Respect, fairness for all
JAMES McGrath may class me as one of the “loony left” – a term I will wear with pride following his letter titled Don’t change the date (Wimmera Mail-Times, June 1).
I had a letter published in The Age on January 25 suggesting March 3 for celebration of Australia Day.
This date marks the simultaneous passage of the Australia Act by both Australian and British Parliaments in 1986. The Act in effect eliminates the possibility for Britain to legislate with any effect in Australia.
Many strategies adopted by the Labor Party have left me wondering about the party's priorities, however, if Bill Shorten takes a stand to have Australians reflect as to why January 26 is not an appropriate date for us to collectively celebrate, he will receive my wholehearted support.
The arrival of the first fleet at Sydney Cove is certainly an event for reflection.
Establishing a penal colony is still symbolic of an horrific solution to a dysfunctional British society; presuming entitlement to the land conveniently classified as Terra Nullius.
Indigenous people were not considered worthy for inclusion.
Yes, indeed, we have developed somewhat miraculously since then – developing democracy, freedom and culture. But it is fact that celebrating the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove on January 26 still causes pain to many First Australians.
One argument, that the treatment of first Australians may not have been as cruel as that of convicts, resonates with me – however our treatment of Aboriginal people since first settlement is mostly heartbreaking.
It is time we all take an honest look at our history and insist on respect and fairness for all.
Rosalind Byass, Stawell
Chance for regional cities
A RECENT Senate Estimates inquiry into the federal government’s Smart Cities plan has once again confirmed the growing importance of regional capital cities such as Horsham who are now eligible for a regional city deal.
The news came when Western Australian One Nation Senator Peter Georgiou asked officials from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities to verify the benefits of the Smart Cities Plan to regional Australia.
The federal government has confirmed there is now no population restriction for cities with aspirations to secure a regional city deal. The City Deals program had previously been designed to target bigger regional cities and metropolitan capitals with populations of 85,000 or more.
In regional cities where city deals have been signed – at Townsville and Launceston – there has been a commitment from the three levels of government as well as the private sector to bring significant investment to town. This means more jobs, a better lifestyle and more opportunities all round.
Regional Capitals Australia, the organisation I chair, has been advocating for exactly this outcome. We do this because all regional capital cities are increasingly important not only to the region it serves, but also to Australia’s economic future.
Regional capital cities – small and large – serve as fundamental regional hubs, providing access to essential economic and social services for residents of the cities but also for those living in the surrounding towns.
Regional capital cities also offer alternatives for business and families to escape the crushing congestion and growing unaffordable lifestyles of big cities like Melbourne.
Regional Capitals Australia congratulates Deputy Prime Minister McCormack and Minister for Regional Development, Dr John McVeigh for recognising the value of regional capital cities both large and small and looks forward to working with the Government on developing a clear regional city deal application process.
Shane Van Styn, chairman, Regional Capitals Australia
Consumption in spotlight
THE jury has returned. The verdict is in.
A new report in the June 2018 issue of the journal Science has confirmed the huge footprint of animal agriculture – it provides just 18 per cent of calories but takes up 83 per cent of farmland.
The most comprehensive analysis ever done of the damage farming does to the planet – covering 38,700 farms in 119 countries – found that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75 per cent.
That’s an area equivalent to the US, China, the European Union and Australia combined – and it would still feed the world.
More than 50 per cent of greenhouse emissions come from the farming of some 70 billion animals who are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates, and other torturous devices.
Meat consumption has been linked in recent scientific research to a range of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancer.
The AMA has called obesity “the biggest public health challenge facing Australia” and research shows that vegans are a whopping nine times less likely to be obese than meat-eaters and are far less prone to suffering from chronic diseases.
To improve the health of the nation, slash our health care expenditure, help stop climate change and save countless animals from lives of terror and agonising deaths, all meat, whether it is sold in shops or in restaurants, should be heavily taxed just as tobacco, alcohol, and petrol are because of their negative health or environmental consequences.
Health and the environment are two of the most worrying issues facing Australians today, and a tax on meat would be an important step towards improving them.
Desmond Bellamy, special projects co-ordinator, PETA Australia