BACK in the 1970s I was a tech instructor in what is now called Telstra. Trainees were 17 to 30 years old and a lot had Higher School Certificate (HSC) qualifications.
When they started we had to teach them about six weeks of basic maths and practical science so they could actually do the work of a basic lineman. Compared to my days in school, I could see there was a failure in the schooling of the time. This was really brought about by the implementation of the Wyndham Scheme of education by the director-general for education Sir Harold Wyndham. The emphasis was removed from maths and English and associated forms.
Now we are seeing people that were graduating from university in the 1980s who are now teachers or in management. The only maths and English skills they seem to have are basic.
I believe there is something wrong when an HSC can be awarded apparently without having English or maths skills tested.
Ken Godwin, Valentine
WE MUST TAKE BETTER ROAD
SO, WE seem to have another revhead wanting to open the speed limit on the M1 to 130kmh (Letters 6/8). He will need to wait a while.
We simply don't have the type of roads the Germans have that sustain such high speeds, and we certainly don't have many drivers that could handle these speeds in a freeway-type situation. Those who can are already using the speedways. I think many drivers on our roads are already suspect anyway. Imagine giving them free rein to go even faster than they do now, not to mention the hazard of massive trucks that abound. The mind boggles.
The M1 is a nightmare in its present state, and there are parts of it where even the 110km/h limit is excessive. Of course, relocation to Germany could be an option if those speeds excite you.
Lyall Rissler, Raymond Terrace
A BALM FOR THE NERVES
BARRY Boettcher (Letters 8/8) shouldn’t worry about health insurers using personal data to “risk rate” and penalise people based upon age or inherent disease risk. The principle of one price for all is both deeply enshrined in the law and our values as a company. Fundamentally, insurance is about protecting the vulnerable.
Rather, Mr Boettcher should be excited about the potential of “big data” and artificial intelligence to interpret our individual health information and actually better predict and prevent illness. If it does arrive, a world of “precision medicine” may then guide us to the best cure. All of this is much closer than we think and My Health Record will become a crucial source of data. Realising the reality will take a level of investment in technology, scale and business systems that only companies like nib bring.
Mark Fitzgibbon, nib managing director
REPLACE WITH SOME SPACE
THE car-free zone for the Honeysuckle university campus (‘FeWspace’, Herald 8/8) is of no surprise, but rather expected as a way to create a captive market for the white elephant tramway.
University students who live on one-minute noodles with little money will more than likely use bicycles for free rather than pay to travel on the tram. Therefore l would not be surprised if bicycles would be banned during peak travel times, blaming safety concerns of being caught in the groove of tramway lines or falling in front of trams.
One can only wonder why so many students and residents are forced into congested living when Newcastle has many outer suburbs of bushland more suitable for university training and residential purposes at far less cost to the taxpayer.
A previous letter published suggested the ex-BHP land be converted into a green sporting and recreational suburb, which would make the perfect place with space to build the university buildings and student accommodation.
Some may say it may be too late because of what is already built, but the building in question would easily sell and convert to residential and commercial usage. I believe it's not too late to change direction, if council and government can only admit there are better ways, at better places, at better prices.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
A DEARTH OF GOOD CHOICES
THE Newcastle Herald letters to the editor page has had many robust opinions on how bad both the main political parties are at the moment, with some pretty valid criticisms by voters of all persuasions.
One would have to wonder if Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have a death wish for their government, what with their stubborn refusal to scrap the proposed tax cuts for big business that are going down like a lead balloon with not only the general public, but so many of their own party members. With the chance of it getting through the Senate next to nil, why not back down gracefully and give yourselves a fighting chance of winning the next election with one less unpopular idea?
As for Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen, neither of these men are in my opinion worthy to be considered as alternative Prime Minister and Treasurer, neither having had, as far as I know, any experience in running a business. Shorten is joined at the hip to the unions, who have been reported lately to have put pressure on him should he be elected Prime Minister to open the floodgates for illegal immigrants.
Since when has it been the role of trade unions to influence Australia’s border control and immigration policies?
The unions should stick to what they were formed for and keep their noses out of government business. Bearing in mind only about 10 per cent of the private workforce are union members, they are well and truly in the minority and would gain more brownie points by looking after their members’ interest as I see it.
Ian King, Warners Bay
SOME DISTANT WEDDED BLISS
REGARDING the article about the same-sex wedding (‘Whitsundays marriage an equality win’, Herald 3/8) I absolutely loved it. The Whitsundays looks like a great place to be married.
I voted yes. I believe happiness is a human right. I don't care if you are black, white or a Calathumpian purple people eater who flips pancakes. I believe marriage is not something that has a gender nor is it a business transaction . It's something unique to each couple, and a responsibility.
I hope this lasts.
Belinda Paterson, Benalla
SHARE YOUR OPINION
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LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE pen goes to Robert and Evelyn Gibson, of Charlestown, for their letter encouraging tourism into drought-affected areas. The pen is in the mail.