Making it safer or more dangerous?
Reading The Courier this week I was interested to see a renewed push towards the trialling of pill testing at large events. I applaud the Member for Buninyong's attempt to address public safety concerns in a pragmatic and effective manner. The use of illicit drugs in our community is regrettable and harmful to the mental and physical wellbeing of those who consume them. What might be considered fun to some can quickly descend into a horrific nightmare where a tainted batch of pills can leave lives in the balance. It is an issue that has plagued society for far too long and requires considering new approaches in harm-minimisation in an effort to make a meaningful difference to the lives of people in vulnerable situations. Already, new approaches to drug abuse are being implemented with the trialling of safe injecting facilities and the commitment of further rehabilitation resources. It is not simply enough to use tough rhetoric to appease hardliners; this is a health issue that needs to focus primarily on reducing near fatal overdoses and other adverse reactions. The possibility of improving the health and safety of community members whilst concurrently reducing the stress on our emergency departments makes pill testing an option to actively consider.
Carl Smith, Mount Pleasant
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is again under pressure to legalise pill-testing. The premier says he won't, because "there is no safe level at which these drugs can be taken…" Greens Party leader, Richard Di Natale, says Mr Andrews "has his head in the sand" because young people will always experiment with drugs. These Greens policies betray contempt for the rule of law and for human beings as potentially rational creatures. It won't be easy for Premier Andrews to stick to principle on this one. Let's hope he does. We need to turn the tide away from irresponsible weak-minded "pragmatic" attitudes.
Arnold Jago, Nichols Point
I read with interest in The Courier recently about the drug culture at this year's music festival. I don't really care what people inject in their system, but when you have been sitting in the waiting room for some hours to seen by medical staff at the local hospital and a person who is drug-affected has to been seen as a priority, I do care. These people that decide to take drugs waste a lot of hospitals' resources when they overdose and have to be admitted. Maybe they should have a separate department for people that take drugs. It not fair to the genuine people who are sick.
Geoff Rundell, Ballarat
Pay peanuts and you get monkeys
As reported in The Courier January 30, the Mayor and councillor allowances are controlled under the Local Government Act 1989 and were last year reviewed by the Victorian Local Government Minister, Marlene Kairouz. According to a report tabled to Council, the minister advised that there must be an increase to allowances of two per cent, backdated to 1 December. Given that the government determines their allowances, why then do councillors need to "approve" this increase?The Minister for Local Government has decreed that Ballarat's mayoral allowance will increase to $96,534 annually and councillors would be paid $30,222 annually. This is peanuts compared to the salaries of Council's senior officers. For instance, Council CEO Justine Linley is paid in excess of $300,000, which is more than the Premier of Victoria is paid. Across Victoria, more than 50 council officers in Victoria are earning as much or more than the Premier, including some who are not even in their Council's top job. Fifty-one are on a wage of $290,000 or more, which is the salary of Premier Daniel Andrews. Even our local Labor state parliamentary members receive twice the Mayor's salary. To my mind there is an anomaly with government salaries.
I have great respect for our councillors who place themselves in the firing line with their decision-making, and like others I may not always agree with the decisions that have been made, but that's the democratic process. The mayoral position is a full-time role. It is Ballarat's most senior leadership role and we are only paying $96,000. Our Mayor, Cr Sam McIntosh, works a seven-day week, attends as many community, civic and state events as she is able, and then spends an inordinate amount of time informing herself of the issues that require decision-making by the councillors. Our councillors, in their so called part-time role, also put in long hours again to inform themselves on the decisions they are required to make in our best interests. The hours vary but they are far more than they are remunerated for; let's face it, most wouldn't do it for the paltry $30,000 they receive.
We expect the very best outcomes for our city and that our elected councillors will participate in high-level decision-making that will set the strategic direction of Council and represent the local community. I simply say that our elected mayors and councillors committed to serving their community deserve greater recognition and remuneration.
Ron Egeberg, Soldiers Hill
Halting over development in our suburbs
I was really impressed with City of Ballarat Councillors at this week’s meeting, and how they responded to the presenters of the Mount Helen Residents Group's objection to a proposed development at 2 Eddy Avenue. All who spoke were courteous, informed and in agreement to reject the developer's application. They acknowledged that the residents wish to have input into the future character of our neighbourhood, and that we are open to change, but not to a high density, high rise building on a three way intersection in a quiet area. The developer has at no time negotiated with residents' concerns. We need to make a stand against being pushed aside and leaving room for changing beautiful Mt Helen into a high rise jungle.
Loreen Jackson, Mount Helen