Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Campaign trail: Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce will contest a by-election after he was found to be a dual citizen. Picture: Perry Duffin/AAP

Campaign trail: Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce will contest a by-election after he was found to be a dual citizen. Picture: Perry Duffin/AAP

What a stupid issue this parliamentary citizenship matter is. Aside from it possibly affecting the Turnbull government’s lower house majority, I am appalled that this matter has also wasted the time of our High Court. 

Why?  I was born and bred in Australia and theoretically I could be elected to either our state or Commonwealth parliaments.

If I were elected to the NSW or any other state or territory parliament, I would merely need to be a permanent resident.

If I was elected to the Commonwealth Parliament, even if I am just an Australian citizen, there is nothing to stop me becoming an agent for a foreign entity, as citizenship has nothing to do with my political beliefs. 

The issue of being unknowingly a dual citizen is even more bizarre. 

A person born here to a parent or grandparent born in another country rightly assumes they are just an Australian, with possible easier access to that country their parent was born in.

However, those caught out should have made sure everything was in order.

It is a great distraction from serious issues facing our nation and the issue of dual citizenship is meaningless, except for purposes of travel. 

Bruce Jones, East Maitland

Thanks council staff

A TRAGIC accident at Shepherds Hill this week saw 62-year-old paraglider Peter Mahony crash into the cliff face.

Despite valiant attempts by rescuers he was unable to be revived and died at the scene.

I am proud to say that members of Newcastle Council’s bushland services team: Mahala Williams, Chris South, Peter de Laurentis and Ashley Bacales were working at Shepherds Hill at the time of the accident and were first on scene to render assistance to Mr Mahony.

I would like to commend my staff for responding immediately to a member of the public and offer my sincere thanks to all involved in the rescue.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Mr Mahony.

Jeremy Bath, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Newcastle City Council

Accreditation failure

REGARDING the department bungle that has led to the Hunter New England Family and Community Services office failing accreditation.

How can you blame an entire region boasting highly dedicated and experienced child protection workers in the Hunter New England (HNE) District for not gaining accreditation (‘FACS failure puts cloud over at-risk children’, Newcastle Herald, 3/11)?

With many workers in this region boasting decades of experience, this is obviously a departmental flaw.

The Public Service Association, which represents workers, is appalled the government failed to give them adequate time and resources to manage continual departmental changes so the district could pass the Office of Children’s Guardianship accreditation standards.

Unlike other Family and Community Service (FACS) workers across the state, HNE workers were overburdened with caseloads and given no time off their normal duties to seek accreditation. This is like getting them to mop up the water while the flood is still rushing in. Many have been left highly distressed at this debacle and while the department has now given them 6 months to meet the Office of Children’s Guardian standards, they fear for the ongoing care of thousands of Hunter families.

The HNE team is chronically under-resourced. It monitors the most children in care (more than 3,200) and the most children at risk of harm of any FACS office.

The PSA has written to Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services, Michael Coutts-Trotter, demanding immediate action to fill vacant positions

Caseworkers and all other staff involved in accreditation have been pushed to the limit. Far too many have sacrificed their own time trying to meet what are unmanageable work demands. Our members are hardworking, loyal and committed - and need the NSW Government to be the same.

Troy Wright, Assistant General Secretary, The Public Service Association of NSW

Laws ‘un-Australian’

The laws that disallow anyone with a parent, who immigrated here regardless of reasons, not allowed to be part of government, stinks, and is up there with the White Australian Policy as being a racist embarrassment. 

To say welcome to immigrants and their descendants in one voice, then say not welcome in another voice, is so un-Australian it beggars belief. And why it hasn’t been rectified long before now, or even brought to question, says little for common sense.

A simple act of parliament could, and should, remove this outdated racist slur on our democracy, sooner than later, and save a lot of money, time and embarrassment. 

To go to the High Court is only passing the buck. They can only interpret the law, they can not make exceptions or change what is. That job is up to parliament, and for only once, maybe politics can take a backward stance and do what is right.

Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek

Story hits home

The Weekender cover story (‘Special Labour Of Love’, Herald, 4/12) brought home the yes/no vote to a personal level, showing us three very personal stories of couples who would be greatly affected by equal rights granted to them.

Two of the couples stated that they had not seen any discrimination until this plebiscite was announced.

People who are homophobic now have a platform to express whatever they have hidden, one couple expressed with great sadness.

I am hopeful that all this anger will disappear on Tuesday, November 7, but I’m sure that Tony Abbott and his supporters will attempt to drag this out for a very long time.

How very sad this whole episode has been and how divisive thanks to politicians as this should have been a parliamentary vote.

Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield

Safe at station

Tim Roberts (‘Short Takes’, Herald, 3/11). I dropped my mother at the interchange two weeks ago, we utilised the lovely wide spots specifically allocated for drop off where she was able to safely exit the car and proceed to the platform.

Kristen Bobrowki, Elermore Vale