Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Monday, February 5, 2018

NO DEAL: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been criticised for supporting the production of weapons by attempting to boost exports through manufacturer loans.
NO DEAL: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been criticised for supporting the production of weapons by attempting to boost exports through manufacturer loans.

IN providing $3.8 billion in loans to the war weapons manufacturers to boost weapons exports, the Turnbull government is promoting Australia as an exporter of death and misery.

Surely we should be seeking to promote peace not war.

The Middle East has been mentioned as one area to which weapons sales should be directed. Hasn’t there been enough death, misery and carnage promoted in those countries by Western interference already without wanting to encourage further military activity by selling weapons to countries in that region?

Turnbull claims an arms exporting industry will create jobs. Surely that $3.8 billion of our money can be used to promote socially and sustainably useful industries rather than those profiting from selling weapons of death and misery.

Many jobs could be created by re-establishing a car manufacturing industry, but one producing electric/solar powered cars, for example. 

Bevan Ramsden, Lambton

Upgrade a good start

THE friends of Smith Park welcome the upgrade of the playground equipment this has been well overdue, as Smith Park is a heavily used park.

We still have concerns about the carparking issues, as Oztag are at three afternoons a week, soccer and cricket on the weekends. Smith Park is surrounded by Griffiths Road which is four lanes, Boreas Road a speedway and how has over 100 buses using it a daily, Parkside Avenue is only a lane that is heavily use by deliver trucks for the business on Broadmeadow Road. Carparking for Smith Park as not been addressed.

Cr Nelmes said: "Safety is always a top priority, but it's about finding an appropriate balance between keeping children safe and letting them have fun.”

Is part of the fun dodging cars when trying to get into the playground when their parents cannot get carpark?

John Dart, Friends of Smith Park

Need for speed ... humps

I AM writing regarding the ongoing speeding issue in King Street, Shortland.

As you enter King Street Shortland from Marton Street Shortland you are within a school zone and within that school zone you are in an 800 metre straight.

Tuxford Park, which has a children's playground located next to the road and is used for many sporting events, is also located immediately next to King Street. Many residents use King Street for public transport, exercise, walking dogs, children on bikes or walking to school.

Shortland is also home to the Hunter Wetlands which is home to many native birds and animals. Often these animals wander or land near King Street as it also has the green corridor which used to accommodate the old Hunter Water pipeline.

On Thursday, February 1 a group of children with adults were getting into their car near Tuxford Park children's playground King Street, Shortland. As the adult walked around the car to get in, a white 4WD with red P-plates entered King Street and floored it, doing more than 100km/h before reaching the park.

As it approached the car parked on the opposite side of the road, the 4WD seemed to lose control and began to travel in the direction of the car parked near Tuxford Park. Fortunately the driver was able to jump back however this near miss must have been incredibly close.

I can only imagine the horrific accident this would have been if that vehicle had collided with the stationary vehicle.

It was brought to my attention by a resident later that afternoon that he witnessed a car speeding along King Street earlier that day and killed a white cockatoo and did not even attempt to stop.

I would like to know how I can petition for speed humps to be placed along King Street before someone is killed.

Linda Lobban, Shortland

Police cop it freely

HOW ironic – a man lecturing police on democracy (‘A dog’s tale of the Laman Street figs’, Topics, 1/2).

The police are one of the most overt manifestations of a democracy as the state agency that protects the rights of citizens to live in peace and safety and to exercise their rights to free movement, assembly - and protest.  

They are also required to protect the democratic institutions of the state and, on occasions such as this, to ensure that decisions of democratically-elected representative bodies, such as councils, are implemented safely and without danger to those charged with carrying them out or those exercising their right to protest against the decision.  

No doubt Mr Walsh felt pleased with himself, shouting at the poor old police (and you can see from the photograph that the police officer he is haranguing is listening intently), but perhaps the next time he joins a protest, he might like to reflect on how lucky he is to live in a society where he is free to yell nonsense at the poor police who are simply doing their job of protecting him and everybody else.

A question for Mr Walsh: have you contemplated what may have happened if the police had not been there when the fig trees came down?

John Ure, Mount Hutton

Finland faltering

LIKE most people who worship at the altar of the Finnish school system, Jerry Garland views it through rose-coloured glasses (Letters, 3/2).

With its late starting age, focus on play and disdain for private schooling, Finland became the darling of the left when it topped the international PISA tests for literacy and numeracy a decade ago.

Sadly for the fans, Finland’s halo has slipped.

It now appears to be little more than a statistically insignificant blip.

I understand it was not in the top five for reading or maths in the most recent PISA results.

Nations with more traditional school structures, earlier starting ages and strong support for private schools – Singapore, Estonia, Hong Kong, Switzerland – all performed better than Finland.

I believe Finland also suffers from one of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD.

It seems that keeping children at home until the age of seven and neglecting rote learning of fundamental skills is not the path to educational nirvana after all.

Scott Hillard, New Lambton 

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