ON TRACK: Many in the health field share concerns about a lack of open space in town planning and what that means for families in the future, says one contributor. THIS Sunday we road a cycle loop along the Fernleigh Track, along the lake, then on the bike track behind Wallsend. Not always safe nor perfect, but large sections were very safe and family/child friendly. The proposed Hunter/King streets bike tracks are a joke by modern town planning standards. I know health experts are incredulous that there is any pretence that it would encourage any altered health behaviours. Emergency departments were certainly not consulted regarding safety.
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In this era of increasing obesity and when, internationally, other cities are gouging back green open space to encourage the safe movement of pedestrians and cyclists, why are we blocking part of once public land? Surely we rid ourselves of the rail because it ‘divided’ our town now we will have buildings? How ironic.

At one stage we passed a young dad with his little boys, all on bikes, we exchanged pleasantries. The dad then said ‘you don’t mind paying your rates when on a track like this’. It was the section of the Fernleigh belonging to Lake Macquarie council.

Will Newcastle council be able to proudly say they have given safe healthy access to our future generations? We are all aware that political pressure is, sometimes, overwhelming but surely we we must differentiate ourselves from the state or we may as well not have council elections.

I work in the health sector and so do many of my friends and relatives – we all have a particular perspective. We believe we need space in the future for people to walk and ride within our city and to our beaches. I am a Newcastle resident.

Maureen O’Neill, LambtonCinema talkers stay closeI CHOKED on my Weet-Bix on Mondaymorning when I read Paul Scott’s condemnation of Novocastrian cinemagoers (‘Novocastrians often make for obnoxious movie goers’, Newcastle Herald,30/10). I thought he must have been at the Tower complex on Saturday when my wife and I attended the New York Met Opera’s presentation ofNorma. There were only a dozen people in the place, but an elderly couple and a younger man came and sat right behind us.

Halfway through, the oldies struck up a loud conversation which eventually prompted me to ask them to shoosh. At interval I was jabbed in the back by the younger man trying to apologise, an effort which I spurned.On returning to the auditorium my wife and I moved several rows forward trying to avoid the trio.Would you believe, they moved forward too and again sat right behind us.But what of the opera? It was so beautiful that at one point I nearly choked on some tears. Good practice for a Monday morning’s Weet-Bix.

Ray Dinneen, NewcastleSeek to change status quoIT would be easy to dismiss Jeff Corbett’s opinionas a just another male chauvinist rant (‘Power play’s next act’, Herald, 28/10).But, like it or not, his opinions are shared by many men. Whereas we should acknowledge the status quo regarding the roles of men and women, that doesn’t mean that we should accept it, or not seek to change it.

Powerful men, whether they be kings, presidents or Hollywood producers, have always abused their power in order to obtain sex. Attractive women have always been willing to provide sexual favours in order to achieve their ambitions. Often we can see this power play at work in our humble domestic relations. Sometimes it is a fine legal line between consent and sexual abuse.

Homo sapiens are like every other species on the planet, including our close primate cousin, the bonobo. We have sex because it is enjoyable. We have sexually receptive displays. Evolution has programmed this into us otherwise we wouldn’t procreate. But like most other species, including the bonobo, evolution keeps providing many of us who are same-sex oriented. This cannot be a genetic mistake, otherwise it would be eliminated by evolution. For the religious, this cannot be God’s mistake either, because this would make God a very slow learner.

So the heterosexual majority should accept, embrace and celebrate the large minority in our society who are same-sex oriented. If same-sex couples want to get married, then we should accept this. If lesbian couples want children then, why not?

Geoff Black, Caves BeachAn unsophisticated nationMY wife and I are still waiting for the yes/no marriage equality envelope to arrive. How hard is it to send to registered voters? What does unsettle me however, is the way our so-called leaders are handling our place on the world stage.Good at arguing with each other and ensuring their own political parties survive, at the expense of the people they are paid to serve.

We live in a country that is promoted as being one of the most sophisticated in the developed world. If our politicians and senior public servants truly believe this is the case then they are, in my opinion, dreaming. We have fuel reserves around 50 per cent below the minimum worldwide standby requirement. We can’t produce any ourselves. Gas exports stripping the reserves we require for our own domestic and industrial needs. Probable blackouts on electricity supply due to closing power stations while our “leaders” have suddenly realised the position we are faced with. Brilliant. An nbn project that is more and more likely to fail us, on all aspects, at a massive cost to the public purse. Military purchases over the years that have also been a massive cost to the taxpayer, with many of those being absolute failures and a complete farce.

One could add further to the above list but I’ve made my point. Sophisticated country we may ask ourselves? A great country to live in I believe but, until we start getting value for money from our thinkers and decision makers, then we are unsophisticated.

Gary Scow, Warners BayRail removal made senseI AM sick of being subjected to the whining of Keith Parsons, Save Our Rail and others.Heavy rail trundling into Newcastle station was quite ridiculous and removing it was really commonsense.

How silly it would be to then divide the city by running the light rail along that corridor. The light rail will rejuvenate Hunter Street and be a revelation for our city.

The rail corridor can then be used for sensible development, creative open space and parking. Already the open space is proving to be a wonderful asset linking our city with the harbour. When, if ever, will these knockers give in and get behind a great opportunity for our city?

Paul Nicod, Hamilton South

Action: Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group members outraged by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration’s years of mesh device approvals.
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AUSTRALIA’S peak drug and medical device regulator will require stronger evidence from pelvic mesh manufacturers afterlegal action by women and a Senate inquiry that has exposed the lack of evidence before mesh devices were approved for use more than a decade ago.

All pelvic mesh devices on the Australian market will be classified high risk, denoting a high level of potential harm, and women will receive patient cards with details of their pelvic mesh devices, the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced in a statement on its website on October 26.

From December, 2018 all new pelvic mesh devices will have to meet “higher evidentiary requirements”, and the small number of devices for incontinence and prolapse that remain on the Australian market will be upgraded to high risk and required to meet the new standards by December, 2020.

The changes, approved by Health Minister Greg Hunt, follow a 2011 Parliamentary inquiry which questioned whether the TGA’s emphasis on post-approval monitoring could lead to devices being “trialled unofficially” on patients.

Women implanted with pelvic mesh devices for incontinence and prolapse after childbirth have told a Senate inquiry they felt like “guinea pigs” after revelations about the lack of evidence supporting the use of many pelvic mesh devices before they were first used in Australia from the late 1980s.

Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group founder Caz Chisholm, who successfully pushed for theSenate inquiry that is due to report in late November, said mesh devices had always been classified at least medium to high risk, but the issue was about what women were told.

“No woman that I know in the support group of more than 1000 womenwastold by her surgeon that her device was high risk, or medium to high risk,” Ms Chisholm said.

“Once these devices are re-classified, are specialists going to tell women the device they are about to be implanted with is high risk? I don’t think so.”

Ms Chisholm slammed the TGA for “quietly announcing” the changes on its website after her group’s sustained criticism.

The Herald, Newcastle

QUESTIONS: One contributor is unhappy with Keolis Downer’s new bus timetable, arguing that many routes end at the interchange, rather than the city.THERE were two articles in Friday’s Newcastle Herald relating to the privatisation of Newcastle Buses. One from opinion piece Mehreen Faruqi (“Newcastle: the victim of a failed experiment’”and a letter from Keith Parsons (“Trouble with transport”). After looking at the new bus timetable to be implemented next week, I think both articles are very relevant.
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Keolis Downer seems to have taken a “slash and burn”approach to the timetable. Taking accessible and efficient routes and cobbling them together with others to make meandering and illogical ones. In some cases they have completely cancelled routes.

But the most concerning aspect of the new timetable for me is there seems to be only three routes into the city. The rest go to the Wickham transport hub. The implication being that to go into the city, you must catch a bus to Wickham and get the light rail. This seems a move to force people on to the light rail. It’s all the more ridiculous when the light rail is still a year or more away.

What will happen is, once commuters realise how hard it is to get anywhere and how long it will take, we will see a big drop in patronage. Our old route, the 310, is a case in point. It used to come through Merewether Heights and go via The Junction into the city. The new route, 22, doesn’t even go into The Junction. So now that will take two buses and, if I want to go into the city it will be two buses or a bus to Wickham and the light rail. I hate to think how long that will take. I’m sure that scenario is the same for others.

Peter Rennie,Merewether HeightsA matter of managementCOUNCIL covers all utilities charges for water, gas and electricity use (“Who’s paying for water?” Letters, 12/1) at the sportsgrounds it directly manages.This is the vast majority of sportsgrounds in Newcastle.These fees fund mowing services, topdressing, fertilising, pesticide and herbicide spraying, aerating/verti-draining, line marking and goal-post installation as well as the cost of water, gas and electricity.

There are a handful of parks committees, such as the Stockton Parks and Oval Committee, that have elected to manage their sportsgrounds themselves. In such cases these committees collect fees and charges from user groups, such as the local cricket association. As you would then expect, these committees use fees collected to pay for costs incurred for electricity, gas and water.

Infrastructure costs – which can run into the millions of dollars –are funded by council, regardless of who manages the sportsground. This can include construction/upgrades todressing sheds, canteens, toilets, referee and storage rooms, and floodlights. These costs are factored into property owners’ rates.Sporting clubs and associations are able to contribute to and partner with council on any of the above works.

Council has scheduled a meeting for next week with the local cricket association to discuss better water management strategies and recent ground renovation works at Stockton, which required additional watering and fertilising.

Phil Moore, facilities and recreation manager,Newcastle City CouncilCome to the real worldIT appears Newcastle council CEO Jeremy Bath is chastising the Herald (“Bigger and better on way” Letters, 11/1) for publishing my letter (Short Takes, 10/1) on the appalling lack of disabled facilities at Nobbys beach. It’s fine to say a facility will soon be built at Nobbys, but why wasn’t it done at the start of summer when council was throwing money around? Oh, that’s right, silly me a car race was more important.

It appears also that Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Cr Declan Clausen and Bath aren’t going to take me up on my offer of showing them what it’s like to get out of my wheelchair and sit on a filthy toilet floor to try to get changed. You people don’t appear to know what it is like in the real world, where simple things like going to the beach in summer are made almost impossible by your decisions.

Spin, spin, spin –that’s all we seem to get.

Rick Johnson,EleebanaFollowing the guidelinesI REFER to the article “Exploration lease process in spotlight” (Herald11/1).The suggestion that some form of exemption has been provided in relation to the Wilpinjong exploration licence application is incorrect and misleading. The application has been made in accordance with approved NSW government guidelines that are published on the Division of Resources and Geoscience website and that have been in place since 2015. The applications will now be assessed by the NSW government against the transparent criteria contained in those guidelines.

Stephen Galilee, CEO, NSW Minerals CouncilKeep city safe, vibrantIT astounds me the Herald gives so much space to publican Roly de With (“Paying for crimes of few” Letters, 10/1).Of course, he would like to sell more grog to more punters.Never mind that emergency services and hospital staff and the majority of local residents are in support of the modest reduction in trading that has seen Newcastle become a safer, more sophisticated and vibrant city. To claim that road deaths necessitate the removal of cars from the road is spurious and bears no relationship to the outstanding achievements of the evidence-based and successfulmeasures now in place to significantly reduce alcohol-related violence in Newcastle (and other cities and regions that have adopted these measures).It behoves the state government, and councils, to not be beholden to the alcohol lobby’s petulant pleas for their selfish motives.

Kate Elderton,NewcastleMayfield’s SamaritanTHERE is still honesty in the world. My 91-year-old neighbour went for a meal at a local Mayfield hotel with his grandson. When he returned home he realised that his wallet was missing and assumed he had dropped it at the pub, so he phoned the hotel but the wallet had not been found.Concerned about credit cards, licence, Medicare card and cash, he assumed he would not see the wallet again. But the next morning, much to his amazement, he found the wallet intact in his letterbox. He wants to say “thank you” to the very honest good Samaritan.It restores one’s faith in humanity, doesn’t it? Good old Mayfield!

Denise Lindus Trummel,MayfieldLETTER OF THE WEEKTHE Heraldpen goes toGarry McLachlan for his letter about mess in inner-Newcastle.

‘COMMERCIALISED’: One contributor will never embrace the idea of celebrating Halloween because of the way the tradition has been hijacked by business.SO October 31 is Halloween. Not in my house it isn’t. Call me a grump (and many will), but I object to it on several grounds.
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Supporters will tell me it’s a Celtic tradition, not really an American one we’ve slavishly adopted. Maybe so, but I’m pretty sure the Celts did not intend for it to become the fiercely commercialised production that we now see. Great opportunity for shops to make money, I guess. And for parents to be made to feel guilty for not wanting to join in, or for not allowing their children to.

“It’s all about the joy, not the lollies”. Really? Is that why, every year, we get groups of teenagers who’ve made no attempt to dress up, and who arrive carrying plastic shopping bags to be filled with treats?

And then there’s my particular ‘favourite’ – the ‘trick’ part of trick-or-treat. This dates back over 20 years now, when we lived on the Gold Coast. A group of children arrived on our doorstep, trick-or-treating. We had nothing to give them, such a thing being rather unusual in those days. So, we got our trick: a mixture of eggs and flour thrown at our house. This concoction sets like concrete and took us a while to get off.

To this day, I still see Halloween as a ‘fun’ form of blackmail: give me something, or else. Exaggeration? Maybe. But having been on the receiving end of a trick, and a rather unpleasant one at that, nothing anyone else says will change my mind.

Wednesday is All Hallows, by the way, a time to think of your departed family members and to honour their memory. But I bet that many people will not know that! It doesn’t sell merchandise.

Jan Caine,MarylandArrogance aplentyTHE arrogance of the Prime Minister is evident in his false assertion to the Parliament on August 14 that the High Court would find Barnaby Joyce to be a validly elected member of the parliament. He claims his view was based on legal advice – advice he refuses to share with us.

The seven eminent justices of the High Court, by virtue of their unanimous judgement, found the Prime Minister’s assertions to be both arrogant and ignorant.

I believe that Barnaby Joyce himself doubted the validity of his position. Yet for many weeks he happily took his position, both in the parliament and the cabinet, making some contentious decisions that remain questionable at best.

Such indifference to the soundings of his own conscience is simply appalling. Nonetheless, it seems likely the people of New England will forgive him and send him back to Canberra. Such are the vagaries of democracy.

John Buckley, FloravilleRuining our riverLAST weekend I was fortunate to be involved in a fishing competition on the Karuah River, great weather, great atmosphere all on the doorsteps of what I could only describe as an environmental tragedy.

From the oceanic inlet south of the old Karuah bridge all the way up to and past the village of Allworth is undoubtedly the worst case of environmental damage I’ve ever seen. Both sides of the river have been staked out as oyster leases for decades, trying to make landfall in over 8km of riverbank has been rendered impossible.

How has this been allowed to happen?

In one measured area of 50 metres long, four metres wide we counted 312 potentially fatal shards of timber stakes protruding just under the surface at low tide, these old style timber racks have been deserted because of the new more efficient ways of seeding, growing and harvesting oysters.

Who is going to remove my estimated 300,000 stakes, pickets and pvc piping that is redundant?

As an oyster lover I do understand that racking etc is required, but who is controlling those who reap from the river and affect everything around it?

Surely the financial benefits to a select group of people can not allay there nonchalant treatment of the “mouth that feeds them”.

Go on, get in your tinny and have a look at the destruction. Shame on the government, and shame, shame, shame on those that think that the river is their cash cow, regardless of the obvious damage they have, are and continue to inflict.

Darren McDougall,New LambtonMaintaining the rageIN response to William Henry Hardes of Lakelands (Letters,30/10), I say there is nothing good about the Newcastle 500. The whole thing stinks and it is getting worse. Newcastle council and Supercars are feeding you total spin – a win if you enjoy car racing, a win if you are in hospitality or Coates Hire.

The roads are wider sure, but also hotter, blacker, uglier. The stormwater drains were replaced, so were the electricity poles, the guttering, the pedestrian crossings (completely removed in some cases) but all this only to suit the Supercars road camber – not strictly because it was necessary.

The footpaths are a giant lump of concrete or worse, asphalt. There are more cars, more hoons driving fast, less trees, significantly less parkland and greenery, decreased shade, decreased street parking for beach goers, decreased convenience, decreased amenity. It has been a rushed job with no consultation (note to Jeremy Bath and Carrington trees) no vision, no proper planning, and no respect for the hosting community. Newcastle East is a concrete jungle.

Sure there are some benefits. The fence overlooking Newcastle beach from the hilltop is being replaced, Bathers Way is continuing to be improved. However, these are public amenities that ratepayers pay for irrespective of a car race. These facilities should have been attended to years ago.

You say Newcastle is supposed to lie down and roll over for three months every year for this? You are joking, maintain the rage I say.

Natalie Brazil,Newcastle EastAddress parking nowSHARON Pope’s article (‘Multi-storey living essential to functional future of lake’,Herald,28/10) would have the residents of Warners Bay walking or cycling around town to argue the point that more car parking is not a necessity. Most people use their cars for grocery shopping,including the elderly, and like to shop locally. The fact of the matter is, with an increase in the local population through high rise apartments etc, there’s also an increase in vehicles. We already have an influx of visitors who come by car to use our amenities. Sharon’s vision of Warners Bay is exactly that, the reality is, the lack of car parking needs to be addressed now before it becomes a nightmare.

Neil Meyers,Warners Bay

The Battle of Beersheba reenacted Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled
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Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

82-year-old Avon Moffatt poses for a photo as she takes part in a reenactment of the battle of Beersheba. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

82-year-old Avon Moffatt poses for a photo as she takes part in a reenactment of the battle of Beersheba. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

82-year-old Avon Moffatt takes part in a reenactment of the battle of Beersheba, in Eshkol National Park, Israel. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Sisters (from left) Anne Lofts, Elizabeth Ganguly and Robbie Holdaway whose grandfather Bruce ‘Snowy’ Lester fought in the 6th Light Horse Regiment, pose for a photo as they take part in a reenactment of the battle of Beersheba. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Photo: AP Photo/Oded Balilty

TweetFacebookREAD MOREQueensland Country Life journalist Sally Cripps, a descendant ofGeneral Harry Chauvel, is participating in the reenactment. she has shared her experiences, in preparation and abroad.

PART1:Trip of a lifetime, thanks to HarryPART 2: Australian Light Horse tour arrives in Beersheba Saddled up: This is the replica first World War uniform I’ll be wearing on formal occasions in Israel. Picture: Kelly Butterworth.

Plus more:ANZAC light regiment cavalry charge at Beersheba poised for reenactmentHonouring a hero’s legacyRedan soldier recognised after 50 years in unmarked grave

History repeats: Liberal MP Jackie Kelly won a 1996 by-election for the Western Sydney seat of Lindsay, after a High Court ruling over her citizenship.ITwas another extraordinary period in national politics last week. At the time of writing, six politicians have been knocked off their perches and a number more are under a citizenship cloud. The decision of senior members of the government to keep secret the Senate President’s dual citizenship poured fuel on the political bonfire.
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None of this had to be. Politicians have been made acutely aware of S.44 of the Constitution over the course of the last three decades thanks to a number of High Court rulings.The most recent, prior to the current debacle, was a1996 challengeagainst newly elected MP Jackie Kelly.

Since 1996, the Labor Party has had a rigorous process to ensure its candidates don’t hold dual citizenship. Whether that process is robust enough we can’t be certain but so far, so good.In any case, the responsibility to ensure he or she complies with S.44 of the Constitution rests with the candidate.If either of your parents or grandparents are citizens of another country you remove any doubt that you may also have a right to citizenship in another country by writing to that country to surrender that right. So easy!

So think about that the next time someone tells you the whole citizenship controversy is silly and that you should have sympathy for the person caught out.

Think about this too. The people who wrote our Constitution decided that if you want to sit in the House of Representatives or the Australian Senate you must have allegiance to Australia only.

While there are some parts of our Constitution that seem a bit dated, I don’t believe the ban on dual citizenship is one of them.

I have zero sympathy for any politician caught up by S.44. I do though have sympathy for the taxpayers who are funding the legal defence of those caught up in expensive by-elections.

The government has effectively stopped governing. Its every day is consumed by crises, one after another.It has to end, one way or another!

JoelFitzgibbon, Federal Member for Hunter, Shadow Minister for Agriculture,Fisheries and Forestry, Rural and Regional AustraliaToo resistant to changeTHEcitizenship fiasco has become farcical and the culprit is not the government,it is theConstitution.

This antiquated document, as interpreted by the High Court of Australia, won’t permit acitizen of this country to sit in our parliament if they also have citizenship rights inanother country.

Let’s not forget that close to half our population was either bornoverseas or has at least one parent who was born overseas.

Add to this the fact that the foreign citizenship may be granted by the foreigngovernment without the knowledge or acquiescence of the individual concerned.

Add,further, that prior to 1949, when the Constitution on which this ruling relies had been inexistence for 48 years, there was no such thing as Australian citizenship.

Add, finally, the fact that two previous parliamentary reports have called for changes to Section 44 lest it wreak havoc on the democratic fabric of our nation.

Parliament chosenot to act.

The real problem remains our national reluctance to change the Constitution byreferendum.

John Buckley, FloravilleForgotten transport planTHEdiscovery of remnants of the Burwood line (‘Here’s one we prepared earlier’, Newcastle Herald, 4/10) during the digging up of Hunter Street for light rail and revelation of the number of lost railways around Newcastle, which was reported recently, may have generated interest in these long lost railways. I wonder how many are aware of the Tewksbury plan, which was put forward for the Burwood line to become part of Newcastle’s suburban network.

The Tewksbury plan was an interesting but flawed idea,which came about as a result of problems of congestion in the city. In 1925 the Newcastle council invited the state’s Town Planning Association to look at the city and suggest improvements. They found the city was over-crowded, badly laid out, unhealthy and inefficient. As may be imagined, the council was dismayed and much discussion followed.

The Newcastle Betterment Board was formed and itcalled for suggestions for an ideal town plan for Newcastle. A young local engineer A.G.C. Tewksbury put forward a plan that involved moving the railway station back to Bank Corner and a new station built at Darby Street on the Burwood line. The plan also called for the Burwood line to be extended and connected to the Belmont line. Extensions to the tramway network were also proposed. The railway land east of the Bank Corner was to be vacated and given over to development.

Businesses in the east opposed the plan as they feared a loss of business to those in the west end while the commissioner for railways,James Fraser, said the plan would push Newcastle station out into the suburbs. Business groups in the suburbs supported the plan. In any case it went nowhere.

The plan to incorporate the Burwood line into the suburban rail network had considerable merit given the development that was taking place in the suburbs at the time. However,the biggest flaw was terminating the line at the edge of the CBD near King Street.

Had the line followed the existing railway into the city, access from the south of the city would have been faster and more efficient.

Not that any of this makes much difference now. Just about all trace of the Burwood line has gone and any opportunity to make it part of the suburban network that could have improved access to the city from the south has gone with it.

Reference: Our Region Our Railway by Robert McKillop and David Sheedy Newcastle, The Making of an Australian City by J.C. Docherty.

Peter Sansom, KahibahRefreshing insightI HAVEbeen meaning to write for some time that the story by Lily Ray (‘Power of Love’, Herald, 17/6) was refreshing and most interesting.

Providing an insight to the differences both with living in different countries and the differing government complexities.

That Australia is costly in these matters and has much to learn. And the practical aspects as well.

The follow-on article in October was enjoyable to read.

Well done to Lily and I wish them well. Interesting writing to keep me glued to reading.

Haydn Monroe, Kilaben Bay

STRUGGLE: People, especially the elderly or the mobility impaired, need a transport service that is convenient, reliable and takes them close to where they need to be.FOLLOWING changes to Newcastle Transport’s bus timetables, the 201 bus service no longer travels down Beaumont Street, Hamilton, nor does it terminate at Aldi.It would seem no thought has been given to how pensioners who use walkers were going to cross Tudor Street then walk the length of Beaumont Street to access Aldi and then walk back to Tudor Street again to catch the bus.If this isn’t discrimination of the elderly, I’d like to know what is?
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Now to go to Marketown, it will require two buses as the 201 service no longer terminates at Marketown. This is disgraceful and impossible to comprehend. We are being encouraged to use public transport but a trip to Marketown by two buses may take me a long time, whereas by car it takes me four minutes.

I always thought public transport was there to aid people to move about in their area but since the latest reshuffle, it appears to me that the bottom line is being considered more than the local residents. Just put the public back into public transport again and give us the service we deserve.

Roll on the next election, I say.

Susan Hocking,HamiltonTop points for driverI CARRIED out a test run of the new bus timetable/route serving my area. Everything worked as advertised and I arrived at Broadmeadow station in less time than if I‘d driven and found a parking spot.

The good news. Near Broadmeadow a disabled (partially blind and deaf) man boarded the bus and gave the driver a note with an old route number on it. The driver was incredibly patient while he tried to explain the changes to this gentleman. After a few minutes he could see he wasn’t having any success with this. He then rang the depot and after a short conversation he told and wrote a note for his passenger that the company was dispatching a service car to collect him, take him to Bennetts Green and would provide any information the passenger would need in the future.

The bad news. Firstly, why was this severely handicapped man left on his own? Secondly, while all this was going on a yobbo, bogan slattern was abusing the driver for delaying the bus.Nine out of 10 for the driver and 0 out of 10 for the yobbo.

John O’Brien,MerewetherUphill battle in heatI LOST a familiar sound on Sunday: that of government buses turning a corner about 150 metres away, following the cessation of route 334, which gave a four minute ride directly to Westfield Kotara.

Now, it’s at least a six-minute walk, uphill most of the way, to the nearest bus stop. It’s hard to imagine in the current crop of high-temperature days.Then board a route 28 bus to Adamstown village, before a 15 minute wait for a bus to Westfield. Coming back, with possibly a load of shopping, we face a short trip to Adamstown shops, and possibly a wait of up to nearly one hour (28 is one hour, off-peak).

To top off this excursion into ‘progress’ the bus ride is extended, because there’s no partner bus stop on the southbound side of Brunker Road, where our journey began.

Oh, and there is no bus stop available to residents of Garden Grove Parade, between Burn Street and near the bottom of the hill. That’s a mere 725 metres.

I live 1.6 kilometres from the shopping centre.Has anybody told those responsible for the revised routes and timetables, that the population is ageing and may find it difficult to adapt to these changes? Where was the community consultation, instead of using Opal data and feedback from bus drivers? There is a difference between observing from a driver’s seat and actually walking over sometimes hilly terrain, such as that in our neck of the woods.

I have emailed Keolis Downer regarding these issues, twice, without a reply.

I applaud the decision to run buses past Broadmeadow train station on Graham Road, saving a walk to/from the nine-ways (yes, I know, there has been bus access on the western side of the station, but that meant a change of buses).

Noel Carter,Adamstown HeightsStink coming from NobbysYOUR paper last week reported on the quality of Newcastle baths that was certainly on the nose just prior to its cleaning day after heavy usage during heat wave conditions (‘Dirty dip’, Herald,11/1). Criticism of the state of the change rooms I believe was unjustified and the attendants do a fine job. With a few procedural adjustments I’m sure it can be resolved.

May I suggest Newcastle council is on the nose in regards to Nobbys beach missing change rooms, judging by the numerous comments to this paper and on social media? The issue is not resolved and won’t be unless the council starts a process of engagement with the people who use Nobbys.

My emphasis is on “engagement” not the bogus so-called consultative process that NCC tries to sell us and then condescendingly tell us what a wonderful job they are doing.The bottom line is that the absence of change/shower facilities enabling people of all ages to change with dignity at Newcastle’s highest profile beach for locals and tourists is not acceptable.Start engaging NCC.

Peter Wickham,Telarah Battle at dog beach​​TO the dog owners that frequent Horseshoe beach. Please be reminded this is a public space for families and individuals to use and enjoy in any way they like. Including swimming, fishing and even sitting peacefully.Yes, you are also allowed to take your dog. People without dogs have every right to be there without being harassed and intimidated by uncontrolled animals. According to council’s leash-free area regulations, all dogs must be accompanied and supervised. Also, dogs must be able to be controlled without a leash. A dog running 30 metres in front of an owner and jumping on people, and then urinating on their belongings, while the owner yells the animal’s name from a distance, clearly does not fall into these very specific guidelines.After recently witnessing a young family enjoying the holidays, fishing in the far corner of the beach. I saw a large and uncontrollable dog run up and harass these people. After repeated attempts by the father to have this intimidating animal leave his obviously traumatised children alone, he was met with a torrent of abuse from the dog’sowner and multiple other dog owners claiming ‘this is a dog beach! Go fishing somewhere else!’.It’s this sense of entitlement some dog owners have that needs to change. It seems its not just the dogs that need training.

Stephen Rabbitt, Charlestown

Campaign trail: Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce will contest a by-election after he was found to be a dual citizen. Picture: Perry Duffin/AAP
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What a stupid issue this parliamentary citizenship matter is. Aside from it possibly affecting the Turnbull government’s lower house majority,I am appalled that this matter has also wasted the time of our High Court.

Why? I was born and bred in Australia and theoretically I could be elected to either our state or Commonwealth parliaments.

If I were elected to the NSW or any other state or territory parliament, I would merely need to be a permanent resident.

If I was elected to the Commonwealth Parliament, even if I am just an Australian citizen, there is nothing to stop me becoming an agent for a foreign entity, as citizenship has nothing to do with my political beliefs.

The issue of being unknowingly a dual citizen is even more bizarre.

A person born here to a parent or grandparent born in another country rightly assumes they are just an Australian, with possible easier access to that country their parent was born in.

However, those caught out should have made sure everything was in order.

It is a great distraction from serious issues facing our nation and the issue of dual citizenship is meaningless, except for purposes of travel.

Bruce Jones, East MaitlandThanks council staffA TRAGIC accident at Shepherds Hill this week saw 62-year-old paraglider Peter Mahony crash into the cliff face.

Despite valiant attempts by rescuers he was unable to be revived and died at the scene.

I am proud to say that members of Newcastle Council’s bushland services team:Mahala Williams, Chris South, Peter de Laurentis and Ashley Bacales were working at Shepherds Hill at the time of the accident and were first on scene to render assistance to Mr Mahony.

I would like to commend my staff for responding immediately to a member of the public and offer my sincere thanks to all involved in the rescue.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Mr Mahony.

Jeremy Bath, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Newcastle City CouncilAccreditation failureREGARDING the department bungle that has ledto theHunter New England Family and Community Services office failing accreditation.

How can you blame an entire region boasting highly dedicated and experienced child protection workers in the Hunter New England (HNE) District for not gaining accreditation (‘FACS failure puts cloud over at-risk children’, Newcastle Herald, 3/11)?

With many workers in this region boasting decades of experience, this is obviously a departmental flaw.

The Public Service Association, which represents workers, is appalled the government failed to give them adequate time and resources to manage continual departmental changes so the district could pass the Office of Children’s Guardianship accreditation standards.

Unlike other Family and Community Service (FACS) workers across the state, HNE workers were overburdened with caseloads and given no time off their normal duties to seek accreditation. This is like getting them to mop up the water while the flood is still rushing in. Many have been left highly distressed at this debacle and while the department has now given them 6 months to meet the Office of Children’s Guardian standards, they fear for the ongoing care of thousands of Hunter families.

The HNE team is chronically under-resourced. It monitors the most children in care (more than 3,200) and the most children at risk of harm of any FACS office.

The PSA has written to Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services, Michael Coutts-Trotter, demanding immediate action to fill vacant positions

Caseworkers and all other staff involved in accreditation have been pushed to the limit. Far too many have sacrificed their own time trying to meet what are unmanageable work demands. Our members are hardworking, loyal and committed – and need the NSW Government to be the same.

Troy Wright, Assistant General Secretary, The Public Service Association of NSWLaws ‘un-Australian’The laws that disallow anyone with a parent, who immigrated here regardless of reasons, not allowed to be part of government, stinks, and is up there with the White Australian Policy as being a racist embarrassment.

To say welcome to immigrants and their descendants in one voice, then say not welcome in another voice, is so un-Australian it beggars belief.And why it hasn’t been rectified long before now, oreven brought to question, says little for common sense.

A simple act of parliamentcould, and should, remove this outdated racist slur on our democracy, sooner than later, and save a lot of money, time and embarrassment.

To go to the High Court is only passing the buck. They can only interpret the law,they can not make exceptions or change what is. That job is up to parliament, and for only once, maybe politics can take a backward stance and do what is right.

Carl Stevenson, Dora CreekStory hits homeThe Weekender cover story (‘Special Labour Of Love’, Herald, 4/12) brought home the yes/no vote to a personal level, showing us three very personal stories of couples who would be greatly affected by equal rights granted to them.

Two of the couples stated that they had not seen any discrimination until this plebiscite was announced.

People who are homophobic now have a platform to express whatever they have hidden, one couple expressed with great sadness.

I am hopeful that all this anger will disappear on Tuesday, November 7,but I’m sure that Tony Abbott and his supporters will attempt to drag this out for a very long time.

How very sad this whole episode has been and how divisive thanks to politicians as this should have been a parliamentary vote.

Denise Lindus Trummel, MayfieldSafe at stationTim Roberts (‘Short Takes’, Herald, 3/11). I dropped my mother at the interchange two weeks ago, we utilised the lovely wide spots specifically allocated for drop off where she was able to safely exit the car and proceed to the platform.

Kristen Bobrowki, Elermore Vale

OPTIONS: Adding ferry stops to make the use of public transport more appealing is a great move, but will fail if coupled with parking fees, says one contributor.I WOULD like to commend lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes for her comments regarding expanding the Newcastle-Stockton ferry service with stops further up the Stockton peninsular and at Wickham (‘Push for ferry stops,’ Newcastle Herald, 31/10).
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Cr Nelmes made many sound comments on the issue, but I would like to caution Newcastle council on introducing paid parking at Stockton Ferry Terminal, mentioned in the same article.

From Cr Nelmes’ comments, it is clear she understands that Newcastle needs a transport network that gets people from where they are, to where they want to be, conveniently and quickly – an obvious fact that I’m not always sure transport planners keep in mind. It needs to put residents of the wider Newcastle area in contact with the business and services of the city centre, and residents of the inner suburbs in touch with the attractions of the region at large.

An improved ferry service is undoubtedly necessary to help link Port Stephens and the airport with Newcastle.

However, introducing paid parking at Stockton will confront commuters with the choice of paying for parking at Stockton and changing their mode of transport, or driving into Newcastle and paying for parking there. In order to make an improved ferry service the most attractive option, thereby ensuring it is patronised by enough commuters to make it financially viable, the council should not introduce paid parking at Stockton Ferry Terminal.

James Garlick,MerewetherNo breeze, no sailREGARDING high rise buildings on the eastern side of Lake Macquarie ($39m apartment plan’, Herald,1/11):Lake Macquarie City Council’s continued approvals of multi-storey buildings in the natural wind hollows on the eastern shore of Lake Macquarie egWarners Bay, Valentine, Belmont, Swansea will interfere with the natural sea breezes that predominate on the lake in summer.

High rise should be built on the lee side of existing bluffs so as to not interfere with breezes flowing onto the lake, both for aesthetic reasons and common sense. If the council continues in this practice over a long period of time I suggest they change their logo of a set of sails, as this pastime may become null and void as in places such as Balmain, Sydney.

Ben Piefke,Fennel BayRespect paramedicsAS president of the Australian Paramedics Association it is again with deep regret and concern that we read in your news item titled ‘Man spat in paramedics face: Police’ (Herald,30/10). Amember of the community whilst being transported to hospital with paramedics allegedly assaulted one of the paramedics by spitting in their face and physically grabbed them in the rear of an ambulance whilst the paramedic was trying to assist.

The association will not tolerate any workplace violence towards paramedics in the performance of their jobs.

The association believes that paramedics should be able to perform the role they serve within the community free from the actual or perceived fear of occupational violence being directed at them.

We will always support the police in enforcing to the full extent of the law, any action taken against a perpetrator of violence towards a paramedic fulfilling their duty to serve the community.

I can only implore the community to provide a healthy level of respect towards paramedics when they are out assisting someone in a clinical emergency.

Paramedics are members of your community and have family and friends to go home to at the end of their shift.My heartfelt feelings go out to the paramedics involved and I wish them the best.

Chris Kastelan,president,Australian Paramedics Association NSWA dream for the futureI HAD a wonderful dream the other night. The NSW Premier announced the government had sold Newcastle port for $1.7 billion and was prepared to spend $650 million to revitalise Newcastle. Gladys Berejeklian then launched a campaign in which she invited Newcastle people to submit their ideas as to how best do this.

A panel including some local people would be established to evaluate all submissions and recommend to the government the most appropriate proposals. The excitement and enthusiasm was like nothing I had ever seen before.

Then I woke up.

But it set me thinking. Why don’t we, just for fun, have our owncontest to see what we would really like?

Does anybody really think that what we are getting now would make the top 50 proposals?

Allan Morris,Cooks HillPark plan welcomeTHE latest park and ride plan from McDonald Jones Stadium to the city and return is a good start (‘Park plan’, Herald,1/11). But why restrict it to the morning and afternoon rush hours? Sure, that caters for commuters, but what about attracting others into the city from the lake and outer suburbs of Newcastle?

Perhaps the service could run half hourly or even hourly during the remainder of the day. One hopes that this park and ride scheme also lasts longer than the one to John Hunter Hospital.

Who knows, one day it may even be replaced by light rail.

John Pritchard,Blackalls ParkService running lateTHE council should be berated, not congratulated on this park and ride service (‘Park plan’, Herald,1/11). It should have been put in place before the light rail works started.

There’s a big difference between reacting and planning. Oh and it’s not free, let’s be clear about that – our taxes and rates are paying for it.

The self congratulation by both Bath and Nelmes should be replaced by an apology for their tardiness.

Also, now we just need Hunter New England Health to follow their lead and reintroduce the shuttle to John Hunter Hospital.

Mark Bowen,BroadmeadowCorrectionIn Wednesday’s Herald reference was made to Garreth Robbs opening a pop-up bakery. That was incorrect. Gareth Williams is the chef behind Covered in Crumbs.

Doubts: Mark Porter writes he doesn’t believe much will be achieved by tying tax concessions for the Catholic Church to making child sex abuse illegal under canon law.I CONFESSthat I have never had much time for canon lawyers. Father Tom Doyle shows that once a canon lawyer always a canon lawyer (‘Cleric urges government to be bold’, Newcastle Herald, 4/1).
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Making tax concessions contingent on the Catholic Church classifying child sexual abuse as a crime in canon law does not achieve much in terms of changing hearts or helping survivors. Classifying child sexual abuse as a crime is no substitute for empathy and nor does it guarantee moral integrity.

Child sexual abuse is evil because it is enabled by a lack of empathy. The survivors want to make sure that what they endured is not inflicted upon another.

The best way to prevent further abuse and to show empathy is to remove the perpetrator from the office of ministry that made the abuse possible.

If Rome remains ambivalent or tardy about such removal then we need local leaders prepared to make a stand on what should be non-negotiable.

Mark Porter, New LambtonThrown to wolvesMALCOLMTurnbull is accusing the Victorian government of being ‘soft’ on African gangs in Melbourne. It’s a sign of the shock tactics and no-holds-barredapproach the Coalition is planning for the Victorian elections this year.

That there is a blow-back on the Sudanese community never enters Mr Turnbull’s mind. That Mr Turnbull is demonising another minority group with a blowtorch means nothing with an election in the air.

While repeating Australia’s focus must be about jobs and growth, Mr Turnbull doesn’t hesitate to play the fear/race card if it will turn voters to the Victorian Coalition. His comments this weekare shameful and a disgrace to a man who professes to practise a moderate approach.

He’s turned his back on many of his stated political platforms. Mr Turnbull has thrown a fragile refugee community to the wolves to help his Liberal colleagues in Victoria.

Dylan Tibbits, Raymond TerracePolice are under-resourcedHEREwe go again. Every new year we hear how the government – and anyone else who has a say in how the road toll is going to be reduced – have their little around-the-table discussions and, guess what, nothing changes.

Every year the road toll deaths and injuries become more horrific.

The police are doing all they can but are just banging their heads up against a brick wall. It was in the news that they were going to saturate the roads with highway patrols etc to try tocatch as many of the morons who don’t want to obey the rules of the road like every other responsible driver.

Well, in a one week period over Christmas, I drove from Gateshead to Maitland and back several times and I saw one highway police patrol. What this says to me is that the police are grossly under resourced.

Another couple of hundred more highway patrol cars and officers are needed. Then again it doesn’t matter how many of these morons the police catch, it all goes out the window when they go to court because they are given a tiny fine and a slap on the wrist.

Well it’s time these magistrates, judges, governments and anyone else involved with safety on the roads got tough. If caught using a mobile phone there should bea$5000fine, 12 month loss of license andthe car they are driving impounded for 12months. If caught driving while suspended, give them 12months in jail.

As the driving offences become worse, then the penalties become more harsh. But while the morons are only being given a slap on the wrist they will continue to cause carnage on our roads and innocent families and others will continue to lose family and friends who are just out on the road going for a drive or going on a holiday.

Melville Brauer, GatesheadPort chance to diversifyIF Port Botany was the world’s largest coal port, investors would be bailing outlike rats from a sinking ship. Newcastle, which is the world’s largest coal port, has the opportunity to diversify into containersand rail them to Sydney, thereby removing container trucks from Sydney’s roads.

A report by Deloitte Access Economics shows that replacing container truckingwith rail from Newcastle – there is virtually no scope to rail more Port Botany containers – will generate $2 billion in economic benefits every year for the rest of the century.

Privately building a dedicated rail freight line between Newcastle and Sydney not only is a major infrastructure investment opportunity, but also the most profitable.

Greg Cameron, WamboinBus is not so closeATEast Lambton we have lost our 231 busservice.According to the map on the web, the nearest stop from the top of Illalung Roadis at Lambton High School (“three minuteswalk”).

Has anyone actually walked this? It might look close on the map, but for someone in their 80sit would take at least 40 to 45 minutes.

These changes, instead of improving services, will cause loss of patronage,especially from elderly or disabled persons.

Elizabeth Patrick, LambtonRescue chopper needs bothI FINDit difficult to understand the present comments regarding rescue helicopters.

As a result of frequent media exposure, we are all aware of the wonderful service that paramedics are able to give in the pre-hospital environment.

ICU nurses are trained to look after seriously ill patients requiring continuous monitoring and care. They get involved in helicopter work when a seriously sick patent requires transport over long distances, from one facility to another, which is more suitable to give the treatment required or from an emergency section in a regional hospital to an ICU section.

ICU nurses have had different training to be able to do their work, which is not comparable to the work of paramedics.

So it really comes down to what you have trained for.Would you get a plumber to do your electrical work or would you get a Hunter Water employee, responsible for providing water, to do the job of a fireman using the water?

I believe the existing discussions do ignore that the twotypes of health workers do entirely different, non-interchangeable work.

Hans Tiller, Kahibah

WIN: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Nationals New England candidate Barnaby Joyce celebrate the by-election win in Tamworth on Saturday. Picture: Alex EllinghausenWITH the New England vote now signed, sealed and delivered with a swing in favour of the incumbent, it seems to me the vote is influenced by the fact that most Australians think it is a lot of bull. A bit more commonsense has been needed by all political parties and by now we should have all been headed for a referendum to repair our failed constitution. I didn’t realise, for example, that I fulfill all the requirements of dual citizenship under the descent rule. It’s a nonsense that needs a simple repair.
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Simply swear an oath of allegiance to Australia and no other which naturally must exclude the Queen or King or whatever the future may hold. It should easily include “and I hereby renounce any rights to any other country by descent or any other means”. It is not and would not be fair for anyone forced to resign from their position to be ousted by current voting and I think that the electorate probably feels the same way if they are fair-thinking Australians.

So Campbell, Shorten and the rest, show some ticker and get on with it.

Garry Robinson,Mannering ParkGet hospital builtLET’S have some truth, shall we?Councillor Mitchell Griffin (Letters, 4/12), I believe, left out some details regarding the debate over the site of the new Lower Hunter hospital.It is Liberal councillor Rod Doherty from Cessnock City Council who has been the major proponent of moving the new Lower Hunter Hospital from the Metford site to Kurri Kurri.Liberal councilloron Cessnock City Council, Cr Paul Dunn, moved a motion in March 2017, calling on the government to move the site.In May, Cr Doherty put on the public record that he wouldn’t give up the fight to move the site.

The truth is, the O’Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian Liberal National governments have had the opportunity to put the site selection issue to rest over the last nearly seven years by simply starting the hospital. I think the Liberal Nationals have always wanted a Public Private Partnership (not a fully public hospital), I just believe they haven’t been honest with our community, so it has been delayed again and again.

If Cr Griffin wants to truly support the Maitland community, he should focus on what’s happening here in Maitland and leave Cessnock’s local politics out of it.

I’m focused on getting this hospital built, and for it to be of a size for our rapidly growing community, and for it to be fully public, not some hybrid privatised model.

We’ve won the earlier commencement, we’ve won the larger funding promise, now let’s work together to create a truly great public hospital for our community.

Jenny Aitchison, Member for Maitland,long term advocate for the new Maitland HospitalSharing all the factsI REFER to what I would call the misinformation from Mitchell Griffin, Liberal councillor of Maitland (Letters, 4/12).If he is to make accusations, maybe he should talk the whole facts. Members of his own party in the coalfields area also support a better location for the hospital. Their, like my own, opinionsees the location closer to the Hunter Expressway, but we have accepted this is not going to happen and have accepted at least getting a hospital that will largely only service Maitland and Raymond Terrace to Nelson Bay. The location will mean that Cessnock and Kurri hospitals have to be upgraded because of the traffic restrictions brought by the Metford location.Jenny Aitchison and Kate Washington have been very vocal in keeping this site and have been lobbying to get it started as a “public hospital”. The treatment Scot MacDonald gave Ms Aitchison last week was, I believe, grub-like. She, unlike him, has been campaigning for this on a regular basis; Mitchell only has to look in any local publication to get this fact.Yes there is, or was, opposition in the coalfields. it was from all sides of the political fences.

Glenn Jones,WestonStadium spend slammedPREMIER Berejiklian’s decision to spend $2.5 billion on demolishing and then rebuilding two sports stadiums in Sydney reflects the wrong priorities.

This is money that should be spent on our schools and hospitals. It is wasteful spending that can’t be justified. It is an insult to communities across our state.

Just think what $2.5 billion could do for our schools, hospitals and TAFEs.

Countlessrural roads could be improved for a fraction of that price. And what about community sporting fields, showgrounds and other facilities that would benefit from long overdue upgrades?It is shocking that local MPs representing the Liberals and Nationals are supporting this decision. It is out of touch with community values.

Luke Foley,Leader of the Labor PartyCans for charityTHE return deposit scheme for bottles and cans, l believe, is too complicated, with the cost of these collection units unnecessary, and the amount needed too many.

I would like to see wire caged locked containers placed in convenient locations, like petrol stations, where people can drop off their unwanted bottles and cans for charity collection.Better still, boy Scouts or similar organisations would greatly appreciate this donation, where containers can be towed to collection points where each troop can work roster Saturdays processing the contents.

I, for one, would not bother to process my bottles and would probably continue using council bins, however l would certainly support the charity collection.

Carl Stevenson,Dora CreekSafety should be priorityDESPITE reassurances to residents by our lord mayor that everything would be put back as it was, or “even better than before”, after the race, it now seems that any decision to reinstate speed bumps, pedestrian refuges, raised crossings, and pedestrian “blisters”, has been put up for re-consideration.

These safety measures were long-regarded as essential before the race, given the heavy pedestrian traffic, high vehicle volumes, and the concentration of elderly people and children living in the area. Now, with the roads widened and flattened, trees removed, beach weather coming on, and aspiring racing drivers eagerly lapping,suddenly pedestrian safety measures may not be needed?It seems the cynics were right all along – safety does come second to Supercars. If just once council could stand up for its constituents and their safety.And surely somebody thought of all this before the race, or is it another triumph of ad-hocracy?

John Beach,Cooks Hill

IN DEFENCE OF DOGS: Owning a dog has benefits enjoyed by many, argues one contributor who believes humans could learn much from their four-legged friends.AU contraire, some of us have much to learn from the humble dog (‘It’s a dog’s life, all right’, Newcastle Herald,6/1).It would be interesting to know whether Jeff Corbett owns a dog or has ever owned a dog. From his article, it seems safe to conclude that he has little liking or time for dogs.
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Dogs have been selectively bred by humankind since paleo times to be guards, hunters, trackers, fetchers, herders, as providers of food and clothing and as pets. In our urbanised modern society, they are mainly pets. So city people do prefer harmless “dolly dogs” as Corbett calls them. There are reasons for this. Such small dogs require less food and their vet bills are cheaper. They also require less walking. Once they are house-trained they may be kept inside. When such dogs are trained to stop yapping and snapping they don’t annoy neighbours. Like all dogs they make admirable friends and companions. They are certainly not, as Corbett calls them, “non dogs”.

Corbett says small dogs are more likely to be on a leash than larger dogs. There is an obvious reason for this. Small dogs don’t know they are small and will happily fight a larger dog. So if they are on a leash the owner can more easily protect his or her dog.

I do accept that many larger working dogs should not be kept in urban environments such as cattle dogs, border collies and German shepherds. I particularly dislike the habit of some sexually insecure young men who mistreat “pig dogs” and chain them up as adornments on the trays of their utes.

Dogs are not people. They are simple creatures who offer unconditional love to their owners. In that respect, they are better than most people. Since they live even shorter lives than we do, they also provide a good lesson in our own mortality. Since our lives are also brief, we also should be as friendly and as nice as we can. It is a pity that we don’t have tails to wag.

Geoff Black,Caves BeachWorking in the fieldsTHE annual fees collected by Newcastle City Council from sports clubs (Letters, 6/1) make up less than 20 per cent of the myriad costs associated with maintaining and improving our sports grounds and facilities.

Council provides mowing, topdressing, fertilising, aerating, line marking and goal-post installation, not to mention infrastructure works such as new and/or improved amenities buildings, change rooms, canteens, toilets, floodlights and associated facilities to make each venue both usable and user-friendly.Council staff provide advice to clubs and associations on sports development, infrastructure, grants and governance. We also offer an annual grants program and cover all utilities charges for water, gas and electricity use.

Jeremy Bath, chief executive, Newcastle City CouncilA tested trackCONGRATULATIONS go to David Rose (Letters,6/1), showing that at least one Novocastrian is ‘thinking outside the square’.I have a car that won’t let me go outside two white lines without correcting me back within so this type of technology is available and without digging up streets. How easy it would be, as suggested, to then extend the white magnetic line to the Callaghan University, Merewether, the stadium, the airport, etc.Just ‘Google’ ‘trackless trams for Perth’, simple as that. See video evidence of this technology working in China, etc.

Councillors and the Newcastle council methinks are too busy counting their salary rises to do some simple research and save ratepayers money. They don’t even have to travel .. just ‘Google’ and, like David, think outside the square.

Neil Allen, NewcastleFailure to communicateWITH theNBN connection to all homes, I find it lacking in that you are not toldwhen your phone has been changed over to the NBN.An 85-year-oldfriend of mine was without ofa phone for a week. I got onto our state MP’s secretary, who rang NBN up, and the phone was back on in within an hour. The chap told me when he installedthe NBN modem at our place that when they cutthe old phone line I would have to change my phone over to the NBN modem. The only way I found that my phone was changed over was my daughter rang my mobile and said the home phone went to the answering machine. I was lucky I knew I had to change it. If I had not been told my phone could have been out for a week also.

With all the experts that have set up the NBN you would have thought that if the power went off you don’t have a home phone and they would have included a battery back up. With all this hot weather we could have blackouts and there could be problems for elderly people who don’t have mobiles. I don’t know how many vital calls are still on the old home phone line.

Ray Cannon, MuswellbrookBus moves due rethinkI WOULD encourage those readers who will be affected by the new bus timetables, which start on January 14, to contact their Member of Parliament.

I would also advise the elderly who can’t walkthe 15 minutes to a bus stop, which I will have to even though I have had a bus stop outside my house for 40 odd years, to speak to their doctor about the taxi transport vouchers and give the buses a miss.The private operator advertises on the buses that the service will be advantageous, but looking at the new timetables this is definitely not the case with people having to walk long distances to catch the rerouted service.

I am sure those who used to take the bus to work will be driving their cars. Who wants to walk 15 minutes if they have had a stop very close to their house?

Lynne McKinnon-King,North LambtonTimes, and pets, changeI OPENED my Saturday Herald and there again was Jeff Corbett, spraying me with his negative opinion, this time about dogs and how 30 years ago things were different and dogs were in their subjugated place (‘It’s a dog’s life, all right’, Herald,6/1).My quick research reveals that upwards of 35 per cent of the population has a dog, and coincidentally 35 per cent have children at home; so it’s unsurprising that children and dogs share a special place in people’shearts, and that dog owners seek a better go for their pet in public.So Jeff, times do change; 30 years ago you’d have been retired and no longer bringing down the day with miserable thoughts that don’t reflect the times, yet here you still are, this time pulling the public perception of dog ownership back into the past.

Peter Graham,Merewether

Questions: Lucinda Crane writes that she was shocked at the amount of money her son’s soccer club paid in fees to Newcastle Council. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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I RECEIVEDfees for my son to play premier soccer with a Newcastle club. They are great people and wonderful role models as volunteers. I was shocked at the fees and when I questioned the club, they promptly and very willingly provided me with a breakdown. Once they pay NNSW Football and the FFA plus relevant insurances and gear costs, I noticed a levy.

A levy that allows this club to pay some $20,000in council fees to host training and games and to turn on lights. Why are sporting groups held to ransom by council and associated sporting bodies?

Newcastle City Council does nothing for these clubs but simply apply red tape whilst putting out their hand for fees that community/not-for-profit groups should not have to pay.

This is a big club, and they train and play sixor sevendays a week. Are they being hampered by their size or does every club cop such a hefty fee? Surely not fair. Maybe the council can explain what clubs get in return for $20,000.All I see is volunteers doing everything while council mows once a week on a tractor.These are grounds for community use.

Lucinda Crane, KotaraMissed opportunityMYoverall impression is that Transport NSW, and its local agency Revitalising Newcastle, so often acts as though itthinks it has all the answers.But I do wonder just how savvy and diligent it is.In fact, I charge it with being negligent in its planning.

On December 28, 2017 the West Australian reported that Perth is exploring anew light rail system that required no wires (like ours), can be built in Australia, and has no fixed tracks – instead trams would be guided along by following a white magnetic track that is sprayed on the road surface.

Trams follow a fixed track and are recharged at stations:“it is a new kind of bus on the road.”This is so much cheaper and less disruptive than what Transport NSW is doing here. Also, note that this concept“has been successfully tested in parts of the world.”It seems pretty slack of Revitalising Newcastle to be seemingly unaware of this radical technology and failing to offer it to Newcastle.Such a system could be rapidly expanded into our suburbs too.

David Rose, HamiltonAn ‘archaic’ excuseIT is inconceivable that Jeremy Bath could make a statement about ceasing community dressing facilities at beaches and baths, blaming paedophiles (‘Nobby’s toilet trouble, Newcastle Herald, 3/1). That seems to be such an archaic way of solving one of the many blunders of Newcastle council.

Paedophiles can be found in unsuspecting places, perhaps even surf clubs. Imaginewhen the schools arrive at the beaches or the ocean pools for their lifesaving or swimming lessons, what problems would arise while dressing in the open air with mixed gender company. Recently a large cruise ship arrived in Newcastle on a hot summer day, full of holiday-makers who obviously admired Nobby’s Beach and went for a swim. Afterwards they realised they had to use the toilets to get dressed in.

There is no guessing as to what their opinions of the facilities were at the beach and what was said as they arrived back at the ship. Then to take the amenities away from Dixon Park, which is not only for beach-goers but an area used for picnics, is ludicrous. Why not have security checks by staff employees at these venues?

Another blunder,on New Year’s DayI witnessed an emergency ambulance trying to get through the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the esplanade. They obliviously realised it was impossible to get through so tried the top road under the fort. I am not sure that that was successful. Community consultation with the ratepayers who use these amenities would be acceptable, then maybe some sensible solution could be forthcoming.

Pat Wilson, MerewetherCost shouldn’t be secretONCEagain the town clerkhas used the phrase “commercial-in-confidence”(‘Newcastle developer shelves car park plan’, Herald, 4/1).Why is the detail of asimple contractual arrangement between our council and a bus company being elevated to the level of being top secret?

I doubt that any bus company would be soconcerned about an agreement it entered into with a client that it included a secrecyclause.Alternatively if the council drafted the agreement and if it included a secrecy clause, then what is the purpose of hiding the terms of the agreementfrom the ratepayers?

If the agreement does not include a secrecy clause then whatisJeremy Bath’s justification for not releasing the details? More openness at Town Hall would be appreciated.

Les Brennan, Newcastle EastBeach decision ‘out of step’IT was dismaying to see the deputy lord mayor and other councillors crowing about their “upgrades” on these pages. I would like to see exactly what sort of “community consultation”would result in the removal of what are commonly considered normal beach facilities. Were people informed that more toilets could only be provided at the expense of the change rooms?

In my opinion, the council is out of step with modern beach culture in Australia. Most good, well-patronised Australian city beaches have change rooms that include a shower. You see Mr Clausen, the rest of us sometimes need a bit more than a quick rinse under the outside shower.

The reason of removing a change room because of the possibility of paedophilia sounds like it was made up after the fact, in an attempt to justify bad planning.Especially as parents now have no choice but to strip their kids at the outside shower and dress them in full public gaze. Maybe when they see the adults who’ve no choice but to do the same the council might reconsider.

Sharon Bailey, New LambtonInsult to general publicI BELIEVEthat the claim by police that the youth arrested under the new terrorism laws on January 3, if they were in place beforewould have prevented the Lindt Café siege, is just a further indication of how the public isgiven no respect or credit for having a brain by governments and their public representatives.

Allan Earl, ThorntonLETTER OF THE WEEKThis week the Herald pen goes to Frances Cook, of Warabrook.

Road work: There are changed traffic conditions in many parts of the CBD as work takes place on the light rail network, the supercars track and Bathers’ Way upgrades. ONFriday morning, Newcastle City Council funneled all traffic coming down the Hunter Street mall and all traffic inPerkins Streetinto just one southbound lane ofBrown Street. In the context of the marked increase in traffic diverted alongKing Street, this created chaos. On Friday afternoon, it took 35 minutes to travel from the corner of Perkins and King to the corner of Hunter and Brown – half way round one block!
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Immediate solutions to this problem include blocking westbound traffic in the mall, diverting Hunter mall traffic up Wolfe Street, or banning parking on the eastern side of Brown Street and creating two lanes – one for right turns (the slowest and most difficult to make), and one for left turns. I’m sure there are other solutions.

Why is there no evidence of serious consideration of the effects of these significant traffic diversionsand why was there no responsible NCC officer available (even on the emergency line) over the weekend to sort out the mess they created?

David Williams, NewcastleMemorial climb supportPOPE’SView (Newcastle Herald, 3/11)was the first cartoon by Pope that I’ve agreed with. Normally the jaundiced views by political cartoonist Pope are fairly incomprehensible let alone agreeable.

The “view”of developing a tourist-climb to the top of the National War Memorial to provide a magnificent view down Anzac Parade is a splendid idea.

Full credit to Pope for it. I hope the government implements it soon. Could the Herald please include a few more Lewis cartoons? At least Lewis cartoons were more readily comprehensible.

Peter Devey, MerewetherBirthplace not citizenshipI WASborn in Wales, not too far from the home town of our first female PM. When I became an Australian citizen I pledged allegiance to Australia.

Since then, when I arrive in the UKon an Australian passport, my passport is stamped “entry sixmonths no access to public funds.”

Although born in the UK,I have fewer rights than citizens from the European Union who are not born in the UK.So why would I think I am a citizen of that country?

Fred Saunders, Waratah WestCall for more checksWOULDit be too much of a task for the Australian Electoral Commission to have a system in place to check if a candidate is eligible before accepting the nomination?

With only 150 to be elected, times that by 10 to allow for unsuccessful candidates, it is still only 1500 to check.

We trust them to handle many millions of votes to be checked, countedand an honest result given, surely it would be easy and not all that expensive.

Fred McInerney, KaruahLearn from arrivalsI THINKwe are wasting a great resource in society at the moment. Many people coming into Australia are just filed under the label ‘refugees’ and are erroneously perceived as less educated, which means their abilities are ignored because the current bureaucracy means government employees are notgiven the time to find out what skills they have and how they can have the opportunity to take those skills and use them.

I’ve travelled through many of these countries and I have a great respect for these people. Like to learn how to build a mortar free stone wall, amud and straw building that can be built and repaired and last for centuries,woven textiles and beautifully embroidered cloth and highly skilled metalwork, pottery and wood carving.

Just a small example of the skills they can give us back, which we’ve lost in our modern society and are now looking to reclaim. If only they are given a chance.

Ann Ellis, MerewetherShame in our namePUTTINGaside the turning back the boats policy and detaining refugees off shore and not even suggesting what should be done with them, as I have stated my opinion on that before.

This government has certainly done enough to have charges laid against it for the lies, deceit and inhumane treatment of these innocent people in their care on Manus and Nauru, all done in our name and bringing shame on our country in an attempt to score political points with the xenophobic.

We treat hardened criminals with more respect and humanity.

Allan Earl, ThorntonCitizenship rule ‘simple’THEcries of people like Carl Stevenson that Section 44 of our Commonwealth Constitution is “un-Australian” (Letters, 6/11) are rather silly.

If anything, the law is very Australian and very simple. It requires that a person be only an Australian citizen and enjoy the benefits of only Australian citizenship in order to be a member of the Australian Parliament.

What could be easier and more logical? Modern Australia is a multicultural society and we enjoy many benefits that flow from this. We should go on encouraging and nurturing this multicultural community. But multicultural is different from multi citizen.

To require a person to be solely an Australian citizen to be a member of our parliament is eminently sensible and hopefully will remain in place. Lazy and ill informed people who can’t do their due diligence well enough before seeking election should have no place in our parliament. And section 44 cannot be changed by a simple act of parliament. It is part of our Constitution and thus requires a referendum to change. Thankfully, the chances of that happening are practically zero.

Daryll Hadfield, Redhead NSWKids need more protectionWITHsentencing discrepancies between Australia and the USA in regard to offences against children so big, it makes me wonder why the Australian government obviously doesn’t value the children of our country the way the USA does.

In Australia you can murder your baby or child by starvation and be out of jail in sixyears.In one recent Queensland case, a mother murdered her two twin babies and still only got sixyears. A similar offence in the USA would earn you 45 to 60 years in jail.

Australia may be the lucky country, but not for the children of this nationwho are our future and who the government fails to protect by sentencing so weak.

It’sno deterrent for any child abusers or predators.

Michele Clapham, Cooks Hill

Up to the job: Eric McKenzie writes that he believes paramedics should staff the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to avoid lengthy changeover times. Picture: Max Mason-HubersI DON’Tthink anyone is arguing that ICU nurses are not up to grade. One heart attack and I can testify to theirefficiency. But paramedics are employed to endeavourto get injured patients to hospital, whether being transferred by road or air.
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Wanting to have ICU nurses on a rescue helicopter is putting lives in danger because of the 45 minute change (reconfiguration) of the helicopter (‘Caught in a stand-off’, Herald, 28/12). The first choppers used to retrieve persons injured was in World War IIwhen British Chindits attacked the Japanese in Burma.

Time and time again, timehas been proved as of the essence in all injury situations.

The timewas improved on in Korea and perfected in Vietnam. Yeah, I am a Vietnam Veteran.It might be nice to have an ICU nurse in a rescue chopper but it is not critical.The 45 minute changeover time is critical. Let the paramedics do their job.

Eric McKenzie, Dora CreekTake care running near trafficWITHa new year beginningandmany new year’sresolutions to lose some of that extra Christmas pudding around the waist, wewill see many pounding the pavementby walking,runningor jogging.

A little tip that should be observedwhen using the side of the road:unless you have eyes at the back of your head, don’t walk with your back facing oncoming traffic.

To put faith in all motoriststo see you and not be distracted momentarily, or not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs–especially in narrow streets where two cars need the whole road when meeting and passing–is simply out of the question.

The need to see what’s comingand ableto side-step off the roadis a no-brainer.Asimple factis if you can’t see them, how do you know they can see you? Too often l see people on the wrong side of road, in their own little world, unaware of every thing around them, either listening to somethingor on their mobile.

Carl Stevenson, Dora CreekAll employment types have a placeBACKin the days when I worked, well, not full-time but five hours–from 3am to 8am–as a security guard, then drove for eight to 10 hours as a courier, I noted an interesting phenomena.

We had some 25 to 30 bodies turn up for the early shift and about 10 of those were casuals.

Of those, about 50 per cent were the same guys week in and week out, some of them arriving by foot from a bus stop on the main road, some by bicycle and the odd one driving a crappy unreliable car.

As management changed, it was decided to employ most of the long-term casuals as permanent part-timers, with all the privileges and benefits this implies.

And guess what: Within a week the buses and bikes were ditched, replaced by shiny, reliable motor cars.On my count, probably $100,000 worth of them.

Now imagine if this was replicated throughout Oz, what a boost to the economy this would be.

At the same time, my wife changed from full-time to permanent casual with four or five shifts of five hours which, after some juggling of shift times by management and herself, enabled her to keep working until a stroke at 79 years of age meant retirement.

I don’t foresee any of our pollies beginning a sensible discussion from these observations.

Erwin Zehentner, Singleton HeightsFireworks should havebeen betterONNew Year’s Eve, I was on Newcastle Harbour. Like everyone else, I was there to see the fireworks.

Now, I haven’t a clue as to what the rest of the thousands who were there –on the foreshoreand on the water – thought of the display.

But I have to say, I thought the whole thing to be pretty underwhelming. With all the obvious wealth that leaves the Port of Newcastle, out throughthe heads at Nobby’s, you could be forgiven for expecting a bit more of a show than that on Monday night.

The fireworks would have been pretty impressive at say, Wards River, maybe, but in Australia’s fifth city?

C’mon, Newcastle City Council, can’t you lean on some of the folks in the mining industry (who are so busy despoiling the rest of the Hunter Valley) to sponsor a better show than that?

And with any number of great vantage points to set the crackers off from… just Stockton? Please, you can, and should, do better.

Tom Boorer, DungogNot enough notice before New Year’s Eve showWHILSTI commend Newcastle City Council for the wonderful fireworks on New Year’s Eve, I believe that council should have shown more courtesy to the residents of Stockton than they did.

The council would have known months ago that the fireworks were going to be launched at Griffith Park, Stockton, yet it was not until Thursday, December 28that CEO Jeremy Bath mentioned in a media release that Stockton was the site for the fireworks.

Local residents only received a letterbox drop on Friday, December 29(twodays before the event). Simple common courtesy is all that is needed instead of lumping something that big onto people at the last minute.

Phillip Mallows,StocktonReligious education is parents’ choiceSORRYAllan Earl (Short takes, 1/1), but parents have the final say about religious education. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18), ratified by Australia in 1980, respects the liberty of parents “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions”, subject only to those limitations “necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others”.

As for religious belief not accepting new evidence, religion deals with eternal, unchanging truths, not the changeable truths of observation and experiment.

Not all religious beliefs can be right, but science often gets it wrong too, and not all science is ‘genuine’, often being in thrall to ideological bias and vested interests.

Peter Dolan, Lambton