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Credit: Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Our fire managers seem to be stuck in the past
Re “Fire alarm over cut to water bomb capacity” (The Age, 18/8). I am with Neil Bibby, a former chief executive of the Country Fire Authority, regarding the need to radically boost bushfire control at the point of ignition. Our fire managers seem to be stuck in the past, with an undue emphasis on fuel-reduction burning in remote areas that ignores an abundance of recent evidence.
Studies show that controlled burns reduce ground fuel for a few years at most, then trigger a significant increase in those fuels, with long unburnt bushland eventually returning to a more open, less flammable understorey. Other studies show that our increasing cases of severe fire weather are the main cause of “megafires”, not fuel levels.
Investing in rapid detection of, and rapid response to, points of ignition across the state would be expensive – aerial or ground crews would have to get to a fire within 10 to 12 minutes – but avoiding just one big fire could save a billion dollars or more. It would also save lives, and give nature the break it needs.
And, yes, concentrating on targeted, frequent reduction of fuel close to assets and community centres will also help. It is time to move away from a 1970s’ model of fire management to a strategy which is based on objective, peer-reviewed science.
Philip Ingamells, former member of the state government’s Land and Fire Stakeholders’ Roundtable, North Melbourne
We need to invest in new drone technology
The latest fire science suggests “hazard reduction”, “planned” or “prescribed” burns actually heighten fire risk, with resultant rapid regrowth in the understorey igniting more easily, making forests more flammable. Our leaders need to embrace science.
Victoria’s Environment Minister Ingrid Stitt reports that that state did 234 planned burns in 2022-23 and another 18 had been done since July 1. Although it is positive that the government is discussing the potentially devastating, coming fire season, reliance on planned burns for fire mitigation is worrisome.
Investment in new drone technology that detects lightning and puts out fires at their source seems a far more effective management plan. As, of course, is ramping up action to reduce the global heating that is fuelling the terrifying fires occurring across the world. With no time to lose, our urgent action needs to be based on the latest science.
Karen Lamb, Geelong
Facing the scale of the emergency confronting us
The fiery summer in the northern hemisphere is a reminder to Australians of the danger ahead. No one wants devastating fires or floods. Yet a huge public investment – puzzlingly committed to a few nuclear submarines of doubtful defensive value that will not be built any time soon – takes precedence over stabilising the Earth’s climate and adapting to global heating that is locked in. Incredibly, protection of Australian citizens is playing second fiddle to too many other agendas, without political will for urgent action anything like proportionate to the scale of the emergency.
Jim Allen, Panorama SA
Weed out the idiots
Witness the illegal flares set off at Federation Square on Wednesday evening (The Age, 18/8). This is the mentality of idiots affecting progress in the A-League. Unless these groups of young males intent on disruption are weeded out, the sport will never gain the audience of families, much less younger football lovers.
Bob Whiteside, North Warrandyte
Impact on the Tilly fans
Male, flare-throwing hoons created chaos in the A-league. How dare they now wreck the joy of the Matildas supporters in Federation Square. Where will it end? Who in soccer administration will take an effective stand against this?
Miriam McDonald, Thornbury
Highlight the offenders
When dense crowds, such as those at Federation Square on Wednesday, are expected, a high platform should be erected and staffed by a couple of officials and even police officers with spotlights. They could shine these on people who are throwing flares and being aggressive. This would deter the offenders and also be a way for the police to home in on them.
Lance Ross, Kooyong
Charge an entry fee
Federation Square is a public place and should be available to all. The broadcast/streaming of a sporting event should be at venues which have gate control and which charge an entry fee. The fee would cover the cost of security, with any balance going to the sporting code.
Doug Walter, Camberwell
John Collett’s article on financial literacy (Money, 16/8) reminded me of a conversation I overheard a few months ago in a cafe. A father was chatting with his son, who was aged about 10, and explaining that the real value of cash in a bank account decreases over time due to increases in inflation.
The boy seemed quite interested (yes, I was surprised too), but what stood out for me was how much of an advantage he had, and the many ways that inequality in society is generational. Whether a family has money is only the beginning: those who grow up understanding how to invest it have their advantage compounded many times over.
Margie Maher, Malvern East
Punish the destroyers
There should be more severe penalties for the illegal destruction of mature trees in the eastern suburbs (The Age, 15/8). Generally, an enormous residence is then built to take up the whole block, leaving no room for any substantial tree at all.
On frequent visits to the area in the last few years, I have observed a marked decline in the tree canopy. This will be to our detriment as temperatures rise and the cooling effect of nearby trees is lost.
Pauline Moncrieff, Wangaratta
Rampaging feral deer
My family is attempting to revegetate a 300-acre block in Gippsland and has planted 150,000 seedlings over the last two years. Every time I visit, I eagerly check out the seedlings and watch them grow. The last time was two months ago. We did not have a deer problem then and the trees and shrubs were growing beautifully.
Last week I visited the block and, to my horror, deer had destroyed about 15,000 plants and tree guards along our river frontage. We have lost three years’ effort as it will take a year to plan, two more years to grow back and a lot of money to replant them. Can we please try to beat the feral deer before they destroy our bush. Deer should be declared feral, rather than a game animal (The Age, 15/8), in Victoria.
Andrew Simpson, Kew
Surely a win-win solution
Instead of a rent freeze, the ALP’s plan to provide more housing is welcome. The very old-fashioned idea of “rent to buy” that used to be a feature of the Victorian Housing Commission model might be worth revisiting. The rent paid over a certain period becomes the “deposit” and ongoing rent payments pay off the home. Yes, the government may “own” part of the house, but eventually it is owned by the occupier. This model also doesn’t add to the profits of the big banks.
Denise Stevens, Healesville
Little hope for treaty
Wardaman woman Josie Douglas is spot on when she says, “History won’t distinguish between a progressive No or a hard, conservative No” (The Age, 18/8). Lydia Thorpe’s hope for a strong treaty is misplaced if the Voice referendum is lost. Politicians only act in accordance with how they perceive the thinking of their electors. They will not pursue treaty with any enthusiasm after a lost vote and certainly if they did, the resulting treaty will contain very timid concessions towards the rights and needs of First Nations People.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North
Haves and have-nots
“Consultancy boss takes a pay hit”, says the headline (The Age, 17/8). Cry me a river. The fact that an individual can lose $600,000 out of his pay packet and still be on $2.2million, more than many will earn in a lifetime, is just appalling. If this does not illustrate society’s inequities, nothing does.
Ann Maginness, Beaumaris
A man who must go …
As a long-time Labor voter, I have to say that Dan Andrews is leading his party to defeat with the display of arrogance only seen in some of the least popular, right-wing, global leaders. From the lack of transparency for cancelling the Commonwealth Games to his turning his back on a stronger IBAC and now reducing our aerial fire-fighting capability. It is time for Labor to seek a more responsible leader, one who is in tune with the community. Andrews’ enduring legacy will be the great job he did overseeing the removal of level crossings and leading the Metro Tunnel to fruition.
Nathan Feld, Glen Iris
… or someone to admire
Dan Andrews has been and remains a highly intelligent, high-performing and outstanding servant for the people of Victoria. That he does not suffer fools gladly is another fine attribute we should admire, not condemn.
Geoffrey Warren, Anglesea
Problem after problem
Kindergartens closing due to a lack of funds, teacher numbers greatly reduced for special-needs students, a large shortage of state school teachers, the current ones overworked and underpaid, and a health system that is in dire need of nurses and GPs. What is the Premier’s solution?
Let’s spend billions on freeways, tunnels and overpasses, leading to even more congested roads. Let’s spend more billions on a suburban rail loop. Labor was always espoused as the party which prioritised education, health and public transport but we have been duped. Victoria’s new anthem: on the road to nowhere.
Kerry Murphy, Seaford
An encounter with Tom
Cathy Weaver’s article on sightings of Tom Cruise (Good Weekend, 12/8), reminded me of an occasion in Sydney many years ago when Tom was with our Nic and was regularly seen around the town.
Meeting friends at a restaurant at Darling Harbour, my husband was the last to arrive and sat down asking, “Who was that guy ahead of me who held the door open?” I looked over and answered, “That would be Tom Cruise”. Trying to get service in a restaurant where the staff are fawning all over the superstar … mission impossible.
Sally Fent, Malvern East
Keep dogs in their place
I agree with John Cross (Letters, 18/8) that owners are pushing the boundaries by insisting on taking their dogs into cafes, pubs and retail shops. I was attacked by a dog in a church-run op shop. I now do not support that shop. Places that serve food and drinks should be dog-free, but outside on the footpath is OK.
Anne Tyers, Richmond
High cost of gas-free
I have installed solar panels, a solar battery, a heat pump and an electric stove. I am not using any gas at all. And still Origin Energy will charge me about 79 cents a day for my gas “usage” because, I was told when I rang them, I had an account with them.
Silvia Starc, Reservoir
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding
I look forward to the day when the penalty for cutting down trees is greater than the penalty for protesting against the cutting down of trees.
Simon Thornton, Alphington
It would be nice to think our governments were looking for suggestions. Vienna’s unique Social Housing Project is one example.
Jennifer Monaghan, Wheelers Hill
After a decade of the Coalition cutting public housing, Dutton votes against Labor building more. The new “Dr No” indeed.
Ross Hosking, Blackwood, SA
Does the plan to increase housing supply by overriding NIMBYs and councils mean we’ll get even more McMansions in our suburbs?
Patricia Green, Glen Waverley
I doubt that many Indigenous people can stump up $10,000 to get the ear of senior pollies (18/8) and push their case.
Rob Smith, Rye
We need a public service to prevent the “Frankenfearless” big four consultancies turning into monsters.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale
Now that the Matildas have been defeated, can we go back to using our term for the game – soccer?
Michael Carroll, Kensington
″We win, we won″. ″Oh dear, they lost″.
Ann Ritchie, Bellfield
We need a flag that is representative of our sporting enthusiasm and multicultural society. Green and gold are our national colours.
Don Baird, Glen Waverley
It’s a pity the Matildas didn’t control their nerves like they were in a sudden death playoff.
Peter Bales, Caulfield South
I would love to watch the ABC’s Great Australian Walks without the awful, overly dramatic music.
John Harris, Williamstown
My favourite graffiti: “Don’t drop cigarette butts in the urinal as they get soggy and are hard to light”.
Manny Zeiger, Blairgowrie
“Murdoch might be in love again” (17/8). Who really cares?
Greg Bardin, Altona North
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