Respect, fairness for all
JAMES McGrath may class me as one of the “loony left” – a term I will wear with pride following his letter (Stawell Times-News and Ararat Advertiser, June 1).
I had a letter published in The Age on January 25 suggesting March 3 for celebration of Australia Day. This date marks the simultaneous passage of the Australia Act by both Australian and British Parliaments in 1986. The Act in effect eliminates the possibility for Britain to legislate with any effect in Australia.
Many strategies adopted by the Labor Party have left me wondering about the party's priorities. However, if Bill Shorten takes a stand to have Australians reflect as to why January 26 is not an appropriate date for us to collectively celebrate, he will receive my wholehearted support.
The arrival of the first fleet at Sydney Cove is certainly an event for reflection.
Establishing a penal colony is still symbolic of an horrific solution to a dysfunctional British society; presuming entitlement to the land conveniently classified as Terra Nullius.
Indigenous people were not considered worthy for inclusion in society, yet used without question as an underpaid workforce. Yes, indeed, Australia has developed somewhat miraculously since then – with an effective democracy, freedom and culture. But it is fact that celebrating the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove on January 26 still causes pain to many First Australians.
One argument, that the treatment of first Australians may not have been as cruel as that of the convicts, resonates with me. However our treatment of Aboriginal people since first settlement is mostly heartbreaking. It is time we all take an honest look at our history and insist on respect and fairness for all.
Rosalind Byass, Stawell
Still more work to do
IT IS bizarre to think there was a time when smoking on aeroplanes, in hospitals and offices was acceptable and normal.
We’ve seen cigarettes in Australia go from being promoted at kids’ sporting games, to being wrapped in plain packaging hidden from display.
While Victoria has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world, we still have a way to go to eliminate harm from tobacco in our state.
Last week’s World No Tobacco Day, is a time to reflect and celebrate the important milestones which have seen smoking dramatically decrease. The introduction of plain-packaging in 2012 was a major victory in the fight by Australia’s public health community and governments against Big Tobacco. Last year was another milestone, with smoking banned from outdoor venues serving food, allowing restaurant goers to enjoy outdoor venues without having to inhale toxic cigarette smoke. Yet the battle has not been won, not yet.
It is estimated that well over half a million Victorian’s still smoke regularly, and each year, we know that tobacco products are responsible for the deaths of 4000 Victorians. These deaths, from heart disease, stroke, and cancer, are devastating and preventable.
We should all take a moment to remember that tobacco control is everyone’s business – government, business and the community.
We can’t be complacent when it comes to smoking – so here are three things you can do to help us win the fight against tobacco:
- Support a smoker to quit – demonising smokers is not the answer. Help a friend, colleague or neighbour to quit by pointing them in the direction of fantastic free resources like Quitline and My QuitBuddy;
- Ask your local to go smokefree – we know that some local venues are worried they’ll lose customers if they make outdoor areas smoke-free. Let them know you’re more likely to visit if they cater to non-smokers;
- Keep the pressure on – It’s important our governments continue to take action on cigarettes. Write to your MP or local council and tell them how smoking is impacting your local area.
I look forward to the day where no matter where you are in Victoria, you can breathe smoke free clean air.
Jerril Rechter, chief executive, VicHealth
Consumption in spotlight
THE jury has returned. The verdict is in.
A new report in the June 2018 issue of the journal Science has confirmed the huge footprint of animal agriculture – it provides just 18 per cent of calories but takes up 83 per cent of farmland.
The most comprehensive analysis ever done of the damage farming does to the planet – covering 38,700 farms in 119 countries – found that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75 per cent.
That’s an area equivalent to the US, China, the European Union and Australia combined – and it would still feed the world.
More than 50 per cent of greenhouse emissions come from the farming of some 70 billion animals who are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates, and other torturous devices.
Meat consumption has been linked in recent scientific research to a range of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancer.
The AMA has called obesity “the biggest public health challenge facing Australia” and research shows that vegans are a whopping nine times less likely to be obese than meat-eaters and are far less prone to suffering from chronic diseases.
To improve the health of the nation, slash our health care expenditure, help stop climate change and save countless animals from lives of terror and agonising deaths, all meat, whether it is sold in shops or in restaurants, should be heavily taxed.
Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia