Well, the Queen’s Birthday honours list has been released and we prepare for the usual division within the community of who is and who is not worthy of receiving an award and the reason for receiving it.
When you take a look through the list of recipients, it really does make you wonder if the awards are really worth the type of comments and animosity they cause. This time we have women’s groups complaining that the list includes only 37% female recipients. While I listen and read all these comments, I think of someone very close to me and others who had over 30 years of distinguished service with the army on a full-time and part-time basis who did not even receive a thank you letter on completion of service.
These people witnessed many award presentations during their service that often left people shaking their heads in disbelief. The person close to me often questions if it was really even worth it, and now he gets on with life offering help where he can helping ex-servicemen and women who, like himself, were injured during service.
Kerry Redman, Waratah
BERNIE’S A LESSON IN CLASS
WE OFTEN hear the phrase a scholar and a gentleman used as a compliment. May I heartily endorse the selection of Dr Bernie Curran for his Order of Australia award (“Bernie Curran rewarded for support of rural university students”, Herald 11/6).
He truly is a scholar and a gentleman, and has inspired multitudes of students and colleagues to aspire to their goals. I am sure that there are hundreds of people who he has inspired either by direct encouragement or simply his own example. Bravo, Bernie.
Gerard Prietto, Stockton
A TALE OF THE DETAILS
NEWCASTLE East Residents Group (NERG) sought access to certain Supercars documents which happened to include the services deed (“V8s race deed kept secret”, Herald 9/6). Newcastle City Council refused to release all the documents, including the services deed, so NERG successfully appealed the decision to refuse us access.
The council lodged an appeal against the original decision and we all now await the outcome of that appeal. A day before the second proceedings got underway, the council felt obliged to give NERG a copy of the services deed. Through the pages of this newspaper, NERG then informed the public that the council’s former chief executive had entered into an agreement to keep the contents of the deed a secret. So secret that the lord mayor herself says even she herself has not seen a copy of it.
The document defines confidential information as including the deed’s terms and conditions. But it also states it stops being confidential if the confidential information “is in or becomes part of the public domain”. In spite of council's best efforts to stop NERG seeing the deed (and it is still trying to stop us seeing it in its entirety), I believe the group has actually helped the lord mayor and councillors do their job.
So, on behalf of herself, all current and recent past councillors, and especially the long-suffering ratepayers of Newcastle I would like to hear Cr Nelmes come out and thank the membership of NERG for shining a light into a very dark corner.
And, just in case present chief executive Jeremy Bath is yet to release a copy of the services deed to the lord mayor and councillors, the membership of NERG is willing to provide each of them with copies (still heavily redacted, of course).
Les Brennan, Newcastle East
FINES FALL FURTHER AFIELD
IN REPLY to the parking story ("Council parking fines ruin day for footy fans", Herald, 11/6): footy fans are not alone.
In the "revitalised" CBD, the council's infringement officers are prowling the streets in the eastern CBD and Newcastle East, booking people at 7am. They are still at it at 7pm, even though the timed and paid parking regimes are between 9am and 5pm.
The traffic and parking areas are in a constant state of flux due to the tram construction and David Jones redevelopment. A good example is Newcomen Street between Hunter and Scott Streets, where a two-hour parking area for four to five vehicles is now a no parking zone to accommodate a shuttle bus which occupies, during its very infrequent visits, two spaces at most.
This deprives users of at least two spaces in an area where parking is at a premium. Enquiries to council have met no response. Meanwhile, apartment owners in Scott Street have been locked out of their undercover garage spaces for many months with no end in sight. Spaces have been made on the roof of the mall parking station. Downer have surrendered their 20 reserved spaces for some apartment owners. Requests to have council do likewise and swap some of their 40 have been denied by council management. Why? Who knows.
Keith Parsons, Newcastle
A SIMPLE QUESTION TO TRACK
QUEENSLAND has its fast tilt train, Victoria has quick intercity trains and even the West Australians have the Prospector to link Perth to the goldfields. These all travel at speeds up to 160km/h. Meanwhile, we have to accept the slow old Newcastle train which creeps along at half that speed. Why?
Once, years ago, the state government planned to improve our train to create a two-hour service between Newcastle and Sydney, but then that target was quietly dropped. Why? We know the government is getting some new intercity trains, but there are no plans to upgrade the track to allow higher speeds. Why? Frankly, it’s absurd that our current train service is slower than the old Newcastle Flyer. We know that the federal government has funded the preparation of a business case to create a two-hour Newcastle to Sydney train service - why?
Doing a business case for something so obvious is just an excuse to do nothing – just get on with it. It seems that other states can have fast intercity trains, but not us. We are simply left to wonder why.
Tony Proust, Newcastle
MONARCHY IN AUSTRALIA
I WISH the new royals well, but their wedding struck me as a display of social class; royalty, aristocracy, gentry, the rich and famous and the occasional plebeian. Is that the kind of class system we want in Australia? Isn’t about time we had a republic with our own head of state? Social inequality can never be erased, but surely we can do without the privileged lording it over the have nots. Leaders should be picked by ability, not birth.