Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

BIG BUSINESS: If we are to consider churches as a commercial entity, then their customers are surely entitled to the same protections as those of other businesses.
BIG BUSINESS: If we are to consider churches as a commercial entity, then their customers are surely entitled to the same protections as those of other businesses.

CHURCHES sell a commercial product and should come under commercial law.

Jeff Corbett suggests the Newcastle Anglican Church cannot reform until it weeds out its employees who have presided over the protection of paedophile priests and others, within its organisation (‘Big business of change’, Herald, 14/10). Few would disagree with his proposition. Corbett‘s solution is rather drastic. He suggests “children would be safer sooner if the Anglican and Catholic dioceses closed up shop”. However, this would infringe on people’s freedom of religion. It is better to protect this freedom. But how? One way would be to subject churches to the same laws as businesses.

Corbett maintains religion is now just another commercial product that people may choose to buy. He suggests people buy religion because of the comfort it provides in “the promise of sins forgiven and eternal life”. But the delivery of such promises is always a matter of belief, and can never be verified. This is a little like the promises of naturopathic remedies. Private health funds are about to stop subsidising these unproven remedies. On this basis, it is nigh time the taxpayer stopped subsidising churches.

If religion is just another commercial product, its consumers need ACCC protection. Since churches cannot be trusted to reform themselves, they should also be subjected to ACCC scrutiny. Corbett suggests churches, like any business, are “created for the benefit of those who created it and manage it” – i.e. the clergy. We have the corporate watchdog, the ASIC, that makes company directors accountable to shareholders. The church hierarchy should come under the same scrutiny. If they act immorally, or against shareholder (churchgoer) interests, they should be called to account – fined and imprisoned if warranted.

Geoffrey Black, Caves Beach

Where time stands still

REGARDING all the millions of dollars on rail projects being spent in our area. The mind boggles. The Adamstown gates are still as they have been for decades and still frustrating Newcastle motorists.

Man has been to the moon ages ago, yet we are no further in having this absurd monstrosity fixed than we were over 60-plus years ago. Also the ridiculous lack of parking at Broadmeadow station is still hopelessly inadequate, as always has been.

How wonderful is the spin we are being fed about how good our Newcastle rail is?

John Chaplin, Merewether

On track to have it all

MR Fletcher’s image of a ‘faux community’ of house-sitting, time rich NIMBYS hijacking positive momentum in the city is hilarious (‘Rail rezoning call to arms’, Herald, 13/10). With the use of emotional, outworn language – for example: ‘fantastic, world-class, unrivalled liveability’ – he does little to contribute to the debate over the future of the rail corridor. The issue is the so-called ‘development’ of the rail corridor, particularly that part between Perkins and Newcomen streets, where a large slice of land will be excised, most of the Market Street lawn, from the corridor and added to Scott Street to make the Hunter/Scott street route possible. The argument has come full circle, with a solution breathtaking in its simplicity: put light rail on the corridor track, and build high rise structures over it. This gives Newcastle the transport plan we need and the potential for high rise as well. To look at what has been accomplished with ‘revitalisation’ is commendable, but it diverts attention from the most serious issue: regional and suburban connectivity. We do not need the promise of parks and entertainment areas, Mr Fletcher, in exchange for one small piece of track. We can have it all now.

Rosemary Bunker, Cooks Hill

Getting tough on drugs

I WAS astonished to read that health service staff will not call the police if people affected by party drugs present at a hospital seeking medical assistance.

Does the medical profession have a confessional exemption, similar to the Catholic Church, to reporting lawbreakers? Illicit drugs are tearing society apart and here is a government department ignoring the crime.

Surely the best way to eliminate the problem is to hold users in custody without treatment until they name their supplier who, in turn, is held until the supplier of that person is named, and so on down the line to the king pin. We spend billions sending our troops to hell holes in the Middle East, to face death or injury fighting the civil wars of other countries, but our governments don't enforce the drug laws at home.

Bruce Brown, Marks Point

An individual decision

I FOUND most of Les Hutchinson’s comments (Letters, 20/9) to be personal beliefs which appear to reflect an entrenched bias against matters of faith held by those with Christian beliefs. He talks about the “brain washing” of children. During my many years of interaction with young people in our church (from 8-18 years plus), I have never for one moment considered them as an opportunity to impart “dodgy religious doctrine”. I always told them to talk to trusted adults and then make their own decision.

My Christian beliefs were formed between the ages of 4-18 years, and came together at age 18 while I was studying engineering at Melbourne University, while I was undertaking my compulsory national service military training and while playing cricket and Australian rules football as my weekend sports. I was not “brainwashed” by “those superstitious forces of bigotry and fright”, as Les might want to suggest. I achieved commissioned officer rank in the army and was a respected professional design engineer for 37 years. I hold my Christian faith of 62 years dearly and am willing to share my faith journey with people – young or old – and I am completely confident of my Christian beliefs and ministries. I only have one question for Les – what do you believe in?

Vic Austin, Kotara South

Paying price of ‘progress’

SEEING our council (Newcastle) is full of vision for the future i.e. light rail down Hunter Street and Supercars races etc, and as suggested by some not to be greedy i.e. high rents etc, maybe the council should take the charge and lead and drop land rates instead of increasing them? I own a building in town, and like many businesses in town, am doing it tough because of these bright ideas. I can't get enough work done to my place because of barrier fences, no stopping and bus stops. Ill-thought disruption that is costing me tens of thousands.

Name withheld