Letters to the editor | Monday, June 19

Debt collectors

SADLY, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff (The Examiner, June 2) has no idea what is going on in his public schools because no-one, and in particular, principals, would dare to tell him even if he did want to know. As a former principal I can tell him schools have been regularly referring parents to debt collectors for around a decade. How else does he think schools run excursions, camps, remedial programs and offer extension opportunities for all students in their schools? Public schools have been drained of resources at the very time they need more. The Minister’s proclamation of  a Gonski increase to school resource packages to 5 per cent lasted one year and they are now back to the standard CPI level of 3 per cent. The Schoolkids Bonus program which delivered $32 million per year to Tasmanian families ended in August 2016 with 75 per cent of Tasmanian school children or 60,000 receiving it. It provided families $410 for each primary child and $820 for each secondary student. It was used for uniforms and levies. Allocating Gonski funding to the Peter Underwood Centre which few educators would even know exists, or reputably does, is an example of how out-of-touch our Minister and his government is with issues that exist in our public schools.

Terry Polglase, Lindisfarne.

Redundancy support

WE, as ex-employees of ACL Bearing Company, can sympathise greatly with those about to made redundant at MG’s Edith Creek factory. We sympathise in two main areas. Firstly the fact they are being made redundant and second that they are being treated differently. One good thing for the MG workers is that at least their agreement is worth the paper it's written on. Back in 2009, approximately 100 employees at ACL were let go following a redundancy decision. Their agreement was for four weeks per year of service capped at 96 weeks. Unfortunately for them the company went into receivership/liquidation and no company money was available for redundancies. The federal government’s then general employee entitlements and redundancy scheme (GEERS) provided some relief with up to 16 weeks dependent on length of service. This was further enhanced in 2012 by a further eight weeks (maximum) by way of a “ministerial discretionary” decision by the then Labor Minister for Employment, Bill Shorten. This decision was made, we believe, because the goal posts were changed in 2011 and another “ministerial discretionary” decision was made in a “spirit of fairness” that allowed all other ACL employees let go after January 1, 2011 to receive 100 per cent of their entitlements. We had the same agreement but were treated radically differently.  It is understood that there is several million dollars left from sales of assets etc. We have requested that ex-employees who have not received their full entitlements be given the same degree of fairness and that this money be made available to them rather than go into Government coffers. So far it is unsurprising to know that we have not been afforded an equal “spirit of fairness”. Other options have also been explored. Again to employees of MG at Edith Creek, we sincerely hope you are successful in getting a better deal than currently being offered.

Andrew Kuzniarski, Four Mile Creek.

Dobrzynski and Rathjen

INTERESTING that now the City of Launceston general manager Robert Dobrzynski and UTAS Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen have disrupted Mowbray, Newnham and Inveresk, and down the track, our city, they are both heading for another city to mess about with (The Examiner, May 31). I suspect those areas will end up with large debts, think $9 million for CH Smith carpark, which will house more public servants. A miracle would be if any shoppers in Launceston could find a spot for their car, also keeping in mind that it’s a fair walk to our CBD. Would I wish them lots of luck? That would be pushing the envelope too far.

Ron Baines, Kings Meadows.

Environment

THE STATE budget was a mixed bag for the environment. Jeremy Rockliff should be congratulated for delivering $360,000 per year for implementation of the Tasmanian Cat Management Plan. Minister Rockliff also obtained $2 million over four years for a program to control weeds and ferals, but only those that affect industries. Farmers and other landowners who want to protect the environment miss out. The government's ongoing funding of tourism Infrastructure in reserves and improved management of Darlington Convict World Heritage Site are positive initiatives. However, this budget continues the government's focus on visitor infrastructure and iconic attractions and failed to increase the Parks and Wildlife Service's staffing levels. The state government have responded to the orange bellied parrot crisis by delivering $2.5 million for a new captive breeding facility, but there is no new funding for any of the other 700 threatened animals and plants.

Peter McGlone, Director, Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

Community debate

THE editorial (May 31) informs us that on May 30, acting attorney-General Matthew Groom announced new measures that would see those charged with dangerous driving prosecuted under the Criminal Code, which allows for a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison. The maximum sentence for negligent driving causing death could also be increased by one year. Woopy-do. What about increasing the minimum sentence for negligent driving causing death? This has always been, and still is, a slap on the wrist.

A R. Trounson, Needles.

Coup de grace

CAN’T recall the last time a TV series or film had me reaching for the Kleenex, however the final  episode of that most excellent British drama, River certainly did so. An absolute masterpiece in film technique, masterful acting, and brilliant storyline, one hopes it will not disappear, but continue, however, such is the excellence of these past six episode’s, it has set an extremely high bar to hurdle.

Don Davey, Launceston.

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