STOCKTON residents are right to be concerned about the erosion and recession of Stockton beach amid the state’s policy of tight-fisted and piecemeal allocation of money to councils under its Coastal Zone Management Plan (‘Burying their head in sand’, Newcastle Herald, 11/8). It’s the wrong approach. Global warming is not some greenie myth or conspiracy. It is not alarmist. It is real, and it is happening now. The whole Stockton peninsula could disappear within 100 years without serious action.
Governments are about to come up with a National Energy Guarantee, but why not a Coastline Guarantee Action Plan?
In it climate scientists and civil engineers could suggest a range of options to save particular low-lying coastal areas. These works would be prioritised and done before, not after, the erosion.
As a community, we would need to determine which areas we could afford to defend and which to abandon to the sea. A state compensation fund could compensate people whose properties were lost. Once the plan was set in place, coastal residents and developers would know where they stood. Without such a comprehensive plan, many low-lying parts of NSW will disappear and there will be no end to the fighting.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
THERE’S A NEED FOR SPEED
CONTRARY to Lyall Rissler’s views (Letters, 11/08), unrestricted autobahn in Germany bear little difference to the M1.
Many unrestricted sections are merely two lanes each way with a wire rope median barrier. No different, or inferior to most of the M1. They are also not populated exclusively with highly-trained Germans in BMWs. People from all over Europe and tourists from all over the world manage to negotiate traffic moving at speeds from 130km/h to 220km/h and they still have the lowest rate of fatalities per kilometre travelled in the world.
Artificially low restrictions on speed are dangerous. They increase the risks of fatigue-related crashes, reduce driver attentiveness and cause traffic to bunch up, meaning that when a crash does occur more vehicles are involved. I believe we would do very well to increase speeds on motorways in Australia, starting with the M1.
Scott Hillard, New Lambton
IT’S NOT A UNITED VIEW
IAN King (Letters, 11/8) fails to see the flaws in his anti-union piece. He doesn’t mention it’s the Liberal types who ran our banks and insurance companies into a royal commission. Interestingly, Mr King only mentions private industry to get a lower 10 per cent unionisation figure when around 15 per cent of all workers are in unions. The unions started the Labor party to represent the interests of the little person and majority in politics, which makes Mr King’s argument they should stay out of politics wrong and redundant. Their achievements are legendary, with many adopted around the world.
The fatal flaw is arguing that 15 per cent should not be represented in politics when a multitude of business and employer groups representing less than 1 per cent are allowed to exert influence. There are 124 registered lobbyists in Sydney and 233 in Canberra, most representing wealthy individuals, families, trusts and businesses. I think 15 per cent can have one representative.
Colin Fordham, Lambton
HOW FAR CAN WE PROGRESS
I SEE again that there is yet another development advancing the progress of this nation (‘Factory hubs motor along’, Herald, 16/7). Like Paul Scott (‘Newcastle is all about the business of excitement’, Herald, 2/7) I can feel the excitement.
Often when I ride my bike into Doma City and negotiate the network of road works and light rail construction past the peak-hour traffic, I reflect on all this progress. As a conservationist I often question the wisdom of such unfettered growth as humanity is spread like a condiment across the face of the continent.
Phill Howlette (Letters, 10/8) comments on our populationr eaching 25 million. Some believe that we could host three times that many people, yet I know better than to protest because I will be howled down with cries of job creation, good for the economy and tree-hugger.
I would like reverse engineer my concerns, for all those who advocate development, population growth or clear felling of forests to tell me if they ever see a likely end point to all this.
At what point will we need to stop the spread of cities, the clearing of the land, the growth of population? Will it be when all our water is supplied by desalination plants, our meals consist of good servings of grasshopper protein, the Murray-Darling has stopped flowing entirely, or when the west of NSW is dead due to salinity and desertification caused by extreme exploitation and land clearing? Do these advocates have a concept of what our future will be or are they simply excited by the here and now?
John Hendriks, East Maitland
POURING PETROL ON BUYER
THE 98-octane prices in one Newcastle suburb increased today from 148.9 cents to 175.9 cents, a 27-cent increase.
“Price cycles are the result of deliberate pricing policies of petrol retailers, and are not directly related to changes in wholesale costs”, says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
So that’s it: if one retailer raises prices, they all quickly follow. I’d call it collusion or, colloquially, a rip-off!
My 98-octane varies from under $1.50 to more than $1.75 per litre from my regular supplier. The upward cycle occurs in one step and the downward changes are slowly made over a few weeks.
Fortunately most businesses don’t have this ridiculous and totally unnecessary pricing policy. There were no massive fuel price signs outside service stations when I was young, just a recommended retail price and fair profit margins.
Petrol companies would know the weighted average selling price of all their fuels sold throughout the year to keep their profit margin sustainable, so why can’t they set realistic fuel prices with only small variations to cover cost input changes as required? I would be so much more comfortable with a stable price of $1.55 - $1.60 than this nonsense.