Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Saturday, October 21, 2017

TAKE IT EASY: There are calls for large groups of cyclists who wish to race at speed to consider using roads and stay off the Fernleigh Track for the safety of pedestrians.
TAKE IT EASY: There are calls for large groups of cyclists who wish to race at speed to consider using roads and stay off the Fernleigh Track for the safety of pedestrians.

THE Fernleigh track is a shared pathway, shared with bike riders, runners and walkers. The track is quite narrow and depends on sensible behaviour of those parties sharing the track.

On Wednesday at approximately 9am, my wife and I were walking on the correct side of the track near the Oakdale Road crossover headed towards Whitebridge. We came upon a peloton of bike riders on a blind corner. This group of six to eight riders occupied most of the track (both sides) and were headed our way at a very fast speed.  

At the same time we were approached by a fast-paced group of about five bike riders from our rear. The rear group shouted alarm and undertook emergency braking procedures. A number of the rear riders came off their bikes and/or ran into the safety rails. The oncoming riders merged as best they could onto their side, but the riders on our side would have collided with them had they not rapidly braked.

My wife and I stood as best we could to the side of the track and waited for what we saw as an inevitable collision of bikes into our aged bodies (we are both in our mid sixties). Fortunately by causing some injury and stress to themselves the emergency braked riders left us uninjured.

I understand this to be not the first time this has occurred with walkers severely injured in the past. Given that young mothers wheel prams on this track – again I stress that it is a shared track – I am astounded by the reckless behaviour of some riders. I hope this sounds a warning to all and encourages riders to moderate their risky behaviour. If they wish to ride at speed in large groups they should do this in safer environments such as public roads.

Wayne Enks, Dudley

Together we stand

NOW we are ending the voting period for the same-sex marriage survey can I say thanks. Thank you to the letter writers, for and against. Most arguments against had solid arguments that I don’t concur with. Some were just plain silly. Thank you for the entertainment. Thank you to the Newcastle Herald for showing real life couples who this debate affects and has affected.

But mostly thank you has to go to our friends and family who in some cases have copped abuse supporting us and our community but still have openly and lovingly supported us and the ‘yes’ case.

We won’t know till mid-November if the ‘yes’ vote has won but we have all lost by the government doing this in the first place. This debate has exposed a nasty undercurrent in our society that I only hope will settle once debate ends. To those who will find our same-sex marriages unpalatable I offer a hand. A hand of friendship. Because we aren’t going anywhere. We will stand up proud as married couples, legal or not.

Andrew Whitbread-Brown, Cardiff Heights

Stopping senseless cuts

NOVOCASTRIANS should breathe a sigh of relief at news the Senate won’t support the Turnbull government’s savage $2.8 billion cuts to universities.

If this legislation had passed, the University of Newcastle would have lost $100 million over the next decade; students would have had to pay thousands more for degrees; and the repayment threshold for HECS would have dropped dramatically to $42,000.  

I’m especially pleased our world-class enabling programs have been given a reprieve. If it wasn’t for these programs, tens of thousands of people wouldn’t have a degree. This legislation was always about helping to fund $65 billion worth of tax cuts the Turnbull government has promised big business – not improving Australian universities.

If Australia is to thrive in the global knowledge economy, the last thing we want to do is discourage some of our brightest young minds from undertaking higher education.

The government now needs to accept the will of the Senate and the Australian people and drop these senseless cuts.

Sharon Claydon, federal Member for Newcastle

It’s all about votes

I WAS listening to interviews on local radio with residents in the contaminated area about their grave concern that the Turnbull government is slowly poisoning them and their children and this interview was followed by interview with a scientist from Newcastle University who has just prepared a report on the effects of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese and the American soldiers forced to handle these chemicals.

The scientist reported that after four decades the soldiers were still having high rates of birth defects and cancer. Our local residents have not been able to get any assurances out of this Coalition government that illness will not be the future of the people trapped in the red zone. The Turnbull government is not interested in spending in opposition held electorates. Just compare the $90 billion being spent in South Australia to protect the seat of Christopher Pyne. Out of the huge funds set aside for Defence there are ample funds available to acquire all the properties affected. Defence could run detox programs. This simple solution will not come about until the Turnbull government believes the voters will reward them. As in Vietnam, are these suffering residents to be still the same 45 years later?

Frank Ward OAM, Shoal Bay

Ensuring premiums rise

MY car insurance is shortly due for renewal. A little over a week ago, I received a letter from my insurance company informing me that my insurance is coming due for renewal and extolling the virtues of their company. I said to my wife “it sounds like they are buttering me up for a premium increase". Yesterday, I received the renewal notice. The agreed value of the vehicle had been decreased by 12 per cent and the premium had increased by a whopping 45 per cent.

Inflation in Australia is at historically low levels and wages have stagnated in the last few years. How can a company justify a 45 per cent increase? I did online quotes from seven other companies that had provided quotes last year. These quotes had also increased significantly. Our television screens are saturated with insurance advertising that obviously costs large amounts of money. Could it be that these increases in premiums have a large bearing on advertising costs? As usual, the customer ends up paying for over-inflated budgets that businesses seem to think that they need.

Michael Stevenson, Warners Bay

Letter of the week

The Herald pen goes to Jonathan Silberberg for his letter about trying to change his parking permit.