Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Thursday, March 1, 2018

CHANGES: The death of Jake Rhodes has revealed a gap in legislation around pool fencing. The toddler gained access to a pool through a temporary fence.
CHANGES: The death of Jake Rhodes has revealed a gap in legislation around pool fencing. The toddler gained access to a pool through a temporary fence.

I READ with much sadness your story on the drowning death of Jake Rhodes and his father’s guilt, anger and sadness with this tragic event (‘Inquest finds need for pool rule change’, Newcastle Herald, 28/2).

Our family installed an in-ground pool recently and we found the temporary fencing of this structure to be a great difficulty.

Our pool was operable as far as swimming was concerned but we were yet to do the surrounding support decking to hold the permanent safety fencing and gates.

The hire of a temporary fence was expensive (and I think would be a big factor in non-compliance in some cases), and quite frankly it didn't do a very good job in our opinion.

We purchased pool fencing lengths and made up our own safety fence for the last few months of construction, which I doubt would have passed Newcastle City Council strict final pool fencing rules. 

Our pool installer had no interest in the fencing of the site and once the pool was installed and filled (one week) only came back once with their engineer to sign off on what they had done. We were left to police ourselves until we were ready for the council to do their final check.

I admit we were over the top a bit with security, installing pool gates and latches to our other two side fences into the area, but nonetheless it was a worry that we were very glad to put behind us once the final fencing was installed.

There is a "big gap" in the time between installation and filling of a pool, and the final fencing being installed and approved.

Let’s hope the coroner’s findings leads to more awareness of this danger period and helps close "the gap" that let down Jake.  

Kathy Wilson, Lambton

Marine park ‘invasion’

ONE reason given for the failure in January of NSW Department of Primary Industries NSW/Huon’s fish farm is 11-metre waves (though average swells at the time were only about 6 metres).

East coast lows, like the one that grounded the Pasha Bulker on Nobbys beach, routinely generate swells of greater than 14m, yet we now read that the Huon cages were designed to cope with waves of only “8.5m from the south and 6.5m from the south east” (Port Stephens Examiner, 15/2). 

How could NSW DPI permit such a large-scale trial like this using such enclosures in a NSW marine park? And this at the same time a bid for World Heritage listing for the whole Port Stephens estuary system has begun.

Let’s have independent monitoring of the fish farm, an overhaul of a state departmental structure that helps ‘industries’ invade national parks and let’s see them instead preserve and promote the most valuable asset here – our pristine environment.

David Scott, Medowie

Wages stagnating

THIS week, data from the Bureau of Statistics revealed what too many Australians already know – wages just aren’t keeping pace with hikes in the cost of living, and millions of workers are effectively going backwards.

This is a damning indictment on the Turnbull Liberal government, who have actively supported cuts to penalty rates and the minimum wage, and now want to hike taxes for workers who earn more than $21,000 a year after giving people earning more than $180,000 a year a tax cut.

At the same time, Mr Turnbull wants to rip $65 billion out of the federal budget for his corporate tax cuts – even though a third of big public and multinational companies already pay no tax.

When our government relentlessly attacks workers’ pay and conditions, and when they would rather hand over $65 billion of precious public revenue to big business than invest in health, education and the critical public services we all need, Australians have every right to ask who they really represent.

Sharon Claydon, Federal Member for Newcastle

Where are the women

I AM watching the Q&A program on ABC TV (26/2) and a young student asked the question about "female representation" in our Parliament. 

This question was a stimulus as earlier that morning I had watched the news conference by the new leader of the National Party and his cohorts. 

At that time I observed all these men and one woman visible and another (the whip of the party) not as visible.

I thought to myself why all these men? Don’t the National Party like women to represent them in their electorates?

I answered my own stupid question.

Donald Mennie, The Entrance

Help struggling business

THIS letter comes months too late and for that I am sorry, but this is a plea to council and to our local paper to please support the small businesses in the Newcastle East/CBD area who have been suffering for too long.

It is already a deterrent for people to drive in to town with the horrendous roadworks and traffic and so for businesses to actually get customers in there is a miracle in itself. Then they spend even more time driving trying desperately to find a park and when they do they're then dealing with paying for parking! And the guys in their hi-viz are out dealing fines.

Council, please do something to make going into town easier and appealing and cut the small businesses who have been doing it tough throughout this long drawn out roadwork's, some slack.

Bag those meters.

Kylie Pratt, Islington

Ensuring entitlements

CENTRELINK would annually send a letter to all pension recipients asking for details regarding income and assets so that pension entitlements were accurate.

I have just noticed that my wife and I have not received letters for over 18 months; therefore, I went online to update Centrelink’s records to assure that we are receiving the correct amount in our pensions.

I would have phoned Centrelink to find the reason however, past experience has found that waiting times to speak to anyone can be upwards of three hours.

If anyone else has found that they, too, have not been receiving update details letters, it would be best to either do the update on line or visit a Centrelink office to assure that you are receiving the correct pension.

Depreciating assets such as car, caravan, allocated pension, bank accounts etc. need to be accurate to assure that your pension is also accurate.

Michael Stevenson, Warners Bay

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