Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Thursday, April 20, 2017

WHAT WE NEED: Newcastle council needs to look at connectivity for pedestrians and get back to the basics if it wants to build a better city, according to one correspondent.
WHAT WE NEED: Newcastle council needs to look at connectivity for pedestrians and get back to the basics if it wants to build a better city, according to one correspondent.

REGARDING the story about affordable housing on the rail corridor (‘Rail corridor housing for teachers, nurses’, Herald, 18/4): The council has been sitting on $3 million to build a better city. 

Though key workers are deserving of better housing choices, I believe a better city includes better connectivity for mums and dads with prams, kerb access ramps in the suburbs where older people can more safely walk across roads and intersections and where people with reduced mobility can cross a road. Children can more easily and safely transit kerbs in roads via ramps.

Councils must get back to basics – rates, roads and rubbish. The state government can fund housing solutions from the massive stamp duty revenues on house and land sales. They still haven't advised where the left over $1 billion-plus is from the long-term lease of the Newcastle Port.

I suggest a Newcastle Pedestrian Connex for paths and pram ramps in Newcastle and suburbs with the $3 million – then add the mystery port sale monies of $1-plus billion.

Michael McGready, Tighes Hill

Testing times

AT first it sounds utterly bizarre. A large proportion of local residents wanted the railway to stay: Nope. 

OK, so let’s have light rail on the corridor: Nope. OK, let’s at least have it run to useful suburban destinations – hospital, university, stadium, shopping centres: Nope. Well, let’s have it connect with the main railway line and a car park at Islington, to remove some of the traffic from city streets: Nope.

But guess what? We are getting it without wires, something that no one was worried about. Why? Because the line will be so short and useless that it is a good place to risk using new technology. Then, if it doesn’t work, that’s OK. After all, it’s only Newcastle.

Geoff Hassall, Birmingham Gardens

Gambling with lives

WOULD someone please ensure that President Trump reads Thirteen Days, the eyewitness account of the Cuban Missile Crisis written by Robert Kennedy.

The American military urged President John F. Kennedy to order a pre-emptive strike on the Cuban missile sites. He asked a simple question: "Can you assure me that not one missile could be launched?" The answer was "No' and his next question was how many million American lives were they prepared to gamble?

The majority of Americans believe that Kennedy forced Kruschev to back down but he did not. He negotiated a deal that America would remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey if Russia closed down Cuba. A history lesson for Mr Trump and a question, how many lives are you prepared to gamble?

Gordon Steele, Elemore Vale

Investment plunge

I READ many letters about negative gearing. I am 66 and was just an ordinary shift worker. About 20-odd years ago my wife and I decided to do something for our future, we had a mortgage on our home at 16 per cent interest and took the plunge and bought an investment property. We were paying off two mortgages, bringing up two young girls and making many sacrifices; my wife never was in the workforce as she had a more important job at home.

We struggled and held on to our both properties even though we nearly relented and gave in. Now we are retired living in paradise at Tuncurry and thanks to our investment property we are not on any government-funded pension.

I tend to think that negative gearing knockers have never had the courage to have a go or taken a risk. It's not all negative with negative gearing. We proved that anybody can do it and it's not just politicians that have enough money, just have a go. 

Greg Fall, Tuncurry

Discount race tickets

WITH tickets for the Supercars event going on sale in just two weeks, and with Newcastle City Council making such a significant financial contribution to the staging of the race weekend, an idea rapidly gaining ground in the community is for ratepayers of Newcastle to be offered tickets at a greatly-reduced price.

This concept may help to placate those still irate about yet another steep rates rise this year, when much of that increased council revenue is being directed straight into the Supercars budget, where it will provide working capital for a private profit-making enterprise.

Just as Australians were offered discounted tickets for the Sydney Olympics, with the rationale that our taxes were ultimately funding the Games, it seems fair that those paying hefty rates in Newcastle should be offered a 50 per cent discount on entry price.

This could be an idea tested by a Herald poll, and with local government elections proposed for just five weeks before the Supercars event, might also prove to be a face-saving exercise for our lord mayor, who seems, at the moment, unable to exert any influence at all over the mighty corporate powers of Supercars.​

Jacquie Monti, Merewether

Trams that ate city Street

I DESPAIR at the apparent lack of ethics and due diligence that has characterised Newcastle’s so-called integrated transport ‘solution’ and use of rail corridor.

Never once have we been afforded the whole truth. Instead we’re subjected to disingenuous consultation and costly propaganda dribbling out titbits without the whole picture ever being revealed. There appears not one overriding transport, parking, business prosperity, social, convenience and congestion-easing benefit this $500m-plus white elephant will derive over and above better co-ordination and use of existing public transport land and infrastructure.

Loss of the future proof dedicated public transport land corridor to the heart of Newcastle would have to be one of the dumbest strategic planning decisions imaginable. The plausible sensible alternative of cut and covering the vital existing corridor would leave us with the best of both worlds including utilisation of overhead space for development. This being ignored is clear confirmation of Newcastle’s status as the repository/suppository or test bed of the cheapest measures including the privatisation of our small public transport service.

The alternative is predictable gridlock along Wharf Road, King Street and Stewart Avenue. The ultimate irony being car-parking on the old rail corridor as an inherently uneconomical, slow 2.5km ‘wireless’ private tram ‘service’ consumes Hunter Street.

Tony Brown, Newcastle