Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Great leaders are remembered not just for the length of their term, or how they managed the economy, or for how they juggled the politics to keep the government in power. No, they are remembered for deeds of leadership, compassion and moral courage. Our own former Prime Ministers offer excellent examples.
Gough Whitlam, whose government was by any measure shambolic, is nevertheless remembered fondly as one of our most visionary and progressive leaders for his stand on Aboriginal Land Rights, free tertiary education, advancing women’s rights, and many more ground-breaking improvements to our society.
His successor Malcom Fraser is remembered for his stand on Human Rights. John Howard, notwithstanding the length of his tenure, is most remembered for his leadership in changing gun ownership laws following the massacre at Port Arthur.
So Prime Minister, how do you wish to be remembered? Certainly, for more than holding a fractured government together, or enabling our government to destroy our country’s credibility regarding human rights, especially our treatment of refugees?
If you wish to cement an honourable legacy there are three important things you could do right now. Close the offshore detention centres, and let us open our arms to refugees. From there you could move quickly to ensure indigenous people are recognised in our Constitution and enact laws that will permit same-sex marriage.
You could wrap the lot up in a nice piece of theatre, too. Simply announce your intentions in your party room then step outside and give a press conference whereby the world will understand that, at last, we have a leader in charge. History will thank you for it.
Chris Cull, Cooks Hill
COAL ONLY GETS SO CLEAN
I believe the opinion piece promoting the idea of a new coal-fired power station for the Hunter by Stephen Galilee of the Minerals Council (“Hunter support for HELE solution”, Herald 5/9) was misleading. High power prices in recent times are due to many things, most notably because the three massive electricity retailers that also own power stations – AGL, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia – have been making huge profits on our electricity bills.
Building new coal-fired power stations will not fix this problem.
Even Treasurer Scott Morrison recently acknowledges that power produced from so-called HELE coal power stations would be at least double the cost of current power stations.
The term HELE – high efficiency low emission – is itself misleading.
New coal-fired power stations, even those described as ‘ultra-super critical’ or HELE, only marginally reduce toxic emissions that cause and contribute to asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, respiratory disease, headaches and nausea in nearby communities.
Cleaner air and better health in the Hunter will not be achieved by building more coal fired power stations. It is possible, however, by investing in a mix of renewables and storage, which provide reliable power and produce no toxic pollution.
Nicola Rivers, Environmental Justice Australia
GET THE MESSAGE THROUGH
I love the beach as does the rest of Newcastle. But please note Zaara Street is a no through road now, and has been for months. There are barricades and signs but every weekend people are trying to turn left into Zaara Street from Scotties then find they can't get through.
This brings the traffic to a stop while they do a U-turn in the middle of Zaara Street. Do us all a favour: wake up and read the signs so we can all enjoy the beach without getting stuck in traffic jams.
Kylie Fischer, Newcastle East
MORE THAN IDLE TALK TO ME
Thank you Michael Stevenson, (Short Takes 2/9): Yes I do find "BCFing fun" offensive, and also the innuendo of "Up Ship Creek”. So much so that I wrote to the Advertising Standards Bureau, and the Southern Cross Austereo in relation to 'Goggle Box" (seen whilst channel hopping). The standard reply is that the language is acceptable.
Far more acceptable adjectives can be found in our English dictionary. There was a time an adult would never use the F-word in company, let alone in front of children. No wonder our communities’ ethics and standards are declining. It seems the TV producers will do anything to get our attention.
How sad for our children to have this pushed on them. Teach your children filthy language is not acceptable. Show them interesting ways to express themselves.
Kathryn Clarke, Lambton
THAT DISCONNECTED FEELING
I write to you in relation to the inadequate service and support from Optus, Telstra and NBN. Further, services such as the Telecommunications Ombudsman is completely overwhelmed by the mess that is not being managed by these telcos.
We have had no home phone and internet service since May.
Our service was rendered inoperable by Optus when we asked them for a data upgrade, they created a duplicate phone number, destroying our access.
It took them more than two weeks to work that out. We switched to Telstra in June with promise of connection in three days. Line remediation work was promised on 21 August. An NBN technician attended four days later and the remediation work hadn't been done. Our connection date is now slated for September 19: 5 months, and we are still not connected to a home service that most of us consider basic. We have spent many hours and too much time trying to get help from these unresponsive organisations.
Our family has been unable to rely on this home connection for study and work and normal communication needs. At this point we've simply had enough.
Though I believe we are not alone in this predicament, as the only house in the street that is unconnected, it certainly feels that way. The big telcos and the NBN need to get their act together.
Chris Egan, Charlestown
LAMENTING DRY CONDITIONS
Hats off to Northern NSW for hosting the NPL grand final at McDonald Jones Stadium. However after the 70th minute, headed for extra time there's nothing more lonesome, morbid or drear, than to stand at the grand final on a hill with no beer.