Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Monday, May 14, 2018

SAVING: There is a very real possibility of a rise in crime due to acts of desperation just to survive, argues one contributor who feels Newstart needs a shake-up.
SAVING: There is a very real possibility of a rise in crime due to acts of desperation just to survive, argues one contributor who feels Newstart needs a shake-up.

I AM writing this letter in regards to Centrelink Newstart payments. I feel the payments need to be looked into as a matter of urgency and it is imperative that the government needs to look at other ways to discourage long-term unemployment other than keeping payments low – perhaps a system whereby you are credited according to and in regard to how much you have worked, thereby resulting in a larger payment for those who have contributed to society. 

At the moment I feel that the system is especially unfair to the elderly who through no fault of their own (redundancies and such), are unable to get work due to their age and/or health. I would like consideration going to partnered payments not just single, as at the moment if you are single and over 60 on this payment, you receive $100 more a fortnight than those who are partnered.

These payments are a pittance and the resulting stress is not only taking its toll on physical health but also mental health. Most are struggling to put food on the table, and keep a roof over their heads, even this could be alleviated by raising the rental subsidy. 

As far as this payment goes the question is: are we living in 2018 or 1990? People are getting desperate and there is a very real possibility of a rise in criminal activity due to acts of desperation just to survive.

Karen Starkie, Waratah

Stand up and say no

PORT Stephens Council’s charter is the wellbeing of residents and the care of our precious environment – it’s not demonstrated through this proposal (‘Sand trap’, Newcastle Herald, 10/5). The Cabbage Tree sand mine will provide relatively few unskilled employment opportunities, minimal return against resources value, chopping it down, digging it up and flogging the community’s resources to plug council’s budget.

The PAC was told in submissions council had instructed residents in the PFAS contaminated zone not remove any soil or natural materials from their properties to minimise contamination distribution.

This project will allow half a million tonnes of sand to be removed and distributed all over the country with little concern where it ends up.

Front page headlines remind us every day that Williamtown residents are under extreme pressure through the threat to their physical and mental health and devastating impact on their property and business values.  Residents will now be forced to accept a dusty, noisy mining operation 20 metres of their properties.

The council has been seizing media photo opportunities to celebrate a state grant for a Koala tourist/medical infrastructure designed to cover the embarrassment of the Mambo wetland land fire sale. They know this facility has the potential to raise the profile and income at their Treescape tourist facility, once again dollars are a driving force. The survival of the koala in Port Stephens is entirely down to the protection of koala habitat so the removal of 42 hectares of native vegetation at the Cabbage Tree mine site is unacceptable. The council is supposed to be the frontline of environmental planning and management.

Williamtown residents’ only option now is to keep a close eye on activities associated with the sand mine operations, ensure they’re fully cognisant of the conditions of consent reporting any breaches loud clear. They are already battle weary and all concerned Port Stephens residents who care should stand up.

Geoff Dingle, Medowie, former councillor

Fair go for all

DEMOCRACY is apparently defined by our present government as “government of the dominant for the dominant”. Kicking the vulnerable to advantage the privileged is, therefore, the new normal.

Unions of the disadvantaged in the past protected the interests of the vulnerable somewhat effectively from the adverse effects of untrammelled development. Consequently, we can still admire the classical architecture of city buildings and enjoy local and national parks, most of which would be history if not for the strong and united resistance of the union movements of 60 years past. Since then, big business and sympathisers in government won the propaganda war which convinced the current generations that union membership is “uncool”, legally suspect and only for the “lower classes” which are now, as a consequence, under represented and unheard.

In this climate we can only be onlookers to serious assaults on our localities (see Cabbage Tree Road, Supercars, etc). If we ever want to reassert our basic rights, protect our living amenity and recover self esteem, the public in general in communities such as Newcastle and the Lower Hunter must “unionise” and start to collectively demand a fair go in all areas of budget largess, infrastructure and amenity.

Otherwise, brace yourselves.

Dick Marr, Newcastle

Case for containers

REGARDING Mike Sargent’s letter (Letters, 11/5), the newly-announced Port Botany rail link will only take a small proportion of trucks off Sydney’s congested road network.

Those sending freight to Port Botany by road face huge ongoing costs of tolls on WestConnex and other main arteries, estimated at around $16 million per year.

Port of Newcastle sets out a strong business case for a Newcastle Container Terminal in its submission re: the Draft NSW Freight and Ports Plan. It includes transport cost savings of greater than 30 per cent for central west and northern NSW exporters, savings for importers as well as a reduction or deferment in public spending. The savings are outlined on page 16 of our submission available on the Port of Newcastle website.

Roy Green, chair, Port of Newcastle

Bottom score for design

I HAVE recently done some travelling and while at a couple of motels I had the unfortunate experience of having to use square/rectangular shaped toilet seats.

Apart from being uncomfortable as I do not have a rectangular bottom, the thought struck me that someone has probably received a design award for this modern design. I say unusual as the curved or rounded toilet seat, evolved over many years, was designed to suit the contours of the human posterior.

Whoever designed this modern seat, either doesn’t use a toilet or thinks that design aesthetics is superior to comfort and, dare I say, function.

Bruce Jones, East Maitland