Newcastle Herald letters to the editor Tuesday January 23 2018

MEAN STREETS: One contributor questions whether we are offering enough help to the homeless in Newcastle, asking "how this can be happening in our affluent society".
MEAN STREETS: One contributor questions whether we are offering enough help to the homeless in Newcastle, asking "how this can be happening in our affluent society".

WE are building infrastructure and housing and hosting sporting events at great cost whilst people live on the streets of Newcastle. Alan, who lived in the doorway of my office, and David and Denise, who live in their car at Pat Jordan oval are living examples. They seem decent and fairly normal and not that different to most of us so what is wrong? They have fallen through the cracks.

They say that they are on the department’s housing list and are in the system. It is taking a lot of time with a lot of properties vacant. Their welfare benefits do not mean that they can rent somewhere to live because they fail the usual rental history tests or cannot afford the rent. They have exceeded the normal limits of the various refuges. What is left?

It is not my problem. I sleep in a bed in a home with a meal each night. I have to look at it and live with it though and I do not like it because it could be me one day.

I question how this can be happening in our affluent society.

Craig Doyle, Newcastle 

STOCKED UP ON QUESTIONS

In 1953 as a 10-year-old, my family moved to Pitt Street, Stockton, where the swimming centre is now. Across King Street where the Stockton caravan park is now, there was a garbage tip. Along with many others I used to fossick in the tip looking for anything of value or interest.

Council trucks used to dump their loads on this site. As a Teachers College graduate I left Newcastle in 1963 and returned in 2006, so I was not aware of changes in that time.

My questions are: what ever happened to that tip and its contents? When was the caravan park established? Can anyone else remember this, or the shark net?

Frank Alley, Ashtonfield

MAKE IT A TREE CHANGE   

ON my walk this morning I went past the light rail work being done on Hunter Street between Auckland and Union streets. I was saddened to see that nine mature trees on the northern side of Hunter Street have been cut down. I suppose the three beautiful mature trees on the southern side will soon go also. It is a shame that some thoughtful engineering work could not have been done to preserve these trees which do so much to soften the urban streetscape and make it a pleasant place to be. I hope that the trees will be replaced, even though I will not live long enough to see them again in their mature beauty.

Kevin Harrison, Newcastle

A NATIONAL DATING GAME

MOVING Australia Day from 26th January would increase unity and reduce division, Jeff Corbett (‘The division is outdated’, Herald, 20/1).

The injustices inflicted on Aboriginal Australians, which began on January 26 1788, have continued down through generations for 230 years. A stark division between the two societies persists to this day. Aboriginal people are still worse off compared to the rest of Australia in income, housing, health care, life expectancy, education, rates of imprisonment and employment. Australia Day is “Invasion Day”, a day to be mourned – whether people like Mr Corbett accept or like this or not.

In any case, what makes January 26 so worthy of celebration for people of Anglo-Irish descent? It can hardly be regarded as a day for celebration. This is the date when a bunch of criminals were dumped on these shores to fend for themselves or die in a prison camp half way across the world.

Many of these criminals were escaping execution. Most of them were not nice people. However, they did enjoy a good drink, just like many of their descendants today. Maybe that’s where this Australia Day tradition comes from in the first place. But perhaps the convicts weren’t celebrating. Instead they may have been trying to forget and to escape their lot in life.  

Many Australians today, or their forebears, came from elsewhere in the world and feel no connection whatever to indigenous Australians, the Anglo-Irish or January 26. To them, the date is meaningless.  

So moving Australia Day from January 26 whilst pleasing Aboriginal people should be a matter of indifference for most non-Aboriginal Australians, apart from a few recalcitrant traditionalists who have not thought the issue through. Moving Australia Day should reduce division and increase unity among all Australians , which could only help us to celebrate the day together.

Geoff Black, Caves Beach

LEADERS MUST BE DECISIVE

THOUSANDS march in the US in protest against Trump’s style of rule, but the sooner people realise our leaders are not meant to be Mr or Mrs Nice Guy, the sooner they can get on doing their job. Their job is to make hard economic decisions, getting best value for taxpayers’ money. They are no different from company directors looking after shareholders.

Trump appears to withstand public opinion which is way different from here, where our leaders crumble at the slightest sign of unrest and make bad financial and other decisions.

Trump realises he won't be re-elected. He just gets on doing his job, unlike here where the next election is always part of most decisions. Could we do with another Trump here? l think we could do a darn side worse, considering the way we are heading. Do we want a strong leader, or a wimp that bows under pressure, with self-preservation the ultimate motivator?

Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek

BATHE THEM TWICE A WEEK

IT was a pleasure to read about the care of the Newcastle Ocean Baths under Peter and Jan Walmsley (Letters, 22/1).

As a regular morning visitor, it is sad how smelly and dirty the water becomes through the middle of summer.

Most mornings I take my swim behind the break at the beach, grateful for the presence of any early surfers. However, in my opinion the gentleman who currently tends to the baths area is very diligent and hardworking. 

I recall reading in the great Dawn Fraser’s autobiography how dirty the water would become in her training pool at Drummoyne (after she shifted over from Balmain) as they only changed the water once per week. This was in the 1950s.

The baths would surely become more amenable if the pool was emptied and refilled twice per week over summer, ideally not shutting for two days. 

With residents increasing and hopefully improving transport, it is conceivable that the issue will not go away.

Craig Gardiner, Wallsend

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