Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Thursday, October 19, 2017

NO FAITH: Why should churches be given taxation exemptions in light of the horrendous revelations made in the recent royal commission?

NO FAITH: Why should churches be given taxation exemptions in light of the horrendous revelations made in the recent royal commission?

IT’S an ill wind that blows no good and it has taken the tornado of exposing sexual abuse within religious organisations and others, to finally expose where some of taxpayers’ funds are spent. This means that as the economy is faltering, everyday mums and dads will be looking for their hard-earned tax to be spent wisely. 

Jeff Corbett's article (‘Big business of change’, Herald, 14/10) is an excellent account of the hideous idea that religious organisations are exempt from paying money for the general upkeep of society whether it is roads, water, councils, pensions, disability payments etc.

I believe it is very important that taxpayers know the inordinate amount of government money that assists these already lucrative businesses. Corbett suggests people buy religion because of the comfort it provides in "the promise of sins forgiven and eternal life". He also suggests these businesses are "created for the benefit of those who created it and manage it".

I can relate to his analogy and when I became aware of the criminal conduct etc, of these people, I quickly and angrily dispensed with my "dependent, chronic Catholicism". I hope this message will be the catalyst for somebody more knowledgeable than me to explain how these religious organisations have been able to dupe and hoodwink us into believing they are worthwhile members of the community.

The royal commission into sexual abuse has "Shone the light" on the heinous crimes and cover up that has been conducted over centuries. We are human beings not a commodity and in 2017 we are very aware because of excellent journalism by Joanne McCarthy, Louise Milligan and now Jeff, as they have exposed the de-humanising of victims/survivors of sexual abuse.

Pat Garnet, Newcastle East

Future is not sour

DID Paul Scott have a lemon for breakfast when he submitted 'Futurey interchange for suited and booted city' (Herald, 16/10)?

It was an opinion piece heavy on cynicism and cuteness casting aspersions on anyone associated with the new Newcastle Interchange. Making comparisons with projects in Spain and a walkway in Sydney. Phew. Hope he didn't kick the house cat on the way to work that morning.

The interchange and light rail is a generational change for Newcastle. It was always going to be contested. A project of this magnitude was always going to be subject to modifications and improvements as it got under way. What didn't change was the NSW Liberal National government commitment to the revitalisation of the city and its ailing transport modes and infrastructure. Business as usual couldn't continue. Labor wouldn't or couldn't do it when they were in power. With utilisation of public transport running at less than 4 per cent and a lack of confidence in the city up to 2011, it would have been derelict to turn our back on Newcastle. The Hunter Region is too important to ignore. But the CBD desperately needed revitalisation including removing the divisive, investment killing heavy rail.

The interchange is the first milestone. At $200 million, it is one of the largest single public infrastructure investments in the region. And there is another $450 million to follow. That includes an extra $150 million following community consultation that helped make the case for no overhead wires for light rail.

As Minister Constance remarked at the opening of the interchange on Monday, the negativity is a thing of the past. The battles are over. The political opportunism of the ALP is a matter for the historians and voters in 2019. Let's now turn our energies into making Newcastle transport work and planning next steps for all modes of public and private transport using traditional and emerging technologies. My advice to Paul would be to avoid the sour citrus for breakfast and experiment with some of the great new cafes across the Hunter.

Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter

Rail our ‘economic link’

ROSEMARY Bunker, your "we can have it all now", is far too short sighted, for the corridor, (Letters, 17/10). A far more breathtaking, simpler solution, was to strengthen, not weaken, what should be Newcastle's strongest economic link with global Sydney.

Sydney's 1979 eastern suburbs railway line was put into a densely built-up area. Too late, though, to reach Bondi beach. This is regarded as a loss. Had services on the long neglected intercity rail corridor, with global Sydney, been 90 minutes, end-to-end, as they should be, pulling nationally important infrastructure from an Australian coastal CBD, which has no peer, would have been laughed at. Despite huge time gains, high speed rail networks are put right into city centres. Ironically, the Herald also reports our job figures are heading in the wrong direction. This shows the need for that strong economic link with Sydney.

Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park

Nobody likes change

WITH regards to that scribe who said we should embrace public transport. I agree. I used to use public transport until the government caved in to the developers and closed the railway. As I have said on numerous occasions, the railway provided a direct service to the city; now it's gone.

For public transport to be attractive there needs to be a timetable people can use and services need to be convenient. The previous Labor government ruined the bus timetables while the present Liberal government ruined the train timetables.

A service where people have to change does not attract people. If anything it drives them away. That's what happened when the railway into the city was closed. The railway would have been of great benefit to those going to the new university campus as Civic station was across the road.

There was a time when people had a choice between using good public transport to get into and out of the city or they could drive. That is now a distant memory. Indeed it would seem many have forgotten about the railway. Much has been made of the light rail and the shiny new interchange, but in spite of the interchange being at the junction of two major thoroughfares, the reality is that people will still have to change.

It remains to be seen just how much the interchange and the light rail (when they finish it) will attract people to "get on board" and embrace public transport. In the meantime it may be a good idea to put a bus shelter out the front for those who want to use the shuttle bus.

Peter Sansom, Kahibah