Letters to the editor August 10 2018

MOVING HOUSES: Reader Adam Walton, of Toronto, argues social housing should shift its focus to offering temporary respite and turn over more to help the homeless.
MOVING HOUSES: Reader Adam Walton, of Toronto, argues social housing should shift its focus to offering temporary respite and turn over more to help the homeless.

HOMELESSNESS in Australia is staggering and should not be happening in a society like ours. After reading 'Poor philosophy at root of housing crisis' (Newcastle Herald, 6/8), I believe the Finnish government have it right viewing affordable housing "as the foundation for getting your life on track".

Our government can learn a lot from this philosophy. Why do we allow generations of individuals to occupy government housing, individuals that see government housing as a right handed down from their parents, or because they do not have employment the government should provide housing?

Government housing should be seen as a stepping stone, allowing struggling individuals to up-skill and get a job, dare I say, and then move into private rentals, allowing individuals, families and the homeless to enter the system. A housing cycle, if you like, whereby there is constant movement through the system.

I accept that there will be those that for one reason or another will have to reside in government housing for most of their lives, but these are the exception. As a nation I think we need to place less emphasis on having individuals dependant upon welfare, including government housing. There are many families who are employed and living in private rental situations who are financially struggling, but they are having a go.

I believe affordable government housing is not a right, but rather an opportunity to improve yourself, make something of life and move on, giving others such as our nation's homeless an opportunity.  

Adam Walton, Toronto


DEAR NSW government, I just would like to say how well you are doing on giving the people of Newcastle their say in how we would like to see the old rail corridor used. After promising to consult us prior to any work being undertaken in this space, you promised us green open spaces and finally being able to connect the city to the harbour.

You have done a great job. I have to say that the massive concrete structures beginning to pop up, and all the plans to reserve this corridor as green open space with the development applications such as that of the new University of Newcastle campus (‘FeW Space’, Herald, 8/8) is really showing us how this promise you made is actually coming true.

Thank you also, for showing us how to spend our money from the sale of the rail corridor on the upgrade of the Sydney rail network and Sydney motorways.

I have to say, I love sitting on the train for three-and-a-half hours to get from Newcastle to Sydney, especially with two children of a young age. Finally, thank you for upgrading our public transport system to assist us in revitalising the second largest city in NSW. With the lack of parking in the city from all the construction and development happening (outside the rail corridor of course), I must say this is working well. Taking away the rail network before putting the light rail in place, and then selling and privatising the public buses, was a masterstroke from you. We, the people of Newcastle couldn't be happier with how it's currently working out for us.

Geoffrey Taylor, Macquarie Hills


IT DISTURBS me that a developer like the University of Newcastle can be excused of supplying parking spaces via a non-public document which claims the parking is not needed as we are creating a “car-less precinct” (‘FeW Space’, Herald, 8/8).

It seems that the public should have a say on plans to attempt to either prevent, or restrict, all private cars into the city. I believe the more than $1 billion in public funds spent to grout the old mine workings to assist the high-rise apartment developers and to destroy a rail service to introduce an overpriced tram service is an appalling waste of public funds. I did not support it and the enquiries were pointless. Unless you agreed with the general thrust of the new plan, I felt your submission was not welcomed. The barricades and the cranes are a symbol to me of the anti-democratic nature of our state government.

Milton Caine, Birmingham Gardens


REGULAR contributor Mike Sargent comes across as confident, gregarious and erudite.  However his description of the bureaucratic nightmare he still has to contend with following a surgical error during routine surgery more than 20 years ago, and the psychological pain that he has suffered, leading to a suicide attempt (“Tangled in Veterans’ Affairs bureaucracy”, Herald, 9/8) is another compelling example of how personal trauma can affect even the most outwardly hardy individuals. Yes, as Mike says, “the DVA and the minister must do better”, but it is also a reminder to all of us that, given the right (or wrong) circumstances, depression can descend on anybody with, at times, devastating effects. I salute Mike’s courage in sharing his story.

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14

John Ure, Mount Hutton


PETER Devey (Letters, 9/8) has highlighted the difficulty of combating climate change, and the pointlessness of doing the same thing and expecting a different result; but comes up with exactly the wrong answer. It is the burning of fossil fuels that has no change. Global primary energy consumption was about 20,000 terrawatt hours in 1950, virtually all from fossil fuels, rising to 150,000 in 2016, with around 5 per cent drawn from renewables. The steepest rises in fossil fuel use have occurred since 2000, only slackening off in around 2015. So while we have made good progress with renewables worldwide, much more needs to be done if we are to reduce carbon dioxide levels.

The good news is that economic motivations have overtaken the environmental ones. Wind and solar can now generate power clearly more cheaply than existing coal and gas. With new HELE coal plants predicted to be at least 30 per cent dearer again, the renewable future looks brighter.

Caryl Mallaby, Wangi Wangi


I APPRECIATE Julie Robinson’s comments (Letters, 9/8) on my earlier letter regarding clergy sexual abuse and its concealment (Letters, 4/8). I would like to clarify what I did mean and what I did not mean.

We cannot begin to understand this abuse and concealment unless we look at them in the context, the social situation in which they occurred. Neither the abuse nor its concealment were isolated events. Social factors, namely the culture and organisational structure, made these events possible across a range of countries.

Regarding the personal responsibility of any individual priest or bishop I make no call. I will not throw any stones.

Mark Porter, New Lambton


Email letters@theherald.com.au or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name and suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words. Short Takes should be fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.