Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Saturday, September 24, 2016

ENOUGH: Some residents are calling for a rejection of further mining in the Hunter, arguing it is time for the region to move towards a more sustainable future.

ENOUGH: Some residents are calling for a rejection of further mining in the Hunter, arguing it is time for the region to move towards a more sustainable future.

OH, for a premier with the courage to come out from behind coal industry boardroom doors and lead the Hunter to a real economic future. Instead we have closed discussions with Big Coal for 16 open cut mines, when the Hunter is over-saturated with them and their impacts, and coal jobs are plummeting. No transparency equals no trust.

The proposed United Wambo superpit should be rejected for many reasons but firstly because we cannot trust that it is in the interests of anyone but Baird and Big Coal. And it will not secure coal jobs.

No amount of 'rigorous conditions', under the secret Upper Hunter Assessment Study – that none but the insiders have seen – could compensate for the inevitable impacts.

The Hunter has been trashed enough. So say farmers, suffering residents, those who care about the endangered bushland and global warming, and those who want the Hunter to move towards sustainable jobs in a growing industry, not a dying one.

It is wrong and stupid to worsen the cumulative impacts on the health of our air and water, our land and our rural dwellers, and to ignore the urgent need for genuine plans for our region and its workers.

Sharyn Munro, Upper Lansdowne

Penalty cuts not answer

SOME employers may believe more jobs would be created if penalty rates were cut and employment further deregulated (‘New rules for working’, Herald, 23/9).

However, I have not seen any evidence of that. Addressing unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, will not be done by cutting penalty rates. That will simply leave people with less money in their pockets.

Penalty rates are set by the Fair Work Commission, which is currently considering the evidence of employers and unions to make an impartial, reasoned judgement on the future of penalty rates.

Labor has argued they should be retained. We may live in a commercial world that operates seven days a week, but not all people work nights and weekends, and many that offer to work those shifts do so because it pays extra. Many have no choice. These people sacrifice valuable time with their friends and families.

The way to address youth unemployment is through measures such as Labor’s “Working Futures” policy, which would offer real work experience and fair pay, and the chance to achieve a proper qualification.    

I have personal experience of business, and I hear business concerns. But we don’t need to pay people less to reduce unemployment. It is about flexibility.

Meryl Swanson, Labor Member for Paterson

Why chase costs

WITHOUT crying into my Corn Flakes, I ask why the law officers of Macquarie Street are still pursuing Save Our Rail over $800,000 in court costs (‘This time sorry is not enough’, Herald, 1/9).  There are no grounds.

It cannot be the cash. In emerged in 2015 that the government had planned to sell the railway's wiring and boom gates to the Hunter Development Corporation for the princely peppercorn sum of $10. The closure led to the first court case which the government later lost. The land was worth millions.

Nor can it argue for principle. In 2015, it subsequently negotiated with the Shooters & Fishers Party to have the closure securely legislated after the fact. 

But one recent development has represented the greatest blunder. ICAC’s Operation Spicer came to a close a matter of weeks ago, leaving several Coalition figures off the hook over the charge of accepting illegal donations. The “heavy price” had already been paid by those named and shamed, according to the Premier, meaning significant hard time on the cross benches. Brutal.

Yet when the scandal first broke in 2014, the Premier pledged enormous amends (“ICAC: Premier apologises to Hunter for scandal”, Herald, 15/8/14). Given that Save Our Rail is still a defendant, I would imagine that this commitment is not worth the price of the morning paper it was printed on.

By the process of elimination the government’s last credible motivator seems to be spite, which shouldn’t play well in the region. This also reminds me of another story about shipping containers. But first I had better check the remnants of my cereal box, in case I find a law degree. These days, people are giving all manner of things away.

Steven Micevski, Dungog

Investing to stop cycle

FOR 25 years I was chair of a not-for-profit employment network in the south-west Sydney-Campbelltown area. During this time we worked under the direction of both sides of politics and dealt with recession and unemployment in very high numbers. In these areas there were four suburbs with 20,000 residents in each, with 90 per cent single parents and huge welfare housing estates. Well before we were financed to provide job training, our group realised that without training it was near impossible to get clients into employment so we spent our own funds and equipped substantial training factories. The governments then funded these programs and we had considerable success in the placement of job seekers.

With the election of the Howard government all these programs were scrapped and we had to close these workshops. Now the only training was with private trainers at costs people cannot afford.

Now the Coalition has come up with this old method of hounding those of our people who are the most disadvantaged in society. Lack of affordable housing is the greatest burden preventing people from breaking the cycle of long term welfare support.

I had a real estate business and we would go guarantor so we could rent some clients housing in order to deal with their work problems. We never had to make good on the rent because we were able to get them a job once we solved the housing problems. 

Frank Ward OAM, Shoal Bay

Against law change

WE live in a nominally Christian country, where we have benefited from our laws that had their roots in the Ten Commandments, we should not be bullied by minority groups, to change laws to suit their circumstances.

Marriage, as defined by our present law and God’s law, has always been between a man and a woman specifically for the procreation of children. Homosexuals already have access to a civil union. If they want to call it something else, then find a new name, marriage is already taken. Vote no to same sex marriage, it is not equality, it is theft.

Don Ayres, Swansea

Letter of the week

The Herald pen goes to Dave Fothergill for his letter about Souths’ grand final win.

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