City’s transport needs deserve close attention
THE intention of new Horsham Rural City Council chief executive, Sunil Bhalla (Titled: Transport needs a priority, Wimmera Mail-Times, July 4) to achieve a clear position on the city’s transport needs with a new transport strategy is welcome news – both for our municipality and the western region of Victoria.
Mr Bhalla’s position is in response to a statement submitted by councillor David Grimble requesting Mr Bhalla lead the community to develop an integrated plan for the city’s transport needs and the Horsham bypass issue.
A year ago, on July 17, our council backflipped on its stance on the city’s bypass, reverting to a 2013 policy position and deciding it would not investigate any other options and, by direct inference, support VicRoads’ Option D.
The majority of our councillors resolved they were, effectively, not capable of acting in the best long-term interests of the municipality – a statutory requirement under the Local Government Act.
Instead, its new policy position was to not have a position – to abrogate its responsibility to the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne and to let VicRoads dictate the terms of its surrender.
The Wimmera community isn’t interested in the personal, unqualified opinions of any councillor – they are appointed to govern in the best long-term interests of our community in accord with their statutory responsibilities.
Sitting on a fence is not optional.
The Strategic Directions Group was formed in direct response to the vacuum in leadership, governance and vision in council and the clear lack of strategic direction.
The group seeks only the best long-term future of our municipality, particularly for issues with intergenerational outcomes into the long-term, and community ownership on outcomes.
The group welcomes Mr Bhalla’s intention to determine Horsham’s requirements for road infrastructure planning first before a Western HIghway bypass – the position the group has argued for from its inception.
Option D will not resolve Horsham’s transport issues, it will compound them.
Horsham is the economic hub, agriculture supply centre and key centre in the highway to market chain in the western region.
The region’s hub transport requirements have to be determined first, the Western Highway needs second.
Horsham actually requires a triple highway bypass and a new bridge downstream of the floodplain to integrate all three highways – the Western, Wimmera and Henty – with the core industrial areas that service agriculture, being our core economic base.
This should be considered in the first instance as an arterial ring road, not a duplicated highway.
A strategic vision proposed by the group has region-wide implications and should be driven by our community, for our community as a regional, state and national infrastructure priority.
Why should we, as the Horsham and wider western region community, settle for less than optimal outcomes?
We should all step up and take responsibility for determining our region’s best future by supporting Cr Grimble and Mr Bhalla’s leadership initiative.
Kevin Dellar, chairman, Strategic Directions Group
Gratitude for top-quality care in hospital
I HAVE gone through the emergency ward, then on to day procedure to wake up in intensive care, on to Oxley then finishing up in the oncology ward of the Wimmera Base Hospital.
The care that I received was excellent. The way the nurses look after the patients was exceptional and very professional.
Chemo is not nice, but the nurses made things a bit easier. They let me play up a bit, nagged me at times but again the care you get is terrific.
Thank you to Mr Ian Campbell and Dr Prithviraj. Thank you also to Jenny for keeping me together.
At times you feel sorry for yourself, but then you realise that others are worse off than you – and when you see children with cancer, it makes you think.
Max Green, Dadswells Bridge
Call for greater vision for agriculture industry
VICTORIA is an agricultural powerhouse, and we’ve built an enviable reputation as a region that can reliably deliver clean, green, premium produce to domestic and overseas markets.
Our willingness to adopt R&D and respond to market demands, and our rigorous biosecurity measures and export protocols have put Victorian farm and food businesses in a prime position to tap into growing export markets across the Asian region.
But the drive has stalled in the last three years, with a state government that just hasn’t fully grasped the opportunity sitting at our farm gates.
State Budget papers confirm the Andrews government has cut trade engagement spending by more than half, and quietly shelved important work to strengthen market opportunities in Asia which began in 2013.
Similarly, there wasn’t any new money for agricultural research and development in this year’s Budget.
Trade opportunities take time, patience and persistence to develop and if Victoria continues to disengage our farmers, our wider State economy will miss out.
Victorian farmers and food manufacturers deserve a state government that has a vision for their growth and is prepared to invest in their future.
Peter Walsh, leader, The Nationals