ARE THERE more skaters in Newcastle than swimmers? I don’t believe so. In my opinion Newcastle City Council has allowed the inland pools and Newcastle Baths to fall into disrepair, but a decision has been made to build a you-beaut new skate park at Newcastle South beach (‘Skate park transformation’, Newcastle Herald 13/6).
With more residents moving into Newcastle city, can the council please explore the possibility of refurbishing and reopening the old indoor pool built years ago under the City Arcade in Hunter And Newcomen streets? I understand that when the pool closed the arcade was simply built over the pool and the pool is still there beneath it.
Where do all the outdoor swimmers go in winter? We need an indoor pool in the city.
Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield
PUT CHANGE IN THE PIPELINE
I COULD not but feel sorry for the people of Murrurundi, after reading your article that the town would be out of water completely within weeks (‘Town ‘living in the hope of rain’, Herald, 10/8). I noted that the Coalition government was proposing to build a pipeline from Scone to the town but the government only hopes to have the construction of the pipeline underway in a few weeks’ time for completion in 2020.
I believe it is obvious that the residents don't have influence on their parliamentary representatives beyond their votes and so they don't get help until it is almost too late.
Compare the resident of Murrurundi to the support given to toll company Transurban, who are only surviving on an increased profit last year of 102.5%. Not satisfied in giving this company control over all our publicly funded tollways in the NorthConnex section, the government allow them to charge trucks some $25 to drive the section but also made it an offence for truckers to avoid the tolls. If they are caught, the heavy fines go to Transurban.
It appears to me that the people of Upper Hunter should demand the same consideration as the big multinational and if they don't get it they will withdraw their vote and then the Coalition government will not be able to look after their corporate friends.
The money might be designed to tell you they are great, but the delay on providing water says they are not.
Frank Ward, Shoal Bay
DRINK IN THE REALITIES
I READ with interest Peter Hartcher's article on Australia's population in Saturday's news review (‘Plan or perish: management can solve population anxiety’, SMH 11/8). Nowhere did he mention water as being the major constraint to population growth.
Australia is the the driest continent in the world with 35% being classified as virtual desert. Water is the first necessity of life thus making well over a third of our land unsuitable for living. A new report reveals Australia to be the world’s largest net exporter of virtual water, or water consumed to create produce for export, through exporting crops, livestock and industrial products. We grow cotton and rice, both massive users of water, pesticides and insecticides, and in doing so drain our rivers to the misery of those downstream. The irrigation channels are open drains subject to high evaporation and we do nothing but lip service to alter the water abuse.
The Great Artesian Basin sustains life in the outback and the table level has declined alarmingly, to such a degree that many natural springs no longer exist. When the water table becomes too low to use, this land will not be able to sustain life.
With climate change, drought, overuse of water by growing unsuitable crops and the possibility of less rain in the future all looming over us, we need to fix these problems and add it into the equation determining levels of population growth in Australia.
Sandra McIlveen, Fishing Point
DRIVEN TO OBSTRUCTION
"CAR-free city university campus" (Herald 8/8) claims that "there's been no real sign since the opening of both (NeW Space campus and the new courts) that they've failed to operate (with almost no on-site car parking) in the way they were intended".
I suggest a visit to any of the inner-city shopping complexes like Marketown that are continually parked-out by enterprising students taking advantage of three-hour free parking with minimum oversight. Who could blame them?
Then there's the revenue raising council infringement officers up literally before dawn and after dusk. I've been booked mid-winter at 7.04am and 6.04pm and I know of other inner-city residents with the same experience.
Then there’s the continually changing parking regimes that often make little or no sense. A recent Topics article mentioned a sensible application to build an above-ground parking station with ground floor commercial development at Honeysuckle. It was rejected by Hunter Development Corporation (HDC), probably because they could make more by selling the site for a speculative apartment block. Then there was a recent call to widen Civic Lane to allow for better commercial access to businesses that was knocked back by council. Why?
It's not just about removing the car from historic centres: how do businesses have access to commercial vehicles? Is forcing students to travel to the Shortland campus to catch a shuttle bus an efficient and timely way to bring them to the CBD?
As far as how Keolis Downer handles the task, in my opinion it's been pretty second-rate so far. It all happens when a council decides to "work cooperatively" with Urban Growth and now HDC. I believe sound planning principles are overridden to maximise profits. It's not rocket science!
Keith Parsons, Newcastle
DEBATE OVER THE REBATE
IN 2010 I began to use solar power to meet my family’s needs. The power generated went firstly to our use and then the surplus went to the grid. As a result, because we were on the 60 cent rebate, we earned money from our business savvy. Then changes began.
Now I receive about 12.5c for the energy produced and pay about 25c to buy it back instead of using what’s needed and then surplus going to the grid. How and why did this happen? Government policy? Privatisation? I suggest than many like myself are disenchanted with the federal government’s to-ing and fro-ing on the electrical energy scenario. A simple solution exists which I believe, should either party adopt it, would guarantee victory at the next election: rather than spend money on a new coal-fired energy solution, use the equivalent expenditure to supply free solar panels and hot water systems to all Australian households and subsidise industries. For households already using these systems and having paid for them, provide battery storage.
Brian Roach, Whitebridge
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