Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Friday, November 10, 2017

Fitting tribute: The Great War Honour Roll on display at the newly opened Newcastle Transport Interchange at Wickham. Picture: Marina Neil
Fitting tribute: The Great War Honour Roll on display at the newly opened Newcastle Transport Interchange at Wickham. Picture: Marina Neil

EARLY this month my wife and I took the train in to experience the new transport interchange at Wickham.

As a person actively involved in surveying, researching and promoting awareness of district war memorials and honour rolls, I found it most pleasing and gratifying to see that the transport authorities, together with the local community, have reassembled and publicly and protectively displayed the unique marble Great War Honour Roll from Wickham Public School.

It was also pleasing to note the two other honour rolls relocated from No1 Platform of Newcastle’s former railway station.

These publicly displayed honour rolls have a special place in the commemoration history of our region. I would welcome involvement in the preparation of an information plaque or plaques adding commemorative value to these honour rolls by recording their providence in terms of their history, when unveiled, by whom, who made them, where they were originally and detailing their importance.

Ed Tonks, Charlestown

Preschool fees drop

EVERY day, families right across NSW are playing the juggling act of managing their cost of living and a long list of competing priorities.

The NSW government knows how important education is to children to ensure they get the best start in life – that is why we made it a commitment to make early childhood education more affordable for families.

I am proud that just over a year since we made the commitment we have delivered it.

This is huge news for families, with preschool fees dropping for the first time ever in NSW after years of neglect from former Labor governments.

Preliminary results from the 2017 Preschool Census, which surveyed more than 730 community preschools in NSW, shows fees have already dropped by an average of 25 per cent thanks to the Start Strong Reforms. Making quality early childhood education more affordable for all families is a goal of the NSW government’s Start Strong program and the results from the census prove the program is a real success.

The Start Strong reforms were introduced last year to ensure more children had access to 600 hours of quality early childhood education in the year before school.

Under Start Strong, community preschools must use at least 75 per cent of the funding increase to reduce fees for eligible children, with priority given to children from Aboriginal and low-income families.

The social, cognitive and educational benefits gained from quality early childhood education are immeasurable and this investment is absolutely crucial in ensuring children in NSW have the best start to their school lives. This builds on the NSW government’s historic investment of more than $330 million to ensure more children have access to 600 hours of quality, affordable early childhood education until 2020.

Investing in the future of our children is a no-brainer, in my books – because our kids deserve it and our families expect it.

Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Early Childhood Education

Strength during war

THE ABC’s recent TV series Home Fires should be required viewing for all schools and members of parliament. It outlines the impact on women and children in the UK after the beginning of World War 2. 

At little notice, men had to abandon their families to be sent anywhere in the world to fight the enemy, leaving the wonderful women to take on businesses and responsibilities they had not been trained to do. The film shows how they coped then as they did during The Great War.

My mother and her sisters were those women who have not lived to see this film, but with their men away for six years, they coped magnificently despite more civilians being killed in this war than the fighting forces. It would be interesting to know how many of our politicians’ families have been impacted by all wars in their various countries of origin when they are deciding to send our “peace keeping” forces abroad.

June Porter, Warners Bay

Solution should be simple

SURELY we have the most pathetic federal government ever at the moment, especially with regard to the citizenship fiasco.

After bobbing and weaving and denying for so long, Mr Turnbull has come up with the idea that politicians should declare whether they are a citizen of another country or not.

What a stupid idea, if only for the fact that so many of them don’t seem to know whether they are or not.

Surely an independent audit of all current politicians should take place immediately and any necessary by elections held before parliament resumes next year.

Even more importantly, in future, every person nominating for parliament should be independently assessed as to their eligibility so we don’t have this ridiculous situation again.

This would be similar to, but obviously more complex than, Working With Children Checks – which must be done before anyone can work with children, not after some crime may have been committed.

Too simple? Too much like common sense? Obviously.

Robert Green, Georgetown

REVEREND Dr Michael Jensen claims that there can be no ethics without God (‘When we don’t care we are at our worst’, Newcastle Herald, 9/11). 

Has he looked at the ethics program devised by St James Ethics Centre for use in NSW schools? He will find it is quite easy to teach right and wrong without any reference to God. 

Scientific research shows that those who volunteer in their community are happier and live longer than those who don’t. 

So science can confirm that ethical behaviour is beneficial for us. Those of us depending on reason rather than faith can learn from science not God.

Recent history has shown us that belief in God is no guarantee of ethical behaviour: child sexual abuse being just one example.

Can he enlighten us on which God is the most ethical?

In the USA there are more than 2000 sects of the Christian church – all with different beliefs. 

Worldwide, there are hundreds of other Gods worshiped. 

How can I choose which one to believe in to make me perfectly ethical?

Joan Lambert, Adamstown