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Inaction risks an entire sector’s good reputation
The report of serious animal welfare and environmental concerns at Australia’s largest dairy farming operation, in north-west Tasmania, is harrowing reading, especially for Tasmanians proud of their dairy industry (“Run into the ground”, The Age, 10/4). Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has been raising concerns for years about the condition of the farms, animal cruelty allegations and effluent management that is causing environmental damage.
The Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority’s recent report on its audit of the company outlined serious animal welfare and environmental concerns including staffing problems, dead cows in ponds, hungry cows, overstocking – a picture of animal misery.
Premier Peter Gutwein, if you do not act, Tasmania’s reputable dairy farmers are in danger of being tarred with the same brush. As the company is owned by foreign investors, a deal signed off by Scott Morrison, now is the time for Canberra to intervene urgently.
One of the company’s biggest customers is New Zealand company Fonterra, which makes Mainland cheese and Western Star butter brands.
Do you want to eat butter or cheese that comes from the misery of hungry, mistreated cows?
Elizabeth Osborne, North Hobart, Tas
No Australian government should tolerate this
Ignorance can be forgiven if attempts are made to rectify problems, but to repeatedly disregard the recommendations made over successive audits of the appalling conditions at these farms indicates negligence of a kind that no Australian government should tolerate.
For Australia to maintain its reputation as a first-world country, the government should allow foreign investments only by those willing to abide by the principles of best practice in all fields of endeavour, and, indeed, demand that any company operating here, regardless of who owns it, locals or a foreigner, behaves appropriately.
Anne-Lydie Teese, Greensborough
The Treasurer’s inaction is a national disgrace
It is a national disgrace that Josh Frydenberg has not acted immediately on a series of letters from Senator Peter Whish-Wilson describing the shocking conditions on the foreign-owned Van Dairy farming business in Tasmania. Way back in June 2019, there were widespread media reports that senior staff warned of serious animal welfare issues on this foreign-owned farm.
The federal government must intervene immediately to force this company, Moon Lake, to comply with Australian standards. As someone who grew up on a dairy farm, I would like to see this cruel company’s dairy licences cancelled permanently. Further, Australia should stop exporting live dairy heifers to China and other countries, where their treatment is surely much worse than that described in these news reports.
It is scandalous that even in Australia these companies are getting away with sickening cruelty right under the government’s nose.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha
Wake up to the reality of all dairy farms
Three cheers for the whistleblower and Adele Ferguson, who made public the horror of Van Dairy farms.
The story is a gruesome tale of neglect for both the cows and the environment. But much of the horror, the mastitis, the dead calves, the effluent, is true of every dairy farm. It’s about time we all woke up to the reality of dairy farms – that they are places of suffering, death and pollution, not the bucolic places where happy animals romp and play, as we are led to believe by the advertising mush we are fed by the dairy industry.
Dairy products are bad for the environment, bad for the animals and increasingly seen as responsible for human health issues. It’s time to get rid of this industry altogether.
Judith Crotty, Dandenong North
You must come to the table
Housing Minister Richard Wynne, you cannot abandon the City of Yarra and your electorate of Richmond and its social housing needs (“Social housing row exposes tensions”, The Age, 10/4).
Since when was negotiation banned as a way to achieve an outcome that we all agree responds to an urgent and legitimate need? Yarra Council has not rejected the need for social housing, it just disagrees with you that there is a need for private housing on the Collingwood Town Hall precinct site.
Yarra Council also believes your tenants on the Ministry of Housing estate opposite the precinct need to be provided with a library and a maternal health and childcare centre. I’m sure you would not argue against that.
A social housing response, together with a community hub, jointly owned by the city and the state government seems to be a good use of that site.
The Fitzroy Residents Association views the standoff as not befitting our council or our Housing Minister and local member. We encourage you both to come to the negotiating table to ensure that the social housing needs and community needs are provided for in our suburb and across the City of Yarra.
Martin Brennan, chair, Fitzroy Residents Association, Fitzroy.
I note that Labor MP Andrew Giles stated on ABC Weekend Breakfast regarding Prince Philip: “I think it is important that we recognise that 70 years in public life is something that is extraordinary …”
Yet he is among a group trying to replace Senator Kim Carr, 65 and a near-30-year veteran of the Parliament, under the guise of “renewal”. As a more senior Victorian still working in my 60s, I would like him to explain why the senator needs to retire when he wishes to continue another term.
Does federal Labor actually believe older workers are in the way and need to move aside? Maybe they should reconsider their attitude towards older working Australians who have much to offer.
Isobel Jensen, Clifton Hill
The timing is perfect
Spot on, Louise Kloot (Letters, 10/4). With such a minimal risk factor involved, and the worsening rollout figures, this is the perfect situation for the Morrison government to increase panic among the population and once again blame someone else for their incompetence.
Glenn Murphy, Hampton Park
An honoured place
In 1982, I approached several news outlets to cover the Tasmanian Wilderness Society’s forthcoming blockade of dam works in the Franklin and Gordon river valleys in remote western Tasmania.
The then editor of The Age, Creighton Burns, was unexcited by the prospect but nevertheless sent junior reporter Rosslyn Beeby to Strahan for the saga.
She, along with other journalists, was subject to repeated cold and wet crossings of Macquarie Harbour and up the Gordon River to witness the hundreds of people who were arrested blocking the bulldozers invading the World Heritage wilderness.
Beeby’s reportage was incisive, descriptive and powerful. It was a crucial ingredient in the successful motivation of Australians, in particular Victorians, to vote for the change of government in March 1983. New prime minister Bob Hawke announced “the dam will not be built” and so the Franklin, one of the world’s top 10 whitewater rafting rivers, still flows free to the sea.
Beeby went on to a distinguished career in journalism. She died in Queanbeyan this Easter.
Saving Tasmania’s wild rivers from their extraordinary peril in that summer of 1982-3 involved the dedication of thousands of Australians and among them I would reserve an honoured place for Rosslyn Beeby.
Bob Brown, former director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society and leader of the Australian Greens.
A poignant tale
Lawyer and activist Nyadol Nyuon writes poignantly of her former powerlessness (″Your world, and peace, was never mine″, Comment, 10/4). But here now she loves Australia, is doing so well, and contributing positively.
I and others think as she does. Her clear thinking, with her stand for minorities, assists as our politics heads towards an increasingly real opposition, and hopefully more independents in Parliament.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood
No place for politics
Political stoushes should not have any part in determining the fate of much-needed and vital projects (″Social housing row exposes tensions″, The Age, 10/4).
At a time when so many people are being evicted from their rental properties by landlords without a conscience, social housing should be a No.1 priority for every council.
Those out on the street do not have the luxury of waiting to find decent accommodation and need immediate help now.
Helen Scheller, Benalla
More misery ahead
The Victorian gaming regulator has just approved yet another 70 poker machines for Victoria.
The new machines are, as usual, located in a low socioeconomic area and will, as usual, cause yet more abject misery to families who can least afford the consequences of the inevitable losses.
A cynic might reason that more poker-machine losses will mean more government revenue for the state’s dwindling treasury coffers. The government has, most fortunately, in its repertoire a magic cure-all solution for problem gambling – their trite and useless slogan: ″gamble responsibly″. There you are, problem solved in two easy words.
Erica Grebler Caulfield North
Time to play their game
To describe the operation of Van Dairy farms as a ″total balls up″ seems a massive understatement.
If Adele Ferguson’s report is accurate, then this truly is a national disgrace. Any sensitivities we may feel about calling out Van Dairy’s Chinese owners for the abysmal conditions on their farms should be set aside.
The Chinese government has already shown its willingness to punish Australia by imposing restrictions on Australian imports such as wine.
The Australian government should show China that two can play that game. Van Dairy should either comply with the conditions under which it operates in our country, or be told to get out of a business it seems to know little about.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
Nothing secure about it
It is nonsense to claim that 20 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which are said to be due to arrive from October, have been “secured” (“More Pfizer on way but confidence takes a hit”, The
In the context of the lack of progress to date in Australia’s vaccine rollout, very little is ″secure″. The vaccine has only been ordered. October is a long way down the track and it may or may not turn up then. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, wishful thinking and spin-doctor words from Scott Morrison and his marketing team won’t make any difference.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
Make another run
Julia Gillard, I have nothing but respect for you. Your time as prime minister was too short-lived.
Please come back to politics, to Parliament and hopefully as prime minister you might get the misogynistic old boys’ club to get real and society to understand and adhere to the message of your poignant misogyny speech.
I don’t think anyone in Australia could attend to the issues of family violence, entitled violence and workplace violence with more effect. One vote already.
Jae Sconce, Moonee Ponds
We’ve done it for years
Vale Prince Philip. A lot of talk about how he ″sacrificed his promising career″ to support his wife, Queen Elizabeth, in her working life.
Such a familiar story for so many women who have done exactly the same thing but without the plaudits accorded to him, rather the expectation that this is how it is.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
Beyond the reputation …
Prince Philip may have, at times, played up to the caricature of him as a ″cranky uncle″ type but that doesn’t do him justice.
His work for the world environment, outdoors schooling and an ethic of public duty relating to youth was forward thinking.
As yet another displaced royal emigre in the early 20th century, his life trajectory and connections to a number of European royal houses in what was for them a fraught era has its own fascination.
As a parallel, his eldest son, Prince Charles, may yet surprise those who have delighted in underestimating his abilities.
As a king, and not having to walk a few paces behind a monarch, his knowledge of environmental issues and empathy for religions such as Islam may be allowed to come fully to the fore.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
Here’s why it happened
Your correspondent (Letters, 10/4) wonders how ″after Australia responded so well in controlling community spread″ we have failed in the vaccine rollouts.
One was led by Dan Andrews, with Annastacia Palaszczuk and Gladys Berejiklian, and the other one wasn’t.
Carlo Ursida, Kensington
Leadership looks like this
On many occasions during my working life I had the privilege of being a team member developing and delivering leadership programs to unions, public sector organisations and private sector companies, including one of Australia’s largest corporations.
Successful leaders display traits including courage, honesty, integrity, humility, empathy and a genuine commitment to those they lead. They readily admit to and learn from their mistakes and inspire with their openness and work ethic.
Unfortunately the Morrison government regularly resorts to denial, obfuscation, attack, blame and misinformation.
Currently, we are getting slogans and political hype. Australia needs honesty and real leadership if we are to survive in an increasingly complex world.
James Young, Mount Eliza
AND ANOTHER THING
Continuous calamities in Canberra. Where is John Kerr when we really need him.
Jeremy Sallmann, Crib Point
The likelihood of complications and clots resulting from the jab, pales into insignificance when compared with the consequences of both the actions and inactions of the clots on the government benches.
Brian Williams, Vermont
Scott Morrison may have perfected the art of announcements and “word salads”, (And another thing, 10/4) but now that winter is coming, he needs to work on concocting some hearty, heavy-duty “word casseroles”.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris
The vaccine rollout
The government has finally told us that some clots are the cause of the delays in vaccine rollout. We knew that already.
Greg Tuck, Warragul
Rollout ″recalibration″: how about more emphasis on plausibility, and less on self-serving applause?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
Michelle Leeder (And another thing, 10/4), I’d add that the time has come, Prime Minister, for less talk and more action. Otherwise there’s a risk all our collective sacrifices of the last year will be for nought.
Kate McCaig, Surrey Hills
Bring it on
Advertisements for retirement living always show couples socialising with the omnipresent drink in hand. If such a boozy existence awaits, I am almost looking forward to my dotage.
Ralph Frank, Malvern East
Saying that we gained a better understanding of Prince Philip from The Crown series, as a number of journalists have suggested, is like saying we have a better understanding of outer space from Star Wars.
Stephen Dinham, Metung
I hope that when Scott Morrison prayed for the Royal family, he also sent up a prayer for the Biloela family. The difference in concern he has shown for both these families – who have vastly different circumstances – is stark, and revealing.
Jennie Irving, Camberwell
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