Letters to the Editor 19-06-14

It's time to make our voices heard

I AM sitting here laughing at what our political representatives are doing and how they think we, as Australians, can't stop them. We do have the power to stop them and it is called a referendum and we, as Australians, have the right to demand one. It is time to put politicians in their place and tell them what they will get paid, that their super will be at the same rate as everyone else’s, that there will be no golden handshakes when a politician retires and that they cannot accept any political donations or gifts in any shape or form. It is time to make all businesses that trade in Australia, and Australian taxpayers, pay their way and to do it fairly. This doesn’t mean that the poor or the rich should have to take an unequal share of the burden but that everyone contributes according to what they earn without the hefty tax breaks that some businesses are reported to be getting. It is time to tell the government to make public education free for all and to cut back funding for private education because private schools are businesses and should be made to earn their own way with minimal funding to pay teachers' wages. It is time to tell the politicians that everyone is entitled to Medicare, an aged pension at 65 and welfare benefits when needed and that rather than making someone work for the dole that the government invest in the public services and provide apprenticeships and traineeships, along with free public education, to allow our young people, and people young at heart, to better themselves. It is time to tell the politicians that we are a nation of immigrants and that they need to stop using the boat people as political pawns and to allow refugees to come to our country where we can house them within their own communities and then assess them properly before deciding if they should be allowed into Australia, rather than treating them like the convicts of old. And finally we need to tell our government to get rid of the unbalanced free trade agreements and other agreements which can see individuals, companies and our government sued in secret, and to allow us, as Australians, to vote on what agreements and treaties that we as a nation enter into. We as Australians need to step up as one and take back our country from the politicians who have had it too good for too long. It’s time for a referendum to make our country what we want it to be and not a plaything for a few power-hungry people and their supporters.- Wayne Bramley, Eaglehawk

State's firefighters deserve protection

AS a local solicitor with a plaintiff firm specialising in WorkCover claims, I strongly support the long-overdue proposal for presumptive legislation for Victorian firefighters. This topic receives regular attention in the media but the Victorian government has been limited to a "consideration" of the necessity for more scientific research to establish the link between common cancers and firelighters’ exposure to numerous carcinogens at work. However, serious studies conducted in the US with sample sizes of up to 30,000 firefighters over a period of 50 years have already produced very persuasive results showing a higher level of cancer diagnosis among firefighters compared to the general public. The time for legislation is now. Presumptive legislation would not mean there is an automatic right for compensation. Instead, it would result in a legal recognition that firefighting over a continuous amount of years leads to a greater risk of developing different cancers, allowing claims by firefighters to be made more easily. How many Victorian firefighters will miss out on compensation for themselves or their family if they suffer from cancer or ultimately lose their life due to cancer because they were doing their job to protect our state and the lives of others? South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania have taken the vital step of implementing this legislation and Victoria must now step up.- LUISA McGRATH, Solicitor, Arnold Dallas McPherson

Freedom of speech key to lasting peace

PEOPLE are fighting each other because of racial, national, tribal, social, religious or sexual differences. Foreign intervention may be welcomed by one side in the conflict, but resented by the other. Individuals, or powers that are trying to maintain peace are being met with a mixed reception. They are either being hailed as saviours, or condemned as villains. Once a relative peace has been restored by an outside intervention, it is up to the people to maintain it. The best way to do so is to allow freedom of speech and to broaden the general education. Radical views of any kind have one thing in common: they believe that they are the only right ones. They prevent people from living together in harmony.- Jiri Kolenaty, Rushworth

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