Campaign continues to keep the original route
OUR community group, the Keep Original Route Supporters (KORS) wants to clear up some inaccurate claims about our aims in opposing the Western Highway duplication.
The purpose of the groups is: “To preserve remnant vegetation and habitat by using as much existing road infrastructure as possible.”
We asked environmental consultant, Practical Ecology, to assess the lowest impact route for widening the eastern half of the Buangor to Ararat highway – to carefully renovate the existing road and add a carriageway just to the south, or four new lanes through hills with major earthworks and an extra bridge, as planned by VicRoads further south?
Two road engineers advised this environmental company on a feasible design, satisfying VicRoads’ safety demands. Then Practical Ecology calculated impacts by the rules.
The report included impact on high quality vegetation beside the highway and a rare bush there.
The answer came back in mid-2016 – it would be less harm to add a carriageway in the powerline easement beside the existing highway, mostly on the south.
The state park would not be touched, of course. This route preserves local accesses with minor alterations for safety improvements.
Using the existing highway supports local Indigenous people too, by avoiding a place very significant to them.
The alternative route does much less harm, and can be built much faster. What's not to like?
Rosemary Bates, Keep Original Route Supporters (KORS)
Western Highway safety requires attention
I HAVE lived on the Western Highway for almost two years and have witnessed the danger of the road too many times.
As you are aware, the 80kmh zone begins just after the turn-off to the Chalambar Golf Club on the way to Stawell and the same for the 60kmh zone on the way from Stawell.
Many road uses do not adhere to the speed limit on this road.
As a result, many pets have been killed and I have personally witnessed two car accidents – one as recently as July 19.
It is only a matter of time before someone is killed.
The road into Ararat from Stawell must be a 60kmh zone well before the current limits.
It is highly unusual for residential areas to have a 80kmh zone at their front door.
Stawell, for example, begins its 60kmh zone well outside of town. I am certain other residents in the area agree with me.
For the safety of people using this road I feel it is necessary to voice my concern. The road is dangerous.
Mark Rodney, Ararat
Local government facing challenges around rates
LOCAL government is going through difficult and troubling times.
We have a rating system that is medieval and in need of change.
Councils are burdened with functions which are really in the domain of state or federal government.
Rural Australia presents challenges to local government – low population, long distances, costly infrastructure such as bridges and high human and social service costs due to a larger percentage of elderly and incomes lower than in cities.
Low population and lack of industry reduces the rate income base.
The state government, who control local government, would do well to look at methods of rating used in England. Particularly at the English model prior to it being modified.
Rich municipalities such as London helped subsidise less well-off rural areas.
In a democracy such as ours, those areas of a nation which have the means assist those who are deficient. There is nothing revolutionary in this.
Australia’s major cities have rivers of gold in income compared with most rural areas and proportionally few of the demands of their less affluent rural cousins.
How many kilometres of roads, how many bridges, culverts and flood ways do low populated rural shires have to maintain compared with the City of Melbourne?
Regretfully, until some great financial change is found, councils must learn to live within their means and impose rates commensurate with the ability of residents to pay.
Unless changes take place, I fear local government could become an endangered species.
Jim Anderson, former councillor, Northern Grampians shire
Shining a light on the safety of our farmers
FARMERS are very much the lifeblood of our communities, providing for us all, often without recognition.
Last week during Farm Safety Week, the light was shone on farmers.
Sadly, the stark reality is that our farmers and agricultural workers are terribly over-represented in statistics in workplace injury and death.
Our farmers are tough, uncomplaining and have a “get on with things” type attitude.
However, when injured, due to isolation our farmers tend to be less likely to seek the support they deserve.
I urge farmers to reflect on work practices in the wake of Farm Safety Week.
Mental strength and resilience comes with the territory of being a farmer. However, regional values are about doing what is right and standing up for our mates.
It is vital that our farmers employ safe work practices, seek out help when required and lend a helping hand to a mate.
Cameron Cowan, Ballarat
Social connectivity important for health
I REFER to your article on July 17 titled, Visitors can boost health, study shows.
It was pleasing to see the importance of social activities – such as catching up with people – acknowledged for the role it plays in good health.
As Dr Elisa Backer says, “Health is more complex than just blood pressure or how your heart is going … it’s about wellbeing, happiness, loneliness, stress and how we feel about our own health.”
Unfortunately, due to a whole range of reasons, there are many in our community who do not have family or friends who can drop in to visit, or provide social connections.
Stawell Regional Health has Social Support Group, a program for those who are isolated in the community.
It helps to reduce loneliness and provide social and emotional support to those who experience isolation.
Professor Andrew Beer Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning, from The University of Adelaide reports that: “In comparison to other well-known risk factors, the absence of supportive social relationships is equivalent to the health effects of smoking 15 cigarettes a day or drinking more than six alcoholic drinks daily. Social isolation is more harmful than not exercising and twice as harmful as obesity.”
We urge anyone who feels that they would like some support in a community based environment, to contact Social Support Group on 5358 8523.
Libby Fifis, acting chief executive, Stawell Regional Health