Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Thursday, May 17, 2018

HIGH PRICE: Wooden bridges, like Dungog Shire's Wheelabout, are expensive to maintain but are part of the rich fabric that give our communities character.
HIGH PRICE: Wooden bridges, like Dungog Shire's Wheelabout, are expensive to maintain but are part of the rich fabric that give our communities character.

THE state government can help every rural shire if it launches a policy to reconstruct and maintain iconic timber bridges.

Phillip O’Neill fairly criticises Macquarie Street for its Sydney-centric policies starving the Hunter Region of funding (‘Economic postcard from rough end of the pineapple’, Newcastle Herald, 14/5).

I believe Dungog Shire struggles to survive financially because of the burden of an extensive road network funded primarily out of council rates. Keeping potholes patched is hard enough, but keeping our classic timber bridges safe and strong is an impossible task. How about a policy to take to the next election (from both sides of politics, please) that feeds a little of the state’s coal-royalty wealth towards the white-railed picture-postcard bridges that lend such character to our rural roads?

For a shire like Dungog this would significantly help lift the council budget out of the red, boost our rural economy with local jobs and training, and support tourism.

Concrete bridges have as much character as an underground carpark. If the pollies want votes in country electorates, please help us hold on to the charm and heritage in our bridges home-grown and hand-built.

Ken Rubeli, Bandon Grove via Dungog

Top spot to lend a hand

THANKS to Scott Bevan for the terrific coverage of Glenrock Recreational area in the Weekender (‘A city’s backyard’, Weekender, 7/4). The Scout camp area of Glenrock is owned by the Scout association and is used by Scout groups as well as community organisations for different activities.

At present we have a group of 18 volunteer workers (called the “Thursday Group”) who do maintenance around the camp, which involves anything required to keep the camp functional. You don’t have to be an expert to be a worker here, just come and contribute where you can and enjoy the day at Glenrock. Maintenance is becoming increasingly difficult, as our number of volunteers are decreasing due to age and health. Our age range at present is from 60 to the high 80s. We will welcome any help. Please be assured we are a very welcoming group, we enjoy what we do and morning tea is supplied.

We meet at the camp every Thursday at 8.30/9am. If you are interested in helping, you will be very welcome to come down and see us at the camp or ring our leaders, John Knorr on 4959 5210 or 0400 807 608 or Don Keevers on 4959 4719 or 0400 062 935. Whatever time you can spare, we the Thursday Group will be very grateful. 

When you come to think about it, the Thursday Group would be the first men’s shed in the state or Australia which started after the Newcastle earthquake.

Glan Willcox, Elermore Vale

Now we’re over the shock

THE A-League grand final in the cold light of day – it was a great occasion for Newcastle football, wonderful atmosphere but, unfortunately for Jets fans, the wrong result. While I took a few days to get over the defeat I did eventually sit down and watch the replay. As we all know Victory won with an offside goal. Naturally there has been much gnawing and gnashing of teeth in the Hunter in regard to the failure of the video assistant referee (VAR) and rightly so.

It was a tight call and I suspect the linesman may have kept his flag down so it could be referred upstairs, that the VAR had a malfunction beggars belief. Bad decision as it was it didn’t stop Jets having an excellent first half. We are not privy to what the half-time instructions were from the Jets coaching staff, they were clearly still very much in the game and they started the half at a frenetic pace getting the ball forward quickly without really creating anything meaningful. As time wore on it was clear the Victory central defensive pairing of Donnachy and Deng were winning the aerial battle and the Jets play makers, Vargas and Pretratos, were losing the fight for the second ball.

There has been much to admire about the Jets’ more direct style in contrast to some of the negative possession we see from other A-League clubs however big matches are not won with effort alone – patience and composure is needed. Sadly our second half was one of the worst of our whole season.

While the season ended on a negative note, all Jets fans can rejoice in what has been a near miracle season for the club.

Eric Burns, Belmont

Time for a union revival

DICK Marr writes that the protections in past years provided by trade unions is no longer available (Letters, 14/5). It’s no longer available because of relatively low current union membership. I believe Dick could have gone further in his argument and apportioned at least some of the blame to the unions themselves.

Somewhere along their journey unions lost their way, becoming overbearing, less member driven and too involved in politics. It is hardly surprising that membership numbers have dropped alarmingly. However, I believe now is the time for the unions to conduct a serious membership drive.

We have a federal government that appears to lack any consideration for the Australian low-to-middle class worker. Cuts to education and health spending along with the pittance given to the unemployed gives the unions the best opportunity to attract more members than they have had for many years. The opportunity for unions to grow comes as the ALP should be returned to the treasury benches at the next election; a 'daily double' for union members.

My advice to unions would be to get rid of their negative advertising against the government and put a positive spin as to why membership is 'cool'. Unions must plug their achievements and become more involved in local issues. Jack Mundey is still active in fighting local authorities doing the wrong thing; unions would be well served to ask for his counsel.

Mike Sargent, Raymond Terrace

Our pain as the banks gain

THE banks will benefit from tax cuts proposed by the Coalition. The royal commission indicates the banks have destroyed families and businesses for decades. Our banks will be given millions of dollars to increase workers salaries and expand their businesses. In the meantime, workers will service our national debt to the tune of $40 million a day. I believe the government has effectively delayed the surplus to assist the banks. What kind of government forces us to pick up the tab for years of missed opportunities to reach a surplus while the banks get proposed tax relief? They're prepared to prolong our pain while protecting and now supporting our 'great' banks.

John Butler, Windella Downs

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