MEDIA comments on the Brexit events suggest citizens want to feel in control of their destiny, that elite and powerful interest groups are out of touch with the general population, and at times, the rule of law is undermined by the selfish behaviour of vested interests.
The behaviour of VicRoads in the Western Highway duplication project is a classic case of governance and integrity shortfalls in the face of unwelcomed legal and environmental truths.
The appointment of a new chief executive officer in 2014 suggested a change in its "crash through" philosophy.
However, true to form, a headstrong and unrestrained VicRoads brooks no opposition in its determination to destroy historic long-established trees, and excellent farming land in a 5.5 km section of the project between Buangor and Ararat.
Despite highly respected independent professional reports confirming its preferred alignment in this section was non-compliant with Victorian law via a flawed 2012 environmental effects statement, and in potential breach of national environmental significant impact protocols, it refuses to concede significant errors occurred in the 2012-2013 decision making process; even when so advised by its own consultant.
The VicRoads alignment will cost taxpayers $24 million more than an alternative which has no traffic safety shortcomings and by a carefully engineered design width, an environmental impact which is compliant with Commonwealth law. It is also consistent with minimal median width guidance from Luke Donnellan, the Roads and Road Safety Minister.
Notwithstanding these features, VicRoads insists on getting its way. Western district residents, like most rural folk, are looking to local candidates to stand up for them on this issue of environmental integrity in the closing days before the election.
An application to suspend commonwealth financing of this section of the project has been made to the Minister for Environment.
This will allow time for the alternative alignment to be considered on its merits by an application after July 3 to Richard Wynne, the current Victorian Planning Minister.
So that your voice is heard, please ask MPs in your electorate to contact Ministers Luke Donnellan and Richard Wynne to let them know you want VicRoads reigned in and made accountable to the rule of law.
- Michael Kennedy, Pipers Creek
THE arctic blast that hit Victoria last week has had me concerned about how people are keeping warm.
When temperatures drop, some people turn to any means to warm themselves. As we've seen in the past, this can involve using gas appliances in unsafe ways.
Energy Safe Victoria wants to remind all Victorians that gas appliances attached to portable gas cylinders should never be used indoors or in confined spaces. Gas heaters and appliances require plenty of ventilation to operate safely and should only be used according to manufacturer's instructions.
The golden rule is, if an appliance is attached to a portable gas bottle, don't bring it inside. Without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide (CO) can build up and quickly reach fatal levels. CO is a silent killer that is colourless, odourless and tasteless.
It can leak from faulty, un-serviced gas heaters or accumulate if there is insufficient ventilation. It can cause death or chronic poisoning that is indicated by flu-like symptoms including lethargy, nausea or headaches.
Gas heaters including wall units, decorative fireplaces, space heaters and central heating units should be serviced a minimum of every two years by a registered gasfitter.
Find a gasfitter in your local area and before booking a service, check they are registered and have the proper equipment to test for CO. It could save your life.
- Paul Fearon, Director, Energy Safety
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