Who's being cheeky?

Who's being cheeky?

PLANNING Minister Matthew Guy's assertion that it is "a bit cheeky" to sell units prior to planning approval appears rather hypocritical in light of his high-handed overturning of a VCAT decision involving a Richmond development last year ("Early Tower sales 'cheeky' ", The Age, 16/10).

The developer pre-sold units with car parks before permission for car parks was given. Subsequently council and then VCAT refused permission for the car parks. The company appealed to the minister, who changed the planning law so the company would not be out of pocket selling car parks that did not exist. Who is the cheeky one?

Tim Woodruff, Richmond

City is on the map

MELBOURNE doesn't need the 71-storey Tower Melbourne to be put on the map or "come of age". It was put on the map by the gold rush, as evidenced by the arrival of 28 ships in one month of 1853 and later by having four of the world's greatest clippers anchored at the same time in Hobson's Bay.

In the 1880s it was known as Marvellous Melbourne. The world saw it in the first televised Olympic Games in 1956, and sees it every year during the Australian Open, which ranks with the grand slam tournaments of Paris, Wimbledon and the US. We don't need a Hong-Kong style tower to do that. In fact, isn't it because of Melbourne's reputation that the tower's developers want to build it here and market it to Hong Kong buyers?

Tony Dawson, Armadale

In too-hard basket

IF MR Guy were genuinely concerned about the process involving the proposed development at Orrong Road, Armadale, he would have used his powers to "call in" the application and convened a meeting with all interested parties to come to a conclusion that would have alleviated all this angst ("Guy adds weight to objections over Armadale complex"). Instead, he washed his hands of it and let VCAT tackle the issue.

Stonnington Council is now challenging the application on the grounds that VCAT failed to give due regard to the objections logged by residents. This lack of planning in consultation with all stakeholders is causing huge rifts and friction between residents, developers and local governments. The minister has the power to fix this conflict but chooses not to develop clear rules and regulations that everyone can live with.

Steve Stefanopoulos, Armadale

The fortunate ones

IT SEEMS the Catholic Church has an enormous distance to go in accepting responsibility for the systematic abuse that occurred to children in its care ("Salesian report to sex probe queries", The Age, 16/10). It could write the manual on how not to accept responsibility for abused children.

My wife and I are both survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy. Such is the power of perpetrators that we had been married for more than 10 years before revealing the abuse we had suffered. We were raised in wonderful Catholic families who loved us unconditionally. But that wasn't enough to protect us at a time when a priest's word was always believed over that of a child.

Our parents went to their graves confused and hurt as to why we both became so stridently anti-Catholic and rejected completely the church we had both loved as children.

We're older now and we've long healed each other. We've never sought compensation or counselling, and we've successfully raised our children, had great careers and are healthy in retirement. Most survivors have not been so fortunate.

Name and address withheld

Devices save lives

I QUESTION the motives of the "government source" alleging that lives could be at risk due to the CFA delaying the switch from analog to digital radios ("Radio delays hit firefighters", The Saturday Age, 13/10).

It is nonsense to say that "the CFA can't speak to DSE". CFA volunteers and DSE personnel have communicated by radio at fires for years, using the current analog network.

Rural volunteers insist that the CFA must not switch to digital until the more than 20,000 analog listening sets used in homes, on farms and in workplaces throughout Victoria can be replaced at a reasonable cost. Since the 1970s, these devices have helped save lives and property, as listeners can monitor fire traffic directly and act appropriately. The sets will be useless the day digital radio is introduced.

No communications system will ever be perfect in a major bush or grass fire. After all, fire is unpredictable, and firefighting is a chaotic and dangerous business. Co-operation and communication within and between the firefighting agencies involves more than digital radio, and we should not get too carried away with technology.

Peter Flinn, Dunkeld

Satisfactory stance

IN LIGHT of the report on the extent of poverty in Australia ("More than two million living in poverty", The Age, 15/10), I wonder whether ANZ's chief executive, Michael Smith, will affirm or retract his recently stated opinion that people on unemployment benefits of $34 a day get too much? At that time Mr Smith was earning just $27,400 per day.

As a result of Mr Smith's statement, I moved my small business and superannuation accounts from the ANZ. I daresay the amounts involved are paltry for the bank. But my action has given me much satisfaction. I can recommend it to other concerned citizens.

Ken Dowling, Wheatsheaf

Men not enemies

I HAVE little sympathy for either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, both of whom are members of the 1960s "Don't trust anybody over 30" generation the generation that confused civility with servility and eliminated the former instead of the latter.

Letter writers assume women are being oppressed by evil men. However, at 51 per cent of the population, women have the numbers to dominate political life if they wish. That they do not is evidence they don't want to.

Furthermore, despite the relatively small number of women in politics, most of the feminist agenda, from the introduction of "gender neutral" language to the establishment of domestic violence as a partial excuse for murder, has been legislated by male-dominated parliaments. Men are clearly not the enemies of women.

Albert Riley, Mornington

Out of touch

THANK you, Greg Baum (Comment, 15/10), for articulating why so many of us felt proud of Julia Gillard's verbal smack-down of Tony Abbott. The chorus of condescension and criticism ringing out from the press gallery only goes to show that it's not always the politicians in Canberra who are out of touch with contemporary Australia.

Caitlin Grover, Alphington

Feel-good response

GREG Baum tells of his mother's irate response to a man saying to her: "Now, listen here luv." Or perhaps you have experienced the "dear" word. If you want to put the perpetrator in his place, call him "sweetie" or "poppet" in return. It is pretty pathetic that communication should reach such levels, but it can feel quite good.

Jonne Finnemore, Kew East

Valuable audience

A RECENT survey by the TheatreSpace Project reveals that "the single most important predictor of theatrical engagement among the young is a family history of theatre-going" and, in the absence of that, committed teachers who introduce the young to theatre.

From 1973 to 1990, I worked as an education producer for Radio National. A large part of our output was stories for children of all ages, many of them dramatised, with sound effects and music. We employed the best actors in Australia, who played everything from witches to frogs. There was a strong culture of drama in the classroom, as children all over Australia were able to listen to these programs on a regular basis. This inevitably spilt over into an interest in live theatre and many children were taken on a regular basis to see excellent live theatrical productions at places such as the Alexander Theatre at Monash University. They are the theatre audiences of today (Canvas, 15/10).

In 1990 ABC Education Radio was axed, and along with it a valuable tradition of encouraging children to use their imagination, and possibly be part of a future theatre-going public.

Elizabeth Woods, Malvern

Fine all littering

IF I throw a balloon out my car window I will be fined $282. Yet you can release 500 balloons into the air with no thought to where they come down, and that's OK. This stupid practice, which is a direct threat to marine life along our coast, should have been banned years ago. Governments, catch up.

Gabrielle Gardner, Montmorency

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