Opinion

Letters to the Editor

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February 17, 2017

Try compassion

Fiona Lyle, Shepparton

Do you know this family?

There is a local family whose parents’ estate left it a six-figure inheritance.

They decided to enrich their children’s lives by spending $100000 on artworks.

They had the place redecorated and garden landscaped, storing their excess in a backyard bungalow.

They enrolled their kids in various pursuits for their cultural enrichment.

Meanwhile, their cousins fell on hard times.

Losing their house due to retrenchment and ill health, they’ve been camping, sleeping in the car and couch-surfing, but are rapidly wearing out their welcome.

Finally, in desperation, they asked if they could stay in their cousins’ uninhabited bungalow until they got on their feet again.

Their relatives refused. ‘‘You’re not trying hard enough. You’re lazy and playing the victim, and besides, your presence will devalue our property and status. We don’t want to expose our children to you no-hopers,’’ they said.

This allegorical family is Shepparton, about to spend more than $30000000 of state, federal and local funds on Shepparton Art Museum while there are more than 200 people sleeping rough (ask Rural Housing), not to mention hundreds of others struggling to find affordable housing.

An article in a national paper last week identified Victoria as being behind in using federal funds given for affordable housing.

Businesses convert shipping containers into very nice dwellings.

Why not use camping parks with amenities which are vacant during winter months and put some of these on there for the homeless?

Also, there are empty homes and buildings around town. Let’s convert them into affordable housing.

Ah, but the NIMBY (not in my back yard) reflex is strong.

There are possibilities but is there compassionate willingness?

Shepparton has no moral right to squander this money on SAM when our unfortunate ‘‘cousins’’ are struggling.

SAM can wait!

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