Using ‘blackmail’ to get lollies is no treat

‘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.

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

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