LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

DO IT BETTER: The Fix Freeway Fiasco group believes the duplication of the Western Highway could be done smarter.

DO IT BETTER: The Fix Freeway Fiasco group believes the duplication of the Western Highway could be done smarter.

Highway upgrade could be done smarter, better

IN response to Kevin Erwin, from WHAC, I would like to say how disturbing I find it that a councillor can be so willing to make blanket statements without being aware of the facts. 

To be so willing to lay blame without question or research, trusting that a corporation wouldn't cover-up, or try to shift blame from itself onto single individuals it sees as a threat. I hope sir, that you are more open-minded and fair in your council matters.

I would like to set the record straight. VicRoads have held themselves up by not having their paperwork in order. In fact, their planning approval for works on the Western Highway expired in 2015; long before court proceedings began. They were not, as Kevin Irwin erringly stated, held up by court cases. In fact, VicRoads itself have put a hold on proceedings to chase up renewal of said document. They are using one individual as a scapegoat to avoid owning their own mistakes.

This is yet another blunder by VicRoads. One of many, but certainly a major one. Apart from not being able to count, they have missed major ecological and cultural sites, fauna and flora. You congratulate them on minimising impact when in fact, that was due for the most part to locals and concerned road-users pointing out where damage could be avoided, using local knowledge, common sense and speaking out. So, we will accept your congratulations on our own behalf, thank you.

VicRoads listened at least in some cases. This upgrade, based on the Environmental Survey the minister was given - even in its flawed and inaccurate state - should never have been approved on the planned route as it was dramatically over-scale for the traffic load and the special place it goes through. Certainly not for the next section where, surveys done by accredited engineers and environmental consultants - some of whom VicRoads have used previously themselves - show a saving of $65 million of taxpayers' money could be gained from the next section if funded at the same rate as previous sections and if the current highway is included.

Six months quicker, less destructive, less large old tree loss, the habitat of federally "protected" species avoided, less excavation; if a northern route, using the existing road with a slimmer design (which was done at Burrumbeet and Trawalla) is taken. Please all, get the facts before you jump on the accusation wagon. Don't believe everything the spin-doctors spin.

Take a good look at what's happening around you. We all want this upgrade, but it can be done smarter and less destructively. We've got one chance to get this right. It's about a safer road with the least destruction possible. Please join us to do what's right for our beautiful countryside. After all, isn't it why we live here?

- Alanna Burton, Fix Freeway Fiasco, Buangor

It’s time for action now Premier Andrews

THE Abbott/Turnbull Government's decision to rip up the carbon price penalty for companies that pollute our air has been a disaster. Its climate policy failures have led to increased power prices, energy insecurity, and more pollution. Privatisation of the electricity sector has amplified federal government policy failures.

New Grattan Institute research finds Victorians are being ripped off by electricity retailers to the tune of $250 million a year. The Andrews Government has established a new energy taskforce in cabinet to secure Victoria's energy future. The premier can deliver affordable power supplies and cut pollution by ensuring the new energy taskforce focuses on climate change and the impact of privatisation.

It's time for Premier Daniel Andrews to rein in power companies who fleece householders while trashing our climate.

- Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth Melbourne