THE recent spate of horrendous accidents on the M1 demonstrates our need for an efficient rail service for both freight and passengers (‘Speeding up’, Newcastle Herald, 6/8). Had state and federal governments spent just a quarter of what goes towards roads on new rail infrastructure, we would have a world-class service.
Instead, we have rail lines that have not been re-routed in 100 years. Express XPT services were introduced in 1982 and we still use those antiquated carriages. Fortunately rail staff are generally excellent, making trips on those trains as pleasant as possible for passengers given the age of the rolling stock in which they travel.
On the Newcastle to Sydney service, we still don’t have a train that can match the old flyer for convenience, service or travelling time. I believe governments should hang their heads in shame at the neglect of our rail services.
The lack of efficient rail freight services has led to the increase in road freight and the accompanying risk of major road accidents and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Get that freight back on the line.
Joan Lambert, Adamstown
TIME TO WIPE OUT NEPOTISM
I BELIEVE Alexander Downer’s outburst after his daughter failed to win the seat in South Australia by-election (‘Downer slams 'abuse and hatred' aimed at aspiring politician daughter’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/7) is a classic case of snobbery.
It seems Mr Downer thought his daughter deserved to win the election purely because that she is a Downer. In his tirade, Mr Downer claimed that the winner’s supporters must have been new arrivals and his family had contributed to the region for decades. But is not everyone who worked in this country a nation builder?
The doctors, nurses, police, labourers, farmers and journalists all have contributed to this once great country. In my opinion Mr Downer’s dummy spit is a classic case where he expected his daughter to win. Sadly, nepotism is rampant in all walks of life.
When the Turkish Constitution was written, Ataturk insisted that no relative of a current serving politician could be employed by the Turkish state to ensure employment was gained by merit and to wipe out nepotism. In my view, one only has to look at the current political parties to see nepotism is alive and well.
Alan Metcalf, Stockton
SHARES OF BLAME FOR JOBS
SCOTT Hillard (Short Takes, 3/8) seems big on sweeping statements without supporting them. "We produce enough food to feed the entire global population many times over"? I think not. Wait until the drought really bites.
I think the federal government’s theory that we need to bring in young migrants to support our ageing population fails to recognise that in time they will add to that problem, necessitating even greater numbers of young migrants to be imported. It becomes a never-ending cycle of unsustainable growth. The current mob in Canberra can't see past the next election and protecting their perks. Their proposed policies all centre on the big end of town, where companies are driven by ever-increasing profits to pay huge executive remuneration and bigger dividends to relatively wealthy shareholders.
Many of the current problems commenced when big companies decided to link executive bonuses with the rise in share value. That resulted in job shedding, suppressing wages and sending work offshore. If the economy is to be allowed to grow, lower income earners need more to be able to spend.
The assertion that giving big companies big tax cuts trickles down to create more jobs and pay better wages is a myth. Big companies are as profitable as ever but continue to shed jobs and suppress wages. They don't need a government handout, least of all the big banks. Added to this madness is governments continually sending jobs offshore, and arguing that it is cheaper to do so, while local workers lose jobs. That doesn't seem to factor into their costings. Give us the net job figures to provide a true picture please. Mr Prime Minister, you get a fail from me.
Zenon Woloszyn, Rutherford
REMOVAL A STONE COLD ACT
I BELIEVE it is theft and I have reported it to Maitland police. An official opening plaque has been removed from the entrance to the Bolwarra Wetlands Reserve several kilometres north of the Maitland CBD. It was attached to a very large rock situated on council-owned land.
I am hoping the good people of Maitland can help me get it back so it can be kept as a badge of honour for those volunteers who helped plant hundreds of trees in the reserve. Many of those trees have been destroyed or removed. “No trespassing” signs have now appeared on the gateway into the reserve, which was a public walkway and dedicated as a sanctuary for birds and wildlife in the area.
Many requests to Maitland City Council on how this destruction happened have been met by a wall of silence. Private investigations revealed that council officers as far back as 2010 recommended the reserve be protected from developers. This did not happen. There are hundreds of residents across Maitland who are very concerned about what happened in this “reserve”. If the plaque is found and council cannot find another appropriate site, then perhaps the former MP for Paterson, Bob Horne, might like to keep it as a souvenir for his tireless work and assistance in founding this reserve. The rock on which it was attached was known locally as Bob Horne’s rock.
Alternatively, maybe Maitland City Council would like to display it in a special hall of shame.
John Brown, Bolwarra Heights
CHEWING THROUGH THE DRY
IS AUSTRALIA a caring nation? I saw some proof that it is on Friday at Bunnings.
We certainly care about our farmers. Our politicians cared too late and many farmers have struggled as a result with their family and communities. They must have thought we city slickers didn’t care either, but we do. I saw a line up at Bunnings Wallsend just to buy a sausage sandwich.
There was probably 100 people, and I’m told that was repeated all over NSW. Bunnings supplied the staff, sausages and bread but the recipients were farmers via Buy a Bale. There was no big sign, just people who knew to join the line and waited in the hot sun for a long period of time.
I noticed that there was also a donation bucket that was filling fast. Farmers, we do care but we were not aware of how difficult things were for you. A few barbecues aren’t going to fix the problem but it is showing you that we do know and we do care. A state total of the donation will be announced soon.
A big thank you to Bunnings NSW.