PROFESSOR Alison Hutton in her opinion piece (‘Pill testing helps minimise harm at festivals’, Newcastle Herald, 10/1), says that pill testing at music events “is an avenue to educate and have a conversation with those who choose to purchase illicit drugs”.
I want to understand just what the conversation is that a pill tester has with the person wanting to consume the illegal drugs. Do they tell the person the drug is dangerous because it contains potentially toxic substances? Do they tell the person the drug is safe to consume? Do they advocate not taking any drugs? Do they try to understand why the person wants to take the drugs and perhaps counsel them? What exactly is the nature of the conversation? Because if they are telling people the drugs are safe, then of course that opens up a potential minefield of legalities. If they say nothing other than tell the person what is in the drug, then that, too, may open them to a breach of a duty of care. I am at a loss to understand what meaningful conversation can take place in the midst of a noisy music festival that will not be fraught with risks and which will reasonably engage a person and educate them about the dangers of taking illegal drugs. The person bringing the drugs for testing wants to take the drugs. That’s why they brought them. So any education is starting from a slanted position, and no doubt that person simply wants to get back to their friends and not spend any substantive time in a pill testing station. So any meaningful conversation is going to have to take place in a matter of minutes. That really does not augur well for effective education.
Daryll Hadfield, Redhead
Dip in to save pools
THANK you Dee Jones for your comments on the privatisation of our public pools (Letters, 8/1). Your comments are regarding Lambton pool, but it could be said that all of our Newcastle inland pools have been slowly deteriorating and showing their age. It does not appear that there has been ongoing maintenance at any of them. Mayfield pool was a gift from the BHP over 50 years ago and has been a huge source of enjoyment to our community. Several years ago the Herald published a wonderful article over three pages regarding inland pools and their importance to communities. It was a very positive piece. Unfortunately there was one very negative comment and that came from a council representative who stated that of course council pools don’t make money. Well libraries don’t make money either, but they are there for the community. I’m wondering how much money the $11 million skate park will make on Newcastle South beach. Newcastle council, please save our ageing pools by injecting some funds into their maintenance and take back their management from private enterprise and give it back to the communities they serve.
Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield
Mute on move details
IN the midst of darkness and secrecy, the Herald's Michael Parris has shone a light. Newcastle council has never produced a business case of any sort for its move into rented premises, let alone a convincing one. Our council refuses to make public the details of rental costs, while Mid Coast Council residents are presented with full detailed costings of their proposed consolidation and move. NCC is unable to justify a move out of buildings which they own outright, into rented accommodation leased without a tendering process, which might have at least ensured maximum value for ratepayers. Council's specious “efficiency gains” argument looks like a flimsy cover-up for a desire to shift into something shiny and new. We deserve to see a business case for this change, one which is, as the lord mayor promised, "accountable and transparent".
John Beach, Cooks Hill
I HAVE been about to write regarding the facilities at all Newcastle beaches on many occasions, but resisted because of the typical response, “he is a whinging Pom”. The fact that I am a Scot by birth is neither here nor there. Newcastle may have the best beaches in NSW, but the facilities as highlighted by Helene Dillon (Letters, 8/1) fall a long way short of what is expected in 2019. The change rooms, showers, toilets remind me of the facilities available in Port Seton, North Berwick and Dunbar in the Edinburgh area in the mid ’60s. The fact the cafes, pizza parlours do a roaring trade must surely make Newcastle council realise that they must improve the facilities. Or is it the Aussie maxim: if it is not broke, why fix it? In terms of global cities it certainly is broke!
Bill Livingstone, New Lambton
Pictures on repeat
IN the past I’ve had a whinge about television reporters throwing inane questions at alleged or convicted perpetrators as they leave the courthouse precinct, in order to provide some film to run with an accompanying report from the newsreader of their alleged transgressions. I am equally disenchanted with the proclivity of television networks to repeat, ad nauseam, film clips of some event they deem worthy of reporting. Tonight, I viewed a street sign in Melbourne falling onto an unsuspecting car no less than eight times during the course of the news coverage which probably ran for no more than a couple of minutes. I know that television is a visual medium, but it seems to me that while “a picture is worth a thousand words” there are occasions when a few less pictures, and a few less words, would do the job more than adequately.
John Buckley, Floraville
Skate ‘potty’ stinks
THIS week in glorious weather, as usual I walked the length of Newcastle beach. It was 8am and 45 minutes shy of high tide. At the point of the proposed skateboard bowl, with my short legs I paced 27 steps across the sand from the promenade to the water’s edge. In my rough estimate that would approximate the 20-25 metres size of the proposed bowl, yet the council’s draft plan sketch shows a vast amount of beach between the end of the bowl and the start of the water. This seems to be a huge misrepresentation of the reality. I walk the beach most days and see the hundreds of tons of sand that shift with the ebb and flow of the tides. This is normal. I suggest the council use concrete bollards to lay an imprint of the actual bowl edge on the sand and leave it there for a month to assess the reality of the bowl impact. Whilst I’m thrilled to see how wonderfully Newcastle is transforming, I believe Nuatali should really reconsider this one. Joy Cummings’ legacy was a magnificent foreshore park. Nuatali, is your legacy going to be a giant potty on the beach? Like all potties, the idea stinks.
Helen Butler, Newcastle
Letter of the week
The Herald pen goes to Daryll Hadfield for his letter about pill testing.