WHILE many Novocastrians are worrying about their lawns going brown, they should spare a thought for the farmers who produce our meat, milk and fruit and vegetables. How must it be to have thousands of acres of dry, desolate paddocks with hundreds of livestock to feed? I am a hobby farmer with 23 acres in Paterson without a blade of grass to be seen. The dam is at the lowest point it has ever been, so putting sprinklers on is out of the question. On the property are five ponies and a horse which are hand-fed five bales of hay a week, plus other supplementary feeding to keep them going for the time being. Most of my fruit trees are long gone and I wonder, just how on earth a farmer can survive or make any sort of a living off the land in these harsh conditions. I take my hat off to them.
Olwyn Edmonds, Eleebana
HEAVY LOADS MAKE IT HARD
THE recent crackdown on cowboy truck drivers and poorly maintained vehicles is worthwhile but it is not the whole story. A truck of 64 tonnes and up travelling at 100km/h represents hundreds of millions of kilograms and metres per second of momentum. The truck driver is incapable of changing his speed at short notice. He needs kilometres. The driver of a one-tonne car wanting to pass needs kilometres of clear straight road driving at up to 150km/h to safely pass. For what purpose?
Obviously driving behind a truck is not a good view. And once passed he has to keep up his passing speed to prevent the truck from hitting his rear.
It is up to the truck driver to stay in the left lane where possible and car drivers to be patient. Time gained by passing is measured in seconds, so slow down think of the safety of your passengers.
John McLennan, Charlestown
BRANCHING OUT TOO FAR
WHEN 170 trees were razed to make way for the Supercars circuit, the council promised they would be replaced with 230 'advanced shade trees' in 'better locations' that would 'deliver substantial improvements in shade' (“Cut down”, Newcastle Herald, 6/5).
I believe the lord mayor implied an overall landscape plan had already been drawn up when she presented 'state-of-the-art computer imaging' to show the public exactly how much greener and more beautiful this parkland would look in five years’ time.
If there was an overall landscape plan, it seems to have disappeared. Instead residents have been told the 'staging' of the replanting will begin in March with the planting of 24 trees. The council has no overall plan as yet.
It is not hard to see why a detailed landscape plan has ceased to exist when it seemed to me that trees not even listed to be cut down were being chainsawed right up to the event. This included much of the undergrowth in the park to make way for the extensive temporary infrastructure Supercars imposed on top of Newcastle's parklands.
The public were uninformed as to the scale of Supercars' temporary infrastructure. Portable sheds, extra grandstands, the sheer size of the pit facility, TV screens and the huge range of catering services covered every skerrick of grassland, save the oval needed for the concert. All of this infrastructure required as much parkland as possible, including the space underneath the remaining trees. Trucks also required space to move this infrastructure into and out.
It is not clear how the projected number of trees can be replanted while all this land is required to stage the Supercars event for at least another four years. In the meantime the area looks denuded. Lots of empty parking spaces though. Shame they are in the wrong place and aren't lined by trees.
Dr Christine Everingham, Newcastle East
WE NEED OUR SHARED SPACE
PAUL Keating once said “never get between a property developer and a pot of money”. He should have added: “or a plot of public open space”.
You can’t blame the Australian Property Council, which was to unveil a new vision at a function on Friday (‘Showtime’, Herald 9/2). Their raison d’être is to politically advocate for the interests of its members: the property industry and those who feed off it, whether it’s in the public interest or not.
To me the most prominent visual feature of the “vision” plan is privatisation of public land: masses of speculative medium/high rise housing and a high rise hotel. It's strategic planning on the run. Sadly, public open space is always fair game: think King Edward Park.
The Property Council has form. At a recent function, developer architects argued for a high rise hotel on top of the former Newcastle Post Office, claiming incorrectly that the interior could be gutted as it had no surviving heritage fabric.
They claimed it would be Newcastle’s equivalent of Sydney CBD’s Westin Hotel. The Westin sits behind and within the former post office, not on top of it! Hopefully Jerry Schwartz’s bid (Herald, 3/2) will secure ownership and we will see genuine, sympathetic progress for this iconic building.
Keith Parsons, Newcastle
BOOZE IS NO GOOD
DO we really want to extend drinking times? It has already been shown that the so-called Newcastle solution was highly successful. While we measured the reduction in incidents and assaults at venues, we of course had no way of measuring the reduction in domestic violence. But there surely would have been a reduction.
I am perplexed by the support shown for change by our state government, who I believe have cosied up to the Australian Hotels Association. Alcohol causes more health problems and medical costs to the state than other forms of poison.
It seems strange that you can go into a supermarket and get reward points for purchasing alcohol but not tobacco products.
I do not think many people go home and bash their wife and kids after having too many cigarettes.
No sane person could prosecute a case to show that encouraging and facilitating the consumption of alcohol over longer periods is a good thing. To show how fair dinkum the hotels are, it is interesting to note that the venue that had the most incidents does not serve light beer on tap.
Sandy Buchanan, Largs
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THIS week’s pen goes to Merewether’s Ruth McFayden for her letter praising staff hearing complaints about bus changes.