Letters to the editor February 22 2018

TAKE A GOOD LOOK: Plans to overhaul a Scenic Drive site has sparked opposition from neighbours, but Bruce Williams argues there are many worse possibilities.
TAKE A GOOD LOOK: Plans to overhaul a Scenic Drive site has sparked opposition from neighbours, but Bruce Williams argues there are many worse possibilities.

THOSE objecting to this Merewether development (“Scenic stoush”, Herald 21/2) should be careful what they wish for. If their objection is successful, have they considered the alternatives?

Under the current Newcastle local environment plan, the minimum lot size for subdivision on that site is between 400 and 450 square metres. This would result in five new homes, each being up to three stories tall with up to four bedrooms. That is a total of 20 bedrooms. This would be a lot worse than a magnificent mansion with seven bedrooms. Think about those who objected to the Aldi supermarket in Llewellyn Street, which would have been one level plus an underground car park. As a result of their short-sightedness we now have a high-rise development of 37 apartments. 

If the Scenic Drive site is to be developed, which is inevitable, it is hard to imagine anything better than the proposal to which the neighbours are objecting. It could be the most spectacular residence in Newcastle, adding value to all the surrounding properties. It is certainly easy to think of many alternatives which would be a disaster by comparison.

I was born in the shadow of this property 65 years ago and I am dismayed to think that we might lose this majestic site to another subdivision and overdevelopment.

Bruce Williams, Merewether

THE WELLS BEAR SOME BLAME

LITTLE wonder retired hotelier Brian Crooks (Letters 20/2) claims our ongoing problem with alcohol violence is solely a drinker’s issue. Alcohol suppliers have rarely taken responsibility for their business models and service practices that fuel binge drinking. Responsible Service of Alcohol Laws (RSA) largely seem to be very difficult to enforce, or are ignored completely.

The majority of drinkers out after midnight in Newcastle’s CBD are likely to have concerning levels of intoxication. This will always be the best predictor for alcohol-related violence and other harms including drink driving and unintended injuries.

Until such time that the owners and controllers of liquor outlets receive the same harsh penalties as those proposed by Mr Crooks for their patrons, including lengthy bans, I believe the alcohol industry will continue to shift all blame and costs onto others while the Hotels Association, state government and Newcastle council look the other way.

Kate Elderton, Newcastle

WE’VE BEEN TAKEN FOR A RIDE

A COUPLE of weeks ago the Uber car hobgoblin sent me an email asking me to sign a petition protesting against the temporary passenger service levy our state government has imposed on all point-to-point transport providers in NSW.

Every trip taken by Joe Public in a taxi, hire car, Uber car and ride-share service attracts a levy of $1. I signed, very willingly. 

Last week I had an email from the office of The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. No name, no signature. May I quote from that email?

"The NSW Government's legislation of ride-sharing in NSW in December 2015 and other point to point transfer reforms have delivered greater choice and flexibility for customers. However, the changes have not been easy for many in the taxi and traditional hire car industries. The levy funds an industry adjustment assistance package of up to $250 million, helping people like mums and dads and retirees who have put their life savings into the industry and are now doing it tough. The levy will be in place for no more than five years or until the maximum of $250 million is reached."

I'm gobsmacked, I'm furious and I'm almost laughing because it's so ridiculous. This is from a department in a state government that sees no valid reason for compensating the business people of Newcastle who have had their livelihoods decimated. Go figure!

Ruth McFayden, Merewether

I DON’T INK IT LOOKS GOOD

THANK you Jeff Corbett (“Welcome end to ink era”, Herald 17/2) for broaching the subject of womens’ tattoos. In my opinion they are the worst thing a female can do to their bodies.

I can handle seeing a good tattoo on a male if the artwork is decipherable, but a lot of it now is just a jumbled mess. Females with tattoos? No way. It looks ugly, degrading and, to a lot of people, it makes the person with the tattoos look threatening.

When I go to do my banking, there is nothing worse than dealing with a female in a short skirt with tattoos up the sides of her legs and on her arms. Same as being served at a shopping centre by a similarly inked staff member.

There are a lot of ridiculous tattoos and places to put this so-called artwork, but I think one of the worst places is the one that runs down the back of the legs.

What is that all about?

If there are any cleanskins out there who are thinking about getting tattoos, have a good long think about it. Remember they will stay with you for life, unless you painfully and expensively opt to have them removed.

Melville Brauer, Gateshead

HOW MUCH WILL BILL COST

I HAVE grave concerns that our democracy is being denigrated and am deeply disappointed with the way our current government is continually taking steps to further erode the rights and will of our society. Transparency is a major issue in politics today. The government plans to make changes to the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. If it goes ahead, this will have a huge impact on our civil society and hamstring democracy.

I am an avid follower of Getup and believe they keep politicians honest. GetUp has independence from political parties. Forcing donations of more than $4.80 a week to be witnessed and signed by a justice of peace is outright outrageous, ludicrous and not practical, and I believe designed to discourage any donations to these groups. How unfair is this when major corporations and the fossil fuel lobby will be exempt? I see it as another way to attack fundamental democratic freedoms and add to the growing inequality in Australia. I am imploring the Labor party to stand up for democracy and block this draconian legislation. If this bill goes ahead next Monday, I think it will restrict the ability of ordinary citizens to participate in our country’s politics. In my view this bill is fundamentally anti-democracy and must be rejected outright.

Loretta Steers, Hamilton

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