Peter Gutwein's initiative to double the speed of TasWater's infrastructure plans appear to have hit problems. The sewerage situation in the upper reaches of the Tamar is both serious and urgent and a commitment to speed the rectification process should receive unconditional support. From 16 random samples of the faecal coliform count in the upper reaches since November, only five were within health department guidelines, some were 10-times the approved levels. Launceston is a river city and has a fabulous future as a great place to live and a competitive tourist destination, but because the rivers are prime attractions, they have to be clean, attractive and safe.
Private enterprise is doing its bit, with investment clustered around the waterfront such as the new Silo hotel, the council's new North Bank development, Seaport's restaurants, Pepper's hotel and the marina, CH Smith, Penny Royal, Stillwater, rowing and sailing clubs, river cruises, walking and cycling on the boardwalk and the new levee paths. Clean healthy water is imperative and there is no place for politics. Diversion of the South Esk from the Gorge and our ancient sewage disposal system have been holding Launceston back for decades, and if 10 years rectification of the sewage problem can be reduced to five, there should be no argument.
Alan Birchmore, Newnham.
IT WAS incorrectly stated in The Examiner editorial (March 2) that our elective surgery waiting list continues to grow. In fact, the elective surgery waiting list is at a record low due to the targeted additional investments we have made. The reason the recent AMA report showed longer median wait times is because it only measures the wait times of those who actually received surgery, not the average time on the list as some have thought. Because we have successfully targeted those with the longest waiting times, this means that median waiting times will increase while that backlog we inherited is addressed. I am grateful to our health professionals for these very positive results and am very pleased to have been able to help so many people.
Michael Ferguson, Health Minister.
Teen Challenge Tasmania
TANYA Cavanagh (The Examiner, March 2) has requested that critics of Teen Challenge Tasmania be ‘honest or at the very least accurate’ in their comments. In the name of such accuracy, and as evidenced by the public record, local residents who submitted objections to Teen Challenge’s recent planning submission for Home of Hope in Meander, have no issue with the ‘mentoring of at-risk kids’ or ‘drug education programs’ in schools. They simply feel that a residential drug rehabilitation centre, backed by a global organisation with direct indisputable links to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church (also known as Australian Christian Churches), is not an appropriate development for the centre of their village; and that the Home of Hope will be of minimal benefit to the local community, this benefit being a condition placed on the transfer of ownership of the Meander School site from the state government to the Meander Valley Council.
Melanie Roberts, Prospect.
Mobile phone fines
IT’S NOT before time that a national push to increase fines on those drivers that ignore the law and use their mobile phone while driving. Everyday I see the head facing the lap pose, not to mention the driver with the phone up to the ear. With statistics proving mobile phone use while driving is one of the biggest contributors to serious accidents, it's time for the government got serious and increase penalties. For at the moment three demerit points and a $300 fine seems to be chickenfeed to some. Those that ring and know the receiver is driving with a hand held phone, hang up.