Letters to the editor January 30 2018

DRY SPELL: People collect water from a communal tap near Cape Town, South Africa. A contributor warns it exemplifies the importance of conserving water. Picture: AP
DRY SPELL: People collect water from a communal tap near Cape Town, South Africa. A contributor warns it exemplifies the importance of conserving water. Picture: AP

THE warning about water shortages from Hunter Water (“Big dry has dams reaching new lows, Herald 26/1), will probably be greeted with a ho-hum approach because of course it has happened before. But what is forgotten is that every time it gets worse because there is a greater water demand due to higher temperatures and more demand from our growing population. 

The casual attitude of governments towards climate change has created disasters all around the globe. In South Africa, the combination of high population growth and a long running drought has left Cape Town so devoid of water that officials have warned that water will be shut off on April 21. After that, water will be issued at 25 litres per person from just 200 stations which will be controlled by police and the army, effectively invoking martial law because the city cannot survive with this level of rationing.

It is a scenario forecast by our Defence department’s recent white paper, which warned that many of our neighbouring countries are at risk from climate change that could lead to a break down in law and order. But of course, this is ignored by politicians.

Don Owers, Dudley


DANNY Katz’s tongue-in-cheek send-up of religion (“Buddhism helps me cope with insects”, Herald 22/1) and Max McKinney’s Topics featuring World Religion Day appeared the same day. Both, in their own way, concerned religions working together as a way of encouraging desirable outcomes through interfaith action and understanding. This has been the primary aims of both World Religion Day since 1950 and the Multifaith Association of the Hunter Region since 1983. Danny Katz wrote that “There is an important message here. No idea what it is. But it’s got to be something.”

The important message, Danny, is that lack of understanding between religions and between religion and science stifles joint action through both. This lack of understanding is the result of comparing the worst aspects of other religions with the best aspects  of ones own  and the best aspects of science with the worst aspects of religion (and vice versa) when all these aspects appeared regularly throughout human evolution at intervals which H.G. Wells refers to in his book The Undying Fire as  “Great movements of the racial soul”. We have been living in such an interval for the last 200 years without recognising it.

Small wonder that 40% of Australians ticked the “No Religion” box in 2016. However if this box had been dissected into three (No particular religion, agnostic and atheist) methinks a very different picture would have emerged. Let us act as if it had been and encourage desirable outcomes through interfaith action and understanding.

Tom Jones, Multifaith Association of Newcastle and the Hunter Region secretary


WHILE he did acknowledge Marcus Westbury’s Renew Newcastle initiative, I hope Michael Cassel, of Hunter Development Corporation and Revitalising Newcastle program, is not trying to take credit for all recent changes to the CBD. Some have been in gestation for years.

However he can claim credit, along with Jeff McCloy, for the public transport disaster that the street tram will be.

Mr Cassel appears to be, in the facetious words of a councillor to me last year, “the czar of Newcastle”. Perhaps that’s the result of council’s naive resolution to work cooperatively with UrbanGrowth.

The “frequent bus loop” he referred to means, for bus users, a wait of up to 15 minutes at Wickham interchange. That’s an improvement in public transport? “The Civic precinct is a hive of activity”? Much less so after council decamps to what Mr Cassel and others call the new CBD.

The boom is being experienced in other cities as well, including Wollongong and Lake Macquarie. No interchanges there. “21 off-street parking stations”? How many will still be around in a few years, at-grade stations at Honeysuckle and David Jones? And how much kerbside parking in Hunter and Scott streets will survive to the east of Worth Place? How will service vehicles for businesses, taxis and emergency vehicles, vehicles to allow customers to transport heavy goods to their vehicles cope? The slogan “short-term pain for long-term gain” should read “for long-term pain”. In the words of McCloy, it’s “a recipe for disaster” (“McCloy reverses light rail view”, Herald 6/4).

Keith Parsons, Newcastle


ON behalf of everybody at Fort Scratchley I would like to thank the 2000 plus visitors who walked through our gates on Australia Day. Nothing makes the volunteers happier than having great crowds enjoying what the Fort has to offer and the response when the guns fired was incredible.

Anyone that enjoyed the experience and would like to consider volunteering at the Fort please contact the Society, for without volunteers we cannot continue to keep this iconic Newcastle attraction functioning. 

Frank Carter, Fort Scratchley Historical Society president


I WENT to the Regal cinema at Birmingham Gardens to see a great film - I think the best one I have ever seen, Three Summers with Michael Caton and Magda Szubanski, on Saturday. It was an appropriate movie to see on Australia Day weekend with people from many different cultures together at a festival in West Australia.

Thanks must go to the band of people who fought to have the Regal theatre retained. It could have and would have been demolished if it hadn't been for them. The theatre was packed and an air of friendliness pervaded the place as theatre goers partook of the free sausage sizzle and wine and biscuits. I suggest others go to this theatre to see what we could have lost and as the saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Elaine Richards, Salt Ash


ESPECIALLY coming from one who was a school teacher, Lesley Comerford's claim (Letters 29/01) to be "not indigenous" was somewhat injudicious.  We are all, every single one of us, indigenous to the land of our birth, so those born to this country, all of us immigrants or their descendants are indigenous Australians. That is their birthright - and mine. It is irrevocable.

Ron Elphick, Buff Point


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