LETTERS

Over-diagnosisthe safest path

Over-diagnosisthe safest path

THREE friends. The first was in her 50s when she found a small, hard lump in her breast and saw a specialist two weeks later. It was cancerous but the cancer had not escaped into her lymph nodes. She spent the next five years on Tamoxifen and now is in her late 60s and fit and well. The second was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent her 50th birthday in a chemotherapy haze, too weak to walk to her front gate. Almost 10 years later, she is also well. The third was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38 when her youngest child was two. The doctors found a spot on her spine at the same time. She died four years later.

I have so far escaped with just a biopsy for an aggregation of cells that my breast surgeon did not like the look of. It is a

no-brainer that women should have regular mammograms (The Age, 1/11). Also our breast surgeons are up to the minute with the latest research. I will take over-diagnosis any time.

Gail Crennan, Ascot Vale

A wake-up call

HURRICANE Sandy has been described as "the storm of the century" but, unfortunately, it is more likely to be typical of the world's future this century. Climate scientists such as James Hansen have long predicted there will be greater frequency of such extremes. These range from freezing cold to hot and dry with fires, all with strong and destructive winds, and all costly in lives lost and the billions of dollars' damage caused.

The world's people, leaders and the fossil fuel industry must wake up to this reality and agree to act urgently to mitigate dangerous climate change. Developing renewable energy is the only safe way ahead for Australia and overseas.

Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Fans share shame

AS A long-suffering Melbourne Football Club supporter, it comes as no surprise that we were guilty of tanking (Sport, 1/11). The club lost its way a long time ago and, in a desperate attempt to find "itself", resorted to the most miserable of acts: cheating. We fans deserve better. We are, by association, required to share the blame and the shame of those who were responsible. These people should not expect to be paid out on their contracts. Instead, they should go quietly into the night. We can do the rest.

Andrew Dowling, Torquay

Punished enough

THE AFL does not need to sanction the Melbourne Football Club. Take a look at the 2013 draw. So many Sunday games and not one Friday night game. You would think we have already suffered enough. What more can the AFL do to us? Are Melbourne scapegoats for the tanking that is widespread among clubs? I would say so.

Annie McMahon, Lorne

Badgered to pay

I READ with interest "Victims in false debt claims" (The Age, 31/10). A few years ago I had a debt I regarded as being totally spurious. I did not believe I owed this money. However, the main thing which struck me was the attitude of the court-employed mediators. Both took the view that it was a legitimate debt and all their energies were directed at me to pay the matter. Since then I have often wondered how many people have been badgered into paying debts they do not owe, courtesy of our courts.

Leigh Plews, Elsternwick

Long trek to school

A TYRANNY of distance exists in the Victorian government's proposal to restrict the eligibility of about 38,000 students to subsidised transport to school (The Age, 31/10). The public transport system in outer Melbourne and regional Victoria is disjointed and needs a major, costly overhaul so it can take students to schools.

The notion that students travelling by bus should be means tested is, in fact, mean spirited. The school bus system works. Children are transported regularly and safely to and from school. How many parents will be forced to drive their children to ensure they get there safely and on time?

Greg Tuck, Warragul

Get moving, kids

FORGIVE me for feeling little sympathy for students at Tarneit Senior College on account of the fact the closest public bus stop is about a kilometre from the school. Taking my old school in the heart of Camberwell as a comparison, I found that the closest train station is, oh, about a kilometre away. One of the two connecting trams is also about a kilometre away, and the other not much closer. This is in one of the most serviced locations in Melbourne for public transport, but somehow I and many others made this arduous journey every day without once dropping dead from exhaustion.

Given the constant calls for children to do more exercise, and the fact that physical education is being squeezed out of an increasingly crowded curriculum, perhaps a 12-minute walk each morning and afternoon is not the end of the world.

Andrew Chester, Camberwell

Out of control

SO NOW we are proposing to reflect sunlight down into the canyons between our nice, modern, high-rise apartments "Developer wants to let the sunshine in and it will all be done with mirrors" (The Age, 1/11). Is there any possibility that we may be starting to over-develop some areas?

Michelle Nelson, Box Hill

Penalise the bosses

IT WAS good to read that workers who lose their job when a business is liquidated or goes bankrupt will be paid all of their entitlements (The Age, 1/11). It was grossly unfair they should suffer often serious hardship in a situation beyond their control.

Now please draw up legislation that penalises bosses when they allow a company to trade beyond the point where liabilities exceed assets. It cannot be too difficult to anticipate trading problems if data is properly entered and monitored on our high-speed computers. Limited liability is a cosy refuge for management to hide in after incompetently or corruptly risking workers' superannuation savings, or other entitlements, in order to prop up an ailing business. If those responsible were liable to forfeit their personal assets and consequently struggle as their workers are forced to, then minds would be much more focused to avoid this.

Roger Green, Ferntree Gully

Plea for honesty

IF THE government were serious about poker machine reform (The Age, 1/11), it could start by advising users of the odds which each machine is set to. For example, a notice stating: "On average, this machine will return only 80 cents in the dollar". In the United States, some casinos brag that their machines return 97.5 per cent, way above what our greedy operators offer.

George Stockman, Berwick

Colonial views

PHYSICALLY we are part of south-east Asia and our future has never been more dependent on the financial health of the region. If we are to prevent the repetition of former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's remark that we were the "white trash of Asia", we must make an effort to embrace the region more broadly than just in trade. I have lived in five countries, one in the Middle East, and my experience tells me how important language knowledge is. The colonial hang-up that "they should learn our language" belongs to the past.

Kon Kourteff, Stonyfell, SA

Streamline business

I HAVE lived and worked for more than 30 years in Asia and have seen amazing growth there. The government's white paper is a step in the right direction, but it needs to cover all ASEAN states. ASEAN is like a family and each country is like a brother. Their way of doing business runs along these lines.

Education in terms of language and social understanding needs to begin now. Also, Australia's way of doing business should be revamped. The perception in Asia is that we are aggressive, not flexible enough, have too many rules and regulations, and taxes are high, making our costs too high for partnering arrangements. We will be welcomed more if we streamline our business approach.

John Heron, Bang Plee, Thailand

For the record

YOU would think/hope that a person analysing radio ratings (Green Guide, 1/11) would at least know how to accurately read the statistics. Andrew Murfett claims "the ultra-competitive Drive slot was a slight blemish" for 3AW. Wrong. In the 4pm to 6pm slot, where we compete, FOX went up to 14.4 and AW went up to 14.3. Some blemish.

May I immodestly say the only blemish was that I am reluctantly leaving the station at the end of the month.

Derryn Hinch, 3AW Melbourne

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