Ding dong the Gatwick is dead

LOCALS BLAME THE ICE EPIDEMIC FOR THE CLOSURE OF GATWICK HOTEL 
Greta Waters

The infamous Gatwick Hotel is set to close its doors for the last time this weekend.

Entrance
The infamous Gatwick Hotel is shutting its doors for the last time this weekend (Photo: Greta Waters)  

Fitzroy Street is one of Melbourne’s prime locations; efficient transport into the CBD, wide footpaths for outdoor dining and seafront views. So why is the retail hotspot struggling to keep the doors open?


Clusters of vacant shops opposite the Gatwick Hotel (Photo: Greta Waters) 

Fitzroy Street local and 62-year restaurant owner of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar shows no sympathy for the soon-to-be displaced residents.

Leo said yesterday that the issue is much deeper than shutting down the hotel notorious for housing some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable.

“The Gatwick houses the disadvantaged, mentally ill and criminal offenders. We need to stop pretending that it [Gatwick Hotel] is helping them,” Leo said.

“I have watched decade after decade the behaviour of these people, it has always come in bearable waves. Everything changed four or five years ago with the increasing prevalence of ice on our streets.”

On Saturday night a glass door at the front of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar was aggressively damaged. The perpetrator was caught on CCTV and police later revealed high on ice.

Broken
Leo’s shopfront violently vandalised by a Gatwick regular high on ice (Photo: Greta Waters) 

“I don’t want him to get arrested. But I am not going to support a cause that tolerates continuous destructive behaviour,” Leo said.

MP Martin Foley argued the installation of CCTV cameras along Fitzroy Street would minimise crime.

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St Kilda local Ree Gleeson has been avoiding the Gatwick vicinity for over 20 years due to fear of antisocial behaviour.

“I would never walk on that side of the road if I am walking along Fitzroy Street,” Gleeson said.

“I hope when all the residents have been relocated somewhere else that shops can start thriving again.

“It is a dry zone of shops… no business can survive in that vicinity because everyone is too scared to be there.

“Everything gets vandalised and there is a huge amount of violence.”

A letter was sent to Gatwick tenants on 6 March 2017 explaining the process had begun with no new bookings accepted.

Residents only
A sign reads: RESIDENTS ONLY this is a Private Residence. No access to visitors unless accompanied by resident. Strictly NO VISITORS after 9pm. Gatwick Private Hotel is monitored by Security Video and accessible by St Kilda Police (Photo: Greta Waters)  

Housing Minister Martin Foley said some residents have been relocated.

St Kilda Community Housing chief executive John Enticott said four months was adequate for residents to find different housing.

A police officer with local knowledge said “with the closure of the Gatwick Hotel it will hopefully free up police resources.”

Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said the council does not support the demolition of the hotel building.

Gatwick
The end of an era (Photo: Greta Waters) 

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Finding the Perfect Hangover Cure at Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival

With a pounding headache and tired eyes I took my dreaded hangover to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. In the dying days of March on my not so fun-day Sunday, rivers of people were running to the River Graze. The one kilometre stretch along the Yarra is a playground of food and drink covering a range of price points.

Personal experience has taught me the science behind beating a hangover is through greasy food. I found myself at the Food Truck Spot putting my faith in the hands of Sliders on Tyres.

Food truckSliders on Tyres food truck at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (Photo: Greta Waters) 

For those that are indecisive, the small sized menu does not give you room to dwell. It was a no brainer to dish out $15 for the truck combo; two sliders and hand cut chips. These mini burgers give you the perfect excuse to eat double. The Fisherman and Classic beef cheeseburger has me licking my lips.

The kitchen churns out sliders quickly. The service is friendly and busy.

A generous calamari fillet is fried lightly and yielding, pleasantly resonating with the lemon mayonnaise. The crunch of the calamari and fresh cos lettuce combined with the creamy house-made sauce and soft golden mini bun melts in the mouth. Much like the crisp ocean air, The Fisherman is blowing my hangover away.

CalamariThe Fisherman slider (Photo: Greta Waters) 

Traditionalists might guess the contents of the classic beef cheeseburger. Grilled beef is dressed with cheddar cheese, small cubes of red onion, thin slices of dill pickle and burger sauce. The ingredients make pleasant synergy, rightfully balancing the sweet with sour.

CheeseburgerThe classic cheeseburger slider (Photo: Greta Waters) 

Bragging rights among the two are placed with The Fisherman. Only God knows what is happening to my body right now. But I do know the freshness of the fish slider fruitfully pulled me out of my slum, while the heaviness of beef slider has added to the delirium of my hangover.

Thick crunchy fries are crowding my plate, an impeccable side dish that compliments the sliders. Irrespective of your slider choice, be sure to have napkins handy. Similar to my hair, these small goodies are not tidy.

trucker combo
My truck combo: the fisherman, classic cheeseburger and hand cut chips (Photo: Greta Waters) 

Unfortunately, my buck did not extend past the trucker combo thus I wasn’t able to indulge in a $4.00 soft drink.

Sliders on Tyres glistens under the Eureka Tower. The mixture of good food, live performances and falling autumn leaves is brightening up the grey skies and my hangover.

Eureka towerThe Eureka Tower brightening up the grey autumn sky (Photo: Greta Waters) 

Amongst the swarm of crowds, the bank side is a design hot spot of stalls and precincts. I have plonked myself on colourful industrial style chairs, while some are puppy watching from bar stools or drinking champagne on picnic rugs. With my food in hand and hope of cure in heart, I graze with a sense of tranquillity.

Sliders on Tyres is a powerful promise. The simple, fresh ingredients make for big flavours all served with a smile at an affordable price. Take it from me, The Fisherman cures hangovers. It’s science!

PeopleThe crowd enjoying the fresh autumn air at Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival  (Photo: Greta Waters) 

 

Charlie Hebdo and the argument of freedom of expression

Would restricting the illustrations of Charlie Hebdo conflict with the goals and values of freedom of expression? Who should decide what to restrict and manage in the content of the Internet? Should these restrictions be reflected in law?

The publication of satirical cartoons in French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, initially generated domestic debate surrounding both the placement of Muslims and the boundaries of freedom of expression within contemporary French society. The illustrations caused such significant offence to the Muslim minority that the events were scrutinised internationally. The subsequent violent backlash implies the immorality of the illustrations, but does such ‘immorality’ justify the restricting of such expressions? Critics of Hebdo, that mainly consist of French Muslims, called for strict regulation over expression acts within French law. My argument is that freedom of expression is quintessential within a working democracy, and despite the tragic outcome of Hebdo, French Muslims need to develop a tolerance to the homogenous secular culture of France. In return, autonomous French citizens will allow Muslims to spread knowledge surrounding their religion sensibilities. I believe this is a rational response that diminishes offence, harm and avoids government interference, a major fear of democratic individuals as restriction clashes with the autonomous goals and values of freedom of expression. Furthermore, the killing of 12 people encourages exploration into the most moral manner in approaching restricting expression. I examine the spectrum of control; beginning with absolute government and ending with self-governing.

The events of Hebdo unfolded in a political context whereby Muslims have experienced consistent criticism directly to their religious beliefs by a society that does not recognise and respect religion, i.e. ban the burqa campaign. Therefore, it is plausible as to why French Muslims took offence to yet another harmful portrayal of their religion. Hebdo “defamed” the Prophet, which is inherent to Muslim identity and “historically linked to Western oppression of Muslims”, thus the vilification of the Prophet in the the illustrations present as “morally problematic” (Lægaard 2007, p.492). France alone possesses the second largest population of Muslims within Europe, 7.5%. Such a significant figure validates the exploration of restriction on freedom of expression in France, with the hope of establishing boundaries of respect and religious sensibilities for the French Muslim minority (Hackett 2016, figure 1). One of the illustrations portrayed the Prophet crying, with the text translating into English “Muhammad, overwhelmed by fundamentalists… it’s hard to be loved by so many idiots” (Fitzgerald 2015). Generally, the offence is deemed significant in the eyes of Muslims, however, insignificant to those who reject religion completely or identify as an autonomous democratic citizen. It is clear that the conception of offence and harm is vastly different in both cultures. The illustrations do not constitute a “moral disvalue” which would “outweigh” justifications for restrictions, I do not see a limitation on speech acts effectively “easing or countering [Muslim] oppression” (Lægaard 2007, p. 493). The notion of supressing racism towards Muslims is a completely different argument.

The issue at hand occurred within the democratic structures of contemporary France, which aligns itself as politically secular with a minuet tolerance for religious expression. The illustrations are responsible for highlighting the lack of autonomy Muslim culture encompasses, an extreme contrast to the values the French majority hold (Rostbøll 2009, p. 642). Freedom of expression is a defining feature within democracy, and imperative for autonomous individuals to function. JS Mill (1871) offers the most concise argument for complete freedom of expression as he sees the silencing of expression robbing the chance of humans to exchange error for truth, and by silencing discussion is an assumption of infallibility, an assumption so outdated it can only be applied to religion. By adopting Mill’s passion for free speech, the illustrations challenged the “deep slumber of decided [Muslim] opinion” surrounding freedom of expression (Mill 1871, p.84). The illustrations are believed to question the religious law that French Muslims live by. In order for a legitimate democracy to function, society must be able to discuss all “mental positions” of a current truth to reveal whether or not it can be deemed moral or immoral (Mill 1871, p.72). It is clear that the French align themselves among “enlightened” values measured historically by “European development”, whereas those aligning themselves with Islam are considered to be “living in the dark middle ages” (Rostbøll 2009 p. 626).

As rational beings, we must respectfully recognise the portrayal of the Prophet in Charlie Hebdo as offensive to the Muslim community. The hostile and ultimately deadly reaction of the French minority, justifies the call for banning hate speech. Hate speech has the capacity to cause “legitimate” harm, however, it is almost impossible to distinguish “legitimate” from “illegitimate harm” as the severity depends on personal perspective and context of the offence (Van Mill 2016, p.5). I have applied the events of Charlie Hebdo to Robert Admur’s ‘framework of concern’ in order to better understand the most adequate moral reason for justifying restriction of expression. Admur (1980) concludes expressions that invoke a false belief as well as expressions that cause harmful consequences, are worthy of concern. Both forms of harm were executed after Hebdo published the illustrations, the latter greater in extent. Rostbøll (2009) calls out the freedom of expression as encouraging disrespect for religious feelings, as the principle does not demand moral constraints that would restrict such discourse. Although, it is clear that the publications contributed to a “anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant public discourse” (Rostbøll 2009 p. 626). However, as mentioned by JS Mill’s, the idea of truth has to be challenged to decipher wrong opinion from fact. Van Mill (2016) explains harm in terms of intimidation, and although the illustrations insulted and humiliated the French minority, there is simply not enough moral reason to restrict these forms of expression on this basis. It can be argued that the unlawful reaction to the illustrations can be attributed to the lack of information and knowledge Muslims have access to in their culture as censorship is encouraged, creating a “veil of ignorance” (Admur 1980, p. 293). Van Mill (2016) concisely argues those who live under the eye of a hostile censorship fail to explore all that is not customary, which completely disregards the values found within democracy. The act of free speech nurtures creative intelligent individuals that challenge unfamiliar opinions in order to better understand society and discover truth, a quality I deem imperative to a flourishing diverse society.

There is no such thing as absolute ‘free’ speech, every society has speech limited to an extent for “the sake of order” and “basic civility” (Van Mill 2016, p.2). This is where the grey area begins, as democracy dangles liberty in front of intellectual and official hands, we are left wondering who should restrict and manage content deemed offensive? Gomberg (1994) paradoxically denunciates the idea of citizens functioning as individually sovereign as well as government institutions taking control over restriction on the basis of reliability. As knowledge is exchanged through social interactions, an autonomous society relies upon “reliable sources”, which are generally successfully established by the control and constriction of the hierarchies found within large-scale organisations, that pay little attention to social needs in favour of revenue raising (Gomberg 1994, p. 101). If we hand over the role of control, Scanlon (1972) argues that governments would not fairly regulate political expression, whilst ensuring the long term benefits of free discussion, ample knowledge and widespread intellect. According to Meiklejohn (1965,) if we, the people are to be controlled, then we, the people must do the controlling. Consequently, it seems justifiable to restrict expression through the formation of a “free government”, by “self-governing” in the sense that not all citizens are freely speaking, but everything that is worthy will be said (Meiklejohn 1965, p. 25).The perfect combination of Meiklejohn’s self-governing society with Kantian’s conception of autonomy examined by Rostbøll (2009), justifies the right to freedom of expression while it at the same time requires that we exercise this right by respecting others as equals.

Through my exploration of the controversial illustrations published by Charlie Hebdo, it is obvious the cartoons were part of a hate fuelled discourse. Hebdo powerfully symbolise freedom of expression, and directed offence to a minority who already feel displaced from French society. However, JS Mill justifies the publications actions as challenging the ‘dead’ truths woven within the Muslim religion. In the search for the perfect balance of control of expression, individuals are asked to weigh up values of equality and democracy with privacy and harm avoidance. If we accept that the implications of censorship and restrictions on our expressions will hinder our ability access information, individuals will have the tools to self-govern society as rationally autonomous human beings.

Reference List

Admur, R 1980 ‘Scanlon on freedom of expression’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 287-300.

Fitzgerald, M 2015, ‘Catholic league’s Bill Donohue says Charlie Hebdo cartoonists provoked terrorist attack’, Towleroad, online image, viewed 18 October 2016,

http://www.towleroad.com/2015/01/catholic-leagues-bill-donohue-voices-support-for-paris-terrorists-video/

Hackett, C 2016, ‘5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe’, PEW Research Centre, viewed 18 October 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/19/5-facts-about-the-muslim-population-in-europe/

Campbell, T & Sadurski, W 1994, ‘Rationales for freedom of communication’, Freedom of Communication, pp. 16-44, viewed 18 October 2016, http://moodle.vle.monash.edu/pluginfile.php/4310430/mod_resource/content/2/Campbell%20rationales%20for%20freedom%20of%20expression.pdf

Gomberg, P 1994, ‘Autonomy and free expression’, Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 97-104.

Lægaard, S 2007, ‘The carton controversy: offence, identity, oppression?’, Political Studies, vol. 55, no. 1, pp.481-498.

Meiklejohn, A 1965, ‘Political freedom: the constitutional powers of the people’, pp. 16-27, viewed 15 October 2016, http://images.lib.monash.edu.au/ats3445/04213302.pdf

Mill, JS 1871, ‘Liberty of thought and discussion’, On Liberty, pp. 33-106.

Rostbøll, C 2009, ‘Autonomy, respect, and arrogance in the Danish cartoon controversy’, Political Theory, vol. 35, no. 5, pp.623-648.

Scanlon, T 1972, ‘A theory of freedom of expression’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 204-226.

Schauer, F 1982 ‘Free speech: a philosophical enquiry’, Liberty of Speech, pp. 40-177, viewed 15 October 2016, http://images.lib.monash.edu.au/ats3445/04209013.pdf

Van Mill, D 2016, ‘Freedom of speech’, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, viewed on 15 October 2016 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freedom-speech/

Port Phillip Bay’s world is an Angasi oyster

Even beaches have to grow up sometimes.

Unsafe swimming conditions at Elwood beach in January forced The Nature Conservancy to initiate the Great Southern Seascape project.

In true Melbourne style, a confusing mixture of flash floods and heatwaves led to dangerous levels of excrement in 21 beaches across Port Phillip Bay.

Data supplied by Yarra and Bay/EPA Victoria.  

Dr Anthony Boxshall, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria manager of applied sciences, said beachgoers who consume the contaminated water were susceptible to gastroenteritis and other illnesses.

“We have indicators we look for which is an indicator of faecal contamination, which is a nice way of saying poo,” he told ABC News.

Rosita Wickes twenty-three year Elwood resident said, “Even after the poor water quality scare I had no interest in visiting the beach for the rest of summer just out of disgust, you would never see any sea life in the water. It wasn’t even really a beach”.

The project aims to rebuild shellfish reef ecology by reintroducing the Angasi native flat oyster. Research has proved the oyster’s domino effect; by feasting on phytoplankton, algae blooms are unable to flourish allowing nutrient packed clean water for marine and human life to enjoy.

Dr Chris Gillies, marine manager for The Nature Conservancy confirms “an individual oyster filters and cleans five litres of water an hour, or the equivalent of a full bath tub”.

The Victorian Recreational Fishing License Trust FundFisheries Victoria, The Thomas Foundation and the Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club have teamed up with The Nature Conservatory by providing valuable local insight into the multifunctional reefs that once inhabited Port Phillip Bay. The seabed was destroyed by recent dredging and consistent over harvesting.

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With some help from the Little Creatures brewery in Geelong, The Victorian Shellfish Hatchery in Queenscliff have been breeding Angasi oysters. Local fishing and diving partners are set to lay the matured oysters against limestone foundations at Margaret’s Reef towards the end of March 2017.

Elwood locals have been warned of potential issues that will rise from the project. Noise and air pollution emerging from the trucks and trailers delivering limestone in conjunction with the excavators and large wheel loaders being used. Limited access to the pier as limestone debris will be kept and stored sporadically.  For the safety of the public the pier will be blocked during the delivery and packing of limestone.

When asked to comment on any of the highlighted effects of the project, Ms Wickes noted “I haven’t noticed anything about the oysters yet”.

The Nature Conservatory did not comment when asked about current progress. In the meantime, The Nature Conservatory has set up a Reef Cam –  your window into Port Phillip Bay.

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Clear waters ahead Elwood Beach displays its improved water quality in April 2017. (Photo: Greta Waters)

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VIDEO: Shellfish Reef Restoration Project (Channel 9 News Report) 

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