and hard-to-understand contracts that favour village owners when a property has to be sold.

We have been told that the attitude of village operators is to "bleed them dry before they die". It seems to continue afterwards, when the unit has to be sold.

Zona Severn, Mount Martha

Win-win situation

WHAT are they thinking ("Locals looking a million-dollar gift house in the mouth", The Age, 27/2")? As a near neighbour of the Lyon Housemuseum, I was delighted to learn of the owners' exciting and generous plan to extend their small, home-based gallery. Having bought adjacent land, they want to create a small public gallery and donate it to public ownership.

Having visited the Housemuseum (a European and American concept little known in Australia), I believe that an extension to the museum could only be of benefit to locals and those coming from further afield.

I am told that tourists who inquire about getting to the Heide Museum of Modern Art by public transport are often deterred by the difficulty of the journey. How wonderful it would be if there were a world-class small gallery a short tram ride from the city. Three major shopping strips would be just another short tram ride away. A win-win for everyone.

George Deutsch, Kew

Covenant in place

IT HAS been reported that local opposition to the House-museum proposal centred on noise and traffic, but from the beginning these were on the bottom rung of residents' concerns. Residents are chiefly dismayed by the fact that Corbett Lyon has sought to remove a 30-year-old residential covenant, put in place specifically to protect the amenity of local residents from commercial development in their backyards.

Mr Lyon's "gift" would have had a far greater chance of being welcomed by the community if he had followed the processes that every other commercial developer has to follow.

If he had ensured the site on which he wished to build a museum was in a zone allowing commercial development, and thus took into consideration allowances for visitor numbers and car parking requirements, there would never have been any issues to contend with.

Ken Finlayson, Kew


I WOULD like to thank the two women who kept my father alive when he had a heart attack on the corner of Bourke and Queen streets last Wednesday. They performed CPR until the ambulance arrived in a miraculous four minutes. My British friends are amazed: "What a civilised country," they exclaim, and I have to agree.

Phillippa Slinger, Ledbury, UK

Who do you trust, the state or nurses?

THE government refuses to negotiate with nurses in the presence of an independent umpire. Instead, it seeks the Federal Court's intervention to force nurses back to work. Nurses refuse to discuss removal of their "safe ratios" and are vilified by the government as "cruel" ("Bid to stop walkouts by nurses", The Age, 28/2).

What is going on? Has the world gone mad? Or are we only being given part of the story? Perhaps it's time we asked ourselves who do we trust. On the one hand, we have the leaders of this great state who, for the benefit of us all, arrange wonderful attractions such as the grand prix, a bargain at $55 million. On the other hand, we have the nurses, who regularly top the charts of the "most trusted profession" in the country. The nurses claim that the removal of ratios will endanger the patients they give so much care to, and will destroy the world-class public health system that every Victorian deserves and expects.

Who is telling the truth? And who do you trust?

Lynn Carpenter, Rosebud South

Not just numbers

DAVID Davis, Ted Baillieu, health ministers, premiers, executives and governments all come and go. And as they age and become infirm a fate that awaits us all I hope they are grateful to brave nurses who are now putting their livelihoods at risk. Not for personal gain, but to protect the safety, dignity and, ultimately, the lives of their patients.

One to four just abstract numbers in a ratio. But one day, it might be you or me, Mr Davis, making up those numbers.

Dr Aaron Bloch, Carlton North

Rent a GP crowd

CONGRATULATIONS on your editorial regarding the grand prix and its lack of accountability ("Victorian taxpayers suffer new financial deals", 27/2).

The Grand Prix Act ensures freedom of information requests are denied because "tricky" questions such as who makes up the attendance figures can "disadvantage" the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. The offer of 70,000 free tickets to locals shows that this event is more about renting a crowd than enticing tourists.

Joan Logan, South Melbourne

Protection on track

IN THE past several months I have witnessed several appalling incidents on inner-city trains. One involved a brawl between drunken youths, which resulted in one of them being knocked unconscious while terrified passengers looked on. Another involved racial abuse, where a brave young woman who objected to the behaviour was spat upon. These incidents (and more) have all occurred between 10am and 4pm.

My only objection is that protective officers will not be on duty all day to protect us from the few who have turned public transport into a free-for-all of bad and dangerous behaviour.

Diane Johnson, St Kilda

Maturing early

KATE Gotlib (Letters, 27/2) questions when Georgie Rychner (Letters, 25/2) "was last in a school". Georgie is a student in my year 12 literature class. I am flattered that she was mistaken for someone older. I hope this demonstrates that maturity of thought and opinion does not begin when schooling ends.

Justin Shaw, Canterbury Girls' Secondary College, Ringwood East

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