Letter to the editor

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 13-Oct-2017

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Bike trail call overdue

In answer to the council’s call for views on bike trails, this is overdue and maps should have been available previously.  

There has probably been a misconception that cycling tourists would not inject funds into the local economy.

The Sedgwick Hall is an ideal place for riders to meet for socialising, nutrition and possibly entertainment. 

It is also an ideal destination for riders leaving North Harcourt after breakfast.

The plan should also be extended to the area between Olympic Parade, Edwards Road and Lockwood Road with access via Aspinall Street and Symons Street with its fantastic downhill run.

For those going further, Gar Road (Coach Road) provides riders from Bendigo opportunity to tackle the south face of Big Hill or riders coming from Castlemaine to avoid it.

The Strathfieldsaye side of the range is a rain shadow area and a good place to head in a storm, while the Calder Alternate route to Marong is often dry when it is raining in Bendigo.

For triathletes Crusoe Reservoir is an ideal focal point with access to and from Break O’Day Hill. 

Mick Sandiford,

Bendigo 

Why I campaign 

Since the announcement there would be a postal survey on marriage equality, I have campaigned in earnest for a strong yes result. 

I have chosen to do this for many reasons. 

Initially, it was simply because I strongly believe that everyone should have equality in law. 

However, in the past weeks, my resolve to fight for this yes campaign has hardened, almost exponentially.

Every day, the no campaign strengthens the promise I made to myself when this began – that I would do all that I could to help my LGBTQI friends and family.

And so, when I heard of people going to anti-LGBTQI meetings “looking for some fags to bash”, I ordered rainbow flags to share with my friends. 

When I heard of priests telling parishioners that if they speak out in public about voting yes, they should be banned from attending Mass, I planned another action. 

When I saw my friends told they are worth less than heterosexual couples, I called another relative to ask them to vote yes.

When friends cried at the hate they face in their schools, I asked another business for their support.

When told by yet another man who had deserted his children that gay couples who want children are selfish, I found two more people to help with the campaign. 

When told by an elderly woman that her marriage means more than anything “two poofters could possibly understand” I talked to my local councillor. 

And then, when a 17-year-old girl told me that she thought her town hated her, but that the yes posters she sees around Bendigo give her hope, I doubled on my efforts.

I could go on. And on. And you know what? None of this compares to what my friends and family are facing every day, as this reprehensible survey legitimises the constant hate directed at them. 

But for every hateful lie spewed by the anti-equality campaign, I will take another positive action for my friends and family in the hope that one day, this period will be thought of as yet another time Australians fought for equality and won.

 Natasha Joyce,

Bendigo 

Scaremongering

In response to the letter in last week’s Bendigo Weekly that the no campaign was not allowed to speak. 

The writer must be delusional or does not watch television at all to have missed the bombardment of advertisements every night from the no campaign.

What’s more, the huge question of who has been paying for all these false, scaremongering ads has now been answered with the revelation of the $1 million donation from the Anglican church.

It makes one wonder how much has been contributed by other religious institutions, but one thing is for sure if the Anglican church can afford to squander money like this then it does not need any more donations from me. 

Allan Trevena,

Long Gully

Too early to call

Once same-sex marriage became regarded as a matter of equality, it followed that the concept of discrimination would be introduced into the debate. 

Discrimination is considered as inherently wrong and destructive. 

Yet we exercise it every day in necessary and positive ways to further our aims; for example, which club should I join? Rotary or Hell’s Angels? 

Its use even extends into the area of marriage, as some relationships are rightly deemed to be unsuitable for marriage, even if loving. 

Sister/brother and adult/minor marriages are proscribed for the good reason of protecting children. 

It will take a generation before a complete, impartial assessment can be carried out on the welfare of children acquired by same-sex couples, whether married or otherwise.

Brian Stanmore,

Junortoun

Conflicted relationship

As Foreign Minister Julie Bishop commits $5 million to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis and calls for Myanmar’s authorities to protect civilian life, the Australian government is refusing permanent visas and family reunion to the few Rohingyan refugees living in Australia.

The Rohingya are an ethnic minority from the western coastal province of Rakhine State, in Myanmar, a stateless people, forbidden to vote and denied citizenship.

The Rohingya were once recognized as an indigenous ethnic group, serving as representatives in the parliament and as government officials until the military junta took power (1962), and systematically deprived Rohingya of their rights. 

Before World War II, Rakhine State was a province of British India. 

During the war, Rakhine was given autonomy under the Japanese occupation of Burma. The Rohingya fought with the British, against local Rakhine, who were allied with the Japanese.

In 1948, Burma gained independence and Rakhine became a colony of Burma. 

The new government denied citizenship to the Rohingya, subjecting them to extensive discrimination. 

From the 1950s there has been growing pressure for Rakhine independence. In 1978, 1990s, 2001 and 2016, Myanmar military operations crushed ongoing unrest. 

In August 2017, Rakhine police posts and an army base were attacked, leaving 71 dead. The Myanmar government raided Rohingya villages in attacks as the UN described as “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. 

The Myanmar army have been accused of wide-scale human rights violations, claims which the government dismisses as “exaggerations”.

One million Rohingya lived in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis. In recent weeks the UN estimated 270,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar, crossing into Bangladesh, many with bullet wounds, and stories of mass killings, arson, infanticide, and gang rapes. Australian has resettled only 37 Rohingyan refugees since 2013. 

In 2015 when 1000 Rohingyans were rescued by Indonesian fishermen, Tony Abbott, famously declared “Nope, nope, nope” to accepting Rohingyan refugees, even calling for Malaysia and Thailand to turn away boats of Rohingyan asylum seekers.

During this latest crisis in Myanmar, our government returned a 53-year-old Rohingyan refugee (in Australia for medical treatment) to Manus Island. 

Since his return, officials have tried to force him to sign PNG resettlement papers or return to Myanmar. 

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said recently the government should immediately release all Rohingyan refugees in Manus and Nauru and bring them to Australia. 

Rohingyan refugees in Australia should be granted permanent visas and be allowed to bring their families.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop said Australia was deeply concerned by the escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and was committed to responding to the crisis. But when asked if Australia would consider taking any Rohingya refugees, she said Australia wanted them to return to their country if possible.

Jan Govett,

Strathdale

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