THE Newcastle Herald published a letter of mine some little time ago suggesting that the bus parking area adjacent to the former Newcastle railway station might be used for recreational vehicle (RV) and other visitors to Newcastle, alongside a properly-resourced visitor information centre (Letters, 21/3/18).
RV visitors would include those towing caravans, or driving motor homes or campervans.
The Herald has occasionally published letters from RV travellers bemoaning the lack of a proper RV-friendly visitor information centre; anyone who has travelled around Australia will be attest to the many places which have excellent visitor information centres, often catering particularly for RV travellers, with easy access and safe short-term off-street parking.
To become effective as a destination, The Station needs more than just another venue for the locals, who are probably over-supplied with options as it is, especially in the evenings, and mostly too busy to enjoy it through the day.
The main north-south highway, now the M1 freeway, bypassed Newcastle a long time ago, so RV travellers need some enticement to come into Newcastle. But many RV travellers simply give Newcastle a wide berth, because it is just too difficult to visit and even more difficult to conveniently access visitor information.
Newcastle seems to be not at all interested in RV travellers, but it is difficult to understand why this is so.
They have out-of-town money to spend and will become ambassadors for the city if treated hospitably. But they do need space to park while they are accessing visitor information.
The Station and its adjacent bus terminus would seem to provide an ideal opportunity to establish a first-class RV-friendly visitor information centre, including light refreshments, souvenirs and local artisan produce. And those same RV travellers would not be spoilt for choice, as nearby locals arguably are. Surely this is worth some serious thinking about and planning, especially when the light rail starts running? Or is Newcastle deliberately aiming for something a bit more “up-market”?
Karel Grezl, Charlestown
WHAT ABOUT THE WORKERS
TIME and time again I've read letters commenting on John Church and how he was called a name. Letter writers have made various comments regarding the council's response or lack of response.
People have come to his defence, but I want to put something into perspective, what about the council workers – the garbos, the road workers, the gardeners, the office staff and parking officers? Where are the letters of sympathy, the calls for inquiries? I don't seem many of those letters being written.
Maybe those defending John Church may want to defend a council worker the next time someone writes in unfairly criticising a council worker. Put your money where your mouth is.
Nathan Bower, Cardiff
The Newcastle Herald published an article recently about the Hunter Joint Organisation being awarded $420,000 grant for a contaminated land officer to deal with tainted site issues (‘Grant to manage tainted land sites’, Herald, 6/2).
As an Independent candidate in the March state election for the seat of Port Stephens, I was a little concerned by the subject matter. This represents another case of the state government migrating a state function onto local governments or the private sector.
First, we lost state control of power generation, then water and sewage services, followed by the poles and the wires, not to mention allowing private; independent building compliance and enforcement providers to all but replace state based building compliance.
This shift of an EPA responsibility may not sound like much now but neither did the sell-off railways or introducing toll roads. What happens once the grant runs out, who's going to be left holding the bag, the ratepayers?
What gets my goat is that the LGAs haven't publicly explained how they will fund these new roles and responsibilities when the handover is complete. Surely with a title like “UPSS Contaminated Land Specialist” the salary won't be much short of $200K with everything taken into account? Or do they intend to have someone take this role on as part of their current duties?
Why haven't the major party candidates raised this issue as a future burden upon those communities they represent or hope to, perhaps if they did it may be reconsidered.
With state governments continuing to shift the responsibility for most everything onto other stakeholders they will need to be careful they don't migrate themselves out of relevance all together!
Bill Doran, Tanilba Bay, Independent candidate for Port Stephens
INVITATION TO SMUGGLERS
ON Wednesday I watched on Sky News as Labor's Bill Shorten explained some of the "bill". He almost had me convinced that the "bill" was well thought out and that it addressed all concerns over illegal immigration, in particular, the "new bill" will only apply to existing refugees on Manus and Nauru and totally exempts new arrivals – that was until Kieran Gilbert (Sky News) put the following very pertinent question to Anthony Albanese: “If a new boat load of illegal immigrants arrive and there is one or more humans with life-threatening illnesses, will you do the humane thing and allow those suffering to be brought to Australia for urgent medical attention?”
The question was not answered.
So as far as I am concerned this is a serious flaw in this legislation and will certainly give the people smugglers an open invitation to attempt to restart the horrific people smuggling trade.
Neil Fletcher, West Wallsend
FRANKLY, HERE’S THE FACTS
I HOPE to be able to clear up the matter about pensioners losing franking credits.
It seems that so long as a person is collecting a pension, even part pension, before the 30th of June this year they will not lose the ability to claim franking credits back at the end of each financial year.
There are so many lies doing the rounds that are causing a lot of anxiety among us pensioners that rely upon the pension with a little bit of extra from a modest share portfolio.
A lot of this anxiety can be laid at the foot of the LNP for sure. This information was obtained from Bill Shorten’s office this morning (13/2) if anyone wants confirmation on this topic.