Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Thursday, October 5, 2017

DIRT ISSUE: Boolaroo resident Mark Hambier dug up his whole yard ready to dispose of the contaminated soil, but authorities weren't ready to take it. Picture: Marina Neil
DIRT ISSUE: Boolaroo resident Mark Hambier dug up his whole yard ready to dispose of the contaminated soil, but authorities weren't ready to take it. Picture: Marina Neil

ALL I really needed to know as how to live as a responsible citizen, I learned in kindergarten. Share, play fair, put things back where you found them, don’t take things that do not belong to you, say sorry, learn and think, sing and dance, hold hands and stick together, be aware of wonder, and clean up your own mess (apologies to Robert Fulghum).

I was appalled when reading ‘Delays accepting Pasminco toxic waste goes down like a lead balloon’, (Herald, 3/10). Why is it that Pasminco could not be a good corporate citizen? Where are those bodies entrusted with environmental protection? Why is it that Mark Hambier and other Boolaroo residents have to pick up the tab for the environmental trashing by a large corporate entity? When will government place concern for the place where we all live (our planet), above the financial interests of our business masters? I’m not holding my breath.

Paul Sutcliffe, Fern Bay

Remember the ratepayers

SINCE when has it been the role of Newcastle City Council to take sides on the same sex marriage debate?

Council representatives are elected to loom after the interests of the ratepayers, not to promote their own opinions on issues such as this and while it can be said the majority of ratepayers voted the Labor councillors into office, it can’t be said the majority of ratepayers agree with same-sex marriage with any certainty can it?

I think council spending ratepayers’ money on hosting a community event in support of same-sex marriage, erecting banners and flying a rainbow flag is going too far. If they had chosen to support the no vote in the same way, I would still feel they had gone too far. This type of action shows just how far local councils have moved away from their core business of “roads, rates and rubbish”. Politics should not take over councils as appears to be the case unfortunately.

Ian King, Warners Bay

Powered by greed

WE have received our first power bill since the installation of the so-called smart meter and the new six cents per kilowatt pay back scheme. We installed solar panels as we believed we were helping ourselves and the environment however we were in for a shock. Even with the panels our yearly estimate for electricity will be around $2600 per annum, that's right over $7 per day.

Given the fact we have a gas stove and a gas mains pressure storage hot water system which is sparsely used it is plain we are being ripped off, as many customers have reported. If you take into the current rate, water and gas accounts just to survive we are looking at over $7000 a year which is quite frankly highway robbery courtesy of inept governments. It is totally unacceptable to live in a country with vast resources to be shackled with these outrageous costs. 

Of course it is not our country any more, it has been sold off to overseas investors by the poorest pathetic politicians ever to hold office, and I include all parties. 

I dread to see what the future holds for the majority of the average Aussie if this trend of greed at whatever the cost continues.

Alan Metcalf, Stockton

Problem with removal

THE claim that all of the surviving former Burwood railway line has to be removed (‘The one we prepared earlier’, Herald, 4/10) illustrates the problems raised by heritage architect John Carr (‘The Store’s complete demolition questioned’, Herald, 3/10).

The Infrastructure State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) overrides the protections of the Heritage and Environmental Planning and Assessment Acts and allows Transport for NSW (and Urban Growth) to do what they like. They claim it “isn’t listed”? So what? How about the impacts of its being within a heritage conservation area? And council’s archaeological zoning plan, if still exists? They claim it was discovered in July 2017. A section of line on the north side of Hunter Street has always been visible.

I suggest TFNSW look at ways of preserving in situ at least parts of the uncovered artifacts rather than taking the, no doubt, cheaper option of removing everything.

 Keith Parsons, Newcastle

Left out of decisions

ONE of my deepest regrets is that in years to come our once great city will become a leading international case study of regulatory capture. How dominant unelected private powerful commercial interests answerable to their shareholders and own personal wealth accumulation, overrode and subordinated the antiquated notion of the greater public interest or “good” – the common wealth. The global financial crisis and the abject failure of Australia’s energy market must surely disabuse us of reliance on the invisible hand of Adam Smith’s “free market” to do what is best for the public, consumers, public safety, the environment and future generations? Public regulation developed in part to curb the excesses of the operation of the market, big business/developer lobby, the accumulation and abuse of power and its corrupting influence on elected decision makers and their bureaucracies. The principles of openness, transparency, merit, accountability, honesty, responsible government and the rule of law evolved and were enshrined into law and codes of conduct to protect the public space from private encroachment, greed and self-interest.

The demonstrable inability of state and local government in Newcastle to apply the above package of integrity safeguards in key decisions relating to our rail corridor, costly light rail decision and Supercars will be classic examples of regulatory failure and capture – if anybody still cares as local communities are further estranged from key decision making processes.

Tony Brown, Newcastle

History in facades

BRAVO! Praise indeed for the advice by John Carr, heritage architect, to retain the face of The Store (‘Demolition questioned’, Herald, 3/10). Perhaps this is the one building that speaks the most about the history of Newcastle's character; this was a town of battlers, of industrial workers and miners, who sought strength in community unity.

'Facade-ism' is a term that developers seek to deride because it might interfere with their shiny new plans. Yet it is history that is reflected in these facades, and it is an urban element that is much loved by the common people. Time is running out. Our council, and other bodies with an interest in Newcastle's heritage, should lead a protest against any plans proposing the demolition of the facade of The Store.

David Rose, Hamilton