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Your views: on W&CH, student flights, planning and electric vehicles

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, community safety versus economy, planning reform delays and keeping SA’s EV strategy on the road.

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Commenting on the opinion piece: Women’s and Children’s Hospital is in good shape, actually

It pains me as a former Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and later Maternal Fetal Medicine at the QVH/WCH for 30 years, to respectfully refute the extravagant claims of the CEO, Lindsay Gough.

They fly in face of concerns about the understaffing, under-resourcing and the ageing infrastructure of the hospital expressed by 220 medical staff which were not effectively heeded by the CEO and her Executive, resulting in the medical staff reluctantly and courageously making their concerns public in February and again in August.

They chose to do this in order to fulfil their ethical and moral responsibilities to their patients and their profession to speak up when they are unable to perform their duties to the best of their ability.

The $50 million funding upgrade referred to by the CEO included $10 million for four unrelated consultancies, leaving $40 million for the initially planned upgrades to theatres and the emergency department.

However, last week the Minister announced that upgrades were to be financed and spread sparingly over a number of services including:

Leaving only $4.6m to upgrade the Special Care Baby Unit and later the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The business case for cardio-respiratory surgery at WCH was rejected due to an “independent” review in which some Melbourne cardiac surgeons participated, with a clear conflict of interest, as they rely on 25 per cent of their cardiac surgery to come from SA.

This already unsatisfactory arrangement is currently not tenable due to COVID-19 restrictions, and these children are now being dealt with by a smaller cardiac surgery unit in Sydney.

With regard to the planning for the new hospital which is in its first week, already as predicted, many frontline medical clinicians are frustratingly unable to participate as they have no paid cover for their clinical duties with the planning sessions inevitably arranged at the clinicians’ busiest time of the day.

If sufficient attention is not given urgently to the under-resourcing, understaffing and the ageing infrastructure, then the current hospital will simply not be able to continue to provide the high quality care expected of a tertiary centre for the women and children of SA, let alone last intact until the new WCH is built, purportedly in 2026 – but can we be sure of that date? – Professor John Svigos AM, Convenor, the WCH Alliance

Commenting on the story: Marshall defends international student return to tackle “economic crisis”

How galling it is to witness double standards and poor application of risk management principles by the SA government (and Federal government) in the joint decision to undertake a “test run” and allow 300 international students into Adelaide.

While I fully support strong economic recovery and learn to live with COVID as an ongoing reality, I have two immediate issues with this decision.

First, as a South Australian by birth, but resident in regional Victoria (not Melbourne) I cannot cross the border to see my 86-year-old, partially-disabled mother in Adelaide and check personally on her welfare.

There is no provision in the SA border closure to permit this, and yet I and other Australians have valid reasons to travel and we are prepared to undertake COVID tests and quarantine. SA’s hard line, as well as that of other states, is discriminating against me and other law-abiding Australian citizens.

My second issue is how health officials can come to the view that it is safe to bring in 300 students internationally, when we all know that the highest transmission of COVID into the community is occurring from international (not domestic) travel.

If the government of SA was fair and understood risk, it would allow movement of other Australians first across the border as a ‘trial’; get that process proved as safe and then consider international arrivals.

The position of Australians not able to enter from overseas is yet another concern. Marie-Louise Symons

I support the measured return of international students as long as we monitor the situation very closely, rigorously and fairly.

It is interesting that forces on the hard left appear to be marshalling opinion against the ‘Marshall’ plan, which is fully supported by Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier.

I can totally understand the frustration of many who cannot visit or receive their families from Victoria or NSW while international students from undisclosed original sources, via via Singapore, are permitted to enter.

But we need to work through this rationally, on health advice, and in the interests of rebuilding our shattered economy with its continuing detriment to the fabric of community.

These students should never become the focus of racism or blame. While I have often spoken out against the malevolent influence of the CCP on Australian universities and institutions, this is an entirely separate issue, just as calling out any other brutal or corrupt foreign or domestic government is a sign of supporting the people under its terror, not the reverse.

Adelaide has until now benefited greatly from being a diverse intercultural society, built upon the bedrock of the reformist British pioneers who founded this ‘ Paradise of Dissent’. Let us embrace that proud tradition. Dennis Coleman

Leaving aside the not-insignificant economic benefits that international students bring (ask anyone working in international education who is wondering how they will be putting food on their family’s table), we also have a duty to these young people that have invested a great deal of their lives and money through choosing to study in Adelaide. 

Many students began their studies here and became stranded after visiting family during the holidays and are now in limbo. 

Yes, we should be doing everything we can to get stranded South Australians home, but let us also not turn our back on those that took the decision to join our community, and that have added so much to it. Simon Futo

I have no issue with international students returning to universities from a health perspective. If they come into SA (or anywhere in Australia) and undertake their quarantine to ensure that they are COVID-19 free, they will support the economy.

I do think that they would need to be fully apprised of the dilemmas/anxiety they may feel in isolation away from family and friends with no access to support for 14 days (assuming they don’t test positive on day 12).

The questions that arise for me are: who pays for the extended isolation/medical support/ family or friend support if they do?

Will they be able to work/support themselves when they are here? No access to welfare payments for the ones that have already stayed behind/unemployment levels. – Garry Shearing

Commenting on the story: Govt concedes there’s “room for improvement” as planning reforms paused

It appears that, hopefully, The Hon Vicki Chapman is much more cognitive of the real issues with the e-Planning system. and commonsense may prevail.

The Minister’s approach must be applauded.

Whilst the previous Planning Minister appeared to not acknowledge the seriousness of the issues within the e-Planning System and the unreadiness of the industry to engage with it, the new Minister may allow some level of reflection and refinement required to produce a user-friendly system that will assist in improving efficiencies rather than creating further hurdles for development.

The tireless efforts of the DPTI e-Planning team requires praise for enduring ministerial pressure to deliver the undeliverable in the time frames allocated. They have endeavored to offer much assistance to the industry and on a personal level it is much appreciated.

Perhaps now the DPTI e-Planning team can deliver the much needed training of the industry in a professional and systematic way that will benefit all involved. Sozo Nikias

It is really quite surprising that a Liberal government is proceeding with changes that empower an unelected central planning body, that is not accountable to democratic process, to assume responsibility for all the planning decisions in the state.

What is clear from digesting the many thousands of pages in the proposed planning regulations is that this is a significant change for many areas in Adelaide.

While we may have different views, they should at least be socialised democratically and communities have an opportunity to decide whether they wish to fill their suburb with terrace houses at best and dog boxes at worst, completely destroying the amenity of the suburbs that people have invested in.

At least councils in theory are more accountable to their constituents for the type of planning decisions they make. I also recognise that there have been some atrocious Council planning decisions resulting in many of the dog box developments, with garages too small for a family car, for backyards barely big enough for a fold-up clothesline, while a state-based system may provide an element of quality control and minimum standards across the state.

But surely the communities who occupy our suburbs should have an opportunity to decide what they want; they own the properties and live in the area and pay their rates and taxes. Interstate or international developers do not have to live with the consequences of their products and these decisions.

We have seen significant loss of greenery and green space through these developments, in addition funds collected through subdivisions I do not believe have been spent for their original purpose, but simply on maintenance of existing open space.

We do have the opportunity to create the best of high-density cities, through good central planning but low density dog box developments still require people to have a car to access shops and the CBD.

Transport oriented development, that is high density development close to frequent public transport, is a good solution for those who do not want open space, such as the elderly or young couples.

However depriving families and children of open space, around their own home on the block or with shared local amenities is a recipe for future social dysfunction, as children are condemned to their screens or the streets.

The consultation process was an almost incomprehensible jumble of jargon, followed up by “write a submission”. It really did not explain clearly to people what exactly it could mean to their suburbs.

I would ask that the government recommit to a community-based, council driven consultation process, with the opportunity for a democratic resolution of disagreements through the ballot box, as these changes alter the very nature of our city and our communities and will have consequences for generations.

They should not be pushed through under a cloud of smoke and technobabble. – Robert Lloyd

Commenting on the story: State electric vehicle plan stalls as sales grow

I write to convey similar concerns about South Australia’s delayed Electric Vehicle Action Plan.

While we are doing a tremendous job reducing our emissions in the energy sector, we appear to be lagging in the addressing the second largest source of emissions in South Australia: transport.

Other states, such as the NSW state government have surged ahead with a strong plan to accelerate the transition to EVs, including funnelling money into fast electric vehicle charging infrastructure, amending licensing and parking regulations to support EV take up, and ensuring that new buildings are electric vehicle ready.

Given South Australia’s highly-regarded reputation in the renewable sector, much is expected from our EV strategy. We need to catch up to stay ahead of the curve where electric transportation is concerned, but also to ensure that we are on track to achieve the Marshall government’s emissions reduction targets of 50% by 2030. Ching Ang

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