Newcastle Herald letters to the editor: January 1, 2018

POWERFUL: Liddell's day is done, Richard Mallaby argues, and future coal-fired power stations may struggle to keep up with increasingly efficient renewable sources.
POWERFUL: Liddell's day is done, Richard Mallaby argues, and future coal-fired power stations may struggle to keep up with increasingly efficient renewable sources.

PETER Devey (Letters 22/12) suggests coal is the only way of producing a reliable electricity supply. But 90 per cent of interruptions to power supply, including blackouts, are caused by events affecting power lines, many involving extreme weather. Failure to address our warming environment will increase both frequency and severity of these events, increasing power interruptions. 

AGL and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) agree that ageing, complex, coal-fired power stations are not reliable, particularly in the heat of summer. Coal-fired units out of service for planned and breakdown maintenance, or failing to come on line, have contributed to recent blackouts when demand exceeded supply.

AGL is already operating Liddell well below nameplate capacity to help reduce power failures. 

Not only do wind and solar generators now produce power more cheaply than coal-fired plants, they are in comparison far simpler processes and consequently less prone to failures. Yes, they need energy storage backup, but with 22,000 sites suitable for hydro pumping identified in Australia only a fraction of these will need to be developed to provide a secure, balanced grid. 

With economists now promoting wind and solar as the cheapest form of power generation, and major financial institutions worried about the long construction times and massive costs of coal-fired stations becoming stranded assets, it is likely many of the 1600 projects listed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) worldwide will be reviewed. If only our federal government, which still does not have a credible climate and energy policy, had embraced one a decade ago we would be in a far better position now.

Richard Mallaby, Wangi Wangi


I READ with interest the letter by Scot MacDonald (28/12) and there are a couple of fundamental points that Mr MacDonald fails to mention.

Whether he likes it or not, Tim Crackanthorp was elected as a Member of Parliament to represent the seat of Newcastle in the State Legislative Assembly. On the other hand, Mr MacDonald is a member of the Legislative Council and really represents no specific area of the state, despite being Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast.

Indeed many folk believe the state’s upper house to be a waste of money and a non-necessity. States such as Queensland have no such upper house. I would have much more respect for Mr MacDonald, and his views, if he took up the challenge and contested a seat in the lower house.

Mr MacDonald is entitled to his opinion on Boxing Day trading, but one wonders if he was at work on Boxing Day? Personally, I believe that no shops should open on Good Friday or Christmas Day and that people who work on the public holidays should be paid penalty rates (double time, in other words, paid for the public holiday and paid for working it).

John Pritchard, Blackalls Park


WHO is Newcastle deputy lord mayor Declan Clauslen (Letters 27/12) kidding? Building renovations are meant to enhance what was there before. The new male area at Nobbys has four toilet cubicles and one disabled. There are two individual urinals. The female area has seven and one disabled.  

The hand basins and showers are external. There is no soap, no toilet brushes and no receptacles for females to dispose of used sanitary products. Where are Cr Clausen's “hygiene improvements” on display here? And since when did you need to do a renovation before you introduced a “higher frequency of cleaning schedule”?  

Each toilet pan is enclosed in an area 900mm x 1500mm. These have been specifically designed with the dual role of change area and toilet. In 1.35 square metres a parent will be expected to juggle a couple of toddlers while they change their children and themselves, all the time sharing this limited space with a toilet pan ("Don't put your hands on the toilet, darling").   

The disabled toilets are the same size as the other cubicles. Woe betide anyone who tries to manoeuvre a wheelchair in there. 

Putting lipstick on pig doesn't change the fact that it’s still a pig of an idea.

Les Brennan, Newcastle East


PARENTS, let’s unite about Nobbys (Letters 27/12). As a grandparent I cannot believe I am being asked to change a toddler in a toilet – even a toilet supposedly wider than most. Has anyone considered the health implications of this task? My understanding of a toilet is it is best suited for urination, defecation and the paying of attention of females to sanitary habits. 

Can the deputy lord mayor Declan Clauslen advise as to how you would get a toddler to keep their hands in the air (and to themselves) for the duration of time it will take to change them? As for changing ourselves – I am not sure many of us would wish to subject a toddler at groin level height to such an experience.

When it comes to changing of nappies do you suggest we lay the child on the floor, on the toilet seat or maybe hang them from the back of the door in a sling?  

Jackie Furey, Newcastle East


JUST where does this idiotic state government get off re-hashing this ridiculous policy (“Cemetery plan causes grave fears”, Herald 21/12) of theirs once more? I remember this tripe being bandied about a number of years ago, and it was utter nonsense then.

The dead should be allowed to rest in their own little patch of earth. It’s quite obvious that the state governments are too lazy to set aside land for new internments and they don’t have the heart enough to let the dead rest in peace.

It’s hard enough for a young couple these days to save a deposit for a house, let alone having to save for the rest of there lives just to keep their dead in their graves! Can you imagine the cost involved for the family?

As a genealogist, I have stood at the side of graves of quite a number of my ancestors who arrived with the first and the second fleets. Are the state government talking about rousing these historic figures out of their last resting place as well?

Who next? Dig up our dead prime ministers? The government wouldn’t be game to do it to them! My advice to the state government is to back off this ridiculous plan of yours or risk joining the doll queue after the next election. Let the dead have eternal rest, it is their right.

Lynnette Carrall, Kurri Kurri


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