Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Saturday, October 28, 2017

LEARNING: Fostering a love of books in children should begin at an early age but while books are attractive to youngsters, they are no match for the allure of screens.

LEARNING: Fostering a love of books in children should begin at an early age but while books are attractive to youngsters, they are no match for the allure of screens.

I WAS really interested to visit Newcastle city’s new library. Overall it looks amazing, congratulations. I visited during the week with my four-year-old son. We went to look at the beautiful new children's area.

When we first walked in I was extremely disappointed to see a computer screen with games on it set in a table right where we needed to walk past to go to the books. As a parent in 2017, I can't tell you how hard the screen time battle and balance is.

Technology is amazing and useful and educational. It has changed our whole life in many ways, often for the better.

However, when it is a distraction from something as amazing as books then it is not useful. The screen in the table is very attractive to little people. The sounds in a quiet space are distracting from the purpose of the designed area.

Books don't need to be in competition with screens. They are already attractive and amazing but when we put a screen in a room that is meant to be for reading, what message are we giving young people?

Are the books not enough on their own? Please, please remove this computer screen from the children's reading area. The books are more than enough. Let's not forget that a great book is a gateway to an entire world. Having music and beeping interrupting this magic is abhorrent.

Kate Drew, The Hill

Save the butterfly cave

JEZZAKA Brown is to be commended for her passionate fight to save access to the Butterfly Cave at West Wallsend (“Butterfly Cave threat”, Herald, 26/10). 

It is important to her, to the women of her family and to all indigenous women. It is time that other women spoke up for their indigenous sisters, who in the past have suffered terrible abuse at the hands of early white settlers.

This has been a sacred site for thousands of years and continues to be today. A road 10 metres from it, and houses 20 metres away, will destroy its tranquility and access. 

It’s not just a cave. It’s time we showed respect for its cultural significance and supported the people who could give us all a lesson in conservation and the importance of traditions. Let's hope greed doesn't over-ride integrity.

Kaye Duffy, Bar Beach

Suburb getting spruce-up

WHILE the loss of 18 trees at Carrington (Letters, 27/10) is regrettable, I can assure the Carrington community that Newcastle City Council has their best interests at heart.

Carrington locals would be aware of the history in regards to the make-over of the Young Street commercial area undertaken by council in the 1990s. To recap, street trees planted in the roadway as part of this project grew vigorously, causing damage to pipes, paths and road pavements. Over time this has resulted in trip hazards, localised flooding and interruption to services. Road safety issues include a non-compliant parking layout with inadequate manoeuvring space and traffic thresholds which are mistaken for pedestrian crossings.

Many requests have been received from the public regarding these issues. Recurrent maintenance works are a Band Aid solution at best and expensive to continually repeat.

To adequately address the issues identified at Young Street, we undertook extensive community consultation over many months, and I personally door-knocked many homes in Carrington to speak with locals about our plans and to hear their concerns.

I'm pleased to say that Newcastle council is now taking decisive action. Yes, we have removed the problematic trees.

The good news is, we will now completely reconstruct the damage caused over the last couple of decades. The Young Street Reconstruction Project will see millions of dollars invested into completely upgrading Carrington's local amenity by replanting mature, native Australian trees in raised planter beds, upgrading footpaths, installing new drainage, resurfacing the road and constructing brand new kerb and guttering.

I assure you, the results will be fantastic for Carrington locals and visitors alike.

Jeremy Bath, interim chief executive, Newcastle City Council

Technological stupidity

I UNDERSTAND Malcolm Turnbull has admitted that the NBN is a big mess. What hasn't been prioritised in this debacle are the elderly and disabled people who rely on their phones as a lifeline.

I believe some who have managed to connect to the NBN find that the security systems and panic buttons they had installed on their old phone systems no longer work because they are not compatible.

There was a simple box under the phone that took a few minutes to install and connected to a receiver worn by a vulnerable person.  

A simple push of a button meant talking to a real person or help was on its way. Not any more. And what did those in charge suggest? That these people use mobile phones to contact to someone for help.

So they expect that person who has fallen over or suffered a medical episode should be able to locate and successfully push the right buttons on a small and confusing electronic gadget.

I just keep wondering how much more technological stupidity we are going to be sold and accept as progress when it is clearly nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Ann Ellis, Merewether

Services stagnating

GOVERNMENT ministers continue to make statements that make Australia the laughing stock of the developed world.

Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield claiming the broadband system they are delivering will be the envy of the world, when at the moment we are placed 50th in the world for internet service, and the list of complaints and loss of jobs and money is growing by the day.

Statements from the Prime Minister claiming we have homeland security equal to the best in the world – plainly false with just one example being the handling of the Lindt Café siege.

While we may have systems and access to make that true, it is not being utilised and manned to have its full potential.

Can anyone name one service or policy handled by this government that has not stagnated or in most cases gone backwards? Simply throwing money at a cause does not mean results.

Allan Earl, Thornton

Letter of the Week

The Herald pen goes to Bob Walker for his letter about Newcastle’s nicknames.