Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Tuesday, September 19, 2017

CHARMER: There has always been a lot to love about Newcastle, but with the massive changes under way, one contributor feels the shine is wearing off. Picture: Simone De Peak
CHARMER: There has always been a lot to love about Newcastle, but with the massive changes under way, one contributor feels the shine is wearing off. Picture: Simone De Peak

I UNASHAMEDLY love Newcastle and its people. I am not a true Novocastrian, as I was born elsewhere, but have lived in numerous parts of Australia before settling here. I moved here when BHP was still in operation but I did not complain as I knew of its impact, so I accepted its failings.

However the Newcastle I love is fast disappearing before my very eyes and I know there are many in agreement with my views. Those in business repeatedly called for the railway to the centre to be abolished, replaced with light rail and now a number of those very same people are complaining and with good reason.

The government department concerned called for the existing rail corridor to be utilised however it was not to be, for whatever reason no one knows. Then our council was conned, and I use the word conned, to allow Newcastle to be hacked to pieces for the Supercars debacle.

It is a disgrace for a number of reasons. All of those concerned should hope no one needs medical assistance or for that matter dies as a result of not being able to access proper medical facilities. The second point is that two surf lifesaving clubs have members unable to provide vital safety patrols as well as being disadvantaged financially.

I have spoken to two business owners trapped with the race arena and neither are impressed with what one describes as the sellout of Newcastle, in fact of those I have spoken to, only one is in favour.

Now, before I am criticised by those in favour, I may add that the race will have little effect on myself and I have attended race meetings in every racetrack in NSW including the defunct Catalina, Amaroo and Oran Park and am in favour of the Supercars, provided it is held in the right place and Newcastle is not the right place.

It is my view that it is the bastardisation of a beautiful city that not only I love but thousands more.

Alan Metcalf, Stockton

It’s not about you

I WILL be voting ‘yes’ in the marriage equality postal plebiscite and I encourage you to do the same.

Marriage equality will give same-sex couples the right to marry. It is ending discrimination, it is recognising that all people should have the right to make a commitment to each other and have that commitment receive legal and social recognition. It is a basic human right.

This vote is about one thing only and that is whether or not same-sex couples should be able to marry. Do not be tricked into believing it is about anything other this. Tony Abbott and other Liberals are linking marriage equality to religious freedom and political correctness which is wrong.

They also say if you don’t like same-sex marriage, vote ‘no’. Once again, wrong. It is not about what you or I like, it is about allowing gay men and women to do what they like and to formally recognise their relationships. Join me and vote ‘yes’ for marriage equality.  

Jill Hall, former member for Shortland

All entitled to opinion

OVER many years I've had many gay friends and colleagues. I don't consider anyone's sexuality an issue. In fact, I was still in the military when homosexuality ceased to be an offence. I fully supported this initiative – it should have happened a lot earlier. 

Some months ago, prior to the initial proposed survey, I received an unsolicited post on my Facebook page which included a photo of two men kissing. I commented that I found this inappropriate – I use Facebook for purely social purposes. Almost instantly I received posts condemning me for my comment. Most were very vicious. One in particular advised he was going to find where I live and kill me to prevent another ‘no’ vote. I had not advised whether I would vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in my comment. Another trolled through my Facebook page and made negative comments based on my photos. The only way I could stop this was to threaten to report them to the police. Up to that evening, I would have voted ‘yes’ without hesitation.

Since then I have witnessed news reports of the suppression of free speech from the same-sex marriage lobby. I'm convinced that most of these people are not gay or lesbian, but they are certainly making it hard for someone like me to continue to support same-sex marriage. I don't think these hard-liners are doing the gay community any good. I certainly will not be positively influenced by shouting and fist pumping.

I walk into my local bank and there is a notice supporting same-sex marriage. Many shops also carry such a notice. However, there would be no way I could so freely or safely place a notice on my front gate opposing it. It's a real shame. This is why I'm voting ‘no’. Again, it's a real shame.

Brian Agland, Hamilton

Absolutely no excuse

I AM appalled and outraged by people throwing around reasons why Catholic priests mistreated and sexually abused children, one being celibacy (Letters, 18/9).

I can only imagine how the Church's myriad victims feel.

Why did priests groom, rape, sexually abuse, act sadistically and severely punish children? They did it because they wanted to, and because they had complete control. They thought they could get away with it, and in many cases they did. There is little difference between reasons and excuses. And there is no excuse whatsoever for what was done to all the children in the care of the Catholic church, no excuse at all.

Julie Robinson, Cardiff

Religion optional

IN regards to John McLennan's letter (Letters, 18/9), the first civil celebrants were authorised in 1973 under the Marriage Act (1961). As such, non-religious (heterosexual) civil marriage ceremonies are certainly not a new phenomenon in Australia.

I was married in a non-religious civil ceremony in 1977. I have a 'Certificate of Marriage' to prove it. There was absolutely no mention of gods or any other deities in our ceremony. We pledged our love in front of our family, guests and a state authorised celebrant. That's all. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures (2015) reveal the proportion of marriages performed by civil celebrants has increased over the past 20 years. In 2015, 74.9 per cent of all marriages were performed by civil celebrants. Civil marriages have outnumbered religious ceremonies since 1999. Marriage does not require the imprimatur of religion in Australia, and hasn't since 1973.

Maree Raftos, Newcastle