Letters to the editor | March 14, 2018

Public amenities lacking

MAY Park is one of Horsham’s greatest assets for travellers and locals far and wide. 

For anyone at head office who thinks the new toilet block is better than the old one, well I certainly don’t. 

After using the toilet you would think you could wash and dry your hands, just like our mum taught us. Well, think again. After looking for the soap at every place it could be, I had no luck. 

You have to give your hands a rinse under the tap and then you go to dry your hands – but the paper towel must be hiding with the soap. I guess I will wipe my grubby, wet hands on my pants, shirt or trousers or maybe a good old shake, shake. Hang on, I spot a sign that says, “finger-lickin good chicken” – that will take care of my grubby fingers. Yuck. And by the way the sinks are located outside in the elements – rain, hail or shine. Seems pretty normal? I don’t think so. 

On further search for soap, of nine public toilets I could find only one with soap and a hand dryer, one had a dryer only and the other seven had nothing but cold water. I wonder if there is soap and drying gear at head office. 

Meanwhile, I think most of Horsham’s traffic problems are man made. We used to have big wide streets in Natimuk Road, Darlot Street, Hamilton Street and O’Callaghan Parade. Thanks to lumps and bumps, traffic islands and roundabouts, it’s all reduced to single file like a pack of donkeys. 

Roundabouts block the traffic all the way back to Gardenia Street and then back to the pool in Hamilton Street. I’m not sure how the traffic lights in Firebrace Street would ever have worked with roundabouts a couple of hundred metres each side of them. 

I wonder what happens when the traffic lights go red? Ah, I know – stuck again. A couple of tip trucks and front-end loaders should fix this. 

There was always the silly idea that roundabouts and islands were for traffic flow and safety – but not so. Apparently they are for plants and you can’t see what’s coming. Not only can you not see the blinkers at the post office corner – you can’t see the whole car. 

The new island turning right off Dooen Road into Sunnyside Avenue means you cannot see traffic coming in for the keep left sign is right at the driver’s eye level. 

Someone will get cleaned up one day. 

I won’t start on the bridge that the kids can jump off. Regardless of cost, it will end up like the Westgate Bridge. 

I’ll stop now. You might think I’m complaining. 

Peter Murray, Horsham

Regional planning focus 

WELL done to the Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Dr John McVeigh in opening applications for the long-awaited $272 million Regional Growth Fund.

The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) puts regional cities on the political agenda and signals a shift in the federal government’s thinking on small city deals.

The guidelines for the new Regional Growth Fund read as if they have been specifically structured to fund regional city deals. Various infrastructure projects are packaged up as well as the ability to fund projects that support jobs, road, rail and air connections and things that make a city liveable are all now eligible.

These things in addition to the requirement to source matching funds from other levels of government all read ‘city deal’ to me. As well it should. The organisation that I chair, Regional Capitals Australia, is making the case for cities such as Horsham to be included in this important initiative. This will be done not only to meet the needs of city growth, but also for the opportunity to bring the new negotiations to the business table. Small cities are as important to their regions as they are to the nation.

The Regional Australia Institute has estimated that getting the planning right for regional cities has the potential to add $375 billion per year to the nation’s bottom line by 2031. With at least one million additional people predicted to be living in regional cities in less than 10 years, the time to get serious about planning for regional cities is now. It is clear to everyone living in regional cities just how much untapped potential there is in regional Australia.

Shane Van Styn, chairman, Regional Capitals Australia

Technology needs work

WHILE NBN Co and the government continue to tinker around the edges of actual reform, small- and medium-sized businesses across regional Australia are being left behind.

I constantly hear from small businesses which have had their internet and phone services dropping out four or five times a day, for months at a time.

A recent survey by ASX-listed, Reckon, found that a staggering 83 per cent of small business lack confidence in the delivery of Turnbull’s second-rate NBN. It also found that a majority of small business also believe that they will be left out of the digital economy. It is a shocking indictment on Mr Turnbull’s NBN and a stark warning to the government and NBN Co, alike.

More needs to be done to improve business experience of the NBN.

A good start to fixing this issue would be for the government to prioritise a new consumer-rights framework designed to address the issues and technologies of today, not the ones from last century. It needs to put consumers front and centre and give a clear process to have their issues resolved.

NBN Co must also improve their small business services with dedicated small and medium sized business products. That’s just common sense.

Stephen Jones, Federal Shadow Minister for Regional Communications


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