ONE of the aims of Refugee Week is for community groups and individuals to do something positive for refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people, within Australia but also around the world.
Let's start that by listening to these quiet words of hope. They are written by Aziz, an asylum seeker on Manus, to his brothers.
“Never forget how far you’ve come. Everything you have gotten through. All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t. All the mornings you got out of bed no matter how hard it was. All the times you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much strength you have learned and developed.
“I know what it's like to be kicked in the guts when you're down and no one there to give you a hand up or even a kind word or smile. I've looked around and seen nothing but dust from the people running away.
“Let us keep hope no matter what happened to us or what's going to happen, we survived four years of torture, abuse, bullying, beaten up, killed by system which Australia funded with billions of dollars.”
Refugee Week runs from June 18 to 24.
Niko Leka, Mayfield
Park visit is no picnic
IF you go down to the Foreshore Park today, you’re in for a big surprise – and it ain't no teddy bear's picnic. Unless of course the teddies have morphed into a chainsaws, wood chipping machines or bulldozers. There you will be able to witness first hand the trashing of the park's landscape design.
Prior to council's rip rip turn it into wood chip actions, the park's landscape design had reached a level of maturity providing spaces for all the community to enjoy.
Council now wants us to believe this work is part of their planned improvements contained within the Foreshore Plan of Management, 2015. But this is patently untrue. The plan makes no mention of: removing mature trees; the loss of a significant area of Foreshore Park open space; the new proposed racetrack road through the park; or the enormous bitumen hardstand pit area eyesore. The claim also that the loss of 170 mature trees and the planting of 230 juvenile trees, that perhaps in 30 years time will provide more shade, will be an improvement is nonsense.
Through this whole Supercars event debacle, I think the council has shown a complete lack of understanding of how a best practice community inclusive consultation and landscape design process should be run. Community democracy is just another casualty of the Supercars event. I feel like we are all caught in an episode of The Simpsons where our mayor and councillors having first been sold a monorail pup are now also fair game for the vroom vroom V8 residential street car race snake oil salesman.
Finally I am left asking what council in its right mind would allow destruction of its premier foreshore community parkland and the racing of V8 motorcars down residential and heritage streets? Unfortunately for us the answer is Newcastle. If this is an example of one of this council's Smart City initiatives then I fear what might be around the corner.
My hope is that out of the Supercars wreckage, strong independent and honest leadership will emerge to put this city back on a sensible decision making track.
Brian Murphy, Cooks Hill
Focus on violence
YOUR report on crime statistics in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie (‘Assault jump concern for authorities, Herald, 9/6) highlights a short-term fluctuation and overlooks the significant downward trends in alcohol-related violence in the Hunter in recent years.
Apart from a statewide one-hour extension of bottle shop trading times introduced last December, there has been no “liberalisation” of liquor laws.
Liquor & Gaming NSW is continuing extensive local compliance operations. We work closely with NSW Police and regularly engage with local stakeholders including councils, venue owners and community groups. Since July last year, we have inspected more than 100 local licensed venues and investigated almost 70 complaints.
We are prosecuting two venues; a Hamilton hotel for permitting intoxicated patrons, and a Darby Street restaurant for trading contrary to its licence. We are also addressing violence problems at another Hamilton hotel. Robust NSW liquor laws and Liquor & Gaming NSW’s compliance and enforcement work continue to target alcohol-related violence in the Hunter so everyone can enjoy a safe night out.
Paul Newson, deputy secretary, Liquor & Gaming NSW
LAST Wednesday at night an information session was held at the Regional Museum by Keolis Downer; the organisation that will run the buses, ferries and the light rail.
The presenter spoke at length of the experience the company had with public transport in different cities around the world. He also spoke of the plans for public transport and how they plan to make improvements. None of this sounded new; we've heard it all before. Having said that, I hope these improvements do happen.
It was with the light rail I had reservations. He spoke of successes with light rail in cities in France and the light rail on the Gold Coast. However it needs to be remembered the light rail on the Gold Coast is about 13 kilometres long, while the light rail in Newcastle will only be 2.7 kilometres. He spoke of how it would be more beneficial if there was development in the rail corridor. It was during question time that a member of the public pointed out that light rail needs to be in its own separate alignment for it to be truly effective and safe. The same man also said that Engineers Australia said that light rail in Hunter Street would not work.
The presenter then spoke of examples in Melbourne where there are narrow streets with tramlines. He also tried to tell us that the level of traffic in Scott Street and Hunter Street would not cause any problems. What needs to be remembered is that if revitalisation of the city is successful, then traffic levels will rise and congestion will become worse. The way around this is to run the light rail in the rail corridor.
He also admitted that when the light rail was operational, the free buses in the city would cease. My concern is that if the West End does become the new CBD, many will simply not bother going into the city.
The light rail plan needs to be looked at again. As well running along the rail corridor, extensions need to be planned, or it will end up being an expensive white elephant.